NaNoWriMo: Papagallo

November 10, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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I know I shouldn’t reveal my work before the end of the month, but I think I should share at least ONE short story, right?

Please remember, this is NOT edited. That comes later.

“Papagallo”

You are my little papagallo, my grandfather says to me.
I about five years old, and he is taking me for breakfast at McDonald’s on this nice, Saturday morning. He knows how much I love French toast, and how I love to get every last morsel of maple syrup, with its high fructose sugar goodness on every bite of French toast stick I put in my mouth.
It had become our tradition: he would surprise me once or twice a month with breakfast at McDonald’s.
He would get a coffee and I would get a french toast breakfast with orange juice. We would sit in one of those plastic booths, with the weird, smooth seats and possibly dirty tables, as the workers have not cleaned it yet. Pop would usually clean it before I ate.
It was probably early; maybe 8 or 9 in the morning. He was always an early bird, and I never understood it. I enjoyed the warmth of my bed in my bright pink room. A room all to my own, as my brother had his own nursery. Yes, I am a big sister now. My little brother came into the world, but I was still a princess. And in this moment, Pop’s princess.
I am probably talking his ear off. This is my way. My mother tells me that I started talking early. She never had to talk baby-talk to me. I would talk to strangers at the store, right from the front seat of the shopping cart. People would ask her how old I was, and when she said two years old, they looked in shock. They supposed I was older, and they can’t believe my vocabulary.
Well, the vocabulary might not have improved, but I still won’t shut up.
Who knows what I am talking about. I even talk with a mouth full. My mother will yell at me about this for years to come. I get the hang of doing it not too often, unless it is in front of people I trust.
At 5 years old, I had no idea what the word “papagallo” meant. It takes me until my twenties to finally figure out that word.
See, my grandfather was a coal miner — an Italian coal miner. My great-grandfather had taken the boat over, leaving behind his eight siblings and parents to start a new life in America. He knew he would never see them again, but he made the choice anyway.
Nono has two sons and two daughters, one of which was my grandfather, Ermo. They spoke Italian, as my Nono didn’t really know English well.
Nona, my great-grandmother, spoke Italian often, though she knew English. She was born in Pennsylvania and was bilingual. The most Italian I hear her speak is when she is angry with my Pop. I ask her what she is saying, but she just laughs and pats my head.
But here I am, a blabbermouth.
About fifteen years from now, I will be over the ocean, discovering my roots. I am two years into learning Italian, and when I got the first chance in my introductory Italian class at college, I looked up that word, the nickname Pop gave me. By now, Nona is long gone, as is my Nana, Pop’s wife. All I have left is Pop to hold onto my roots.
So I took this trip. I see where Nono grew up, in that small, hilly town in Umbria. My cousins drive me past it as we go to Easter dinner with my extended family. These Italians are so nice; we are a bit removed on the family tree, but they treat me like a long-lost sister or something. I guess blood is really thicker than water. We talk and talk about everything on this trip: How my other cousin is a soccer star (they call it football over here); how I am enjoying my trip; how I will be going home soon; when will I be back? What is America like? What do you do on Easter in America?
I think of Pop; he is not much of a “papagallo.” He is sitting here, quietly sipping his coffee. Pop always made his intentions known, but when he is with me, he just watches me. It is like he is taking in my innocence. He knows me being 5 years old won’t last forever.

***
It has been a long time since Pop has called me “papagallo.” It has been a long time since we had our breakfasts, too. Life hurried along, and I had so many things to do. In that time, I never really saw how much Pop was changing. He always looked the same to me.
He was always my Pop, in his silence, his love for coffee and letting me be wrapped around his little finger.
He is sitting there in his wheelchair, in this unfamiliar room. The Philadelphia baseball game is on, his favorite. He can’t see it, and he barely can hear it. But it is still on; it is comforting.
What’s the score? he asks me.
Four to two, Pop. The Phillies are winning.
Good, good.
How are you doing? Do you like your job? Are you eating? When are you getting married? You are happy? Good, good.
I try to answer. He has a hard time hearing, a hard time understanding now.
Twenty-six years have gone by, and how could I supposed Pop would never change? That he would never get old, that I would have to take care of him now?
We sit in the quiet.
But then he says it.
Remember when I used to call you my papagallo? Hahaha, he laughs to himself.
He remembers. I might be afraid to talk to him now, afraid he is slipping, that this stupid Alzheimer’s is getting to him. But he does remember.
And then I start talking to him, his little chatty parrot. I might be repeating myself a few times so he can hear, but for a second, I am five again, chatting away.

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Daily Prompt: 46-year-old me

November 3, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Posted in Post A Day | Leave a comment
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Another piece of advice for myself. Flickr photo by viewoftheworld

It is really hard for me to fathom writing to myself in 20 years. If I have learned anything about life, it’s that it is unpredictable. I can look forward in certain aspects, but not many. It is easier for me to look back and analyze.

The past eight years especially have been a whirlwind.  So many things have changed so rapidly in my life, I’m not exactly sure how to predict the future.

I think I will list things that I hope my 46-year-old self has accomplished by this time:

Own a home. Have a little plot of land that you can garden, grow, destroy and do as you wish.

Marry the man I love. Spend my life with him.

I want to say kids, as everyone says kids. For the longest time, I wanted kids. But now, I feel like I need to leave that up to fate and God.

Doing a job I love, or at least like.  I need to pay the bills. I am hoping to stay in journalism for the long run, but you never know where life will take you.

Be healthy. This is important, as I have so many diseases in my genetic pool, most importantly heart disease. I already struggle with my weight, but maybe by that time, I will be happy and fit.

Bucket list to 30 is finished; closer to finishing my 50-year-old’s bucket list.

Be debt-free. Oh, God, I hope.

I want to tell my 46-year-old self to be strong. You have been through so much in the first 26 years, and another 20 will only make you wiser.

I hope you cherished the years with your parents and your connection with your siblings is stronger than ever.

Don’t kill your mother-in-law; she might drive you CRAZY but she loves you and her efforts come from her good heart, even when it doesn’t seem like it.

Be the Wonder Woman and warrior you are. When life gets you down, you know that the grass is always greener on the other side, and that the sun WILL come out tomorrow.

Also, I hope that patience you learned a long time ago had come in handy.

Daily Prompt: A letter to 14-year-old me

November 3, 2012 at 10:00 am | Posted in Post A Day | Leave a comment
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Not quite 14 years old here, left at 10 o’clock.

Dear Bethany,

Your newly teen self is oblivious. High school is upon you; you made the cheerleading squad. You don’t know why some of your friends are upset by this. High school is definitely a bigger world for you, coming out of Catholic school and a class size of 19. But you are still the kind person, right?

Stay that way. Despite the pettiness that will surround you in life, keeping your kindness will not only bring peace to your life but maybe to the world. It will save you a lot of tears and worry. “Why don’t they like me?” you will say or think a lot, but if I could save you from much more of that now, I will.

Sometimes I wish you wouldn’t be so boy crazy; it will only get worse. You will give your heart away too many times to count, but hopefully this last time will be in it for the long haul. You have found someone that really knows you better than you know yourself. Sometimes you might not like his snoring, his farting, his chronic forgetfulness and how messy he can be, but he puts up with your yelling and the times you snore/fart/forget/be messy.

He will teach you patience no matter how much you hate that.

Life doesn’t get any easier as you get older. Freedom comes with a price. You might be “too sensitive” as your parents say, but in time, you will level out. You will be a little more worldly, a little more wiser, but still very privileged. And knowing that, you will be even more thankful.

That dream wedding? Probably not going to happen. It costs too much.

House and kids before 30? Good luck.

But that’s not all life has to offer. There is a big world out there, and you have explored some of it.

You also are participating in the evolution of journalism, so get excited. Study your heart out, and keep writing.

And don’t forget that fate is on your side.

Easy potluck dish: Sushi salad from ‘Appetite for Reduction’

November 2, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Posted in VeganMoFo | Leave a comment
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I will apologize for YET AGAIN not having a photo to share! I rushed off to this potluck and had not the time to take a photo.

I had shelled all these fresh edamame and not knowing how to cook them, I found a simple recipe in “Appetite for Reduction” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz that seemed to fit my potluck bill: Sushi roll edamame salad.

I had sushi for the very first time back in July, and I must say, I loved it! It was vegan but great.

This salad includes all the sushi tastes, just minus the actual roll. I made the brown rice ahead of time, and when I got home, I did a quick assemble. I had cut the cucumber and carrots the night before.

I did not have nori, so I used some kombu and kelp powder. It probably had less of a sea taste, but that is fine with me.

The miso tamari dressing was good, too.

At the potluck (this is different than the vegan meetup), the guests ate it up! Because we donated our food to one of the attendees, I left home with an empty bowl.

And that is fine with me, as this recipe is simple enough, I know I will always have the ingredients in my pantry.

York County vegans meet for first potluck

November 2, 2012 at 10:00 am | Posted in VeganMoFo | 1 Comment
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York County Vegans potluck. Photo by Jeff Stabley.

A while ago, my friend Anna invited me to join a Facebook group for vegans in York County, Pennsylvania. We chat and share information, but that is about it.

I had started going to the Baltimore vegan meet-ups once my schedule changed. It was about an hour drive, and as much as I love the food at Mr. Chan’s, driving was always a pain.

I looked on our group of close to 100 people and thought, “Why exactly aren’t we having vegan meet-ups here?” We have at least two restaurants that have vegan options, and many of us have mad cooking and baking skills. What exactly is wrong with us!?

So, I started the initiative. We met at Nittany Pizza for the first one, and about 15 of us showed up.

Then, a group member, Jeff, volunteered to host October’s potluck. We said what we were bringing, and then on a fall Wednesday evening, we went to Jeff and his wife’s home.

There was about 10 or so of us, which was great for the first one. We had an array of food: Indian, Mexican and fall

And puppies, too! Left bottom and center. Photo by Jeff Stabley.

delights. LBJ brought his county-famous vegan mac and cheese. Batman, the omni that he is, RAVED about the buffalo chickpea dip and requested the recipe. We chatted, discussed and enjoyed our labor for food.

I think it went well. I really enjoyed meeting up with local people, making connections, and playing with puppies!

I can’t wait for the next one.

Interested in joining our group? Email yorkcovegans@gmail.com.

50 States, 50 Vegan Dishes: Arkansas vegan green beans

November 1, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Posted in 50 States 50 Vegan Dishes, VeganMoFo | 1 Comment
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I love green beans. I have come to love them more fresh from the organic farm. They can be a pain to pick, as they like to hide and blend in. But they are so easy to cook and so yummy, too!

When I started by 50 States, 50 Vegan Dishes challenge, I chose this recipe because it was quick, simple and included green beans.

Since I have more green beans than I know what to do with them, I figured I would do this recipe for a Vegan MoFo challenge.

Traditional Arkansas green beans call for sugar and bacon. Bacon isn’t very vegan-friendly, but there are great alternatives now. This might not be as low in calories because it still uses sugar and the Earth Balance can get fatty, but it is definitely a good alternative. I cut back on the sugar and made it quicker by pan sauteing instead of putting it in the oven. I guess that’s the perks of no meat. I also used fresh beans instead of the canned.

It wasn’t hard for me to put this together, so whip it up as a side dish for dinner!

Ingredients:

  • A bag full of fresh green beans, probably about three cups if cut in half
  • 5 to 6 slices of LightLife Smart bacon, ripped into pieces
  • 3 tbsps of white sugar
  • 2 tbsps of Earth Balance or other vegan spread
  • 1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

Recipe:

  1. Pluck the ends off the green beans, and cut in half if you want an easier way to eat them. (I kept them long.)
  2. Boil the green beans in a little water for about 7 to 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, melt a tablespoon in a skillet, and add the crumbled Smart Bacon to the pan. Saute for about 5 minutes.
  4. Drain the green beans and add to the skillet with the Smart Bacon. Add the garlic powder, tamari and the other tablespoon of Earth Balance. Saute for a few minutes to let flavors meld.
  5. Serve!

How do you like to eat green beans?

Vegan MoFo 2012 fail and maple pecan French toast

November 1, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Posted in VeganMoFo | Leave a comment
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Finished maple pecan French toast by ‘Vegan Bites’

I seem to be incredibly good at failing at Vegan MoFo! As I have said before, my life is super busy, especially now that I work days. I write and edit for eight hours a day, and I am lucky if I can read or write after that!

I will be participating in NaNoWriMo, but that doesn’t mean you won’t hear from me! I plan on finishing out the rest of my Vegan MoFo dishes (about eight or nine posts) and then maybe trying post a day from The Daily Post. I don’t know if I will do this EVERY day, but it will keep my creative juices flowing.

See, I wake up early to run, and then I get ready for work. At work, I write, edit, blog, talk, meet, etc., etc. At 6 p.m., I go home. When I am home, I sometimes go to the gym. Maybe I cook dinner. Usually I am glued to Netflix, this time around watching “Gossip Girl.” Before I know it, it is late and I need to sleep. I catch up on blog posts on Google Reader as I drift into sleep.

Sometimes I need to do chores. Or go to events. Or meet with people. Or travel.

When do I have time to write? Well, I do but I am HORRIBLE at prioritizing.

So, onto the foods!

From Vegan Bites, which is a cookbook for single vegans, there were a few recipes that caught my eye. Since veganism has taken off so much, sometimes the recipes in cookbooks are just … all the same. I know how to make certain dishes, but for newbie vegans, these cookbooks are GREAT.

I saw a simple recipe for French toast, my ALL-TIME favorite food from the past.

Waiting to be placed in the pan

I will say that it is hard to make a quick vegan French toast. Usually the batter takes some time to cook, as was the case with the maple pecan French toast. I don’t mind too much, as long as it cooks through.

The ingredients were simple, but low in fat or calories this is NOT. It was 700 calories for the serving size of two slices.

Would I try this again? Sure. I have my Magic Bullet blender, a plate and a frying pan. That’s all you really need for this.

What is your favorite breakfast food? I miss brunch sometimes, because not many local places offer great vegan options.

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