My father used to tell me that nothing worth having ever comes without a fight. He would bring up how much more enjoyable things are when you have had to struggle to get something or make it your own. Somehow struggling, hard work and what have you is supposed to make me desire the end results more.
Of course, what he was really getting at was that I would hold that which I acquired through hard work at a higher value and would appreciate it more. And there may be something to that, but at the same time I have never not appreciated that which has come easy to me. I have also never assumed that something which came without effort or hard work was of a lesser value.
The rocky process of transitioning from one state into another is where the challenge, the struggle and the strife all rest. After the transition is the state of change, where for some it is a place to stop and catch their breath and enjoy the view. I suppose that it is after the change where my father’s words come in. He is talking about that whole process from the beginning of the transition into the point of having become changed.
Is it the change we fear or is it the struggle that lies in the phase of transitioning?
Don’t carve a pumpkin this year they said. Pumpkins are so last year they declared. Frankly I wasn’t going to carve pumpkin this year regardless of what anyone said. And then, well then someone shouted that the turnip must be revisited.
You see in some countries where pumpkins didn’t grow, people carved the lowly turnip into grotesques. Well actually some carved them into very real likenesses to human faces. The color would be similar or at the very least nice and pale to represent the dead.
And so it came to be that I was more or pulled into a turnip carving class. For the record I wasn’t really in the mood to attend the class. And for the record I have friends that try to get me out of my house so I cannot become a hermit. (I’m okay with being a hermit, also for the record. Or at least a recluse.)
Carving a turnip is not as easy as it sounds. You must carve out the flesh to the very shapes you desire. And no you don’t hollow out the center apparently. At least that is according to the instructor who held up a very real looking human face captured mid-scream. this face was complete with some teeth and a reddish shade painted into its mouth.
So I should probably fess up right now I, never going to create a human likeness regardless of whether I carve a turnip or sketch it on paper. Mine is going to be more or less a loose interpretation of it, and you may just see the human aspect of it if you have really poor eyesight. Or have been drinking adult beverages for a period of time before viewing my handiwork.
Thankfully the class was only for two hours and we weren’t really expected to produce much, just get started and finish our product on our own for Halloween. So the fact I gashed and dug poorly into my turnip was to be expected. But when we were leaving the instructor asked that we show him our work in progress. He commented on everyone’s. My friend was told she had a nice start where as I was told that he could see I was trying different techniques. This came after he looked down his nose at my turnip.
I think I shall leave this project unfinished and enjoy my turnip the way I always do, as a food.
Now and then I get cajoled into trying some holiday recipe. You know he type, where you make everything from scratch and whip it into some sculpted shape of perfection that tastes delicious.
Each year, from roughly this time of year until the early days of the New Year I promise myself I will not get talked into, bullied, guilted or cajoled into falling for the trap. And it is a trap. Because despite following the recipe with a fine eye and triple checking things, my creation always looks like it came out of some crazy scientist’s lab. Sure it may taste good, but it’s not very presentable. And I’m pretty sure that’s why certain people ask me to create these things, just to see how demented it will turn out.
So naturally this year I was asked to do something for Halloween. It started with making a carved Spiced Pumpkin cake and ended with mini pumpkins and ghosts. Mostly because I couldn’t bring myself to do the full pumpkin cake.
The ghosts and mini pumpkins are basically colored and cooked piles off stiffly beaten egg whites. Easy peasy. With the added bonus being I enjoy beating egg whites into volumes of fluffy white clouds. I do, however, dislike using piping bags and of course the instructions are very clear about using a piping bag and a specific tip in said piping bag.
So instead I shall make banana a ghosts. Because really all I have to do is cut the banana in half, stand it up on its flat surface so the rounded ends act like the tops of ghosts. Melt some chocolate and apply with a toothpick to form eyes and a mouth. This has the added bonus of being healthy. That’s if I actually do the project because right now I simply am too tired and sore, not to mention unable to carry out simple tasks. Besides it’s the thought that counts, right?
Now and then I have to deal with this thing called an Insurance company. They help cover the cost of my chronic illness. Or so they say. Sometimes it feels as if they are trying to kill me instead. I can’t say I’d blame them given the nature of the business they are in. I cost a lot of money to keep alive.
Today just happened to be one of those days where I had to call the Insurance company. I’m sure the lady I first spoke to is a lovely person and she was only doing her job. Which apparently is to make the chronically ill and somewhat frustrated patient jump through six hoops which gradually decreased in size.
When I managed that feat, I was passed on to a man who told me point-blank “it’s people like you that make premiums go up”. Well thanks, I thought. I needed that. Must be my new super power. He wanted me to jump through flaming hoops while juggling sharp knives. If I couldn’t do it, he would deny my claim for coverage of a medication. That a doctor, actually specialist, prescribed.
Now stop and think about this. I am being asked to basically kill myself, through the sheer exhaustion of these mental exercises just to get coverage for something to keep me alive. And the kicker? The more exhausted and sick I get; the more medications will be prescribed which will require me to join the circus full-time.
Today I managed to get the required coverage for the medication. There will come a day when this won’t be the case. And then I will have to consider the options of paying on my own for the medication at the cost of bankrupting myself and then not being able to pay for anything including my medication or skipping the medication, so I can cover other bills for housing and food and dying because I cannot get the medication required to keep me alive.
Next time you see a juggler consider that those of us with chronic illnesses, especially the expensive kind, are performing these feats on a regular basis just to stay alive. Each of us wondering what will happen when we can no longer manage that many sharp knives or itsy-bitsy hoops of flames while riding a unicycle backwards. Because my friends, that’s how the Insurance company makes me feel. Now if you will excuse me, I seem to have dropped my red nose somewhere and I need it to get into an impossibly tiny car with some of my other friends who happen to have large feet…
The vet suggested that the four-footed one should cut back on her treat intake. Now this is a bit like asking a human who happens to be rather fond of something. Something like cake, for example. Now let’s say that this human really likes cake. If is human could, cake would be on the menu for every meals and snacks as well. And if cake were in the menu every day for all meals and snacks, it’s highly likely this human would have at least one piece of cake a day. Every day.
The four-footed one, if allowed to, would consume treats all day every day. And she wouldn’t have to settle for the same this every time. You see her humans thought she’d like a variety of treats. Just to change things up now and then. Which in and of itself isn’t a bad thing.
The bad thing is her humans offering her that’s too many times. Not good. It has created a habit. When her human goes to get a cup of tea or a mug of coffee, she was getting a small treat now and then. Considering at times here are two humans who do this throughout the day and, well, just a perfect storm of treats.
Not that the four-footed complains about treats. She does complains about the lack of treats. I know because I’m the human who has to cut her treat intake back while Beloved is off doing his thing. And by the time he comes home I hope I have a training routine set down. Not for the four-footed one. For Beloved. So he doesn’t constantly reach for a dog treat each time he has a mug of coffee or a cup of tea.
Nine. As in the number. It isn’t large by some standards, and yet by others it sounds like a lot. Nine, as in nine little puppies. Just born. Nine wiggly and separate beings. Nine new lives. And one very exhausted mother no doubt.
I cannot imagine nine puppies in my house all at once. I think I would probably melt from the sheer cuteness of it all. I know I’d be a zombie from the lack of sleep with the noise they make and the worrying that comes with nine new lives. I cannot imagine the amount of cuddliness nine new puppies bring either.
Let’s face it, I struggle with one. One four-footed being who managed to sneak into my broken and hardened heart. I lost control of the house, my expectations and yes frankly my life as I used to know it, once one small, not exactly new-born puppy crossed the threshold of my doorway. And at the time, having had other four-footed ones in my life, I had thought that it would be pretty much the same as before. Some adjustments and getting to know each other and we’d kind of move as one.
I was wrong. This four-footed one is just as head-strong and stubborn as I am and that is where the problem kicks in. Because neither of us gives easily. And I am trying to imagine a life with nine new puppies just like my four-footed one. And the truth is I can’t. Not really.
I can imagine cuddles, and puppy piles. I can imagine wiggly bodies and boundless energy followed by necessary napping time. I can imagine clumsy movements as they figure out moving forward and backward on those oversized feet. These things I can imagine. But I can also imagine the drain of nine new beings in my current state of struggle with just one overly energetic being.
As for mom, well I cannot even imagine. Nine puppies. Hungry, curious and all the rest. For her to look after. Thankfully they are all doing well, according to my friend. And in time I shall summon energy or simply force myself to go and check out the puppy pile. Because nine is the right number for a puppy pile this time.
This year there shall be no pumpkin to carve. Not due to a pumpkin shortage, at least not here. From a quick check in the local grocery stores there is the typically glut of pumpkins around this time. And the lack of pumpkin carving is also not a direct result of Beloved not being here.
This year there shall be no pumpkin to carve simply because I have neither the strength nor the energy to acquiring said pumpkin at the store. I have no strength to schlep with said pumpkin to the car and then from the car to my house. And I certainly do not have the desire to use a somehow suddenly inadequate knife to carve into the innocent pumpkin’s flesh.
Plus, there is the four-footed one to consider. Or rather one must consider her response to the pumpkin. Just thinking about it, I shudder as I imagine her getting into the pumpkin innards that are scooped out for carving. Knowing her they would be scattered all throughout the house and ground into her fur.
Consider said pumpkin having a candle in it. Now picture the four-footed one, curious yet slightly cowed by this new thing. Yep you probably have pictured a barking mad dog, followed by a charging dog. And well I do not mind a good fire now and then, this isn’t’ the type of fire I have in mind. I have no desire to call my home insurance company and explain how a house fire was started by a dog. A dog charging at a pumpkin she was afraid of. I have no desire to be told that this falls under one of those million and ten acts that is not covered by my insurance because I’ve yet to come across a clause for fires started accidently by curious and frightened dogs.
So, no, this year there shall be no pumpkin in the house to carve. And yes, I know some of you will say that I should still acquire the pumpkin and have it just there on the steps. Except again, consider a curious and somewhat skittish dog. I do not need to go tumbling down a flight of steps and breaking my neck because the dog got scared and I ended up tangled up in her and the leash. And again, I’m pretty sure that my insurance doesn’t cover these types of things. So this year I say bah humbug to pumpkins and jack-o-laterns.