Wednesday, July 29, 2009

"To be remembered simply as a good and decent man...

"My brother need not be idealized or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life, to be remembered simply as a good and decent man who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it." Senator Robert F. Kennedy was eulogized by his brother, Senator Edward Kennedy, in a brilliant speech, closed with the above quote.

At a time when most of my high school, college peers were having fun, experimenting with life, finding themselves... I hung around older people listening to their life stories. Often called an "old soul" I've seemed to have the end in mind from the beginning. Instead of reading The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe, I was reading books like, On Death and Dying by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and The American Way of Death by Jessica Mitford. At Canevin High School in Pittsburgh, Pa. I took classes, On Death & Dying. Never quite sure why I always have a place in my heart for children who lose their mothers to death, last summer as I was packing my studio/ life to attend graduate school in Savannah, I found out why.

When my older brother was 5, I was 2 1/2 years old and our youngest brother was six month old, our mother found a lump in her breast while she was taking a bath.
Fifty years ago, C-A-N-C-E-R was a really scary word, a virtual death sentence. Our mom was whisked away to the hospital for a total mastectomy on her 35th birthday January 8th, 1959. After an extended stay in the hospital she had 30 days treatment of radiation. You have to know that the radiation was not pin pointed at a tumor site at that time, rather, it was liberally sprayed in the direction of her then missing left breast.

Rice Family Christmas 1959

Last August my older brother shared with me that he was told, "Mommy is going to die within two years from cancer." I have no memory of my mother being in the hospital at that time, however, now I have a understanding of my " fear of abandonment " issues. I am sure just as sibling share toys, treats and chicken pox; my brother in his 5 year old way told me our mother was going to die. The affects this knowledge has on my life story is food for another day.

Today I am going for my annual mammogram. Yesterday afternoon I called for an appointment thinking I would not have to go until the Autumn. Much to my surprise they have an opening for today. I said, YES !!! Mammograms have been a part of my yearly check up since I have been 29years old. Thankfully, aside from a few scary times when they wanted to do a second screening, "Just to be sure." I have not had to deal with breast cancer. I'll let you know what happens today. Why not make your own health check up appointments if you have been putting them off. Early detection is the best cure ;~)

Speaking of cure, let's make Chicken Soup. It is good for everyone except the chicken ;~(

A whole chicken, plopped into a pot with water and lots of seasonings, is the key element. Simmer away until the chicken pulls off the bones; dump the bones and return the chicken to the broth along with selected ingredients.

Soothing Chicken Soup
1 chicken (3 1/2 to 4 lb.), rinsed
slice 1 large onion
slice 3 stalks celery
slice 3 medium-size carrots
mince 3 cloves garlic
4 sprigs parsley
2 dried bay leaves
2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon whole allspice
1/4 pound whole wheat noodles
Salt & Fresh Cracked Pepper

Place chicken in a 6- to 8-quart pan. Add onion, celery, carrots, garlic, parsley, bay, thyme, coriander, pepper, allspice, and 2 quarts filtered water. Cover, and bring to boiling over high heat; reduce heat and simmer gently until chicken is no longer pink at bone in thigh (cut to test), about 1 hour total. Remove pan from heat; lift out chicken and set on a plate. Discard parsley. If making ahead, let broth cool uncovered, then cover and chill until cold or up to 1 day. Skim or lift chilled fat from broth and discard.
When chicken is cool, pull meat from bones. Discard bones and any skin. Tear meat into bite-size pieces. If making ahead, cover and chill meat up to 1 day.
Cover soup, and bring to a boil on high heat. Add noodles; cook until tender to bite, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in chicken and heat through, 3 or 4 minutes. Ladle into bowls. Add salt and pepper to taste. Makes 14 cups. Serves 6 to 7.

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