Have You Thanked Your Feet Today?

I’ve belonged to a study, discussion, meditation group for two years now. Every so often our teacher encourages us to meditate upon the miracle of our body. “Consider thanking your body for all it enables you to do,” Reb Sally suggests. She is so right.Whether it’s a small loss — muscle tone, energy, flexibility — or something more dire, we tend to ignore how much our body does for us until it doesn’t.

In Jewish morning liturgy, there is what is colloquially called “the bathroom blessing.” These words of praise and gratitude to God acknowledge the mircle that all our “openings and closings” perform in concert with one another, just as they were designed to do day after day, year after year, decade after decade.  When they don’t, we suffer.

With two weddings coming up, I am eager to be on the dance floor once again. I thank my feet in advance.

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Morning Pages

I’ve begun my morning pages again. Followers of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way will recognize the phrase. Morning pages are a kind of journaling with three rules: the must be written in the morning upon awakening or very soon after, they must be done for 20 minutes’ duration, they must be written in longhand three sheets of     8 x 11 paper (one side only.) Like many wonderful personal practices, this one fell by the wayside. I would journal in the evening, or sometimes jot down sudden thoughts. But nothing compares to writing one’s morning pages.

I began again when I found myself waking up teeming with thoughts, my mind noisier than usual.  Although I participate in an online prayer and meditation group five mornings a week, morning pages offer a different path to calm. You sit down, you set a timer, put pen to page and write. No lifting of the pen.  No mulling over the phrase you just wrote down. No self-editing. No crossing out.  The goal is forward movement and getting stuff out and down.  Whatever it is.  You can even write, I do not like this I do not like this I do not like this if you can’t come up with anything else. Eventually you will.

When my morning pages are complete, I feel clearer. They are the muggle’s answer to Harry Potter’s pensieve.  They require more work than a pensieve, but the outcome is just as magical.

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Seat of the Pants Cooking

Marc Bittman has made an art and career out of what I’ve long called “seat of the pants” cooking.  I have a small library of cookbooks (each one has to earn its keep on the single shelf devoted to such compendiums) and use them not infrequently. But much of the time, I take what I have and make dinner.  The upside to SOTP cooking is that it’s everchanging. The downside is when I hit it out of the park, which is also not infrequently, I never remember to write it down. (Marc Bittman does.)

I did write down last night’s ingredients. I began with some cherry tomatoes that were going to wrinkle if I didn’t use them soon and a leftover slice of raw salmon that might have filled the tummy of a very hungry kitten. I sauteed the salmon in some olive oil and butter and removed it from the pan just short of doneness.  I crushed the cherry tomatoes and tossed them in the pan.

While they cooked, I diced a few spears of yellow pepper and added them. Playing hide and seek with the fridge I finished up a jar of Greek olives, thinly sliced a few sun dried tomatoes, got out some capers but decided against them, splashed in some white wine and the juice of a lemon, seasoned it all with some S&P and crushed oregano and let it simmer while the water boiled for the pasta.           I added back the salmon and warmed it up before serving.

Writing this now I realize that we were supposed to have snow peas as well but I forgot to serve them. That’s not SOTP cooking just my addled brain. Were I to make this for company I’d use more salmon and some really hearty pasta from the little Italian store near-by.  Bon appetit!

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Dr. Scholl’s to the Rescue

Off-label use of certain medications isn’t standard practice but when a medication developed for one condition also remedies another, it can be a boon to its sufferers. Rogaine was developed to treat hypertension and found fame as a hair growth formula.  This drawer in the curio cabinet is devoted to the very broad topic of Head to Toe. So stay with me, here while I go off-label.

For years I’ve done battle with the adhesive-backed felt circles that are supposed to keep my chair legs from scratching our wood floors.  They never stay in place.  They flip over and leave pernicious gum residue on my floors.  They are undependable and when I need them, I can never find them.

Last week I’d had it with these charlatans.  What else could I use that was soft and cushiony on one side and adhesive on the reverse?  Rummaging in our hall closet for inspiration I came upon our box labeled “toes and tummy.”  I grouped those two together for the alliterative fun and because I didn’t have enough of either to fill an entire box.  The “toe” side of the box held the solution: Dr. Scholl’s moleskin patches.

Soft on one side adhesive on the other, could they do the trick?  You betcha.  I cut out a circle slightly larger than the circumference of my chair legs, adhered the patch to the wood and voila! Easy to apply, easy on the wallet, and so far they have worked quite well.  I also cut up a thicker adhesive-backed heel protector (the kind you form to the inside of your shoe) to see how that would work.  Just as well and a bit sturdier.

On an off-label roll, I adhered a moleskin strip to the inside of a hair clasp that always slips off my hair. It worked. One product, two off-label and oppsing solutions (It girps! It slides!) And there you have it. Dr. Scholl’s treats more than corns, calluses and bunions, none of which I even have.

 

 

 

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Niçoise Salad: Simple and Delicious

I enjoyed my first Salade Niçoise in Cannes at Nellie’s table. Nellie was a legend in my childhood.  My grandparents first met her in Birmigham, AL in the late 40’s or early 50’s. Nellie, a former Miss Paris, had come to America as a coat model which somehow included a stop in Birmingham. On their first trip to Paris, my grandparents looked her up and took her to dinner. They learned more about this delightful Jewish Frenchwoman that evening. At the time she worked in a perfumier on the Place de la Concorde. Nellie married later in life.  “When she was young,” my grandfather told me, “the eligible Frenchmen were fighting. And after the war, well…” I never thought to ask how she, her mother and her brother survived the war in Paris, evading capture by the Nazis. Eventually Nellie met and married M. Grillot. By the time I met her, he was no longer alive.

When my dad was in the service in France he and my mom met Nellie. As the story goes, she babysat me so he and my mom could have a weekend away. More than two decades later, I was studying in France and made my way to Cannes where my mother told me Nellie had an aprtment. I had written to her at a Paris address but never heard back. It was late afternoon when my friend and I climbed the stairs to Nellie’s apartment and rang the bell.

It took more than a few minutes for her to make the time jump and understand that I was not my mother. That I was the “bébé” twenty years hence. She embraced me warmly, then my friend and insisted we stay for dinner and return for lunch the following afternoon. She was delightful. She was beautiful, smart and throughout the evening she would look at me and say as if not quite believing it, “Mais tu est le bébé?” Her chihuahua, Titine, had been trained to understand commands in Yiddish. Espé, her longtime housekeeper and companion served us my first Salade Niçoise. Here is a version I love to serve. And when I do, I think of this wonderful woman with delight. Here is Nellie’s sangria recipe saved from that visit in 1975.

photo credit: “French: Salade nicoise” by Katrin Gilger is licensed underCC BY-SA 2.0

 

From left to right: my grandmother Estelle, , my grandfather Abe, Nellie

 

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