Monday, May 30, 2011

"Black Widow," as published in The Pickens County Progress on 5/19/2011

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God. He sets the lonely in families.”
Psalm 68:5, 6 NIV

"Black Widow"
By Bettina Huseby

Times, they are a-changing. Defining what’s proper must keep social experts like Miss Manners indisposed, with a cool rag on her forehead. I made a Facebook page and then took it back down. I couldn’t define who was “friends” and who was “family.” I’m a grass widow, whose husband is alive and well, but we’re separated, divorced, or somewhere messy in-between. A true widow is a dirt widow, who’s separated from her beloved by six feet of red Georgia clay.

My best girlfriend in book-form, Jill Conner Browne, notes that both widows feel exactly the same, but the dirt widow gets better treatment. She’s fed, pampered and petted. Widows like me are lucky to get a black cupcake and a bouquet of roses with the blooms cut off.

My burden is the midlife task of wading through grief and finding a job. Raising my chilluns and husband into adulthood aren’t transferrable job skills. So it was off to trade school.

Book-learning isn’t easy when it’s interrupted by hot flashes. I was tempted to grab the first man to come along who still drew a paycheck. But married women can relax! Your husbands are perfectly safe. The smart grass widow doesn’t want half of your husbands; she wants a whole one of her very own. And her taste in men will change as she changes. She could even decide to fly solo.

You know, since Miss Manners is feeling so poorly, I’d be happy to speak on behalf of widows everywhere and squelch a few false rumors. My life is not as glamorous as it seems. I spend most of my time at home talking to Wilson, my soccer ball. I sleep alone; lest you count the many doggies who chew the covers, mouth-breathe and snore.

If you have growing concerns for my sanity, a blind date fix-up would be great, but remember I’m a woman, not a pack mule. My neighbors invited me to church for some “Godly man shopping.” But here was the husband’s pitch: He said, “Any guy would be lucky to get a strong, hard-working woman like you.” I said, “Stop, Mickey. You’re making me blush!”

But truthfully, my neighbors are great. They feed me. They visit me. A mystery man takes my trash cans to the street. And someone is sneaking over to mow my lawn, but the skinny little fellow gets away before I can I.D. him. You might say he’s the grass widow’s grass cutter. He knows that charity isn’t a tax deduction. It’s a verb.

Times may be a-changing for the better. I ought to put that Facebook page back up again. There are a bunch of new “friends” and “family” for me to list, once I learn all their names.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Recipe: Beer Bread

I went to a bridal shower this weekend for a very sweet bride-to-be. I shared this recipe with her:

Beer Bread

3 cups self-rising flour
3 Tablespoons sugar
one 12 ox. can beer, at room temperature
one stick butter or margarine, melted and divided in half

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a loaf pan well with Crisco. Put flour, sugar and beer in a bowl. Mix just to blend. Melt stick of butter or margarine and add HALF to other ingredients. Spoon into the loaf pan. Pour other HALF of butter or margarine onto the top.  Bake at 375 degrees for 40 to 60 minutes until knife inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool to slice.

I've had luck substituting part of the flour for whole wheat (and adding some baking powder and salt). I've also added cinnamon and brown sugar, or nuts on occasion. Using different beer makes a difference, too. Dark beer, for example, gives it a complex flavor.

This is my go-to recipe if we run out of bread. I keep a cheap 6 pack of beer at room temperature in the pantry, along with flour and sugar. The best stuff always comes from the most basic ingredients, you know?

Book review - "Shelter for the Spirit" by Victoria Moran, copywrite 1998

This is great book for summer reading. It costs $13.99 in paperback, but my library had it. I learned new ways to feel "at home" despite the loneliness of widowhood. Suddenly, my security blanket was gone. Anyone who has temporarily lost their child's favorite blankie can understand the level of panic involved.

The author was a true widow for many years. She and her daughter traveled around the world, so their home changed often. She tried to make each place a haven for them both.

Her claim is that home is more of a feeling than an address, saying "people put energy into a place." Making a home with heart and imagination feeds the soul. Wandering and neglecting the home will make the soul complain in emotional and physical disturbances."

(This made me think of Montezuma's revenge!)

Moran continues to say "we may think our insecurities will go away if we understand them and change our personalities. But insecurity may call for a more tangible response.

What makes us feel secure? Parents, friends, a familiar place, good work, and a real home. Whatever can help us feel "at home" while on the job, traveling, or in the house gives reassurance of being grounded and centered."

Tangibles include simplifying but relishing cooking and housekeeping, while elaborating on celebrations, sitting and relaxing, and just being comfortable. It all sounded good to me, and I think it will to you, also. *

* The exception for me was found in the Appendixes. This was where the author lost me. You will never find me trying to home school anyone, human or otherwise. I am woefully underequipped in that area. Teaching is for the brave and smart (I am neither).

And Home Birth is something I'd rather not tackle as well. That is why they have those nice, big hospitals full of drugs.

But to each his own, I always say.