Veggie Chili for Bud and Mike

I had a request for a vegetarian chili recipe I made back in 2004 or 2005. I am not that good…and when I cook (as opposed to bake) I don’t need no stinkin recipe. But for Bud and Mike, I am gonna try to remember…

It’s basically a mashup of cans and frozen food.

1 can black beans

1 can pinto beans

1 can of kidney beans (light, dark, or white)

1 lb package of veggie crumbles (the chorizo style would be good too)

1 onion, diced

1 pepper, diced

2-3 cloves of garlic crushed and minced

1 can crushed tomatoes (28 oz…or the big 20+ oz can)

Salt

White Pepper

Chili powder (I actually use ground ancho chili now)

Cumin

Olive oil

So, saute the onion, pepper, and garlic in the oil until soft. Add veggie crumbles and heat through. Add spices, beans, and tomatoes.

If the mixture seems to be too tight, add some veggie broth or more tomatoes.

It is done at this point, but tastes better after a rest overnight.

You can probably do it in a Crock-Pot too… but I’d add the oil on the bottom and then the fresh veggies, then start at the top of the list of ingredients and work your way down.

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Another excerpt

I thought I would share one of the very “Mary moments” in the book. This is pretty much how I would react if I ran into like….geez, I guess like (I’m having problems thinking of a rock star I haven’t met that I have the hots for…) Brad Gillis. I’ve met him but I will always be star struck around him.

(By the way, I’ve tried to fix the double space at the end and can’t…)

——

Leah turned around to see Cade Carrington, Jay’s boss, lead guitarist of Wild Child, and blonde bombshell

standing behind her. For just a moment she might have stopped breathing. She quickly turned away from

him to see if maybe she was imagining him standing there. She shook her head and counted to ten in her

head. When she turned back, he was still there.

Although she had dated Jay, she had never actually gotten a chance to meet Cade. And, she really hadn’t

thought about it much because she was too into Jay and being with him. But now here she was, just a

random fan in the lobby of the hotel Wild Child was staying in…and randomly she encountered a band

member…in the lobby…and of course it had to be her…what was Jay considered now…ex…sorta…boss…

She also knew him from years of being a Wild Child fan. Being a Cade Carrington fan. All the pictures of

him in the guitar magazines her brothers read when she was growing up raced through her mind like a

crazy teen girl’s scrapbook of fan mag photos. His hair was a bit shorter now, but still gorgeously golden,

his eyes were deeply blue, and he still had the same smile she recalled from all those magazine photos.

For a moment she was thrown back in time reliving flipping through the pages of Guitar for the Practicing

Musician magazine, wishing she could pull out the photos of him and his Black Beauty…the guitar was

sexy, but damn…Cade Carrington in person was way hotter than she ever imagined.

Unsure of where he had appeared from, it seemed as though he was just randomly passing through the

lobby since he wore flip flops, a pair of faded jeans, and his sunglasses hung from the neck of his wrinkled

tie dyed tee shirt. How did she have all the luck of running into him at this hour? It would have been so

much easier if he were Trevor. Or Mike. Or any other person in the universe that wasn’t Cade

Carrington.

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Mary History 101

Actually, probably this is more of Mary History 401…advanced history. But I’m thinking about it and I might as well write it down.

Quick catch up. I moved to California in 1987 (with a dear friend, Charlene…who still lives there today) and in a bizarre twist of fate met someone from New Jersey and “fell in love” and moved to New Jersey. Let’s just say that it didn’t work out well for me. And, when I realized I couldn’t “fix” an alcoholic, I escaped the situation…I’ll spare you the yucky details.

I packed up my shit (some of it) and drove to my parents house in Massachusetts to get away from the situation. And, one thing I had was my Great White cassette of Psycho City (sorry it’s so big…I’m working on limited technology after a hell week of over-technologying)

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When you’re escaping something, sometimes the littlest things made the biggest difference. I carry the impact this album had on me to this day. Thus the blog. Hair Nation just played Big Goodbye. Now, I love EVERY song on this album, but Big Goodbye was exactly what I was doing as I drove away from four years invested in someone who completely alienated me from friends, made me feel useless, ugly, fat, and a multitude of other emotions/self-imposed … things.

I didn’t learn TOO much from that experience because I married the next guy that smiled at me and divorced him. Sigh, Mary….

I’ve met the guys in Great White (that didn’t end well either but I’ll spare those details) and to this day I’m not sure I ever told them that they saved my life with this album. I may not be the world’s biggest Great White fan anymore, but I have to say that Psycho City changed my life. Saved my life…and despite all the water under the bridge…it is still important to me.

I haven’t listened to it in a while. Actually, I had the LP, the cassette, and the CD (I think several copies of the cassette) but I’m not 100% positive where the CD is…maybe Summerville. Anyway, I should listen to it again. I may still be able to recite the preface to Psycho City from memory.

Great White gave me a number of amazing friends…and Psycho City “led me” to freedom. Go figure.

 

 

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Would you read this?

Really, I’m just wondering. I don’t think this is much more than 100 words of a story I’ve been writing for um…..a few months now. And yeah, I’m trusting the general population not to steal it, but whatever. I’ve got it saved on my PC and in the cloud under my information for uh…months now…LOL so…

It’s a novel, it’s not true although the main characters do have some traits that are kinda similar to some people near and dear to my heart (uh…guitar guy…falls in love with a redhead…who could I mean?)

“How long were you married?”

Without hesitation or even looking up at her, he replied, “Two houses and one kid long…” and then he laughed. “Fourteen years. We were high school sweethearts though. We were together almost twenty-eight years. Knew each other for thirty.”

The end of such a long term relationship didn’t seem as painful to Cade as Leah would have imagined it should be, to her at least. He rolled on his side and brushed another stray auburn tendril out of her face. “I should be more distraught, shouldn’t I?” he asked. “I can see it on your face.”

“No, I guess not. I’m sure you have your reasons.” The words came out of her mouth lacking sincerity and he cocked his head at her.

He pushed himself up on one elbow and said, “You think I should be more upset….” He laughed, not upset or annoyed…just amused. “You’re judging me,” he joked. “It’s probably true I should be more upset. We loved each other, or at least I thought we did. But the last five years she’d been having an affair with one of the neighbors while I was in the studio and on the road.”

Leah looked at the mattress, feeling sorry for being as judgmental as he had accused her of. “Oh…shit…I see…I’m …”

“Don’t feel bad, I get it. I didn’t really explain it very well, you don’t know me that well, and you have every right to wonder who this guy is you just had sex with. A couple of times…or so…” His mouth crept into a sweet smile. “You should want to know who you’re in bed with…literally.”

 

There are about 61,600 more words in the book. 🙂

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Some sort of cray cray

I’m in a life-phase right now that many of you (all twelve) haven’t experienced with me in the past. I recognize the signs. If you haven’t known me since the 80s, you may not. Hell, if you HAVE known me that long you may not recognize the signs.

The crazy I feel like I’m going through happens to be a more positive crazy than the last two times. Previous times have resulted in all out moves (to California, from California, to North Carolina…see where I’m going with this?) But I don’t feel like that this time. I guess my advancing age has me taking some of the “positive impact” features while leaving the negative ones out. Maybe it’s cuz I’m 55 now (my piss poor typing skills just had my fingers type 44 instead of 55. Is that wishful thinking?) and I know my purpose in life is currently being where I am doing what I’m doing right this minute. Maybe I just grew up a little bit. GASP.

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Anyway, the crazy does still include obsessing over the music I can’t help loving. And so, I’ve had a few of my favorite bands on repeat. Okay, I’ve had Warrant on repeat for two weeks now. But, I feel a slide over to some other band coming in the near future. Why does this merit an entire blog post? Here’s why:

  • This music has always encouraged me to “be my best me” – I’ve got a super-critical eye when I look at myself and there have just been a few things I couldn’t seem to get “on top of” in the past seven years (read back thru old blogs, you’ll figure them out)
  • This music has always inspired me to play the guitar. Or more creative. I am unsure if it’s nostalgia driving me to remember the days of playing my guitar along with all these songs pretending some day I would play in public (not talented enough to do that so don’t go there) as the *next Nancy Wilson* or some sort of insane dream
  • This music has always driven me to write. Used to be poetry I believed would some day become song lyrics but today it’s trying to get those crazy “love stories” (using that term very loosely) down as they tumble around in my head.

I would be lying if I said that the idea of giving it all up and joining the circus (I’m using little Mary metaphors there…) didn’t creep into my head. But (and here comes the GROWING UP thing) I’ve got responsibilities. I hate having responsibilities. Really. If I could just have the responsibility of driving to see concerts for the next ten years, I don’t think I would complain.

And, so I blog. I’m hoping blogging about this will kinda unblock the creativity block I’ve run into – not just my personal writing…a little blocked in the professional area too. I’ve never struggled so much to get 10 words down for two days…it’s killing me. And the stuff I’m writing after work is flat too. Not exciting me, not flowing. Honestly, Saturday it was rolling out of me like a broken faucet. Sigh.

If playing loud (and I do mean loud…I’m hard of hearing, if you didn’t know) Warrant (and other bands at some point) music unblocks this friggin clog in my brain, I will be eternally grateful to the soul of Jani Lane, and to all the other members of Warrant (including Robert Mason…Rockaholic and Louder Harder Faster are GREAT albums!)

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Thirty Year Old Salsa

No, the salsa isn’t actually thirty years old. That would be kinda gross, huh? But way back in 1988, while I was living in Rohnert Park, I somehow recall being involved in some sort of neighborly cookout with our neighbors Bill  & Sherri. I connect this recipe to that time but I’m not at all sure it actually happened like that.

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So, in an effort to keep this recipe going…I wanted to get it written down. This is a bit different than the original because the original calls for canned chiles, which I always have, but I wanted to roast a poblano and make my own roasted chile. I did that first. In a cast iron pan…on high, turning until the skin was blistered. I then cored it and chopped it into a small dice.

Here we go with ingredients:

1/2 a sweet onion, chopped fine

1 garlic clove, minced

Zest and juice of one lime

(Put these ingredients in a bowl and let sit while you do the rest of the prep)

1 diced roasted poblano (or 1 can of green chiles)

3 large seeded, chopped beefsteak tomatoes (or approximately 2 cups of chopped tomatoes)

(Optional – kernels of roasted corn cut from one ear of white corn)

I used Penzey’s Salsa spice mixture, but you could make your own with cumin, coriander, ancho chili powder, and Mexican oregano. About 1 tbsp total.

Zest and juice of a 2nd lime

Normally I would also add probably 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro but my husband hates it so I left it out.

Salt to taste

Stir to combine vegetables. Reserve 1 cup of chunky mixture and place the rest in a blender. Blend to desired consistency. Pour back into the reserved mixture and let sit in fridge overnight.

I believe there’s a way to tighten it up (it’s pretty juicy) with corn tortillas pulverized in a food processor. I haven’t ever done it, but you can probably google the method. I am a fan of both a pico de gallo type salsa where there’s no blended portion, and also of true salsa where it’s mostly liquid. Name it salsa and I’m all about it.

As with every recipe…it’s a guide. Lots of  “to taste”…..because it’s all about taste!

 

 

 

 

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Brand New Day

Those of you who know me outside of this blog know that one of my loves in life is rock ‘n roll. Something very few people know is that there’s a note from a dear friend in my high school yearbook that says, “I hope you marry your rock star” which upset me at the time because I was actually going to BE a rock star, not marry one.

Fast forward all these years and I really am married to my rock star. You all know him as Jim but it’s true. He’s worked with some of the greats, fulfilled a lot of dreams the rest of the “normal people” would never consider dreaming. Now he’s MY rock star and he has settled in the Carolinas, where the music industry is ruled by…well, let’s just say it’s not the burgeoning biz you might expect here. (Joke there…)

And, if you’ve been around a while, you read about the “night of dreams” when he played with one of my favorite national acts, Winger, right here in Myrtle Beach (he did in Charlotte too but the first one was mind boggling)…actually 4 years ago tomorrow night.

To keep it in that same vein, he stood in with my favorite local band last night. We consider Matt Parker (and Jeremy Davis) to be close friends and love Matt Parker and the Deacons so much so that we have included them in our date nights multiple times…like on our fifth anniversary and my recent birthday. Matt asked Jim to stand in for a few songs last night. Playing four original songs. Matt’s originals are amazing, so seek out their videos on YouTube (Matt Parker and the Deacons).

Jim got to play Drama Queen, one my favorite songs Matt has written – there are many ones he’s written that I love but Drama Queen…yup. Awesome song. Hooky as hell. I sing it for days after hearing it.

Here’s a picture of Jim playing with our friend Dave Pasq…wanna see him playing live with MPD? My Facebook “handle” is 1CharlestonSC. Send me a friend request and watch his videos. If you DO send me a friend request, I don’t do political on my FB page. Just puppies, happy times, and cute farm animals. Start it and you’re gone. Oh, and otters. I love otters.

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Mental health

Short but sweet. I promise.

I don’t suppose to know anything about struggling with depression so deep that you consider suicide. I also don’t want to trivialize the topic by waxing poetic. I’ll give a couple of opinions and then one fact.

Opinions:

  • I can’t imagine a pain so great that death is the only way out and the idea that someone is in that much pain saddens me.
  • Although I’ve heard in this darkest hour you feel you’re alone and this act is the only way out, you are never alone.

Fact:

  • If you are in a state of desiring death over life, reach out to someone because someone is always there.

    Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline    1-800-273-8255  because they are always available. There’s no shame in reaching out. There’s no shame in asking for help. There’s no shame in knowing your limit and understanding the ramifications of your next move. 

I’m praying for all those who are on the edge…

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More than just a royal wedding

I woke up late – at 8 AM (Eastern time) but luckily, the Royal Channel on YouTube was preparing a rebroadcast immediately after the “ride around”…which was perfectly timed post coffee cup #2 for me.

Really, I’ve seen a lot of “haters” saying how they aren’t impressed at a royal wedding…and that’s sad. Why? Because of what Rev. Michael Curry preached. Love is the answer. He summed up the reason we ALL should be thrilled by a public, social, OUT THERE display of two people committing to love. Because love IS the answer. That specific statement has been sung, spoken, preached, proverbed, exhorted…but we don’t listen.

Love is powerful. Love does conquer all and if you are a nay-sayer there, then you have never been enveloped in a love that is healing. So, off I go into the Christianic version of why this is true.

I don’t have a specific date and time in my mind when I confirmed and stated that Jesus Christ is my savior. I know a lot of Christians do. But quite honestly, I have always accepted it. I do remember the time when I realized that Christ had performed the ultimate act of love…dying so that I could have eternal life…dying so that my sins would be forgiven…taking on my sin (and there’s a LOT of that) so that I am right with God. Can you imagine that? Who would you die for? Seriously. Ask yourself that. Who would I die for?

I can’t answer it. I wish I could…oh, many of you will say your wife, your country…and I truly hope that is so, but I know I am a coward. I don’t fear death, but I’m not ready for it…so I’m not sure I would be willing to die for….anyone.

Anyway, the reason I bring that up is because the ultimate act of love was demonstrated on the Cross at Calvary…by Christ. To give up his life so that we are free…we will live in heaven forever, with our heavenly father.

So…if that’s the ultimate act of love, why do people do awful things (say awful things, think awful things, commit awful acts) in the name of God? Why does God let bad things happen to good people? (C’mon, you’ve asked yourself that before. I know you have…)

God wants everything to be good. He wants all of us to live in harmony, in love, in happiness, in communion. If you’ve read even a portion of the New Testament, hopefully you’ve gotten at least that…So why does he “let” bad things happen? He really doesn’t. And by virtue of the fact that we have GOOD, we then assume there is another team on the ball field. That team is EVIL.

Consider this – when you see something horrible happen, even if the perpetrator CLAIMS heavenly guidance, remember that the devil wears many masks. Those masks cover the face and the hearts of “good people” and obscure their vision and connection to God. Whether you believe in God or not, you have to believe there are two teams playing. Those who are good, and those who are not. I’m just taking that analogy to a Heavenly angle.

So…why? Why all this with a tie-in to the royal wedding. Listen to Rev. Curry’s sermon if you have time – because he just about tasks Harry & Meghan with changing the world through love. How can you watch two “kids” starting their married life so much in hope and love and not feel that maybe…somewhere…possibly hidden in this fragmented, sad, distressed, bickering, finger-pointing world…maybe somewhere there is love. Love that will go beyond just a couple of kids…Love that will begin a take-over.

I work for a company named Blackbaud. We have a motto of “Helping Good Take Over” and I would like to say right now that we…those of us RIGHT NOW, RIGHT HERE, IN THIS DAY AND TIME…pledge to *stop* the hatred, sadness, poverty, arguing, pain, suffering, hunger, division, finger-pointing, name-calling, “unfriending”, complaining…stop hyperfocusing on what is bad in this world and stop for a moment. STOP RIGHT NOW.

…If you’re still reading, do this with me. Right now. Take a slow breath in. Hold it for a count of five and as you exhale promise yourself (or the world) that you will do one good thing today. It’s a promise. So go do that one good thing.

If you read this far, if you have persevered, my hope is that you take to heart the above paragraph and commit to doing the same exercise every day. It doesn’t even take a minute. It’s a count of five…and a promise.

I had in my head to use Matthew 22:38 as a reference point for this blog, but oddly enough the Verse of the Day I came up with is Luke 6:35-36 and as always, God’s timing is perfect.

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I am happy that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle begin their life in love today. Whether royal or common…rich, poor, American, French, Swiss, English, Egyptian, Japanese, Morrocan, Kenyan, German…you get the picture…marriage…a life of love…is just one part of the LOVE picture.

Take that breath now. And go out in love. Help someone today.

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What It’s Like…

Really, there’s no way to describe what life is like here. I’m not complaining because I have a fantastically blessed life. Overall, my life is so wonderful. However, there is reality in the fact that Jim & I are caregivers. And care-giving is hard. Really hard.

Most days, we maintain a super-rigid schedule because change is the enemy. There must be a standard wake-up time, breakfast period, wash and dress time, and then she switches between TV and crosswords or just crosswords. Jim tries to encourage her to play the piano multiple times a week and he has noticed days with piano-playing are days when we are engaged with her longer.

Because I work from around 7:30-6 PM most days, I don’t get a ton of interaction time and I typically see her after sundowning begins. For those of you unsure what sundowning is, it’s the period of time where as the sun goes down, the patient becomes more closed-off and quiet. Some Alzheimer’s patients sundown in an almost catatonic state. Not mom, but those hours past 2-3 PM are “iffy”. Sometimes we have her, other times we have someone I’m not familiar with.

There have been days where dinnertime is wrought with silence, broken only by Jim cracking a joke or two…sometimes she laughs, sometimes she doesn’t even hear him. I’ve even had times where I have tried to strike up a conversation and she just stares at me as if I’m invisible.

When I think about her memory issues as related to her age, I often wonder how bad is it? I mean, really, I forget a ton and I’m only 54. So, how bad is it that she forgets stuff, right? The key is not forgetting things. The key is, can she care for herself? No. She can’t. She can’t drive anymore – she started getting very lost about five years ago although she was never Magellan to begin with. She also is not good with remembering general health and welfare items. That’s why Jim and I are here. We ensure she is eating, drinking water, and taking care of daily standard tasks so she is in good health. And by the way, the doctor says she’s in good health (she went for her semi-annual physical yesterday).

We’re trying an experiment this year. We’re trying to celebrate her 90th birthday (yep…she’s gonna be the big 9-0 on April 15, 2018)  with a bit of fanfare. We’ve asked people she doesn’t even know to send a birthday card to her. We’re collecting them here on my desk and on her birthday, we are going to surprise her with (hopefully) a huge stack of cards. She loves greeting cards! (If you want to be involved, you can comment on this blog post with your email address and I’ll email you her name and address!)

So now you know a little bit about what it is like. This is by far not the extent of life here in the sunny Carolinas. But it is a huge part of my life, and my life with Jim. We are here for the long haul. Not looking for praise, just tellin’ it like it is….

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