What is that … and is it edible?

This was a vital question during my first visit to the tropical island of Hawaii as an over-forty child in a land of enchantment—the world of beautiful mysteries, of sights, of smells and flavors.

In over my head and covered in seawater and sand, I soaked in its salt, listened to its rhythm and feasted exultantly on its intrinsic joy. Life is good in Hawaii. It is an alluring place to discover so much food, flowers and happiness.

On the first island, Oahu, we found the attitude of the locals was that all tourists have overstayed their welcome. Like fish, tourists have been there over three days and we stink. The locals are tired, the island roads are worn out and even the coral and sea life in the bays are exhausted. They are all sick to death of tourists.

The tourist bureau has adopted the Vegas tactic of lipsticking pigs and has cloaked the worn out dancehall girl under the hollow shell of glamour and glitz. The night life has also been Vegasized and the police are seen well in force on the Waikiki strip.

On the second island, Maui, the tourists adapt to the islanders instead of the reverse. Their world has only mildly evolved to suit the interlopers, and we’re encouraged to adopt their lifestyle … which is how we truly want it when we vacate our humdrum lives to discover the culture and mystery of elsewhere.
We didn’t even make it to the third island. It was a choice of one last day at the beach or a plane ride. The beach won and the week wound down while we curiously explored the option of selling here and buying there. John Travolta’s house on the beach in Maui just sold last week. It was the same size as our house and it went for three million … so maybe not.

I’d get there and never be able to afford to leave, or even to live in a house. Yet, the thought of being homeless on the beach in Hawaii is more appealing than living in the states during the dregs of winter.

I’m back home and I’m wondering “What is that? And must I eat it?” Somehow it’s just not the same here.

Reality Bite: Laid-back oblivion is a good thing. Feb 2005

...extreme cuisine

I am consumed with life. I never dreamed anything could give such a rush. Each day pushes me beyond my human capacity—it’s a thrill a minute. Whee! Cooking again, T.D.

I'm reading on the internet that not too many years ago, humans lived dangerously, in untamed wilderness, used sharp saws, and pointy tools, hunted wild animals, and worked without unionization. We were edgy, risk-taking daredevils!

Seat belts, safety harnesses, earplugs, and consumer advocates have driven us out into the world to seek the adrenaline rush of our ancestors through other death-defying thrills. It’s in our genes to live dangerously. We cannot be expected to tame that inborn urge after only a mere century of refinement.

Instead we bungee jump, rappel off cliffs, skydive, drive in rush hour, and watch extreme television—all the while, seeking that exhilaration, the buzz, that ultimate excitement that our progenitors got by just living life.


We Americans thirst for challenge. And so as I consider my life, and what I spend the majority of my day consumed excitement and thrill must be food. Just the wonder, anticipation and thrill of hunting, gathering and preparation. It's definitely the exciting point of my life.

...does anyone else hear the sarcasm? T.


…eccentric eaters

Underneath the flabby hide of Americans, flows the blue blood bred for excitement. If you need more proof, look at our diets. We relish dangerous food and consume it in huge quantities. The fake stuff[1] in our soft drinks craters our pancreas, and prepares our arteries for the onslaught of dangerous synthetic fat.[2]

I’m starting to think the kids show up to dinner solely for the danger… and the entertainment. I soaked white beans on Monday,, cooking them with ham in the crock pot all night on low.

Tuesday, it was good soup, but I hadn’t invited the army to dinner. So on Wednesday I dragged them back out and added tomatoes, taco seasoning, and a can of green chilis. I served them with cheese and chips. Voila! Tortilla soup!. Delicious!

The next night, I fixed chicken burritos with Mexican rice and refried beans smothered with… you guessed it, thickened, blended soup. How exciting, YUM!

Back to risk: We live to eat with the constant threat of disease, the hysteria over lysteria and nitrates in bologna, steroids and hormones in red meat, crazy cow disease, e-coli, and even allergic reactions from antibiotics in ground beef.[3]

We are willing to gobble fast food with genetically altered, hydroponic and irradiated vegetables, but then we cringe when we hear that our ancestors feasted on blood pudding?

The world should never disparage American’s courage based on our wimpy attitude about smoking. We are edgy, risk-taking eaters who setting ourselves up for a miserable, horrible death! But, we don’t let that consume us too much, because we’re looking forward to the new and disturbing diseases we get as we age. These will feed our urge for the adrenalin rush of greater life challenges!

On Friday, I dumped all the leftovers together, soup and rice, beans, chicken and then poured corn bread batter over the top. Then I baked it and called it Tamale Pie. Once again, delicious!
Then, the husband came in singing, “It is the soup that never ends. It just goes on and on my friend. Some people started cooking it not knowing what it was, and we’ll continue eating it forever just because…”
[4] Very punny, love me.

That’s why I cook the way I do. It has a dual purpose, aside from building strong bones and teeth,[5] my family learns that they can face any challenge, anywhere in the world… if only they can conquer the gastric horrors Mom dreams up.

It takes imagination to identify what’s for dinner and then a complicated mathmatical formula challenges them to connect it to what we had last night. It’s like our own personal game show. Guess the goulash and identify its genetic history. Hey, whatever brings them home to dinner, I say!

It is for these reasons that I strive to provide home cooking every night, and that’s rare in this day and age. I’m running a success ratio of five to one, but I allow for occasional resistance as the turncoats are spotted under the golden arches wolfing up everything in sight.

I have a fervent wish of the perfect family at home, around the dinner table eating healthier, and a bungie-jumping, Velcro-covered, climbing wall in the kitchen. I’m willing.

[1] High fructose corn syrup, twice as sweet, three times as cheap.
[2] Trans-fat in 40,000 of our processed foods.
[3] My true story.
[4] My apologies to Julie Lewis
[5] Extra raw or overcooked…either way it’s tough.


…older, wiser and prone to forget

Memory loss has advantages. I am forgetting so much these days that it’s become a game. Every day is a new day and I never vacation in the same place twice. I no longer dwell on the things I have forgotten, but the miracle of things I can remember!

Dear Me,
When someone asks me if I’ve ever visited a place before, I turn to my husband with a quizzical eyebrow.
At that point, he puts his arm around me and assures me, “Yes, dear and we have photos to prove it.” Although with the advent of photo manipulation, I think he inserts me into places I’ve never been, doing things I’ve never done, and seeing things I’ve never seen. He’s revising history again. How dare he? T.

Remember the inter-note[about the eighty-year old in the purple hat? If you can’t remember, get on the internet and google purple hat and it will come up. That’s how I found the website designated for poetry about soup. (Don’t ask why I needed poetry about soup. It’s another long story.)

I have a theory about those anonymous inter-notes: Who writes them? Inter-notes are penned by famously great authors that don’t want to be known as contributors of inter-note drivel.

To me:
When I reprinted the note for my husband, (the purple hat, not the poetry soup) who doesn’t have time for inter-note fodder, I told him that I would like to be that eighty-year old.

He said, "You'll be the eighty-year old in the purple bra, wearing it outside your clothes and I'll be the guy standing in the middle of the street begging to be run over.”

I laughed then, but I thought, "Eeugh, gonna stink to be you.”

I’m thinking it would be better to be the one that does whatever they want and doesn’t remember! I’m already living that reality.

The nice thing about a bad memory is that you wake and it’s a new day with all past sins forgotten and so many great new things to rediscover. And it's most pleasant to think that de-ja-vu is just one of my wayward memories returning.



I love the word. Aplomb.

I’d like to think that I wander throughout life exuding aplomb, full of confidence, self-assurance and cool composure.

Today I did it! And the evidence was my jaunty appearance and my unmatched earrings.

I wore two earrings today that were the same color, but a decidedly different design. Does this really matter? If so, Why?

“Socially, it’s just not done,” is not a good reason, because as we have all discovered together, I don’t give a rat what society thinks. I could digress into an aside discussing what a freeing thing that is too… but no, back to the earrings.

Rationally, reasonably, it's a great reward for the woebegone mate of the earring that hangs around after it’s errant buddy has absconded to far bigger and much better things. After all, I ask you, “Has such a devotee not earned the reward of being worn?”

I have heard of persons who advocate punching another hole in the extremities to display the remaining bauble, but I’m beyond the idea of poking another hole in the carapace. I’ve gained the sense that comes with age, and I’m heeding the caution written in small print on the packaging of my ear candle. The warning explains that the ears are sanctuary to nerve endings that affect the overall health and psychological well being of the body. I may or may not have dodged the bullet the first time they were pierced, but who dares mess with the psyche again?

Aside from the holistic, (ha, ha! hole) I’m convinced that all of my brain cells are housed up there, inside my pate and one should never purposely make another avenue for brain cells to escape. As we are aware, there is already a flood of nonsense gushing out another hole in my head.

Back to the earrings, I’ve tried wearing only one and aside from feeling only half dressed, I am convinced it throws off my balance and certainly my personal feug shui. And there is the response that I must make to each and every person who comments, “Oh, you’ve lost an earring,” that of, “No, I’ve found one.”

Such a commentary only promotes my oddball image and I remind myself that my goal is aplomb. I can’t be bothered with the idea that such an innocent activity makes me weird, odd, offbeat or strange. I must keep in mind that, “Everybody is a geek to somebody else” and rest assured that, “If you knew how seldom someone thinks of you, you wouldn’t be concerned with what they think of you.”

So I’m wearing one of each design because I cannot fling an earring callously in the trash. It is my hope that other adventurers will follow the trail less taken and consider the unmated accessory to be not odd, but curiously freeing.

There is also the hope that one or even both of the earrings I am wearing will gain from me the attitude of aplomb. This will free them to take the path of their mates and jump off, be daring and jaunt off into the big wide world.

Thereby making this issue moot.

I dare you.

Reality Bite: Never again will you look on a mixmatched person and think of them as lackadaisical. It takes a lot of planning to pull off chaos.