Chef to the Stars

For Rommy’s Prompt at Real Toads – write a job description. I retired three years ago but find myself working again, for free.

Chef to the Stars
I used to be a chef but burned out.
I used to be an engineer but I retired.
Now I am a chef again
cooking for free in the kitchen
of our local Food Bank.
I cook for those I love:
My husband
My friends
The kids with one meal a day
The homeless with their belongings
in a black plastic garbage bag
The elderly, the almost forgotten.
I share my homegrown produce with them
I put together meals of whatever is on hand
I think of myself as Chef to the Stars.
These folks shine in the darkest
of their night.
Like the stars
they look at me and smile.
Potato soup and hamburger macaroni surprise.
The stuff of which dreams are made.

# 1 on the List

 

A co-worker has a list posted outside of her cubicle.  It is full of sayings, you know the kind.  But #1 is “Life isn’t fair, but it is still good.”   Well, actually, sometimes it isn’t but hopefully, it will be.  A few weeks ago, I read a post on another blog that broke my heart.  I am a sucker for the helpless and if the helpless is a child or an animal, my heart bleeds forever.

 There was a posting about a street dog who although sick and suffering, was tortured by “humans” because the dying dog bothered them.  Hello?  Bothered them???  My rage turned to pain and then grief and I am still grieving for that dog.  I will grieve until I lose my memory.  I have been thinking since then, that what causes us pain, what causes us to pray to God for mercy for those who only He remembers, is what makes us truly human.  See blog at:  http://globalinfo4all.wordpress.com/   (good stuff here but sometimes, it will break your heart – but always inspiring.  Check it out)

 Let me go back 15 years.  I was working for a state agency and my job was to approve and authorize hospice care.  I mainly dealt with persons who were HIV+.  I also volunteered for a local AIDS network who helped those who were disabled by the disease or dying by getting their groceries, caring for their pets, emptying their garbage, changing their diapers….holding their hands and loving them because many of them had been disowned by their families and their….dying bothered them. 

 I was contacted, off the record, by a policeman who was acquainted with me.  He told me they had hauled in a homeless, 13 year old HIV+ girl.  Her mother had died several months earlier of AIDS.  The girl’s grandmother grudgingly took them in but the girl took care of her mom – food, clothing, sick care, everything.  She had contracted HIV by being raped by her mother’s HIV+ boyfriend.  The grandmother was ashamed of them and turned her back because their illness and dying bothered her.  When the mother died, the grandmother turned the girl out on the street.

 The policeman had noticed the girl off and on and how her condition was deteriorating.  He contacted me to see if I could help.  I went to the juvenile facilities to see the girl – thin, dirty, tired, frightened, covered with sores and obviously picked at/abused by passersby who were bothered by her dying.  I arranged for her to be taken to a children’s hospice.  I then stayed with her until they came to get her.  I washed her face and hands, combed her hair, hugged her.  She melted into my arms and then she asked,  “am I going to die?”.  I pulled her closer and said, “Yes, you are going to die.  But you will be taken care of.  You will be clean and treated kindly and loved.  And when you die, you will be mourned and you will be missed.”  Three weeks late, she died at the hospice. 

 So, life was not good for the dog or the girl.  In some ways, though, it did get better although they went through hell to get to something better.  The dog died and was given a decent burial by a group that cared for the sick, smelly, scabby animal and tried to do the right thing for it.  Anna died but she was loved. 

 To this day, I mourn and grieve for her.  She has been added to that special place in my heart for those whom everyone except God has forgotten.  She lives there with the dog and other animals and people who shouldn’t have been treated as they were – some of whom died alone.

 So what makes us human?  What adds greatness to our humanity?  That room in our heart for those mourned by maybe, only us.

My Other Car is a Klingon Battlecruiser

Klingon D7 class

Or … welcome to LaLa Land.  I am a realist, believe it or not.  But tucked away in my brain is my own world.  My blog is part of that world.  I invite people to sit on the porch, to visit the nishikigoi pond, to come by for fried chicken and lemonade or when the magnolias are in bloom, to help themselves to the blooms.  In turn, I’ve had visitors to the blog talk about camping out and being sure to leave it spic and span behind themselves.  Zooey the cat visits, Walter the black lab is also a regular and courteous visitor.

Sometimes though, the real world is just too much.  I have to leave and go into a world where thee is no one shooting children, torturing animals, starving the elderly.  In my world, there is no domestic violence, women are not circumcised so they can feel no sexual pressure nor are they tortured for learning to read or daring to have an opinion.  No one goes hungry, all have a place to sleep, eat, and be safe.  The past few days I HAVE JUST FREAKING HAD ENOUGH.  ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

But I also realize, if I stay in that perfect world, I won’t be out in the real world trying to make a difference.  I can’t count on everyone else to do my part.  So I made a resolve today – I would light a candle against the darkness, I would spread kindness instead of hurt.  I would do good instead of evil.

There is a movement on Facebook to do random acts of kindness.  Yes, I know….blahbah,  warm fuzzy, silly stupid stuff to a lot of people.  Personally, I think we are better than that.   I paid the toll this morning for the guy behind me and asked the toll taker to tell him Merry Christmas.  At McDonald’s I bought the breakfast of a man in the Army, on his way to his day’s duties at Ft. Lee. My husband, even when he was unemployed and money was so very tight, would buy the lunch of a service person.  I always found money in the budget to make up for it.  Say thank you to a service person, or EMT, or firefighter, or a cop.

Smile back at the child in the seat of the grocery basket in front of you.  Hold the door for someone.  Let the car in front of you in line from the on ramp.  Buy a cheap bouquet of flowers and hand them out to people you ride one the elevator with everyday.  Tell someone how much you appreciate them.  Say I love you twice to your spouse as you go out the door.  Buy some $5 gas cards and hand out randomly to cars parked around you.  Volunteer at the local Veteran or Children’s Hospital.  Help out at the local food bank.

DO SOME GOOD.  Make someone smile.  Slow down and smell the rain in the air.  Watch the sunset.  Savor life.  It is all too short.  Kindness is in short supply.  Let’s make it more available to everyone.

In the meantime, I’m going to cruise around in my Klingon battle cruiser and see if I can keep that skinny dog on the side of the road from starving – help him get to a shelter and be warm.  Stop to offer help to that woman with a flat tire.  I’m going to load up my battle cruiser with some toys and drop off at the closest Toys for Tots drop off station.

I think LaLa Land might just be achievable after all.  I need your help though.  Who’s with me?

Miss Curly Jinxy Whimsypants

No, this is not the name of a new cat or poodle, or an aged disco diva:  It is my official Elf name as generated by the Elf Name Generator.  Equally sad is my blues name:  Jukin’ Blind Parker.  Find your elf name, and other things about Shelf the Elf – pictures of him taking a marshmallow bath, hiding, report an elf, etc.  Get your own elf name!!!  http://www.elfontheshelf.com

But I digress.  Fun During The Christmas Season is my own self generated Holiday name. I totally enjoy getting rid of my serious persona during this time and having full tilt, unabashed, unabated fun.  So I went online and found a place to get an elf name. I have a basket in the kitchen for my husband and mother to chose from various wrapped gifts for the season of Lent.  Not big things:  candy canes, a small toy, a can of cat food (Sam loves it when they pick one of these), a light up Rudolf nose.  You get the picture.  Gifts for Sunday are in special wrapping: an angel ornament, tiny nativity set, etc. 

One of my favorite fun items is the Tacky Light Celebration.  In Richmond, we have a long standing tradition of a Tacky Light Tour and Tacky Light Decorating.  You can spend a moderate amount of $$ and go on a special bus or chauffeured limousine to see the most popular and tackiest lights and have optional snacks and liquor along the way.  Or you can go to the interactive map and pick out your own.

What is Tacky Lights?  It is hundreds of thousands of lights at one house or a series of houses in a neighbor hood, blinking, trailing, synchopated to music….blow up figures, palm trees, working trains…..no limit.  I once lived about 8 houses away from such a site.  From dark until almost 3:00 am, the lights, animated items, music, cars, buses, limousines were in full travel and traffic mode.  We parked our cars and put out trash cans so people couldn’t park in front of our house.  Grinchy, sure, but practical and necessary for some semblance of sanity until Epiphany.

So I urge you to let that suppressed child in you out.  Have a rollicking fun joy-fill Christmas.  Laugh a lot.  Get an elf name.  Put on some felt antlers hung with bells or ornaments.  Give to the Local Food Bank and shelters for indigent or homeless persons/families.  Volunteer at Veteran’s hospital or Children’s hospital.  Adopt a pet for the holiday.  Let yourself go and give smiles and get smiles.  After all, it’s Christmas…..Joy to the World.  (and more about that in a different post!).

tacky 4

tacky ttacky 3

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