Crema

noticing joy on the surface of simple things … the evidence of holiness happening in the daily grind.

The Doors Calvin Opened April 25, 2014

Filed under: Adventure,Courage,Dogs,Expectations,new places,Uncategorized — lauradegroot @ 2:46 am
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The trademark of an official Floridian is that one will not go in the ocean during the ‘winter months because one thinks the water is too cold.

After 18 months, I am officially not a Floridian.  Though the water is chilly at first some days, if you stay there a wave or five, it is warm enough to enter.   Call me Coloradoan.  There are still many times I sit or walk on the sand and feel like I am on an extended time away from Colorado.  Not vacation exactly, maybe in-between there and somewhere else.

I think I was attached to familiar and would like that status again.  With the exception of a few good restaurants, a church we attend, some great people we hang out with,  and the ocean, South Florida still has an awful lot of unfamiliar.

“Unfamiliar is part of the adventure,” so say’s my confident-self.

“Listen Polly positive, where in the heck am I and what am I supposed to be doing here in this foreign place?, ” replies my cynic-self.

That dialogue needs interrupting, re-writing, a new perspective.  Or I am going to miss out on something.

 

It is dawning on me that walking through new doors, going to new places, meeting new people, trying new things could be done with  wide-eyed expectation.   Too often I respond with fear, defensiveness,  sometimes unwillingness.

As a natural connector, a liaison of resources, being unfamiliar is frustrating.  I am not helpful to people because of what I don’t know.  Instead I really need connectors, liaisons.    I’d rather be needed than needy.  Just being honest…  I’m aware this is a struggle, and I’m trying to let it simmer down.

Recently I  entered a place where familiar doesn’t matter.  I walked through a door that Calvin opened.   My ordinary yellow labrador, who prefers people over retrieving anything,  took me to a place I otherwise would not have gone.  The place was something like neutral territory.

Just over 6 months ago, Calvin and I took the Therapy Dog International (TDI) test.  We trained for 6 weeks and passed, even though he had to repeat the “leave it”  task.  (meaning to walk calmly by a row of bowls filled with temptations; balls, toys – no problem;   dish FULL of dog treats – problem).  Once the paperwork was complete, we just had to find a place to go ‘visiting’.

One day in the park, I met a man with a friendly goldendoodle  who was TDI certified.  He told me to contact a local Assisted Living community where they often went.   Calvin and I have walked through the doors of that place for many weeks now.  Because of my time working for a hospice in Boulder, I am fairly comfortable in the setting.  Staff and residents appreciate dog visits and Calvin is pretty good with the Elders.  He has leaned up against a few, threatening to topple them as they give his head a good scratch, but   we are working on that!  One particular man, who is somewhere between 95 and 100, (the age changes a little each time I am there), calls Calvin the beast.  Yet, when his thick fingers find just the right spot behind the ear, Calvin sits perfectly still, not even tail movement.  It mesmerizes me because this is the only person that makes Calvin goes that still.

A request came through TDI for an organization wanting therapy dogs.  The organization was a women’s drug and alcohol rehab center. This would be a big commitment as  back to back groups of women have about an hour outside having a snack, a smoke, a visit with therapy dogs.  We decided to try it once.  The outdoor setting is a circular space with a concrete half wall, bench all along the inside of the wall, shade tree in the center.  Attached to one side  is a gazebo .  A chair blocks the one way in so the dogs may wander from person to person.  Only one pup likes to play with the ball.   They all enjoy attention.   There is no familiar-unfamiliar.   No one is from there, knows someone there, or thought they would be there one day.   I’m surprised to find myself  there; ordinary me with my ordinary yellow lab.  I’m surprised by the women I hang out with.  They could be my best friend, my daughter, my neighbor, my mother, me.  Being Floridian, Coloradoan, Georgian, Texan, or New Yorkan doesn’t matter.   The neutral space was leveled by common love of dogs, being loved by dogs, and sharing dog stories.  I’m so glad I didn’t miss this.

We continue to visit there.

Maybe familiar isn’t all I need.  Maybe being Floridian isn’t the goal.  Maybe the struggle will give way to expectancy.   Maybe Calvin will open another door.

If he does…I’m going in.

 

Calvin and a few of his fellow visitors…

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This Is Dangerous April 8, 2014

Filed under: Cookbooks,Cooking,Dessert,Food Stories,Mother Mary,Uncategorized — lauradegroot @ 2:47 am
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Frankly I’m disappointed with the publicized Foodie world.

They made my favorite food a bad 4 letter word (“carb”); they send mixed messages about what To Eat and what Not To Eat.  They make talented cooks/bakers/chefs cry on television when they are kicked off-let go-voted away from the kitchen because what they made was not good enough.  They claim: sugar – bad; salt – bad; fat – bad = Flavor – bad.  They tipped the food pyramid upside down.  They hail the praises of a food or beverage and the next thing you know, that very item lands on  the questionable or “bad” list.

Last night we had a local college student for dinner.   He is a storytelling foodie and appreciates home-made.  When he inquired about dessert, I realized I had none.  That didn’t sit well with the love language part of my being.  So, while I was talking on the phone I pulled out Mother Mary’s Cookie Book and landed on ‘Brownies From Heaven’.  From start to completion – 30 min.  Topped those hot  chocolate babies with some home-made hot fudge.  I was not going to send that boy home without dessert.

So today here is what is setting on my counter .
20140407_153851“This is dangerous.”  I spoke that out loud after cutting one, then two, then 3 small…really pretty small…like bite-size small, well maybe two-bite size small pieces.  The knife is sitting on top of the pan of uncut gooey goodness.  Hot fudge stands by…dangerous right?  My Grandma Rozie probably never ever said those words looking at the same food.  I’ll bet she would have said: “This looks Delicious.  There sure are an awful lot of brownies for Grandpa Rozie and I.  Who could I share them with?”

The bad thought about something so good startled me.  Food is not our enemy.  Food is not out to harm.  Food actually isn’t confusing.  Those brownies are Good.  Nothing bad at all about them.  The only bad thing would be for me to act on the temptation to eat the rest of the pan, one bite-size piece at a time, in one sitting.  I’ve let too much bad publicity influence my food thinking.

Yesterday I was invited to a cooking class in a friend’s home.  She had a chef come over and teach us to make paella.  A number of firsts happened during that class:  first time seeing and using a paella pan; first time seeing a whole squid beheaded, de-tentacled, relieved from its fins and cellophane backbone, then cut in rings.  I am proud to say, I didn’t look away, though near to gagging.  While de-veining shrimp I heard it repeatedly called the ‘poopsac’.  That was a first, and the last time I will let a vein stay in my shrimp. First time using real saffron threads, spanish bomba rice and spanish paprika.  Not the first time I’ve seen a chef with their own knife bag with professional tools, but it was the first time I was allowed to use one of those knives.

Yesterday was the first time I’ve eaten authentic spanish paella with chicken, chorizo, shrimp, calamari, and mussels.  First time I’ve participated in its preparation.   Yes, I ate the tender squid and the mussels too.  If I ever make it for you – I might leave those ingredients out unless I find out you love squid and mussels.   Then I would put them in for sure.

First time I’ve had someone tell and show how to “layer the flavors”.  It takes time.  And that time is worth it.

People, Food Is Good.  Learning about it, looking at it, preparing it, shopping for it, eating it.   Let’s not be bamboozled by the negative food PR.  I decided to listen Grandma Rozies voice in my head and share the brownie love with a friend who has twins on the way and a house full of kids and company.   Don’t worry hubby – I’m gonna leave you a big-bite-size one.

Eat all things in moderation.  Enjoy food.  Even brownies.  They really aren’t dangerous.

 

 

 

Where Did I Go? April 4, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — lauradegroot @ 7:43 am

It it time to answer this question:

“Where did you go?”

Geographically, I went 9.3 miles North and East of where I previously picked up my mail.  We bought our place in November, spent 3 1/2 weeks remodeling, moved in December and 2 days later our girls came home.

We celebrated Christmas as a family.

The college girls returned to school.

We unpacked boxes, hung things on the walls, gave more furniture and stuff away.

Then, wonderful people kept showing up – in the kitchen, on the deck; coming for dinner; staying over.

We unpacked the storage spaces and under the beds where we just “put things for now.”

Still more giving away, loaning out, a little storing.

In the leaving of one place and coming to another my desk/space disappeared.  I got a portable computer – but somehow the lack of location has become a new obstacle  of sitting down to write.  And I had been on such a roll.  Why in the world is it so hard to get started…again?

I still have no desk.  I’m sitting on the patio, looking at the boats, the water, listening to the neighbors chatter. (BTW – sound travels loudly over water).  And I am starting again with this messy little note, explaining where I’ve gone.

Sometimes it’s helpful to go back to the basics when beginning again, so I will copy here what this blog, Crema, is meant to be. (From my website:  Lauradegroot.com)

espresso: a strong coffee brewed by forcing steam under pressure through darkly roasted, powdered coffee beans.

crema: the tan-colored foam that forms on the top of espresso–the simple, yet joyful evidence of coffee done well.

Crema is a place for writing about the simple yet joyful evidence of life done well. Not perfect mind you – not the writing nor the life, but observations of lessons learned, beauty noted, insight grasped. It is a space for stories about my favorite things, current events, and the activity of God.

Crema – the foam – is a part of the espresso beverage. It is the visual lure of espresso, the aroma, the mouthfeel, the flavor, the aftertaste of espresso.

Crema – the writing – is a part of life. It is in telling the story I share awareness of the sensation of Life, the flavor, color, commotion, the sentiment.

I most often enjoy crema, the beverage, in conversation with others. I am hoping that will happen here in Crema, the blog, as well.

I hope not to be gone so long this time.

 

 

 

 
followingthewatershed

wa·ter·shed (noun) 1. an area or ridge of land that separates waters flowing to different rivers, basins, or seas. 2. an event or period marking a turning point, a change of course.

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