Monday, October 25, 2010

The Gift

I’ve been given many wonderful and thoughtful gifts throughout my life. From lovers, best friends, co-workers, family, even strangers. The gifts have come in boxes with bows but some of the best have come with no box at all – movie tickets, dinners at an expensive restaurant, a zipline adventure, personal art, carte blanche shopping at the mall, a day at the spa – the gifts have been as different and unique as the givers. And i’ve treasured them all. But there is another kind of gift. It comes without warning. Without asking. With no expectations. They are the Gifts of Living. Waking to a beautiful morning. The laughter of a friend. Birds eating out of your hand. Being alive. Being healthy. Being loved. What a joy!

Just the other day i received a gift. A very special gift. I was giving a tour to a large group of 3rd grade children. I was about half-way through the tour when something magical happened. We were sitting outside on a wonderful Fall day when one of the children asked a question about the place we were sitting. Instead of answering, i asked a question in return. There was the briefest moment of silence. Then the questions started tumbling one over another. First a trickle, then faster and faster, like the first thaw in Spring, gathering momentum and speed. And i sat transfixed. Rooted to the moment. They were connecting the dots. The information morphed from fact to a knowing in their minds. The questions became paths of understanding. As one child questioned, another would voice an answer. That thought would be picked up by yet another child, who carried the flow of logic to another level. Soon the whole class was building a story, a reasoning, and they were doing this together – as one.

Beautiful. Magical. Like watching a new-born fawn struggle to make its first steps; they wobbled and fumbled their way until, with amazing speed, their minds built a solid foundation of reason they could stand on. I said very little, only nodded encouragement now and again. I was witnessing the best of what it is to be human – the birth of thought. What a precious gift. I have been blessed.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Unsung Lime

(Check out the recipes at bottom!)

I have a real affection for limes. Maybe because i’m from Florida and dreaming of tasty slices of key lime pie has skewered my emotional bias. I’m talking real key limes – the tiny, tangy, extra-pucker-power variety that are actually from the Florida Keys. Florida is a citrus lover’s heaven. Driving down the state in spring, you’re engulfed in the blissful aroma of sweet orange blossoms. From which, of course, they make orange blossom honey. Sigh… But i digress…

The Lime. When i was really little, i used to think limes were just lemons that hadn’t grown up yet. I was a tad dubious about eating a fruit that was green. Everything i had experienced in my small world convinced me that all fruit started green and then grew up to another color. Red. Orange. Or yellow. Green was unripe and nasty tasting. I hadn’t met the Granny Smith apple yet either. Gosh – the naivety.

It wasn’t until i was in my early teens that i discovered the joys of Lime. That’s when my parents took me to the Florida Keys and i tasted my first real, key lime pie. Oh heaven! I thought i had discovered a new world! From that moment on, the lime has wriggled its way into the “limelight” (lol – i just crack myself up) of many, many meals. I’m always dreaming of new ways to include it in a recipe or add it as a topping. The lemon may be better known and more frequently used, but the lime has its quirky following too. I mean, come on. Lemon Tree by Peter, Paul, and Mary is a snooze next to The Lime in the Coconut by Harry Nilsson. “Put the lime in the coconut and drink them both together, put the lime in the coconut and then you feel better…Whoo, whoo…”

A NOTE ON MY RECIPES: I tend to cook by the “Old Grandma Method,” a bit of this and a pinch of that. I never actually measure anything out and cook by taste and an adventurous spirit!

Lime Corn-On-The-Cob
This simply delicious recipe was given to me by a good friend. Try it!

What You Need:
As many ears of fresh-picked white or yellow corn as you can eat!
Several limes
Sprinkling of cayenne pepper (optional)

This is easy – instead of slathering on a heavy blob of butter, squeeze a fresh cut lime all over the cooked corn making sure to drizzle the juice all around. Sprinkle a tiny bit of cayenne pepper all over. Voila!

Asparagus and Lime
I came up with this several years ago and it’s one of my all-time favs when i’m craving something green and tasty. It’s a rather strange combination, but it works.

What You Need:
One bunch fresh asparagus cleaned and trimmed
1 – 2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large clove minced garlic
¼ tsp dill weed
2 large limes
1 – 2 Tbsp soy sauce

Another easy and tasty dish. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil, garlic, dill, and asparagus. Stir frequently until garlic and asparagus begin to get tender. Squeeze lime juice over asparagus as it cooks. I like my asparagus to be a bit crunchy and not completely tender. Cook it as you like, but 1 minute before it’s done, sprinkle on the soy sauce. Be careful not to let it stick or burn. Remove and eat immediately.

NOTE: Use the lime and soy to your own taste. I use quite a bit of lime and not so much soy. Don’t be afraid to experiment!

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Strength of Women

I am always awe-struck and heart-warmingly pleased when i see a woman – of any age – reach down inside herself and find that she is strong. And it’s not just physical strength that i speak, but that courage you find when everything is laying on the line. That moment comes and you know there’s no one but you to make it happen. All your family, all your friends, and all those who have helped you along your path fade into the background. And the Woman steps forward, into the limelight, all on her own, no ones strength but hers, no ones fears but the shadows in her heart, no ones doubts but those monsters which she alone must overcome.

When i see women put everything they have – their minds, bodies, emotions – into lifting themselves off the floor, meeting every obstacle head-on, and rising into the heavens, i weep. Because i am proud, right down to the core, to be one of them – a Woman.

This is not about winning or losing. It’s never about that. The only thing that matters, is that you tried. Despite your doubts and fears, you gave more than you knew you had and then some.

There are no weak women, only women who have not yet discovered their strengths…

This piece was inspired by and written for one of my best friends – Julie Diss. You will always soar in my heart.