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With my Mom’s passing, there is an immediate reaction on my part to turn everything about her into something to be venerated, something holy. The numbers surrounding her final days – time of death, heart rate, breathing rate. The last recipe she gave me. Her projects that were in process.

This is the first time I have been through a great loss. The avoider part of me wants very much to get into the details – build that time-line of when she was in and out of the hospitals. I could spend years looking for missing details – while ignoring the details of my own life, my own grieving.

This is not meant to belittle her or her death. She was a wonderful woman, very strong, a creator, loving, caring. She was unique (like we all are). She liked lighthouses. She baked Christmas cookies like no other. She wasn’t perfect, but she was my only mother.

She showed me the way to Christ. I remember as a cynical teenager, I walked down our driveway and found her kneeled at the back bumper of her car, praying. I remember being awed that she was serious about this Christianity stuff. And those prayers didn’t stop.

She was greatly into crafts. Basket-weaving was a specialty – she gave classes, sold her baskets at craft shows (and donated the money to charity and missions), and knit scarves (again donating proceeds). One of her last projects is a mystery. She had gathered Halloween cards my brother and I had received from our grandparents. Unsure what was going to happen with those,but the cards were on top of the working pile.

To bring this back around, I’m interested in what that project was. But I’m not going to research what it could have been. Not going to look at her browsing history to find the how-to. I took pictures of the cards, shared them with my brother. And I know it was motivated by love.

The numbers don’t matter – she passed from congestive heart failure. The hospice nurse told me that she was following a textbook path towards her death. If there were minor variations along the way, so be it.

And I really felt the need to enshrine that recipe. From her hospital bed, in a video call, she told me about a sweet potato / apple / maple syrup recipe. Now understand she had never made it – this wasn’t a family favorite. She didn’t have the recipe, and told I could find it on Google. (potentially this one) But I was ready to decree that we absolutely needed to have this every Thanksgiving, because – Mom.

But I’m reminded of Jesus’ words, recorded in Matthew and Luke: “Let the dead bury the dead”. She made a big difference, in many lives. But she’s gone. David’s “But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” in talking about his infant son applies. And “we grieve, but not as the world grieves”.

My Dad said “life goes on”. Not flippantly or irreverently, but truthfully. Do not forget, but do not live there.

Cherry bonbons

I like science. I like pizza. I really like it when I can combine the two.

Today’s subject is self-rising Supreme pizzas. Freschetta, Meijer, and Digiorno. All prices are the same – $5.49.

I started with the odd man out. Lighter color box – neat wrapper, great toppings.

Baked on a pan, the Freschetta was tasty and a touch spicy. Not too far off pizzeria pizza. I’d buy this one again.

Next up: Meijer. Surprisingly low end, given that it’s the same price. Baked directly on the oven rack, the edges were closer to burning while the center was barely warm.

It came in plastic shrink wrap, and the toppings could have been from a three dollar pizza. Pass.

Finally, Digiorno. In a comfy plastic enclosure like the Freschetta, this one went straight onto the rack. Toppings looked fresh.

Pizza was good, but ingredients weren’t evenly distributed

Am I looking for pizza perfection? No – this is not Giordano’s. But these are being positioned as upscale pies. One must have pizza standards.

So anyway, here’s my judgment. Bottom rung is the house brand. Then Digiorno, and Freschetta coming out on top. Even with the spicier sauce, that’s my top choice.

And that’s how you do science.

I started an indoor garden on May 2. Lettuce, chives, and basil. Lettuce is doing great

And I just had my second harvest

Lettuce is on the right

I know the “garden” is way too full. I’m OK with that. My garden, my ceramic pocket knife to harvest, my plastic tub from the dollar store.

And my artisanal, hand-sown, individually gathered lettuce leaves for my lunch meat sandwich.

But I am enjoying my garden. Six kinds of lettuce, basil, and chives. Sure it’s gonna be crowded. That’s part of the fun.

Planted Saturday May 2.

I have written about my weight on here before, but it was always a losing battle (well, yeah/no). I’m happy to celebrate my 60th birthday today by announcing that I have lost over a half-million dollars, assuming that I’m worth my weight in gold.

My company has a contract with Omada to help employees improve their health. I started right around Christmas 2018. The focus is on meal size/healthiness and exercise rather than counting calories or carbs. And it works – in the last year, I’m down 26 pounds. On July 2nd, I dipped below 200 for the first time in (maybe) decades. Hitting that number by the time my birthday hit was a goal I set with my Omada coach Lauren (hi, Lauren!).

There are other benefits, too. My BMI is down from 34 to under 30. My A1C went from the 9 range to 6.4.

The only downside is having to buy new clothes. Jeans, anyway. I am discovering shirts that I haven’t worn for a long time.

And I’m liking it.

I had a few slices of old bread, and a lazy day off. Therefore, French toast!

Bettie and I are both averse to dairy, so if there’s milk in the fridge, it means we have company.

French toast batter is mostly eggs, a bit of water, some milk, and sugar for caramelization (pass), plus vanilla for flavor (forgot).

The missing part was milk – but we did have some leftover ricotta cheese only a month past due.

Mix it up, baptize the bread, cast iron skillet, room temperature butter, and a teaspoon of maple syrup. Mmmmm!

Yes, I licked the plate.

Not really carpet. We’re making BLTs, and baking the bacon in the oven. 14 slices of Jimmy Dean bacon just fills the jelly roll pan.

Mmmmm. Bacon.

If you are using sharp kitchen tools – a mandolin, for instance – keep your fingers away from the sharp parts. Otherwise you can end up with a bandaid on your index finger.

Or so I’ve heard.

My other revelation from the evening is Lip Blam, useful for when you’re shooting your mouth off.

When trying out new things – even breakfast cereal like Raisin Bran – buy it from Kroger in a normal size, instead of from Costco.

. . . frying pan?

Yes.  Despite rumors of my best Christmas present being a rubber band (it was fun, but it came in second), I am currently elated with my non-stick Food Network frying pan from Kohl’s.

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It’s really more of a cream than white, but let’s go with a good title.

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To break it in, I made an omelette with these ingredients (although a late adjustment dropped in crumbled bacon bits instead of the pepperoni).  I used some egg nog instead of milk.  Note to participants in the great 2016 eggnog-off: this one doesn’t rank highly.

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It warmed up nicely on low heat – you can see the cheese (white, of course) starting to sweat and melt.

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I finished topping it off with the salsa and bacon bits – the egg is firming up nicely.  The salsa spattered on the inside of the pan.  That was OK.

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The omelette slid off the pan smoothly. The butter (and the pan) did its job!

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And the cleanup was, as they say, a doddle.

Thank you, Mom and Dad, for another fun piece of culinary gear.

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