Saturday, November 13, 2021

My Salmon Platter Birthday Dinner

My Salmon Platter Birthday Dinner

This is just a stub post.  I'm going to sit down and eat this before I tell the story of how I made for myself for the first time the 'special occasion' dinner that Ed used to make for me.  

It had been nearly two years and I realized if I was ever going to have it again I would have to figure out how to do it myself.  Beginning with the shopping. Followed by the chopping.

My first attempt isn't nearly as pretty as most of the ones Ed would make me.  Primarily do to the fact that a misunderstanding between me and my caretaker while we were shopping.  When I said yes to the canned spinach she thought I was agreeing to the substitute in the Salmon Platter Recipe but I was picturing using the canned spinach in other meals I could make for myself.  And then I overlooked the fact that we headed for checkout without stopping at fresh produce for the fresh baby spinach I wanted.

So to begin with my platter is missing the beautiful green leafy bed that always framed a decorative collection of colorful fruits and veggies in attractive slices or cubes or juliennes scattered around the outer edge of the plate or platter.

Another thing is I don't have a platter and my dinner plates are on the small size compared to what we once had, which I chose not to hang onto because they were heavy and slippery to handle in the sink.  And to be honest for any of the other menus in my small repertoire of fend for myself meals it is much healthier to have small plates and bowls to serve in.

Only in this and possible riffs with other meats would having a platter sized plate be potentially healthier.  And then, only if the extra space is used to add healthy greens and fiber and vitamin and mineral rich fresh produce.

Ed's platters were never the same twice.  That and the salmon and avocado was the only consistency.   A few time he would 'wilt' the spinach with bacon bits ahead of placing it on the plate but usually he just piled the bulk of it in the center of the plate with frilly edging of green peeking between and around the other fresh produce pieces.  And then he would place the hot salmon filet or steak on the center mound and let it wilt the spinach while I ate down to it.  Other times he substituted a fresh spring greens mix and attempted to keep as much as possible of it unwilted.

There would be at least three and often as many as six other produce chopped, sliced, or julienned. This is a list of the other produce Ed would prepare in no particular order after the top three which were nearly always the base with a single sweet item added unless none were in season:

Snowpeas in pods

There was seldom more than one sweet item.  Sometimes he didn't like the look of the tomatoes on offer so they did a no-show and sometime he wasn't in the mood to prep the jicama and would sub one or two of the crunchy items at the bottom of the list.  But I can't remember a single time there was no avocado.

Mine ended up nearly unrecognizable as lack of the fresh greens was just the beginning of the differences.  My knife work was clumsy and the shapes I created were random. 

And I don't think the mango was fully ripe.  I'd never shopped for one so I didn't know how to test for ripeness.  But it was hard to chop and nearly as dense as apple in all but the very center around the stem.  And it was not as sweet as I remember.

I came close to adding the tip of my own thumb to the jicama julienne.  I came down on the top if the nail so hard with the base of the long knife that I felt the pinch and my thumb throbbed like a fresh bruise for hours.  But thankfully no slice and no blood.

But due to shaky hands and low confidence after that incident, I had to take a long break before picking up the knives again.  Inexperience + knives + visual impairment is not a promising equation.

I think next time I do this I will plan ahead better so that my caregiver can do the chopping for me.  That had been my plan but the shopping took longer than I expected and we ran out of time Friday afternoon.  Basically that means I shouldn't plan on the shopping and the chopping being done on the same day.

But late this evening I managed to chunk out an avocado, a mango, and two Roma tomatos.  Then I heated up a can of spinach and a can of pickled slice beets (something Ed had never used but I found myself carving them as I came across them while hunting thru the grocery sacks for the ingredients. 
The next step was to cut the one pound fillet in two.

I seasoned with a Lemon Pepper spice mix and cooked a little under two minutes on each side to leave it hot but still raw in the middle.

I was serving it at 11:30 PM so it was barely still my birthday.  But oh so worth it.

Yes I've chopped enough stuff to make the same platter again Sunday evening.

 [edited Sunday afternoon, adding the bulk of the story following the opening paragraph.  I was too sleepy after I ate to come back to the post]


Monday, November 01, 2021

NaNoWriMo 2021 and ROW80 Round 4 2021 Goals

My NaNo Profile

It's time to put writing fiction back into the passion category in my life. 

I set it aside after the death of my husband last fall in favor of personal journaling and poetry.  Then when the opportunity to move into my own place came in mid July all writing got set aside for the chaos of packing up, moving and unpacking and setting up my own home for the first time in over a decade.  For the first time ever living alone since I went straight from my parents home into my marriage in 1976

See the latest photo essay of my new place, including writing station here:

Almost Home? A Photo Essay

Though they are calling it independent living I can't be left completely on my own with visual impairment, high functioning autism and mood disorder so I have a support system in place of social workers and caregivers.  The latter come several times a week to help with chores and errands I can't do correctly or safely by myself.  Things that involve stepping more than a dozen steps outside either door, hot ovens, knives or making messes I can't see well enough to clean up thoroughly enough to prevent them from attracting pests.  Like the ants me and my two caretakers had to deal with this past week.  UGH.

I was frustrated when it became obvious that my caretaker schedule was being increased from two to five days per week as I had been liking the four unstructured days in a row and thinking what a treat they would be come NaNo.  But then two weeks after the move chaos and tamed to the point the time I was spending on unpacking, sorting, organizing, cleaning etc and dropped from ten hour days to less than four and I still had not added writing back, I relearned an old lesson: I MUST HAVE STRUCTURE.

Without it I'm more likely to binge watch a series on Netflix for 20 hours than to write for my daily story fix.

And I remembered that most of my best writing has happened when I had MADE time to write when it was most inconvenient to do so.

Habits and Accountability are key ingredients.  

I could not let this be the first NaNoWriMo missed since 2004 so I'm jumping in even though I got no prep in for it and I'm jumping back into ROW80 mid round for community and accountability. I've also joined the Vancouver WA regional NaNo community.

For my NaNo novel I've settled on reviving an old flash fiction piece I posted in 2007 which I claimed at the time was the prolog to a novel I was planning.  Which was true but possibly left the impression there was something more substantial than there was because there is very little left in the notes that wasn't crammed into that flash fiction piece.  The rest was in my head and has continued to haunt me all this time.

This particular story is perfect for this NaNo though, not just because it is a ready made story concept that still haunts me but also because it's theme is the very thing I'm struggling with as a writer.  Right now.  

The very thing that has been preventing me from maintaining a consistent writing habit for years: self-censorship out of fear of loosing even more of the few human bonds left in my life.

This issue with truth telling became huge in the final year of my husbands life and then after he died when it became clear to me that my complicity had played a role in his alcoholic devolvement because I covered for him with family, friends, employers and landlords.  

That had been forefront in my mind the day I walked into his empty apartment a year ago and immediately started taking photos with intent to post. I was done with covering for him, done with whitewashing my life.

Then a week later his brother tells me that seeing those pictures on fb had broke his heart and then days after Christmas he died of a heart attack.

And I stopped writing again.  Even journaling escaped me for months.

Then a few weeks ago, even tho I'd not reread the piece in years, that flashfiction character began to haunt me and I knew that she had to come out and play for NaNo because she might be the only one who can give me back my voice as I had invested her with all the courage I wish I had.

I'm going to repost it right here because the old post has lost all it's formatting and I don't want to spend an hour fixing it.  I've noticed that in a lot of my old posts.  What is Bloggers problem? Beside the point.  sigh.

A Tale of a Wail

by Joy Renee

Her mother would tell the tale for decades of how Abigail Ames sucked in her first breath and released it in a vibrato wail, with no impetus but surprise and how it took her seven years to break her daughter of the embarrassing habit of howling in the face of the tiniest frustration.  And her mother had broken her well.  So well that she didn’t cry when at age eight, she watched her brother’s dog Griswald break the neck of her kitten Calypso while her brother, Darcy, stood by laughing.  So well that she didn’t cry out at age ten when Darcy and his buddy Curtis strung a rope over a high tree branch and put a noose around her neck and slowly tightened it until crying out would have been impossible anyway as simply drawing breath burned like fire.  When they lifted her into the tangle of leaves and branches and then let go of the rope so that she fell, breaking her right arm and spraining her left ankle, still she was silent.

Her self-enforced silence began the night of her seventh birthday when her mortified mother removed her from the dinner party after she let loose an endless open-mouthed howl when eleven year old Darcy blew out her candles for her and told her that meant he had just stolen her wish.  Her wish had been to someday sing the part of Annie in the Broadway musical.  It didn’t strike her that the transference of such a wish to her brother was a ludicrous concept.  All she had registered was the irrevocable loss of hope.  She was inconsolable.  So her mother took her to her room and lectured her on the protocols of social engagements and the expediency of stiff upper lips for young ladies.  Especially for a daughter of the Apostle of the Airwaves, Amos Ames, author of Daring To Profess. 

"If you simply must cry, then go somewhere no one can hear you.  And if that is impossible, then at least get off alone and put your hand over your mouth like this."  She placed Abigail’s own hand over her mouth and pressed.  "There, see?  You can cry as hard as you want and no one can hear.  Pretty soon you will learn to do it without even using your hand.  Once you learn to do it without screwing up your face into that unsightly mess, you can scream and cry and carry on in a crowd without even disturbing your make-up."

Abigail took the lecture to heart.  She never again cried out loud.  But nor did she ever again sing out loud.  Not, at least, until she was nearly out of her teens and too old to play Annie.  Darcy had stolen her wish after all.  The first of many precious things he stole from her.  And now he was about to take from her the last precious thing because he refused to take her years of silence in lieu of an oath of eternal silence.

"Swear on what, Darcy?"  she asked.  "On my purity?  On my honor?  You took those from me long ago.  And what point is there to swearing an oath to a man without honor?  It would be nothing but babble in his ears.  Easy enough to disregard on a whim."

Nor would an oath suffice.  Darcy had not gone to the trouble of tracing her after ten years just to hear her mouth a ritual phrase.  She doubted he, on his own, had the means to track her to this remote mountain cabin in Southern  Oregon.  But he had managed to get a message to her through the one childhood friend  whom she hadn’t the heart to cut loose of.  Nor would Darcy have gone to that trouble on his own.  It had to be on behalf of, and with the resources of, Curtis Christopher, currently campaigning for United Sates Senator in Idaho.  Darcy had been Curtis’ campaign manager for every election he ran in since his run for Class President his senior year of college.  Abigail had been privy to the inner-circle of that one, though still in high-school herself.  She knew that Curtis kept himself willfully ignorant of the tactics Darcy used to make things go his way.  She knew that their ambitions had been, from the beginning, to go all the way to the White House.  With stakes that high, there was only one guarantee of silence that would satisfy Darcy.

Darcy’s mistake was in thinking that she had spent the last decade cowering in this redoubt, nurturing terror and shame, with nothing more than a salacious tale to tell that could be spun as sibling rivalry, if she ever dared to voice it, an embarrassment that could be averted by a single stroke. He could not suspect that the timid, biddable Abigail had been preparing to sing on a stage dwarfing any stage her seven-year-old imagination could have conjured, for if he had he would not have attempted to back her into the corner that abutted that stage on one side and the abyss on the other.  

For, far from nurturing terror or shame, she had been cultivating a network and a name recognized for integrity and intrepid truth scrounging.  Trudy Ann Daring, Investigative Journalist and founder of, had created the stage on which she would sing.  And her tale was far more than an uncorroborated he said/she said family scandal.  She had proof--documented facts and the living, breathing truth, that last precious thing--Truth Ann Daring, not yet ten, sleeping that peaceful sleep of innocence--just this little bit longer--in the loft over Abigail’s head.


Those words are not to be counted in this year's NaNo of course.

The title of the NaNo novel is Truth Daring.  Yes it is part of the Fruits of the Spirit Storyworld.  And yes, Abigail was raised in the cult featured in that storyworld.

Now for my NaNo and ROW80 goals:

Just one really: Write every day of November in the Truth Daring file.  Give Abigail back her voice so she can give me back mine and hope that spending enough time channeling Trudy Ann Daring will rub a little daring off on me.

After I've established that daily habit, I will see about adding goals.  But from where I sit now I think it would be HUGE if that is the only goal for the entire month of November and I meet and maintain it.


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