September 22, 2013

Ground Beef Soup

Ground Beef Soup

2 lbs lean ground beef
2 medium onions
1 tin tomato soup
2 tins beef broth
1 lg tin stewed tomatos
A couple tablespoons (or more) of pearl barley

Brown ground beef, drain and rinse with water and drain again.
Cut onions (julien to cook faster) and put in pot with beef
Add all liquids (beef broth, tomato soup)
Add stewed tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
Bring to a bold, then reduce and simmer for 20 minutes

Nice with fresh dinner rolls or portugese buns!

July 02, 2013

i was going to post to my blog, but then i didn't...

i was going to post here, about how i was thinking of my parents. it was something important about how their selfishness put me and my sister through so much hell when we were kids.

i was going to post here about how i felt like an alien growing up, separate from everyone else, and weird and sort of sad.

i was going to post about things from my past that still piss me off, or make me feel blue.

but by the time i logged in, it had worn off.

it is a beautiful cool summer evening, and i'm sitting next to my best friend, and i'm in a happy frame of mind.

so i decided not to post to my blog, and just enjoy the evening air.

June 01, 2013

The Return of That Mild Funk

I've felt a flatness, a malaise, a blandness in my days. That's what's been haunting my gut for the past couple of weeks. It's the feeling that things just aren't that great anymore, that I'm not able to deal with my job, or I might drop the ball.

Gradually, these feelings morph into the worry that maybe I've painted my life into a corner; that maybe the future will only look as good as it does today, and nothing better will come.

This is not how I think I should feel. I think I should be happier. It's not how I want to be. I want to be positive, capable, and confident, and I also want to be able to inspire those feelings in the people around me.

But, when you're in a funk like this, you just can't give a shit about that sort of idealism. When I get up in the morning, I check my face, and I take sensory inventory of stiffness or little creaks and pains. Some funks seem to be brought on by lack of adequate sleep, or a virus that's trying to burrow into my cells (and one tends to bring on the other).

Sometimes the funk is stress-related. Like a time years ago, when I worried about my job situation, my sister's worry about cancer, and a friend's addiction to crack. I had no control over any of those situations, and one night my mind responded by giving me a cold, black feeling, like I was teetering on the edge of an endless cliff. I felt all care and worry in me disappear, replaced with an icy emotionless void. I watched my thoughts and went to the fridge and got a beer, and then to my computer and tried to put into a google search what I had just felt. I came away with the words "mini nervous breakdown". I finished my beer, played with one of my cats, and laid on the floor for a while until I felt sleepy.

My Mother had been bi-polar, and I believe had at least one or two nervous breakdowns. There's some other mild and manageable mental illnesses in my family. Depression is the one that is closest to me, even if in my case, it is fairly mild. Physical health and natural environment can affect emotions too: rainy days can give me headaches (barometric pressure?), and being overweight or not getting enough exercise can reduce the endorphins I enjoy, making my brain a less happy place.

But this week has taken a positive turn: I'm reassured in my abilities and my future, I'm more rested, and I'm not feeling as isolated or stressed. I had an opportunity to counsel and console a friend who was suffering, and recent news from my beloved sister was also very positive and upbeat. It caused me to feel stronger and more optimistic. I truly believe that this is now my natural mode of being.

Emotional states really do rise and fall like the tides.

May 19, 2013

The joy and comfort of sitting at a table surrounded by family and friends

The joy and comfort of sitting at a table surrounded by family and friends. It might be a family meal, or a drink and some snacks. Feeling part of something - a fun moment, a joke, sharing stories. Being part. Feeling happy. It's like a reward.

If you can't explain to someone else why moments like those are so important to you personally, it's okay. Maybe you're a bit on the quiet side, or personal feelings just aren't the kind of thing you'd like to bring up. If some of your companions wouldn't understand, it might be because they've had lots more of those happy times than you, and it just feels normal to them, not extraordinary.

Be happy that they have their "normal happy" moments, and just enjoy your well-deserved "extraordinarily happy" moments whenever you can get them.

They're deserved.

May 12, 2013

Mother's Day, 2013

In my memory, the women who were mothers or mother figures when I was a kid were hard-working, long-suffering people who stood at the centre of their families and withstood the various storms of being a mom and managing kids.

If that seems to be a limited, stereotypical view, you've caught me. I didn't know too many Mums, and the ones I observed (belonging to my friends), fascinated me in their authority, attention, and sheer involvement with their kids. They were authorities, nurses, traffic cops, entertainers, teachers, and providers, each in their own fashion, and because my own mother was none of those things, I secretly envied each of my friends.

As a grownup, I saw my mother as an unfortunate adult, who never recovered from the challenges of her life. She lived chaotically, going from crisis to crisis, never developing her own strength or clarity of mind. She wasn't suited to being a Mum, I believe. She was meant to be a artist who created something other than kids, like singing in an opera, or banging out some lively boogie-woogie on the piano.

So, I guess my wish for mother's day is that my mother might have had more personal fulfillment in her life, and if that meant I might not have existed, that would be okay with me.

It's probably because of her that I can draw, and love art, movies, comic books, music and theatre. I'll honour by living my happiest life, and wishing all the mothers around me a happy mothers day.

April 21, 2013

Nobody asks to be born.

Nobody asks to be born. Although our parents may (hopefully) choose us and birth us, we don't ask to be born or have a say in who our parents are.

Parents determine the coordinates we start from: the places, the opportunities, the values, and the expectations of what the world has to offer. But those starting points and directions bring with them blinders - shutters, baffles and barriers - that are part of the finiteness of their lives.

If you have an open mind, eyes and ears, you might see through the cracks in those protective walls, peek through the edges of the blinders, and see your own journey - your own unexplored territory.

April 02, 2013

The value of unconditional love.

From time to time, maybe once per week, I remember something about Tiger or Sylvester. These were the brother cats whom Grace and I raised from kittens, and whom we considered like our sons for twenty years. In October 2011, Sylvester passed away after 19 years, and Tiger died at 20 years in June 2012.

I think that they lived the longest and lovingest lives possible. Their loss has continually crept back up on me. In quiet times, in the evening, or in the middle of the night, the tears still come, unannounced.

The boys, as we called them, were our constant sources of comfort and reassurance. They were the little ones who needed me to take care of them. They were the heartbeats of our home which kept on beating when we were out for the day. They were the someones who always welcomed us home, and who kept our home from feeling empty or lonely.

I'm absolutely a cat person, and I find that there's something solid, immediate and uncomplicated about the love of a dear pet. I'm almost of a mind to say that "pet" doesn't capture the relationship properly - companion is a much more accurate label for the relationship. Tiger and Sylvester were each other's closest companions, and each of them was an incredible companion to me and my wife.

I have often thought that I'd like to raise two more cats someday. Siblings, so that they can remain their own little tribal family. Nothing will replace our two boys, and maybe because of that, I might not have a cat again, but then again, considering how much happiness being a cat parent brought me, maybe one day I will.

January 08, 2013

I sometimes remember some gratitudes...

When I worry about money or the future, or the past, I sometimes remember some gratitudes:
I am healthy, not burdened with chronic illness. 
I am (relatively) sane, not struggling with paranoia, psychosis, anxiety or delusion. 
I am proud, not looking over my shoulder from unresolved guilt or shame. 
I am sober, not struggling with substance abuse or addiction. 
I am fortunate and grateful for my life.