Friday, July 24, 2015

The Spice(s) of Life

Did I mention my Mom, in addition to being an artist, writer, and musician, was a cook?

She loved to experiment and was always thrilled to find a new spice or spice blend. And the hotter the better. (Seriously Mom? What exactly did you think you were going to do with four GALLONS of dehydrated peppers?!)

Dad, not so much. He is a very simple cook (honestly, I wasn't even sure he knew how to cook until a couple of weeks before Mom passed. His idea of "taking care of dinner" when Mom was sick, my entire life, was to order pizza.)

I take after Dad and my brother (who lives out of state) takes after Mom in our cooking. For Dad and I, a little salt, pepper, onion powder is generally all that's needed, and if I do need more, I want to blend it myself, not use someone else's ideas of the right proportions.

The result is, Mom had a massive spice rack (3' X 1 1/2' X 6") packed completely full, plus spices stashed in other places throughout her kitchen. It worked for her, and that's great :-)

Doesn't work so much for Dad. He was feeling a bit overwhelmed any time he looked at that rack. You could almost see panic in his eyes.

So yesterday I pulled out everything, shelf by shelf, that I knew for a fact he would never use (i.e. 8 different "Mrs. Dashes" blends). If I was unsure, I put it aside and asked him later.

Than I pulled out from those I removed what I knew I would use (i.e. coarse sea salt. Four different kinds of coarse sea salt).

The rest, a full 2x3' box, I took to a friend of Mom's who also loves to experiment with her cooking.

What a difference it made in that kitchen! It now looks so inviting!

And Dad looked so much less stressed when he looked at it :-)

All in all, a good day's work:-)


  1. Hi, Betty. I tried to leave a comment along these lines yesterday (possibly Thursday), but I think Blogspot ate it -- second time's the charm, though!

    Good job handling this -- what a mitzvah!* And seeing your father feel better must've been a wonderful reward. It's great that you can be present to help him grieve (and adjust!) -- also that he can do the same for you. :)

    Also, earlier you kinda teased yourself a bit for being "long-winded," but don't be even a little bit sorry! That's /good/ -- there's no way to get to know someone on the Internet /except/ to ask long-form questions and get long-form answers. :) Plus, I'm kinda garrulous myself, although I'm /sure/ you couldn't possibly have noticed. *innocent whistle goes here*

    On that note, I feel like I've created this weird information asymmetry, where I know a lot about /you/ but you know almost nothing about /me/ -- I'm a bit worried that it feels like a faceless stranger is interrogating you. A friendly one, I hope, but still!

    So if you *do* have any questions, or if you'd like me to stand up and tell the class a bit about myself (wait, wrong idiom for a homeschooler...), please do feel free to ask. :) -- David

    * Re: "What a mitzvah!" -- I'm Jewish**, we're allowed to say this. ;D Plus, it's literally true! By honoring your father, you actually ARE fulfilling a commandment. Just sayin'.

    ** Well, more Jew-/ish/ than Jewish, if you see what I mean. But even so.

    1. :-) Your comment went through, but I didn't get on the computer this weekend except what I had to do to get ready for church, so it just sat in cyberspace waiting :-)

      A homeschooled niece was assigned to write a paragraph saying what she liked about each person in her life. For her Aunt Betty (me) she wrote "I like Aunt Betty because when you ask her a question, she gives you an essay." While she had simply misspelled "answer" I think essay was probably more on the spot! lol.

      " I'm a bit worried that it feels like a faceless stranger is interrogating you." Actually you've been a lot nicer than some of the relatives on facebook have been. There's a couple of reasons I don't really do FB anymore, and argumentative cousins is one of them. I much prefer friendly strangers :-)

      I would love to know more about who I'm talking too, though. Where are you coming from on this whole decluttering thing? Tell us about yourself.

    2. "Actually you've been a lot nicer than some of the relatives on facebook have been. There's a couple of reasons I don't really do FB anymore, and argumentative cousins is one of them. I much prefer friendly strangers :-)"

      Ahhh, Facebook arguments. How little I miss them. :)

      Re: online civility in general: it strikes me that one of the chief functions of Facebook is to show off our tribal identities -- "Look what a good conservative (or liberal) I am! I think the right things and I read the right things and I say the right things, /so I am the right kind of person/. I belong!"

      When that's the subtext behind every political post, it's /really hard/ to have a civil disagreement, because anyone who disagrees will hear this message: "You don't belong. You are *less than.* Go away, outsider." -- and boy oh boy does that set most people's blood a-boilin'.

      So of course they respond by lashing out, and now you can't just take that sitting down, because /obviously/ your tribe is the RIGHT tribe, and who do these jerks think they are to spit on your beliefs? On your moral system? On your IDENTITY? Uh-uh, no SIR. This means WAR.

      This is not ideal for family harmony. :)

      (BTW, I'm curious -- how well does the, um, "tribal marker" theory I laid out above describe what you're feeling when you make a political post here? Do you feel like you're asserting "I belong, and I am one of many." -- or does it have a different emotional flavor entirely? I mean, as long as I'm making /bold proclamations/ about other people's motives, I should at least check how my theory matches up with your lived experience, to see if I'm full of BS. :) )

      Aaand I seem to have written several paragraphs without introducing myself. Oh dear. I gotta run to go do housework, since it's my day off and I've wasted faaaaaaaaaaar too much of it already. But! I'll pop back 'round in a bit (or at least in the next day or two...) to actually answer your question. Promise! -- David

  2. There is at least some to what you have said about tribes.

    Sometimes I post things because I know friend/relative A will enjoy or be encouraged about X, only to have relative (almost always a relative:-( Older ones at that. Maybe there is something of correcting "Little Susie" there. Hadn't thought of that before. Hmmm.) B try to tell me I am wrong or at least shouldn't post my opinion because some people disagree with me. I'm not looking for an argument, just sharing what I find interesting with like minded people.

    Other times I am continuing some teaching I did with nieces and nephews (now grown) when they were little. If they don't appreciate it they let me know. No big deal.

    Other times I am letting a friend who simply hasn't had the time or resources to research a different point of view know that there are options out there (had one friend [this time not a relative] take me to task for posting articles on the damage done by daycare because she is a single parent and has no choice.

    "Hello! You aren't my only e-friend! I had several relatives at the time who actually never considered that there might be a negative to daycare. I wanted them to think before making such a decision. Just because you had no choice doesn't mean choice should be denied to those that can have options. They have no options if they don't have all the information from all sides."


    Even without the disagreements, though, I am happier without FB. Because of Mom's death I have been checking in again (really is the best way to communicate with large parts of the family at once). I see a definite difference in my mood, even though I blocked the arguers. So I am going back to only doing FB for the occasional business and to check on one friend facing brain tumors. Anyone else needs me they can message or email me.

    Look forward to "meeting" you :-)

  3. Oh, boy. I re-read my post and it sounded like I was saying "Well, you brought those arguments on yourself," which is not at all how I meant it! I apologize -- sincerely & without reservation. :)

    It /also/ sounded like I was saying that /you/ had tribal loyalties and /I/ didn't, but gosh! Of course I do! Frankly, I'd be worried about anyone who /didn't/. :) Plus, as a certified Member of the Tribe, I can hardly claim I'm not a member of a tribe....

    Summin' up here: phrasing is hard! Please forgive me if I sounded condescending. I didn't mean to, honest. And if I ever sound like a jerk in the future, just call me on it! It will NEVER be my aim to sound hostile and I'll ALWAYS apologize if I do. :)

    So! Yes. A bit about me: in many ways, I'm your exact opposite (which is why I found your blog so fascinating!) -- I'm a secular Jew who you'd prrrobably consider liberal (though actually I was a registered Republican until 2013, am now an independent, and I don't THINK I've voted a straight party ticket since my first election... so maybe that would make me a moderate from your point of view? But I digress!); I live with my girlfriend in the San Francisco Bay Area (so, hey, *relative to my environment*, I'm SUPER-conservative! Just sayin'.); and if we ever /do/ get married and have kids, I imagine we would stop at a maximum of two.

    Plus, the women in my family have all had very accomplished careers -- and when I say "all," I really mean *all*. My mom is arguably the most distinguished person in her field in modern US history, no joke (she's the only library director to win *two* National Library of the Year awards from the ALA, with two different libraries); my sister has a Master's in social work and heads up our county's homelessness prevention programs; I have an aunt who's a lawyer for the State Department, another who's a nurse, and another who was a commander in the Navy until she retired to raise her kids.

    And my dad, who's an Orthodox Jew (modern Orthodox, not ultra-Orthodox -- it's the difference between Mennonites and Amish people, think of it that way :) ) -- anyway. My dad is getting re-married next month, to a very observant Orthodox woman who runs her own consulting firm and don't ask nobody's permission for nothin'.

    So! Like I said: diametrically opposite values. We have them!

    But we have have them in ways that really, really interest me -- especially because we seem to have fairly similar /personalities/ (what up, my fellow Chatty Cathy ;D). So I'm super interested in getting to know you and understanding /why/ you see the world the way you do, which is why I ask so many questions. Also it's neat to form friendships (however tentative and Internetty) across such a vast gulf of opinion and culture. :) And of course I welcome any questions /you/ may have, since I'm probably a pretty alien creature to /you/ (like, anything from "Why do secular people /care/ so much about gay rights?!" to "So if your dad's observant, why aren't you?" to "Doesn't it bother you to be living in sin?" or "What's public school LIKE in the most secular part of the US?" -- I would also accept questions like "OK, but seriously, is it true that no one in California EVER uses their turn signal?").

    LAST BUT NOT LEAST, I'm /100% sure/ I'll make mistaken assumptions about you based on stereotypes sometimes-- when that happens, I *actively want you* to say "Hey! Not cool. That's not really what I believe," or "how I behave" or "what I teach my children" /or whatever/. You gotta call me on my BS, because that's the only way I'll /realize/ it's BS. Deal? :)

    -- David

    P.S. I forgot to say the /most/ important thing -- your new laundry room looks fantastic! Well done. :) That's a VERY pleasing shade of yellow -- and so cheerful-looking!

  4. So very nice to "meet" you:-)

    It is cool to meet new people and learn new things; get different perspectives. Ditto on the "calling out" if I make assumptions.

    Oh I didn't take your comment hostile at all:-) I realize I am threatening others identity by some of what I have posted on FB. Totally took it as them, not me:-) (though I would agree with worrying about anyone without tribes and I do have my own)

    Actually, I'm not a Republican. I'm independent too. In some areas I actually vote what would be considered quite liberal, though most of my views tend to the conservative side.

    I grew up in Riverside, California so I'm a wee bit familiar with the state, though I am sure SO CA is nothing like San Fran. I went to PS too. Did well. Good grades. Had friends. That's a big part of why I will not be sending my dc to PS! I know all about it and am not impressed :-D

    So why did you choose a different path than your Dad?


Thank you so much for commenting! I love to talk to my readers.

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Please keep it civil. Remember we are all human and make mistakes, and that since we can't see each other's faces or hear each other's tone of voice, it is very hard to get the emotion in what we are saying each other. Use lots of emoticons! :-) And show grace and love to each other.