Two years since I was rear-ended by a semi and then selected an appropriate shirt to wear the next day. timehop t.co/IDyYBHUa86

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2015 Year In Review

The past couple of Years In Review have been pretty linear: able to be broken down into a chronology of main happenings, with other minor happenings thrown in. This year, there were a few main threads that seemed to tie the whole year together.

Abstract: I visited many health care professionals and got some lingering medical issues resolved (and discovered some new ones). The first half of the year was fraught with house and car issues. I rediscovered my love of film photography. And some other stuff happened, like gardening and being social and potty-training our son.

Now, for the long version…

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Capellini with Tomatoes

capellini wih tomatoes

I was looking for a quick and easy way to serve my homegrown tomato crop over pasta. I searched online for tomato pasta recipes, and found a few that were similar enough that I realized that the cobbled-together idea in my head was completely legit.

 

One tomato, diced, sautéed in 1 tsp butter and pinch Splenda (or sugar). Serve over noodles with basil and Parmesan.

 

As soon as I took a bite, I knew I had to serve the tomatoes over angel hair pasta next time. Why? Because my stepdad Tom served his homemade spaghetti sauce over angel hair — or vermicelli, or spaghettini, but rarely spaghetti.

His was the first and only homemade spaghetti sauce I’ve ever tasted (to my knowledge), and his was the only spaghetti sauce I’d had up until then (age twelve) that included sugar. It’s definitely different than any sauce out of a jar. He also had a different method of serving pasta, where he’d mix a little of the pasta sauce with the capellini in the serving bowl, so it wouldn’t get sticky. I got out of the habit of drowning my spaghetti in sauce, and instead would just add a touch more sauce — and usually some meatballs or sausage, too.

I remember standing in the doorway of the kitchen in the little house he rented (Mom and I moved into the rented house with him when they got married), watching him watching the big tall pot on the stove, simmering the Roma tomatoes we’d harvested from our garden. Years later, after he and Mom divorced, I remember visiting with him in his rented trailer in Amish Country, and him serving up that same pasta sauce with capellini, in the same blue-floral serving bowl, with the same serving tongs and silverware we’d eaten with in the little house in Burbank.

My slapdash 30-minute meal pales in comparison to the depth of his spaghetti sauce, but still — every time I make it, the smell of cooking fresh tomatoes straight out of the garden combined with the sweetness of sugar (or Splenda) and the aroma of oregano and basil… I’m back in Tom’s kitchen again.

He’s been gone exactly 20 years this month. I hadn’t realized that when I sat down to write this. Amazing how smell and taste can trigger memories that seem like yesterday.

TBT: Ann Arbor With Aaron, July 2011

While I was preparing to mail in my last batch of film to The Darkroom to be processed, I found an old mystery roll sitting in a basket in the dining room. So I chucked it in the mailer and ponied up $11 to see what was on it.

Last time I did that, I got 30-year-old seagull photos from when my family lived in Florida. This time, I got four-year-old photos from one time Aaron and I spent the day in Ann Arbor.

AA-Aaron

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The “Go Without” Challenge

My employer has established their own non-profit for the purpose of assisting employees in need. Anyone who works for my company can fill out an application to receive assistance — say, if their home got hit by a natural disaster or fire; or if someone is escaping domestic violence; or if someone in the family fell ill, or needed major surgery, or died unexpectedly. Sometimes life just takes a turn, and people don’t have the resources to cover basic expenses, even if they have insurance. That’s where my company’s non-profit comes into play: helping out with financial hardships outside one’s control.

Every summer, we have a pledge drive, and get the opportunity to make a one-time donation, or to sign up (as I do) for a recurring donation out of our paycheck. The pledge drive lasts two weeks, and always has a theme: being a hero for someone else, or walking in their shoes, or getting yourself in the picture. This year, the theme is The “Go Without” Challenge.

I know a little bit about going without. My family was never well-off while I was growing up, and was usually on some sort of public assistance. We didn’t go without food, or shelter, or anything major like that, but there were times when I was aware of going without certain things.  (more…)

Sprinkled some cinnamon and nutmeg in my iced latte and was transported back to my days at BGSU, hanging out with @wamydia at @gftbg.

Talking of the Butter for the Royal Slice of Bread

Connor is able to sit through slightly longer stories with slightly fewer pictures as he gets older and his attention span and comprehension gets a little better. In his collection of books (and he does have quite the collection, most of which belonged to his Dad and his uncle back in the day), there are a few titles that I used to have as a child — like the Better Homes and Gardens Story Book.

My Mom says I was able to read at age three (my son’s age now), but my memories of laying on my floor and reading this book on my own are more around age 5 or 6, I think. It’s a collection of stories and poems, and I had some favorites, and there are some I’d never read at all — for instance, I don’t even want to tackle the dialects in the Uncle Remus stories as an adult, reading aloud.

Connor specifically asked for The King’s Breakfast one day, though, and that tickled me, because I do remember liking that one — partly because I also saw it on The Muppet Show:

I think, perhaps, that my tendency to read it to Connor in my fake British accent stems from me subconsciously imitating Twiggy as I read it aloud.

TBT: Ballet Recital, 1983

Connor and I were watching the episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood where Mr. Rogers visits the Dance Theatre of Harlem. Of course, I mentioned to Connor that Mommy used to take ballet class when she was little — and, of course, he wanted to see pictures.

Mom, Memaw, and me before my ballet recital

I took ballet class at Laura Penton’s Academy of Classical Ballet (later renamed the Medina Academy of Classical Ballet, now long since gone) from when I was four years old to when I was eight. Over those four years, I performed in three recitals (we moved to Florida in 1984 just before what would have been my final recital), but I could only find photos of my last recital from 1983, when I was seven — the one with the purple sequined leotard and tutu with the magic wand and matching star tiara.

All the snapshots of my actual dance recitals involve me looking like I’m out of sync with everyone else, in addition to being a head taller than all most of the other girls. My mother insists that this is because all the other girls were taking their cues from me. I think she’s just saying that because she’s my mother.

I'm the tall one on the end.

(Now that I look closer, though, none of us are really in sync, and we all look very serious, like we’re concentrating with all our seven-year-old might. And none of us have particularly good turn-out — of all my memories of ballet class, I recall our teacher harping on us the most about that.)

I also wonder if future generations whose major life moments were captured on early digital cameras or cell phone cameras will experience the same kind of technology regret that I feel when I look at these old pics from my Mom’s 110 Instamatic. There’s something kind of meta there, too, though… some parallel between the fuzzy memory and the fuzzy picture. Try as you might, some details just can’t be recalled exactly as they were.