Starts and Stops

Sunday, April 3, 2011

I have so much on my mind right now. I seem to be in fits of starting but not finishing: Story or article started, no ending; opening a new file, not completed; dishes washed, not put away; letters stamped but not mailed; calls, but no answers.

Dave is on a medical plateau. Not getting better, not getting worse. He gained ½ pound at weigh-in last week. Wow! But… Good news or bad news? I think good – we upped his food intake and added some calorie powder to his drinks. Yet I recall that a nurse told me weight gain could mean fluid building in his lungs. What to believe? I prefer the optimistic we are fattening him up, since hope always feels better. Still, I add a protective layer of caution for just about every thought I have.

I have more to say, do, write, but for the task at hand to post (has this become a task and not a dumping of my thoughts? Yes, and no, just like the paradox everything feels right now) I am going to share a story I wrote for Dave’s Storybook, then get ready for my Sunday walk with Anne.

The Ugly Egg

Our Sunday breakfast routine for years included boiled eggs. Rarely were all three perfectly peeled!

Dec 26, 2010

The Ugly Egg

ON Sundays, beginning about 5 years ago now, Dave started cooking Sunday breakfast: hard boiled eggs, grits, bacon and toast. It began as a nice surprise to come home to after my weekly walk around Capitol Lake with friend Anne. He takes pride in the timing- I should be able to walk in and the breakfast is ready.

It starts the day before.

“Are you walking with Anne?”

“Yes.”

“What time?”

“8:30.”

“OK, so I’ll have breakfast ready at 9:40.”

Perfect.  It’s a ritual.

The grits are a nod to our common southern roots. His from Oklahoma, mine from Texas. I never ate grits before I met Dave! I don’t think of grits as Texan. Bacon, steak, chili, meat and potatoes, but not grits. Grits, now that’s really South. Yet, it has become a thread of our background in a funny way. One of our first attractions was the Oklahoma/Texas cultural understanding. It is something we both “get” even though there is time and space that separated us in our individual upbringing.

I buy precooked bacon from Costco, thinking if I spend a lot per piece of bacon I’ll appreciate it more and eat less. Rarely do we eat bacon between Sundays… it’s too expensive. (Not really. I buy bacon whenever I want. I am fortunate to be able to do so. It’s a mind game.) I think it’s because of the precooked bacon that we started with boiled eggs. Real bacon, and the fat that renders into the pan, deserve fried eggs. Gone are the days of eating over-easy, runny, fried eggs cooked in bacon fat. That was BC (Before Child; even before marriage) when we’d head down to the Spar Restaurant for breakfast, a taste of the hair of the dog (Bloody Mary), smoke cigarettes and read the paper. That was before ongoing fears of undercooked eggs became a common major food safety concern. There were plenty of times one of us would fry eggs in the cast iron skillet on the weekend. Dave has the finesse and patience for this better than I. Fried eggs are a real treat anymore.

Today it’s boiled eggs. And for me, one boiled egg. Along the way to today, I started counting calories and cholesterol. One less egg a week will make a big difference, yes? So I eat one egg. And pass the butter, please! It’s a sacrifice to my age and health somehow.

Dave cooks and peels the eggs. He requires of himself a moment of perfection in this task. The eggs should peel easily, with no shell or skin; certainly with the egg intact, not like when the outer egg white sticks to the shell, leaving less egg and craters to the center yolk. For a few weeks earlier this year, we had a heck of a time with poorly peeled eggs.  Is it because they are fresh, or because they are old? I can never remember. I had started buying brown eggs. Brown eggs from happy, cage-free chickens, even organic. Those egg shells were protective of their insides. Those boiled eggs were downright ugly after we peeled them! It took both of us! That didn’t last long. Now I buy the eggs from happy chickens that produce white shell eggs. And this makes Dave happier, too.  And most of the time, the eggs are beautifully peeled, smooth and ready to eat.

When the toaster oven bell chimes, I butter the toast and set the table; he divvies out the grits, microwaves the bacon and carefully lifts the 2 slices from paper towel to plates with a wooden spatula. I accept the fat soaked paper towel for disposal into the food waste container. It’s a dance of last minute timing, with the same rhythm each week.

“Pick your egg,” he says, handing me my plate of food.

“You get the ugly egg,” I’ll say as I survey the three eggs awaiting their destination.

“Of course.”

That’s the way he is. He’ll cook for me and then he takes the ugly egg.

2 replies
  1. Cathie Alonzo
    Cathie Alonzo says:

    Hi Joan,
    Thinking of you and your family going on a journey that none of us should ever have to take. You are all in my thoughts and prayers. I will ask God to give you strength and peace, too.
    Love Cathie

    Reply
  2. joan
    joan says:

    Hi Cathie. I can’t even count the number of times I think of you! You’ve inspired me from the first days we meet during the first Storybooks for Healing program. It’s so nice to hear from you. I know you’ve forged your way through this journey already and that alone gives me strength. ~Joan

    Reply

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