Hello all. Happy December. I am happy to report that my surgery is over, and I am on the road to recovery. Currently, I am minus my gallbladder, but plus a kidney stone…OUCH! Otherwise, I am doing okay. Thanks for all the well wishes, it means a lot.
I haven’t done much cooking lately. The surgery was last Tuesday, and I really haven’t felt up to doing much. That said, I did make this soup last week. The process was completely fueled by pain medication, but what the heck. I was looking for a way to take my mind off how yucky I was feeling, so I decided to look around on “Pinterest.” I came across this soup recipe and read it. Here’s where the pain meds kick in, because I got up went into the kitchen and decided to make the soup right then and there. The recipe really is that easy. I mean if a post-op, kidney stone suffering, high on pain meds, pajama wearing individual can make this soup, you totally can do it too. ☺ Before I get responses and emails about how unsafe cooking in that state was, rest assured that Dan was in the kitchen with me. He supervised the stove cooking, so the most dangerous part of the whole process was opening 2 cans. Anyway, I had all the ingredients, and I had some left over ravioli so I was good to go. I realize the recipe calls for tortellini, but ravioli is pretty close so whatever. I am happy to report that the soup is delicious…restaurant caliber delicious. My version, however, contains a ton less salt and fat than a restaurant’s would as I made a few substitutions. I never have half and half in the house, so I used skim milk as a substitute, which lowered the fat content. Also, I used low sodium vegetable broth, and low sodium tomato soup concentrate, which lowered the salt content. Here is a link to the recipe that I used: http://tastykitchen.com/recipes/soups/creamy-tomato-tortellini-soup/
Due to my surgery, Dan took a few days off from work to be home with me. In addition to doing his “Mr. Mom duties” like transporting the kids to and from school, making their lunches, and helping with all the household chores, he decided to work on the basement. YIKES! The basement is a disaster. We have been in this house for 7 years, and a lot of the basement is still in boxes. I know, I know. If I haven’t used it in 7 years, get rid of it right? Right. That sentiment, however, is not in my nature, so we have a ton of boxes to go through. Anyway, Dan has been working away at organizing the basement, and complaining about all of our “stuff.” I remember having the same conversation in our old house (probably as he watched me pack up all that said stuff), and my defense was always the same. I used to say “…a small house well filled, is better than an empty palace.” To be honest, I don’t remember where I heard, or read that quote, but I love it. In my defense, our new house (yes we have been here 7 years, but still refer to it as “the new house”) is a ton less cluttered than our old house was. Probably, because I still have half the old house packed up in boxes in the basement, but I digress. Even though it isn’t applicable to our current situation, I still love that quote. That quote actually got me to thinking about life in general.
A few weeks ago, I was having a “mid life crisis” conversation, with my very good friend Connie. We have been friends since high school, and are still very much connected. We were discussing our mortality, the legacy that we want to leave, and matters of that nature. One of the things that I told Connie was that “I don’t have a ‘big life’.” What I meant by that was, I am the average Joe, just another face in the crowd. There will never be a monument erected in my honor, nor will I have a wing of a library named after me. When you conceptualize your life on that scale, and start to think in terms of mortality it can get kind of gloomy. I mean one day it will just all be over. Who will know I was ever even here? My family and friends will know of course, but that’s not the significance that I am referring to. I meant what contribution to society will I have made? How will the world be a better place because I was here? Deep right? I don’t mean to get too existential, but that is the conversation we were having. Anyway, I had to go into the basement today, and I was taken by how much progress Dan has made down there. It got me to thinking about the old house, and how much “stuff” we’ve accumulated over the years. As I marveled at Dan’s progress, I was reminded of that quote that I mentioned above “…a small house well filled is better than an empty palace.” For some odd reason, that quote made me think about that conversation that I had with Connie. I began to conceptualize the quote in a whole different way. What if “small house” was a metaphor for life? Would the quote have the same meaning? I think it would.
I tend to think of “big lives” as those that appear to have a large impact on society, or that carry some sort of social weight. By those standards, I do not have a big life. Don’t get me wrong, I do a lot, but not on a big scale. I am a familiar face at the kids’ schools because I volunteer a lot. I chaperon dances, field trips, volunteer in the classroom, work in the Middle School store, and I am Victoria’s Girl Scout Leader. I am the President of our elementary’s parent group, and I’m the chairperson for several events and committees at school. I am on a couple of advisory boards in the community as well. On top of that I have a job…ya know work where I actually get paid a little something.☺ Most importantly I have a family….both the family I was born into, and the family that Dan and I have created. All of that still won’t get me a plaque on the wall of any community building, nor will I be pictured in the local paper holding a certificate acknowledging all of my volunteerism. Don’t misunderstand. I don’t do a single solitary thing mentioned above for recognition of any kind. I do it because I can. I do it because I want to. I do it because I think we all should. I do it because I firmly believe that it does “take a village” to raise good people. I want all children, (not just my own) to realize that outside of their own families, there are some nice people in the world. People who give without any personal gain. People who help others because it is the right thing to do. People who are willing to set aside their own agendas. People who are willing to bear witness to your life…no matter how small it is.
Granted, that is a lofty assumption to make. I mean do the kids put two and two together? Do they understand that I could be at home baking cookies, but instead I am at school working at the book fair? Do they see me collecting juice pouches, old cell phones, or ink cartridges, and then boxing them up to ship off? Do they know that the school earns money for that? Do they know that I don’t? I’m not sure. To be perfectly honest I don’t really care. What I do care about is that those same kids are able to use a “Net Book” that our parent group could afford to buy. That those kids will use playground toys and equipment that we provided. That their little hands will hold and read books that we supplied. Mostly, that their little hearts will feel joy as they come and visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and see a few friendly faces who volunteered to be there. That is what’s important. That is what makes it all worthwhile. That is the “stuff” that makes a “little life” like mine, huge. That is exactly what makes a “small house” way better than any “palace” on the planet.
Despite the fact that I don’t have a “big life” and probably never will, I am living large. I am grateful for all that I have (even the “stuff” still in boxes in the basement). I am grateful for a husband who loves me, and will shake his head whilst (there’s my favorite British word again☺) unpacking all those said boxes. I am grateful that I still have friends like Connie. Friends who will write in my birthday card “…they may not erect a statue in your honor, but you’ve made a big difference in my life” (Thanks Con, love you). Friends who text, email, call, or send flowers (Thanks Overholts, love you guys) when I have my dumb gallbladder out. Family that will call and check in with Dan to make sure that I’m alright. I’m grateful for my Dad who offered me his doctor’s appointment this Friday just in case I wasn’t feeling better by then (Thanks Dad, love you). I’m grateful for co-workers/friends who cover my clients whilst I am re cooperating, and take my calls even when they are in the check out line and it makes them uncomfortable (Thanks Col, love you). I’m grateful for my children who drive me crazy, but then in the next moment make me laugh so hard my incisions ache (Thanks Vic and Ry, love you). Actually, I am grateful for it all…my little life, and my well filled house. Most of all, I am grateful that no matter what happens, I will never…ever… have to live in an empty palace. Thank you so much to “my people” for making my “little life” feel so “well filled.” ♥♥