Saturday, February 26, 2011

Can someone PLEASE explain?

Here's what I keep hearing on the radio (and reading in Time magazine!)

1% of the people hold 90% of the wealth.  Why should I support tax cuts for them?

 Our primary and secondary schools keep lagging further and further behind the rest of the world.  Why are we cutting back on education?

5% of the world population lives in this country and we consume 75% of the medicine and we pay much, much more for health care.  Okay, so why are we only 37th as far as quality of healthcare?  And why is the GOP intent of repealing health care reform?

The Social Security program has been paying its way and has enough surplus to continue doing so for at least 27 more years.  Why does it get mentioned every time someone is talking about the deficit?

It seems to me that the gap between the wealthy and the poor is getting larger and the real struggle is not between the political parties - liberal vs conservative - it is (or should  be) a struggle between whether we want to live in a democracy or return to the dark ages!  Not only the money, but the power is all getting pooled into the hands of the very wealthy and the rest of us are carefully controlled so that we keep on arguing amongst ourselves while everything is taken away from us.  We should not be arguing about the rights of minorities or immigrants or GLTBs.  We should embrace equality and work together to make sure we don't become scapegoats and serfs!

True Wisdom

I had a great conversation with my brother Bil the other day.  As usual, we each gave the other a lot of stuff to think about.  Here's one gem:

He believes that the mark of true wisdom is that it engenders tolerance.  So God, who is all wisdom, is full of vast tolerance toward us.  In other words, as we try and try again to discern the will of God, God is continually saying to us, "Well that's not quite what I meant but, okay, we can work with that."

That rings true with my experience of God.   I think it likely that St. Peter would also agree.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Murder Most Foul

Ok it's been 6 years and 6 weeks since the murder.  I'm mostly back to normal.  But with glitches.  Charley fell down the other day - slipped on some slopped dish water on the kitchen tile.  He's sustained some bruises and for some reason felt that an elastic bandage might help the pain.  So he walked over to CVS and bought one.  So far so good.  

Well, he didn't actually use it, he just left it on the counter.  Enter me, early morning groggy, to find an elastic bandage box on the kitchen counter with a picture of an entire leg wrapped up ... like ... a ... mummy.

Suddenly I am transported back 6 years and I'm sitting on a hard pew in a courtroom.  This isn't memory, it's a sci-fi flashback.  I could feel the hard wood beneath me.  To my right and up a few rows is a very sullen Richard James Kasparson.  A few minutes from now, there will be a break while the jury deliberates and he will turn an glare at me without blinking for several minutes.  Glaring with hate and menace in his eyes as if I am to blame for the fact that he is sitting there, awaiting the verdict of his peers for the charge of murdering my father.  I don't blink either.  When the jury comes back, several security guards with lots of weapons will enter the room.  Two of them will stand near me.  The night before Kasparson had bragged that if the jury said he was guilty he was going to "make a break for it."  I will feel safe with these burly commandos standing near me.

But right now the prosecutor is doing his summation.  "15 minutes.  That's how long it took for Charles Repenning to die.  7 minutes of seizures before he became unconscious.  I am going to talk to you about that death for 7 minutes so you can understand what the defendant put Mr. Repenning through."  And for 7 minutes he gave detail after detail of the my father's horrible death while huge slides flash on a wall of the courtroom.  Slides of the murder scene.  Slides of the lesions where he was bound with the telephone cord.  Slides of the bruises on his neck where someone tried to strangle him.  Slides of his body, naked except for boxer shorts and the elastic bandage wrapped over and over and over around his neck and face and mouth and ears and eyes and head.  

 It was the longest 7 minutes of his life and probably mine.

Six years ago I came home and threw away every elastic bandage I had saved over years of repeated sprained ankles.  I knew I was being crazy, but they looked to me like murder weapons.  Dangerous things to have in the house.  I gave myself permission to throw them away because, I reasoned, I was in shock.  I have walked carefully and refrained from high heels ever since so that I do not require another elastic bandage.  I haven't really thought about it since.  If I had, I probably would have thought that I was "over" that particular phobia.  I mean, really.  It's been six years.  Life goes on until you are murdered.  You have to move past the rough spots.  Right?  Apparently not.  Some things have changed about me permanently.

My reaction to that box yesterday was the same as it would have been if I found a rattlesnake in the kitchen.  Namely: don't panic, think calmly and protect your family by carefully getting rid of the dangerous thing.
I apologized to Charley and threw it away.

I feel much better, and foolish. 

Pureed Food Recipies

Sam's a "big boy" and doesn't like to eat baby food.  He wants to eat whatever I'm eating.  This is a bit of a problem because I like to chew and he can't.  He has dyphasia (swallowing problems) on top of that.  When he gets too much food in his mouth, or hoards food he can't chew in his palate, it produces an amazing amount of saliva which goes up his nose.  When he swallows liquid that's too thick, it clogs his nose and he just about suffocates.  We ordered him a milk shake once and I thought we'd lost him.  Not going to repeat that experiment.  He does like Wendy's Frosty with a spoon.  If it's too thin, it comes out his nose when he swallows.  Sometimes the food that is just right only goes half way down his throat and a couple of minutes later it comes out his nose.  Sigh.

Numerous swallow studies have not really given us a solid picture of what is going on or how much this is related to his ever diminishing lung capacity, but it's a pretty safe bet that something that isn't supposed to be there is getting into his lungs and clogging them up.

So I have to feed him very carefully, but it has to be attractive, nutritious and taste good.  Culinary challenge they don't often cover on the food network!  One bonus: calories and fat are not an issue with this boy.  I'm always trying to keep his weight UP.

Of course calories and fat are a huge issue for his mom who knows how to chew!  So my grocery cart is a very peculiar mix of high and low fat stuff.

But over the years I've discovered a lot of things that work for Sam.  Some things I can serve to everyone as is (which thrills him) and some things require some last minute adjustment for Sam, but still are essentially the same thing we are eating.  Sadly, most of the time he just has to put up with purreed whatever we are eating because I just don't have the time or energy to make it special.  But I try to make him food he enjoys.

If I'm having a sandwich for lunch, I put the same stuff in the food processor, meat (or baked tofu or whatever), tomato, pickle (lettuce doesn't work very well).  Then I add a goo factor.  He likes Kraft Olive Oil reduced fat mayo or that Italian sandwich mix (gardineria?) or ketsup.  (I like fancy mustard.)  I put in one slice of bread and mix it for 30 seconds.  It turns into a kind of sticky glop that holds it's shape.  Then I make breadcrumbs (often toasted) of the other slice of bread.  I roll tbsp bits of the filling glop in the bread crumbs and shape them into little rectangles.  Voila! Finger sandwiches he can eat with me.

Really fluffy pancakes can be eaten just cut up (not pureed) if they have enough syrup on them.  Cheese cake is the ideal desert.  Cake is not very smart as it crumbles and chokes him, BUT if you add some cream or other liquid it becomes Dulce de Leche and very soggy.  Perfect for Sam to consume with a spoon.  Looks like cake but doesn't crumble!  If you take Starbucks Classic Coffee Cake and pour mocha frappicino over it, you get something similar to Tiramisu!  (Be sure to ask the Starbucks Barrista to give you the cake on a plate!)

I recently tried a Butternut Squash Soup with variations that was a huge success.  I got the recipe from someone named Gabster Roolz on  Here's my variation:

1 chopped sweet onion
4 cloves garlic
tsp dried basil (or thyme)
Some fresh ginger (about 1/2 a thumb's worth)
1 cubed butternut squash
1 C chicken stock
3 C water
1 bay leaf
2 medium sweet potatoes
1 pt heavy whipping cream  (NOT Whipped Cream)

You don't have to chop the garlic and ginger very much since it will all get pureed.  Just peel them and chop coarsely.  Saute onion, garlic, ginger and basil in the evoo (extra virgin olive oil).  Add squash, stock, water, bay leaf, pepper and sweet potato.  Boil 20 minutes.  REMOVE BAY LEAF.  Puree the rest.  At the last minute add the cream.  The whipping cream adds a lovely bulk to this soup and makes it exactly the right texture for proper swallowing.  BIG hit.

The chef Simply Ming says that heavy whipping cream is different from heavy cream because they add something to it to make it whip up better.  I don't know but I did love the way the heavy whipping cream bulked up the puree and made it gorgeous.  Of course, I suppose I should have the soup without the cream and just add it to Sam's portion... 

Here's another thing, I've been reading labels and Carnation Breakfast Essentials has pretty much the same nutrition as Ensure or Boost.  It also tastes a LOT better and is MUCH cheaper.  You have to add a bit of Thicken or Thick-it to make it the right consistency, but it's still cheaper.  Sam consumes 3 or 4 nutrition drinks a day so this is really good news.