Monday, April 4, 2022
Saturday, January 1, 2022
Most of my friends know that I love experimental cooking. I don't know if it's because I felt set free in my Third Life, or if it's always been inside of me. I get into some sort of "zone"...a place where I can just shut everything out and it's just me and the foodie elements before me. It's my therapy; it's my go-to when I'm tired, stressed, sick, etc.
This New Year's weekend, I've been down with a cold. I bought a whole chicken, some orange juice and (yes, gasp!) a bag of frozen soup vegetables. Being sick, I didn't feel like chopping up a lot of veggies and doing my usual "kitchen witchery", so I threw the chicken into a crockpot, added some onions, garlic, some seasonings, and then the frozen vegetables and a few noodles in towards the end. This concoction suited me just fine for what I needed at the moment on a cold, WY day/night.
Every once in a while, I do a "Refrigerator Day". I do an assessment of the contents of my messy fridge and freezer...throw out the old, replenish with the new. My Mom and Dad had something called the "Rotting Drawer". Old vegetables, potatoes, etc. that never made it into final dishes or meals. When it comes to my own "rotting drawer", I try to salvage as much as possible and make some kind of soup or..."something". I had bought and dried so many herbs and spices that sat in dishes and jars, waiting for their moment to shine.
So when I assessed my fridge, freezer and cupboards this New Year's weekend, I was actually surprised at how many ingredients I had bought so much of, but never used. Always thinking, "I'm gonna make this" or that...but never did.
This cold...this sickness, this down-time...gave me some time to think as I assessed not only my foodie habits, but my Life. That everything requires Balance. Like when I go into a grocery store (like a kid in a toy store) with the best of intentions, but come out with ingredients that may or will sit in a drawer or on a shelf. Not necessarily unwanted, just unused.
It made me think about my own Life and Balance. For example, I love garlic. But I've created dishes where there is just too much of it. I love various herbs and spices; I love my own signature-infused oils and vinegars. I love fresh butter, heavy cream...rich, flavorful sauces. But I've learned that too much of something in anything doesn't necessarily work in the end.
The take-away? It's about Balance.
My work week literally dominates my time. There's so much in EMS that goes on, that the public...and to tell the truth, even our very own EMS Providers...don't quite understand. Things that happen behind the scenes that just a handful of us have to juggle..and at the end of the day, I'm exhausted. Add on my community projects, and I'm pretty spent. It's often too much.
This New Year, my main goal is to achieve Balance in my life. I have family and friends I want to have coffee or lunch with, and that's important. I have projects of my own that I'd like to do, and that's important. I have down-time and health issues that I need to tend to, and that's important. Balance in my mental, spiritual, political, social and economic life is important.
The demands of everyday life affect us all in so many different ways. But I feel that we need to stand up for what is important to us in our "Every Day". If it means we need time to tend to our families and relationships, that's what it means. If it means that some sort of project has to wait, that's what it means. If it means taking time out to listen and help with someone's crisis or drama, that's what it means. So if too much of any spice or herb can spoil a dish, too much of anything can spoil a Life...and I sure don't want to find myself in the "Rotting Drawer". LOL
Today, I made a batch of hummus (pictured below). Some don't like it, and I get that. But I do. I usually put a lot of garlic in (because I like it, LOL), but today I achieved some Balance and put in just a little garlic, a few artichoke hearts, one sun-dried tomato, some salt and pepper and a bit of lemon juice. Taste, taste, taste...and the result was amazing!
I also made some beef jerky (also pictured below) with Hi Mountain Seasoning's Hunter's Blend jerky package. I didn't veer away and do my own thing (as tempting as it was, LOL)...I followed the directions to the very tee, and WOW! Again, the result was amazing! My Three Wolves were smacking their jowls!
Granted, there are the trieds and trues that you should never mess with. Hi Mountain's directions would be an example. Plus, I would never assume to ever "improve" on my Mom's chili, my Grandma Lund's biscuits, my Dad's pancakes, my Grandma Starks' oatmeal cookies. That would be sacrilegious; those are the generational, sacred pillars of Wisdom!
There's a difference between mere advice and Wisdom. So as I forge through this New Year (like I have with so many before), I can only hope that I am more mindful of the Wisdom imparted and Balance achieved, and that I can apply those virtues to my everyday Life.
Even if it means throwing everything into a pot and calling it good!
Friday, October 22, 2021
I’ve been blessed and honored to have known three Moms in my life…the one who bore me, the one who raised me, and the one who became a very best friend to me. Throughout my Journey, I have also been delighted and fortunate to have had several “adopted Moms” as well. You all know who you are, and I thank you so very much for bringing your love and light into my world. I am who I am because of all these amazing, strong women in my life. Every one of them has influenced me in my ups and downs, joys and trials, successes and disappointments. I love each and every one of you!
Tomorrow is an especially difficult day for me, as tonight is the eve of the anniversary of my Mom Marilyn’s death. It’s been a year since she passed away, and though I had always believed in living each day as if it were my last, never had it impacted me more than a year ago today.
The last time I saw Mom and Dad together was when they came over to give me more “stuff”. A comforter set, a lamp, and a [computer] monitor. It was a joke between Mom and I that she would be pawning off all of this stuff on me: “You need this, don’t you, dear?”…”and this is nice, right sweetie?”…”C'mon, this is so ‘you’…”…”and you need this, and this, and…”
I knew what she was doing. One day she had a spread of all kinds of kitchen utensils and dishes all out on her kitchen counter. With that slight mischievous smile, she looked me straight in the eye and said: “Okay. These are all yours! Aren’t you so glad?” LOL So when Mom and Dad came over, I knew was in no position of negotiation. I accepted the comforter, lamp, and monitor, no questions asked.
The thing that will be forever ingrained in my memory will be the two of them in their warm, cozy winter jackets, walking hand in hand down my front porch steps towards their home, into the chilly dusk of evening. They were always hand in hand, and I thought as I peeked at them through a crack in my front door, as they walked away: “That is truly what Love is supposed to be like.”
I miss my random “girl talks” with her. I miss coming home from work at lunch or at the end of the day, watching her in the garden in the midst of dirt, buckets and flowers, looking up and smiling at me. I miss her listening ear and gentle voice as she would impart her wisdom and opinions to me with a grace and respect that so profoundly defined her. Always listening; never judging. Always asking me how I was doing, how my day was. Simple conversations, which always led into deeper ones. There was always a take-away in a conversation with Mom Marilyn.
On this anniversary, I feel like it’s some sort of “Mother’s Day”. I think of not only Marilyn, but I think of Mom Thelma, Mom Christine, and all of my surrogate mothers who have influenced my life and have given me so much of their own selves so that I can continue living on with their love, strength, and wisdom that guides me on my own Journey.
The night that Mom was whisked away in an ambulance, I went through all of the stages of grief. Shock, denial, anger (I had a screaming fit in my car until my throat was sore)...and eventually acceptance. I was numb for a looooong time; sometimes I would forget to eat or hydrate. That’s when my EMS family came in and, quite literally, saved me from the edge of deep despair. Another example of how family is what you make it, and that those who love and care for you are really, truly there for you.
Even still today, I have a hard time believing this all happened. But in my acceptance phase, I came to realize that some of God’s best angels are, well…just pushed to the front of the line.
The photo is of a plant that Mom gave to me a few years ago. It was just a single cutting from one of her own plants she had grown. I cherish this plant, and so many of the things (yes, even the kitchen utensils, LOL)...that remind me of her. This plant is sitting on my Aunt Betty Case’s display case (another woman of great influence in my life). It reminds me that Life goes on, and that we need to nurture the good, rid ourselves of the bad, but most of all…
Walk down a path, in the dusk of evening, hand in hand.
Thursday, June 10, 2021
Some folks view me as "happy go lucky"...a Pollyanna...a well-caffeinated soul...someone who always looks on the "bright side of Life" (made you sing it, LOL). However, those who truly know me...know that I've been through hell and back, several times...and have lived to tell those who really deserve to know, the dark tales of Carol [Starks] Harper. Cue "Imperial March" here).
Not much surprises me anymore. I've had to endure enough in Life, let alone the gossip-mongering and back-stabbing. But I've also learned that gossip-mongering and back-stabbing has its place in society. I accept it; hell, I even embrace it. Bring it on! Tell me who you think I am, given all the "privileged" vast information and knowledge you think you have about me! But at the very least have the balls to sit down with me over a cup of coffee...face to face...and let me hear your drivel so I can laugh at myself!
I recently experienced something I never wanted to, ever...but was placed in front of me by the Universe. One Saturday morning last month, I was watering the flowers outside of the garden when a very young Native girl yelled at me over the fence. She was barefoot...in nothing but a t-shirt and shorts...bruised and beaten:
"Please. Can you help me?"
I immediately dropped the hose, ran over to her, and brought her into the house. Called 911. RPD showed up, and then later, BIA. In the meantime, I had a lot of time to talk to this young girl and her plight. I was willing to do anything and everything to get her out of her situation, but...
Long story short...she went back, despite all the best efforts and help offered. To tell the truth, it broke my heart to pieces. I was thinking, "THIS is why we have abused, missing, and murdered Native American women!" At the same time, it made me look in the mirror and reminded me why I survived as long as I have. But this experience also told me that I can't get involved where I shouldn't...can't help when I wish I could...keep my head down re: the powers that be.
I know there are many sides to a story. I wish the whole world would know this fact...that we are all human beings who need love, care and support, regardless of who you are, where you are, or the state you are in. I know, it doesn't mean that just anyone can be trusted, but...all politics aside and gone, I'm with the crowd and community that would at the very least stand up for a young Native girl who had been abused and beaten.
Below is a photo of a necklace given to me by my Grandmother. I do not know the hands that beaded it; I do not know the story behind it. What I do know is that it was given to me in love, and I wear it with pride. I have several Native jewelry pieces given to me over the years, and I cherish each and every one. I wear them at pow-wows and ceremonies.
I'm a very different person, here in my Third Life. Red, yellow, black or white...a tribe is what you make it. A community is what you make it. Family is what you make it. But how are we "making" it? Have we succeeded, or have we failed? Have we pointed fingers at others in blame, indignance, jealousy, rage...or do we look in the mirror and experience a rude awakening?
Saturday, April 24, 2021
It was a very rough and tough decision to make, moving back to my home state, but I heeded the call in being close to family and friends who had already made their decision long ago to stake their ground and make a life here. Being close to my "Tribe". That is what building a "Third Life" is all about.
When you settle into a community/tribe, there are things you might expect, and yes (I have to say) take for granted. All of the economical elements come into play: Food, water, utilities, transportation, communication, resources, employment, etc.
However, not many really think about the case of emergency...when you have to call 911...a stroke, a cardiac arrest, a respiratory problem, a stabbing/shooting, domestic violence, etc. Most think it's a "given". Just call 911, right? You live your life, thinking "Oh, that won't happen to me/my family".
And then it does happen.
I signed on with flight services first, and then eventually transferred to ground EMS. My position has been mostly administrative...vehicle maintenance, medical equipment, AP, etc. Basically, I keep the lights on at the stations, the rigs going, the equipment functioning and repaired. I'm also the editor of a [internal] quarterly newsletter for ground and flight for the Northwest Region.
I also manage the community relations/outreach side of things, and although "things" have been quite difficult to manage lately, my heart will always be with the crews of Fremont County, no matter who is at the helm of the ship. They are the ones who bust their asses for every 911 call. They are the ones on the front lines...who get very little sleep, have to deal with PTSD, have to deal with every call and scene day and night, 24/7...and above that, have to deal with the nasty politics that go on above their heads and try their very best to go above and beyond for their patients.
There, I said it.
I've said this before, but here it is again: If you want to know the truth about community relations/society, talk to an EMT. Talk to a Paramedic. Talk to a First Responder that is on-scene and has to deal with what is in front of them. It's often not a pretty picture, and I know tensions are high, given the George Floyd verdict. But just try to put yourself in the situations of our EMTs/Paramedics, whose ultimate goal is to save a life. Doesn't matter whose life it is, they will do their damned best to try to save it. They are not armed; they don't carry anything to protect their own selves. They are vulnerable, yet they put themselves in harm's way to do one thing: Care.
How does a county/community solve the problems of emergency services? There is a lot more to solve before those calls even go out to our First Responders! But what are our city and county leaders doing to actually solve these problems? Crime, murder, assaults, drugs, violence, rape, abuse, stabbings, shootings, suicides, overdoses, etc.
Whose "fault" is it where we all seem to be failing? Where do the justices and the injustices really lie?
This is America, today. Problems need to be solved above the heads of those on the front lines of care, whether governmental or corporate...and unfortunately, they have all failed us. Even the State of WY has failed us, in not making EMS services essential.
Fremont County, WY: On July 1, 2021...when you call 911...what will happen?
Photo by Camille Barnes, EMT
Sunday, February 28, 2021
|My favorite Sunday mug.|
Sunday, January 17, 2021