Tag Archives: Cleaning

Cooking, Cleaning, and Cassia

Sheltering in place has spurred a tug toward cooking and cleaning.

Office closets, filled so haphazardly their contents would bonk me on the head when opening the door, are now pristine. A pile of unworn clothes is packed for donation to Goodwill. The whir of the vacuum and the smell of Fabuloso make more regular appearances on Lockwood Ridge Road.

Or should I say “Lockdown Ridge Road?”

Yes, I’m going stir crazy. I’d much rather be shopping, dining out, and otherwise frolicking than cooking and cleaning.

But the harsh reality? I should well appreciate the privilege of sheltering in place when others must work outside of the home. A million thank you’s to the healthcare workers and grocery store cashiers who carry on in the midst of a scary, insidious, invisible threat.

Nope, I’m not leaving the house. The one time I had to? It involved picking up a prescription for my mom (who I still can’t visit). I wore plastic gloves and a mask, and handed the meds (along with her favorite, People magazine) to an attendant who wouldn’t let me traverse the doorway.

PS – I am SO GRATEFUL Mom is at Atria Assisted Living. They bring her meals, deliver wine for happy hour, and protect her health like it’s Fort Knox.

So back to the domestic arts. When cleaning one of the aforementioned closets, out popped a recipe. This is not unusual. I’ve spent a lifetime collecting recipes for dishes I’ll never make.

Ah, but THIS was for Cassia’s flan.

More than the memory of the richest, creamiest, most delectible desert EVER, I remembered Cassia.

I met her back in the church days, and she was the light (and fire) of every room she entered. Gorgeously Brazilian, she was an elegant, refined lady who would surprise with her sassy comments. Everyone was darling – or rather, “dah-link” – but she did not suffer fools. Oh, but if she liked you? Or loved you?

Well, Cassia’s love was a force to be reckoned with.

She was ready to leave the church/cult when I was getting married but kept silent about her intentions because she didn’t want to put a damper on my party.

Soon after, she left. When I finally had MY awakening to leave, she was the first person I called.

“You were right! Cassia, you were right!”

She loved me enough to give me the space to come to my own conclusion. But was right there to comfort and love me back from the brink of despair when the place I had given my life to was revealed to be a sham.

Cassia loved passionately, and it always showed up at her dinner table. When she invited you to dinner, you dropped everything to be there for a veritable feast that would always end with her life-changing flan.

After almost 20 years of storing the recipe, I finally decided this week to make it.

Why did I wait so long?! It was PERFECTION. Just like Cassia.

But here’s where the story gives me goosies. The day that recipe reemerged from the dark corner of my closet was Cassia’s birthday.

I had forgotten the date! Only later that day when I scrolled through Facebook did I see her adoring widower, Luis, post a tribute to his beloved wife.

On her birthday, Cassia gave me a gift. A tap on the shoulder from beyond and a resurgence of happy memories.

I am probably the age of Cassia when we met. A woman could only hope to aspire to her unique beauty and the quality of her love.

And to the deliciousness of her flan. Of course, you want the recipe! Here you go (by the way, I doubled the ingredients to make the version you see above):

Warning: Put some non-stick spray or parchment paper as a barrier to the caramel. It had hardened to concrete and we ended up throwing away the pan. But the flan was worth it!

With patience our recent Word of the Week, it made sense that I’d try something out of my wheelhouse that required a little bit of the WOW. Here are my parting thoughts on patience, and a zippy new reveal!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJp9np1oPcQ

May all of your adventures these next two weeks be…delicious! And if you have a Cassia memory, please share…

xoxoxox

Brenda

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Expectations, Marriage (and the New WOW)

Duane and I celebrated our 14th anniversary this past week and it was a perfect time to consider expectations…or the lack thereof.

See, when I met this dimpled, Italian man, I didn’t know WHAT to expect.

One thing was undeniable:  My world was rocked.  He gave me heart palpitations and goosebumps.  I found myself singing Carpenters songs with gusto and living for the next phone call or e-mail.

Actually, at first, I truly expected him to be a flash in the pan; just another of the many guys who’d take my number and never call.  Friends, who had not seen a man have this effect on me in years also tried to reign in my expectations; after all, they didn’t want their friend to get hurt.

When you’re 38 and haven’t been on a real date in years, YOU don’t want to get hurt again. You resist getting  your hopes up, only to have them dashed again.  Yet the feelings were so intoxicating…I couldn’t protect myself from them.

Swept up in emotion, I made a decision to risk being hurt…because the thought of NOT loving him was more painful.

Duane exceeded my expectations. He was in it for the long haul (see my recent video on INTENTION) and no matter what I asked of him, he jumped through every hoop (and there were MANY of them) to seal the deal and put a ring on it.

The next chapter, however, is where the rubber met the road: Marriage.

Because of the whirlwind of our courtship, I never stopped to consider my expectations when it came to marriage.

I mean, wouldn’t it just be more of the same?  Romantic, long talks on the patio; flowers “just because” and handyman tasks miraculously handled by my own, personal Magnum PI…

Yep, cue the rude awakening.

Not to say there haven’t been some very sweet and romantic times…but, as my friends ALSO tried to tell me, it’s mostly about negotiating a pleasant balance between laundry, bills, professional obligations, social calendars, broken dishes (I’m a bit clutzy) AND reruns of Hogans Heroes (Duane’s favorite show.)

Some of our biggest fights have been because I imposed upon him my EXPECTATIONS of what he (i.e., the perfect husband) should be.  Meanwhile, I sometimes forget that I am in NO way the model of the traditional wife.

I do not cook.  And I’d rather pay other people to do tasks that bore me, including detail cleaning, mending and ironing.

Oh, plus I stink at all of the above.

Yet Duane has never complained about how I fall short in these areas (at least, to my face!) Perhaps his restraint in this regard has shown up in OTHER ways.  Exhibit #1:  Notice his hair color in this photo on our wedding day:

And after fourteen years of swallowing judgment:

85% gray.  (But he still looks happy, right?)

Getting back to expectations, no one wants to be required to live up to an unattainable standard and then be judged and found lacking.

It’s not a recipe for a happy marriage.

However, standards of mutual respect, honoring individual preferences, healthy amounts of compromise and good doses of unselfishness SHOULD be expected.

Lowering our expectations in these areas reduces our marriage to “less than.” It ensures that we don’t fulfill our potential as a couple. It says, “I give up” on believing the best for us.

Thus, we fight.  And this was NOT something I expected in marriage.  

I had lived with roommates for all of my adult life and can only remember one real argument!  Certainly we, as a loving, married couple, could rationally discuss matters and achieve mutual understanding?

HA!  When hormones and tempers are flared, we Viola’s can get LOUD.  This may not be the norm for 95% of couples out there, but it’s the case here on Ridge Road in Sarasota.

Admittedly, the intense arguments of our early married years are now much fewer and far between.  Why?  Because we understand each others’ expectations much more than we used to.  Now I KNOW what drives him crazy, and I try to avoid it at all costs.

He knows the same about me.

Sometimes there are unknown alligators in the water that crop up and make for less than smooth sailing.

But there’s one thing we both expect:  We’re staying in the boat.  Neither of us is jumping ship. Oh, there are times when we both WANT to, but we wait until that wave passes…which it always does…and set sail again for another year of equal parts marital angst and bliss.

If I had any gem of wisdom to offer to those of you embarking on this journey called marriage, it would be this: COMMUNICATE your expectations.

You can’t get mad at someone for something you never said mattered to you.

Meanwhile, we’re heading into a new week.  So here’s what our new word is!:

I’m going to emphasize NOT complicating things this week by over-thinking.

How will YOU simplify?

xoxoxoxox

Love,
Brenda

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