Pasta Italian-ish

food

-Ingredients-

Pasta –8 oz., your choice. I like alphabet pasta.

Capers – about 20. Use some of the vinegar they are in too.

Cilantro – fresh, half a bunch, just the leaves.

One large tomato, diced. I used an “uglyripe” heirloom tomato. You want the meat, not the seeds.

Two cipolline onions, diced, or a quarter of a white onion.

Asparagus – half a bunch, cut into inch and a half pieces.

Green beans – a handful – cut into inch and a half pieces. Remove the tips.

Italian seasoning -to taste

“Miracle blend” – or any other non MSG seasoning blend – to taste

Butter – about a quarter inch

Wine – about half a glass. I used white zinfandel.

Olive oil – a glug or two to taste.

Garlic powder -to taste

-Instructions-

Boil the pasta per the package instructions. Drain off most of the water. Leave the pasta in the pot.

In a separate pot, steam the asparagus and the green beans, with the asparagus stems on the bottom, the “flowers” in the middle, and the green beans on top. You want to steam the toughest things the longest so they will all be equally tender when you are done.

Tip – to get really tasty asparagus, treat the asparagus as the flower it is. Cut off about half an inch of the stems and then put the whole bunch in a cup with water for at least an hour before you cook. The stems will soak up the water and get really tasty and supple.

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In a large covered sauté pan, melt butter then add the onions. When they go translucent add the wine, the dry seasonings (garlic, seasoned salt, and Italian seasonings), and the cilantro and the tomato. Cover, and stir occasionally.

When the cilantro and the tomato wilt, add this mixture with the asparagus and the green beans into the pot with the pasta, and dress with olive oil.

Serves four.

Pictured with “Bourbon salmon” – it is from Publix. Very yummy, and half a fillet is a serving.

I served it all with challah and hummus.

“Our cabin”

My husband and I have discovered the ideal home away from home. We’ve found out that nearby state parks have cabins that people can rent. This is genius. We get all the fun of a cabin, without the worry.

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We don’t have to fool with a mortgage. Not like we could afford another mortgage anyway, unless we inherit a lot. We are both government employees. They pay us in benefits, not in actual salary.

We don’t have to worry about somebody breaking into it while we aren’t there. There are rangers around, and hey, if one is damaged for some reason (vandals, wild animals, or by bad weather) we can just pick another cabin.

We are starting to think of it as “our cabin”. We tried it out once and it was a nice retreat. It is just an hour away. We can get there not using the freeway. Just driving there is like going back in time. The drive alone is part of the fun.

The interesting thing for me is that the place we have chosen is a place I went many years ago when I was active in the SCA, a medieval reenactment group. In a way, it was a test to go there. The last time I was there I wasn’t quite well.

That was before I was diagnosed as bipolar, and more importantly, before I learned how to take care of myself. Just taking the pills that I’m prescribed isn’t the same thing. I didn’t know how important it was for me to get a good night’s sleep and enough water and food. I didn’t get enough of any of those things when I would go to events, and there was a lot of stimulation. There are a lot of people and a lot of things going on. This is a recipe for disaster when you are bipolar.

I was a little concerned the first time we went that I’d remember that bad experience and relive it a little.

Here’s the field where I started to notice that something was up. This time I was fine.

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The sunset was very pretty.

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I’m always mindful of going off the deep end. But I’m also mindful that I don’t want to live my life in fear of another episode. If I avoid anything that I think might trigger another period of strangeness, I might as well just hide away at home right now. It is important for me to push myself and stretch.

Otherwise, I’ve let this disease win.

I’m constantly pushing myself, in all areas.

It is why I took classes in pastoral care. They were every week for months, and I had to drive myself downtown to go to them. I knew it was important to take this class and I was grateful for the opportunity, but I was afraid. I was afraid that I’d get lost, or the car would break down, or the stress of being in downtown Nashville traffic would be too much. People aren’t very nice drivers here, and I try to avoid being behind the wheel in busy traffic as much as possible. But for this, I did it, and I’m glad. I proved to myself that I could.

And I’m using that as a stepping stone to more things.

So for the same reason, I’m going to this cabin. It isn’t just any cabin. I love going, of course. It is like a little retreat. But this particular one has this field in view. While we are eating breakfast, lunch, and supper I can see it. And every time I see it I remember, and I think how grateful I am that I’m OK. And I’m mindful of how fragile “normal” is, and how much work I have to put in to it to keep it going.

And then I look out the bedroom window and the trees look like they are making an archway, just like in a medieval church entrance.

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Maybe a some of my recovery is where I put my attention. Look at the past, at the old field where I realized I was losing my grip on reality – or look the other way, and see a doorway?

I’m glad I went, and I’ll go back. It is important to face my fears.

Yoga in the morning.

I’m rethinking my idea of yoga. I think it is better to do it every day, rather than just once a week at a class. I also think it is better for me to do it first thing in my morning routine rather than at the end.

I hear it is best to do yoga before having breakfast. This would certainly take care of my need to get my morning started but not be in the way of my husband. Our day overlaps by about thirty minutes and if I go into the kitchen where he is it is a little chaotic. I’ve discovered that it is best for both of us if I don’t try to start my morning in the same place where he is trying to finish his.

As an alternative, I’ve been bringing my Kindle into the bedroom to write during that time, and while I may still do some of that, I think that doing yoga then would be good too.

I’d been leaving yoga for the end, just after my shower. Somehow I was running out of time and I was either rushing through the poses or just skipping them entirely. So that isn’t working. When I had been making time to do it I’d also been doing an example of “Praying in Color” and that was good too. In the past several months if I’d done either they were done as a sort of afterthought.

If I do them first, they are done. No excuses.

I like how I feel during the day if I’ve done a little yoga. Things seem to go better. I’ve actually found myself sort of checking in with myself. Did I write? Yes. Did I do yoga? Yes. It is like taking a multivitamin for my soul. If I’ve done it, I feel better.

Now, do I feel better because I’ve done yoga, or because I’ve done something I feel is good for me? I don’t know. This has long been something I’ve wondered about. Is it the activity that matters or the commitment and discipline that matters? Sometimes I think what helps me the most is intentionally living my life, rather than just drifting aimlessly through it.

This is part of why I write. Writing keeps me awake. Writing means I face things, rather than running away from them. Writing means I don’t hide behind the unknowing, behind the questions. When I write, I dig, and when I dig, I learn. I start to uncover, and recover, the truth, and with it, myself.

Writing is yoga too, like that. Yoga isn’t just poses. Yoga is a way of thinking. Yoga is sticking with it and working through it. Yoga is leaning in and being patient. Yoga is trying. Yoga is sometimes just showing up, bored and tired, but there anyway. Yoga is finding the center calm. Yoga is better lived off the mat. Yoga is being awake in the moment.

So why wouldn’t I do this every day? Why wouldn’t everybody?

Poem – How to get sober.

One moment at a time, not one day.
At the beginning, a day is too long
too stretched out,
too scary.

At the beginning an hour feels like an eternity
packed with uncertainty
and dread.

At the beginning of our coming
to consciousness,
of our coming
back to ourselves,
even an hour is too long.

That is why we got high, got stoned, got drunk.
The day stretched out before us with
more questions than answers,
more problems than solutions.

We are adults in name only.
We were shortchanged
on the skills
to be human.

We have to relearn
and unlearn
a lot.

It is hard, this being human.

It is why we ran away
for so long.

Just like a person who was born with legs
but never used them,
We have to be patient with the process.

We have to relearn how to walk
when we never learned in the first place.
We have to relearn how to live
when we never learned in the first place.

We have to be patient with ourselves.

Patience isn’t one of our strengths though.

We were raised by a world that taught
“Get rich quick”
“You deserve it”
And instant enlightenment,
no waiting.

So now what?

Breathe.
Go for a walk
outside.
Soak up the sun
or the cold
or the rain.

Be open to what is
right now,
not what you want it to be
not what you think
it should be.

This is a time of relearning
what it is to be

Alive.
Awake.
Aware.

Just like a person who has spent
her life in a cave,
going outside is painful.
The light is too bright.
The sounds are too loud.
Nothing is familiar.
Nothing is comforting.

Don’t go back
to the cave.
Don’t go back
to being asleep.

Take a small step.
Acclimate.

Take another
when you are ready.

No hurry.

You can sit outside that cave mouth for a long time.

You don’t have to go running
because if you go too far too fast
you’ll fall
and retreat
back to that cave.

Slow and steady does it.

A lot of getting sober
is unlearning.

You aren’t alone
in this process.

We are all unlearning
and relearning
what it means to be ourselves.

You are beautiful. You are needed. You are loved.
And you can do this.