Tag Archives: Covid-19

Not A Food Blog

8 Apr

There was nothing in my childhood that compared with walking into the house after school and smelling my mother’s spaghetti sauce bubbling on the stove. She learned the art as a young bride in Newark, New Jersey in 1942, living in an apartment complex peopled with Italian immigrants. The women took pity on her, taking her under their collective wings to teach her how to cook.

My parents as newlyweds.

She used large cans of peeled whole tomatoes and small cans of paste to thicken the crimson mixture. Garlic, oregano, basil, bay leaves and an array of Italian spices gave the sauce its deep, rich fragrance. It’s funny how a particular aroma can transport you through time and space. Spaghetti sauce is my mother’s kitchen.

Staples you will find in my kitchen at all times.

I remember returning home as an adult to find a jar of prepared sauce on the kitchen counter. I expressed my shock at her sacrilege, but she only laughed. No longer cooking for a large family, with just my dad and her, she took the easy way. I can’t blame her but it was certainly not as good.

Can’t you just smell it?

I continue to make her sauce recipe. I don’t cook it for hours like she did, and I’m sure it doesn’t taste the same. With my own family, I got in the habit of adding a lot of vegetables, mushrooms, cauliflower, grated carrots or zucchini. It was a way to make it a bit healthier (IMHO) and get vegetables into my kids. But I do still use whole tomatoes and paste and lots of garlic.

Three generations circa 1994.

My daughter always asks me to make spaghetti when I come to visit. In this day when children no longer wish to inherit possessions, my mother’s spaghetti sauce can live on. I think that would make her very happy. It certainly does me.

DOS TORTAS

Quarantine Penpals

7 Mar
Sunday Sunrise

I had a pen pal in fifth grade. I wish I could say that we still write to each other. I would have a story worthy of the evening news. Truth be told, I don’t remember much of our penship, not even where she lived or how long we corresponded.

Letter to my father.

When attending college in Mexico in the seventies, I wrote a letter to my father. I found it among his things when he died. A keepsake for sure. He had written a letter to me that I responded to. I wish I still had it.

Do we even know how to write?

For awhile I lived in Okinawa, Japan. It was the eighties, before smart phones, computers and instant communication. I hand wrote letters on blue, tri-fold airmail paper. They took awhile to arrive stateside but the fifteen hour time difference made phone calls challenging.

In the time of Covid I have nurtured a few pen pal relationships. One is with a guy I met on our cruise to the Panama Canal a year ago. He and his wife hung out with us on board and we knew they would be good travel companions. Dan likes to write. He sends missives that are entertaining and detailed. He is a good storyteller and together we exchange our lives in lockdown.

Panama City

Someday they will come to Mexico. Perhaps when we are all vaccinated, when Covid cases are manageable and when we can hug each other and go out. Won’t that be grand?

DOS TORTAS

A Smile And A Shrug

7 Feb

Last summer, to occupy the time of quarantine, I mailed art-cards to friends and family. I painted post card sized pictures and mailed them in Bacalar. It’s a fun way to connect and let my grandchildren and others know that I’m thinking about them.

Nights in the 50s have been a delight.

This past week I began to hear from card receivers, my brother, niece, a cousin. Frankly I had mailed the cards and forgotten about them.

I knew that mail from Mexico took its own sweet time, but eight months!

Every few weeks, I routinely stop by our tiny post office and check our mailbox #16. This week, I casually mentioned to the post master, who is quite familiar with my mailing habits, that the cards I mailed in May had just arrived in the US. He gave me a Mona Lisa smile and shrugged. I laughed and went on my way. The trouble is, you can’t have it both ways. That shrug can be both maddening and charming, depending on the job you need to complete, or the deadline you must make.

This week I registered myself and my mother-in-law for a Covid vaccine. The over 60 crowd is up right after medical first responders. Hopefully the appointments will arrive sooner than my postcards. Fingers crossed.

DOS TORTAS

Creative Practice to Get Us Through

9 Aug

This week I shared my most recent painting with my art coach Connie Solera.

Goddess Mother Crone

Her response to me was, “I love what you got going on here too.  I’m so curious to who those figures are. What they mean to you. What story they press on your heart.”

Our Lady is pissed too!

Sometimes the women that show up in my paintings feel as if they are calling to me to bring them out of the ethers.

No idea about these two.

I can smear paint around and see them, hear them, sharing their pain, joy, and confusion, or is it mine? Such times we live in.

One of those paint smearing days.

I started out journaling my quarantine experience in a beautiful handmade journal that I bought on my most recent trip to Oaxaca. It called for paint more than words. Color and line seems to better express emotion than dialogue these days. There just are no words.

Sadness overwhelms.

I have filled the entire journal which makes me long to return to Oaxaca. Using up what we have is a wonderful lesson from staying home. I have dragged out my watercolor pencils, pastels, markers, oil crayons, acrylics, lord I have a lot of art supplies.

Makes me want to dye my hair lol.

I share most of my art on Instagram at dos_tortas if you want to take a look. Also photography is a new creative pursuit that I enjoy. There’s no telling how long before we can safely travel again. For now I will continue to smear paint and see who or what shows up. What is your creative activity? It’s what will get us through.

DOS TORTAS

The Fine Art of Not Complaining

2 Aug

I’ve been pondering the line between talking about a thing and complaining about a thing. How to tell the difference?

Blooming in our yard.

This week I’ve been writing a lot of blogs in my head, but none of them seemed to settle into my bones. It’s been one of those weeks, hot temperatures, body aches and not sleeping. It’s left me lethargic and cranky. Last night going to bed I was crying, sad after having read stories about people who died this week from Covid. Lisa asked me what was wrong. I couldn’t talk about it. An explanation would have required a thought process. I was immersed in my feelings and didn’t want to put them in words. She patted my shoulder and we went to sleep, at least she did.

Sunrise on Laguna Bacalar

The night was a swirl of thoughts. Sometimes I feel like my dogs doing zoomies around the couch. My brain jumps from subject to subject and sleep eludes me. I was then up way too early when the dogs wanted to go out. As Lisa appeared from the bedroom I announced that I was heading back to bed, something I don’t think I’ve ever done. She began to ask me what was wrong but caught herself. That woman is a quick study.

My mother in law’s cat. Gato

Back to the topic at hand, how to talk about my thoughts and feelings without complaining. For me, factors include:

Tone – if I find my voice getting whiney or high pitched, I am surely complaining. Even in my head.

Intention – If I’m wanting sympathy, I am complaining.

Responsibility – if I’m trying to avoid taking responsibility, I’m complaining.

I guess I have two choices, 1) come up with a solution or 2) live with the situation. Complaining has never made me happy. Sometimes other people have good ideas but I find that I have to be in the right place to hear them. I do have one thing that seems to help no matter what the problem, exercise!

Daily swimming in Laguna Bacalar.

If I feel cranky, am not sleeping, or have body aches, I know I must exercise more. Sometimes it feels counterintuitive. It would be so easy to tell myself that I need more rest, but that’s almost never the case.

How do you handle the swirling thoughts or lack of sleep? Until next week.

DOS TORTAS

Emilie Vardaman

travel and random thoughts

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