Buck up Buttercup

I don’t know why I don’t like Chopped Jr. but I don’t. Sometimes it is the crying…buck up buttercup, you COMPETED on a cooking show and talked mad stuff before you got chopped. LOL

Generally, I don’t like any of the successful competition shows that decide to ruin it with children. Seriously, I can barely tolerate the adults on these shows, but at least they have had time to hone their crafts and feel like they may be good enough to compete against their peers and earn a prize. Why don’t I think this is ok for kids? Well…let’s explore that a bit.

The kids are usually pre-teens or teenagers. If one is twelve years old, when were they playing and becoming healthy children? “I can’t play Legos Alex, I’m perfecting my omelette. See you at school tomorrow.” I know practice makes perfect and many children have talents and skills that they master and then compete. For this to be exploited on commercial television though?

They seem to be under a lot of pressure to perform by their parents. “I want to win this for my Mom. She is a single parent and she has always been there for me.” Sweet. But lots of kids are in single parent families. They all would like to make their parents proud. I’ve yet to hear one kid say “My parents don’t think I’m good at modeling and I’m hear to prove them wrong!” But then again, maybe that is why the kids on these shows are younger…lol…once they get to 15, they might tell the viewer more than we want to know.

Many of these kids are not presently working in their field of expertise. There is the exception of the child who works in the parents’ restaurant or bakery. However, generally, these kids are big fish in small ponds. They are constantly being told that they are “awesome” or “the best” and then they meet other equally talented kids and you can tell by the looks on their faces that the concept of others with talent is new to them. I’ve seen a few well-adjusted kids handle this well. They are complimentary and gracious. Others just are too cocky to be so young. These are the ones I secretly wish will be defeated early, so I don’t have to listen to how great they think they are. Ugh.

All of these shows are judged by adults. Why? How about make it really fun and have kids judge kids. They’d be really honest and funny. Adults who have a lot of experience and sometimes lofty expectations are not the people who should be judging. Additionally, I think having to face and adult to account for your performance is probably enormously intimidating. That is probably half of the reason for the crying. Just another adult they have disappointed. Kid judges may be more empathetic, “Here Joey, have a chocolate milk and a cookie. Wanna play games in the green room?”

All that said, it is quite impressive to see a kid plate a dish better than I’ve seen in some restaurants. I have friends who can’t boil water successfully.

Thankfully, the universe is filled with TV programming and no one is making me watch kids compete. On occasion I choose to (or am just too lazy to turn)…just to remind me how much I don’t really like these show, I guess.

 

 

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Mother’s Day or Mothers’ Day?

As we approach Mothers’ Day, can we all just agree that if we are here, we were born of a woman and have a mother? Some mothers are wonderful, some are horrible, some are somewhere in between. Those who have wonderful mothers believe theirs to be the best and those who have horrible mothers believe theirs to be the worst. Mothers’ Day is NOT a competition. One is not better, stronger, more courageous because she is a “single mother”…every single mother is a “single mother”. I am married to a man, but I AM the single mother in my nuclear family. Married women don’t necessarily “have it easier” because they are married and single moms don’t necessarily “have it harder”. (Some single moms I know have a network of support that I wish everyone had!) I know couples that are both women, but in my eyes, they are both single (as in individual) mothers to their children. Mom’s who never had the help of the father are also rowing a different boat than those moms who have a helpful co-parent. Every situation is different. Oh, and Dads who are doing it alone are NOT mothers. You get your kudos on Fathers’ Day. Also mothers who are parenting alone, by choice or circumstance, y’all are NOT fathers.

Also, a special shout out to those with horrible mothers. It must be a struggle I could not imagine. My mother drives me batty sometimes, but I love her dearly and recognize that she does the best that she can with the skills she has. I am who I am in part, because of her. And that is not too shabby. That said, if one has an absent or terrible mother, let that be. Don’t question why someone didn’t spend the day with, call, make dinner for, take out to brunch, go target shooting or Target shopping with their mother.
Mothers who adopt are mothers. PERIOD. I don’t really have much to say about this except if you question this as fact, you may be an ass.
I don’t know how a trans mother treats Mother’s day. Especially if she and her family used to celebrate her on Father’s Day. I’m guessing that is an individual choice and varies based on the family (as with all the other mothers). Likewise with trans fathers. If/when I find out more, I’ll let you know via my Mothers’ Day rant next year.
Some people no longer have a living mother. Some of these people miss their mothers desperately and Mother’s Day is a hard one. Some are glad she’s gone. Don’t judge…just sayin’.
I think once you become a mother, Mother’s Day belongs to you. Not your mother, your grandmother, your mother-in-law, or your God-mother. You shouldn’t have to share it with five other women UNLESS YOU WANT TO DO SO.
Some mothers like to have a fuss made on their day. Some do not. FIND OUT before you go planning and get your feelings hurt. Mothers of little ones might like dandelions and burnt toast. Some would appreciate a day free of the little ones. (Just being honest. Especially if she is at home with little ones 24/7). Some mothers with older children may like the house cleaned, yard work done or dinner prepared. While some others may want a fancy dinner out. And mothers, yes…they should know what you’d like, but why risk it? There is no harm in gently painting a picture of what your ideal Mother’s Day would like (hopefully well in advance and not while you’re reading the card they got you).
Another special hug to mothers who have lost children. This too is an unimaginable pain. She may have miscarried, she may have lost a child to illness, violence, or tragic twist of fate. She may have a child who took their own life. She will always be a mother and she may celebrate the life of one now gone or mourn on this day. If you know one of these mothers, reach out to her but also give her whatever space she may need on this day. Also, there are women who always wanted to be mothers, but are not. Some are Aunties or God-mothers, or just good friends. These women sometimes feel a little blue on mothers day too. Tread lightly.
And lets not forget those who choose NOT to be mothers. They are fine with their choice and don’t need anyone harassing them about “when” they’re going to have children or “why” they don’t want/never had any.
Lastly, women (and men) with pets. You may be filling some maternal void with your living responsibility, but unless you birthed it and it is of the same species, you are not its mother. Don’t expect cards and gifts and don’t buy your own and say they are from your “babies”. Ugh. There should be a “Pet Parent Day” or something for you. I think caring for a creature is a big deal and requires a lot of time, love, spirit, energy, money, etc.,…y’all need a day. Mothers’ Day is not it.
That said. Do you. Don’t overdo it. Don’t under do it. It is a contrived holiday that (like most of them) has gotten WAY out of hand. Good luck (especially to all the spouses and kids).

Let it Grow

So I have begun my gig, volunteering at a local farmers market. Opening day was a chilly, 64*F, fun-filled event. There was a dancing carrot, face painting, flowers, a melange of produce and a motley crew of vendors and customers.

Four hours on my feet under threatening sky with nothing but a cup of coffee and a sample of pie in my tummy. Thursday (12 hours later) was not kind to me. I stayed in bed until noon–with the exception of a trip to the bathroom around 7am. I didn’t sleep well. The kid climbed into my bed before the sun was up and commenced with some conversation before he went to sleep for a few more hours. The DH, of course, slept through the whole thing. To top it off, I smelled gas. I went to the bathroom, opened the window and went back to bed. (It is an old stove. Gas leaks are common. I know, we should get it checked, repaired, replaced…something.)

About this market: it is small, but sufficient. It has just enough to meet my needs mid week. I really think I am going to enjoy my time there for the next 17 weeks. Remind me how cold it was on day one when I am sweating away my existence come August.

My task is to help market customers become better acquainted with the offerings of the market, how to store them and how to prepare them. On the first day we (I have a co-hort) mainly welcomed folks and gave out recipes and information.

I also left with some of spring’s bounty: asparagus, bok choi, strawberries, peppermint and radishes. I am going to enjoy this in so many ways. I can’t wait to share my market adventures with all of you. Ok…three of you.

Eat well, be well.

Kinky conversation

Mom looks at my hair (and my son’s hair) and asks me why I don’t “put something on it”. When I ask her why, she says becaue it “looks dry”.

Giving it some thought over the past few weeks I realize a few things:
1. My natural hair, with its VERY tight curls, appears “dry”, but in fact, if one were to examine a strand, it has an immense shine. Healthier than it has probably been since birth, maybe.
2. My mom is used to seeing my hair relaxed. She is fine with natural, but is still looking for “good hair”. Admittedly, I have the coarsest hair of all my family members. Meh…whatever…
3. We are so conditioned (hahaha…pun!) to believe that “silky” and “shiny” in hair apperance = “pretty”.
4. Depite what India.Irie sang…I AM my hair. I embrace it (and me) in all its forms, but (for now) it is organic, coarse, introverted, tangled, and stronger than one can imagine…just like me, if you look closely, you’ll see the shine.
5. My scalp no longer peels and itches the way it used to when it was relaxed. I don’t miss that at all.
6. I do “put something on it”. Usually coconut oil or almond oil. Sometimes olive oil. If I can eat it, I’ll put it in there…lol. Otherwise, I’m not so inclined to use product. (I’ve got a conspiracy theory about Black hair products, but that is another post.)
7. I’m (finally) learning to accept what nature has endowed me with, for better or worse.
8. I’m lazy. I’m middle aged. I’m married. I’d rather focus on less superficial things and people…genuine joys of life. Sure, I like to “look nice” but…I’m lazy. You’ll notice more when I put a little effort in. I’m not investing that kind of time every day.
9. The facade is expensive. I’ve saved so much (time, money, strands of hair, stress) since I’ve gone natural.
10. My mom means well. I love her, she loves me. That’s all that matters.

Pisces…go fish!

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Every so often…ok, quite often, I want some fish. Sometimes I’m picky. Ok, most of the time I am picky about what type of fish I want. I want it to be fresh (of course), local (preferred), delicious (of course again) and realatively easy to prepare (one of the great things about fish in my opinion).

Sometimes I go overboard. I don’t know why. Sometimes it is a craving. Sometimes I am motivated by a cooking show or tv commercial. Sometimes it is hormonal. Sometimes I think my body just gets sick of meat or the usual suspects showing up on my plate.

I follow a lot of food establishments on Facebook. It serves me well to do so. I like reading about food and writing about food. I need to stay up to date on all of the latest food intel. This is a blessing and a curse. It provides me with A LOT of “food for thought”, both literally and figuratively. These posts often have me wanting things that are out of reach at the moment. I’ve made impulse purchases of some pretty interesting (albeit tasty) items, just because I saw them on tv and had to have them. And I have to say, unlike a QVC appliance purchase some years ago, I’ve never been disappointed by my food impulses. I’ve eaten them with a smile on my face and not a bit has ever gone to waste. If it is a particulary good item and there is plenty of it, I may even share…maybe.

Most recently I saw a post from a local fish monger. It is my preferred establishment to purchase seafood. The post announced that there was freshly caught white perch, as well as crawfish (and a plethora of other goodies, but they were not in my sights). I’d neve had either of the former and decided that the price was right to take advantage of this opportunity.

Crawfish had always intimidated me and I don’t know why. I’ve been eating steamed blue crabs since I was a child. I also enjoy a good lobster (in the shell…I’m not squeamish). So now was the time to get over this food hurdle. The perch seemed a simple fish find. I quickly dispatched the internet to give me a primer on both items. The fish monger was going to steam my crawfish, so that was just a matter of figuring out the eating/picking technique. One fairly short YouTube view and I was good to go. Luckily for me I am a veteran crab picker and crawfish didn’t seem much different. Check. Next a recipe for white perch. The easiest method seemed to pan fry. Awesome. I haven’t had a nice piece of fried fish in quite some time.

I sent forth the DH. Armed with a list of five things and some cash, I was confident and eagerly awaited my gifts from Posiedon. A short while later my phone rings. It is the DH calling from the fish monger. “They’ve got questions”, he says. Turns out I often take for granted my lists are pretty specific. They are only specific if you have an elementary knowlege about food. Bless his heart, the DH’s knowlege is remedial at best. A quick clarification of weights and fish prep options and we were good to go. (Note: I almost always get whole fish. Cleaned, scaled with the head and tails on. I can sometimes find a use for the parts some find inedible. I figure if I am going to pay for the weight of a whole fish, I want to be the one to decide what gets thrown away.) A little while later her was walking through the front door with a bounty from the sea.

The crawfish/crayfish were delightful! They were perfectly steamed and came with wedges of lemon and butter for dipping. Yum. I also got a half pound of steamed shrimp. Reliably good. Two pounds of perch turned out to be three good sized fish. Just enough (since I don’t think the 5 year old will eat a whole fish). Also in the bag was a half pound of raw shrimp (because, why not…I can always find a use for good, wild caught shrimp!) and two pounds of mussels.

I quickly devoured half of the steamed items. The rest went into a sealed container for tomorrow’s lunch. Gotta let the goodness last for a while, no? I knew the mussels and the raw shrimp had a bit of staying power, so I gave them good places to “chill out” in the fridge. The last item to be delt with was the perch. I’d intended to quickly fry them up with a side of hush puppies and a vegetable, but on the night in question, schedules got wanky and by the time it was time for dinner I wasn’t in the mood to work that hard. Besides, we still had leftover lasagna and I’d rather get that moving and not waste it. But now I am racing the freshness of the fish!

Forwad to last night. The fish had been in my fridge for three days. It was “fresh off the boat” on day one, but I didn’t want to risk it spending one more overnight camping on the bottom shelf. I also didn’t feel like a fish fry. Hmmmm. To the bat cave !! Google actually. There was a simple roasted fish recipe. Bingo!

You ever have that moment when you see a recipe and read the long list of ingredients, realize you have about half of them and abandon all hope? That’s where I was until I realized the missing ingredients were all contained in a jar of Trader Joe’s bruschetta topping I had in the fridge. Bingo (again)!! So, l rinsed the fish, added a bit of salt and pepper, added the bruschetta topping and for a bonus some marinated artichokes (also from TJ’s). Threw the pan in a preheated oven (400*F) and 20 mins later, had a lovely fish dish. Another note about whole fish: I find it SO much easier to de-bone a whole fish AFTER it is cooked. I separate the body lengthwise and the spine is right there. I can usually just pull out the entire thing. Same with the fins and any smaller bones. If the head is big enough, I’ll pick the tasty pieces off of that as well. Otherwise I save it for pets or the garden compost.

I ate one fillet of the fish. It was a yummy late night treat. The rest of the fish went into the fridge to be enjoyed the following day. I like leftover fish. Cooked properly and stored well it makes for a great round two meal.

So there you have it…an insight to my piscean adventure this week. Put more fresh fish on the menu. It doesn’t have to be complicated to be delicious. Go fish!

Bag Lady

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The following is a response to an article I read in the paper today.

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/politics/blog/bs-md-bag-ban-20150306-story.html

Ok. I am wondering how many of these politicians who are concerned that the bag ban would adversely affect the poor actually KNOW what it is like to be poor. Let’s not even get into the struggles of living in a food dessert, affordability of quality food, transportation lapses that hinder even getting to a grocery store (an affordable one) or that most folks who may be “adversely affected” don’t make a living wage…

I grew up with few economic advantages (this is for my mom who argues whether or not we were “poor”). Most of the people I knew used reusable bags at the grocery store. They were bigger, sturdier, and could be used for other purposes (like at the laundromat). They were relatively inexpensive and if one was really on their game, these bags could be obtained for free at various events and giveaways. You were really “winning” at life if you could score a few free bags. To this day, I have a thing for bags (not purses, bags). And I’m not alone. I’ll often show up at my mom’s house and she’ll say “where’d you get that bag?”…which means I likely won’t be leaving with it. I have an aunt who, for most of my life, has had jobs that gave away all types of “swag” in the form of bags sometimes. You knew it was a nice bag if you asked “where’d you get that bag” or “nice bag” and Auntie’s quick reply was “NO. You can’t have my bag!” and she’d chuckle. (But depending on how things went, you may get that bag at the end of the day anyway.)

So, poor folks always had reusable bags. Well before recycling became de rigor, poor folks reused the grocery bags. Anyone over a certain age remembers covering books with brown paper bags. I have clear memories of the closet where my grandmother stored the neatly folded paper bags. Later, when the plastic bags came into use, she’d have the grocery clerk “double bag” her groceries. Either paper in paper if the items were heavy, or paper in plastic if the items were cold or wet. If a bag could be used again it was. My husband’s grandmother showed me how to fold plastic grocery bags into tiny rosettes for more effecient storage. These examples of reuse are probably Depression Era habits, but they serve us well. I remember the first time I learned of “recycling” and thinking “Who just throws stuff away!?” I come from a family full of reusers. “Waste not, want not” would go on a family crest if we had one. It is such an ingrained practice that in my own nuclear family we find ourselves saving things “in case” they can be used later. It is an art, not a science…and a slippery slope to clutter and hoarding. But I digress…

It is not my place to judge what people spend their money on. But seriously, if you smoke or drink sodas regularly, you can afford the one time expense of buying a few reuseable bags. It is a bit of a hassle, sure. I often don’t remember to bring my bags into the store (even though I keep them in the trunk of my car!) Then when I am in line, I am either too lazy or it is too inconvenient for me to go out to the car and get them. But I am going to reuse the plastic bags anyway, so why not take them? Also, I don’t litter. My bags are always in my possesion or contained.

I doubt the bag debate has as much to do with concerns for the poor as it does for the concerns of politics and not making voters angry enough to remember this small slight and not pay attention to the really big ones that truly hurt the economically disadvantaged.

And let’s not forget the other aspects. There is little industry support for this ban on plastic grocery bags. Stores advertise on those bags. Union workers make those bags. Another group of workers make the machines that make those bags. Even people who clean up litter are helped (in an ironic way) by those bags.

I don’t doubt that in the long run, our planet is cleaner without all of these plastic grocery bags. Especially my city which seems to be a mess of bags along curbs and in trees. (Note: this seems to be more prevalent in some neighborhoods than others and that is a whole ‘nuther conversation.) But can being a good steward of the Earth really be legislated? Some would say yes. I’m not sure. If the bill passes, it will mean I’ll be forced to remember to bring my bags into the store. That is a good thing, certainly. Don’t be threatened if I see you and ask “where’d you get that bag”. 🙂

Egg Roll

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During a recent inventory of the refrigerator, I noticed that I had a package of egg roll wrappers that had gone ignored. Sometimes, on a whim, if I see a novelty/exotic item in the grocery store, I’ll buy it for future use. I don’t always shop at the same grocery store, so if I see an item like egg roll wrappers, I’ll buy them becasues when I want them I won’t remember where I saw them before and will become frustrated in search of them. The freshness date seemed months away (it was actually weeks) and I was certain I’d find a use for them.
Well, “time waits for no man” or cook, so with days left to either freeze or cook, I opted for cook. The recipe on the package seemed pretty straight forward, with only a few ingredients needed. I’d never made egg rolls from scratch before. I was ready. Most of the items I already had on hand and in an effort to prevent waste, I was eager to get rid of some geriatric fresh (?) ginger and these wrappers. A short while later I had everything I needed. I even deduced a hack for the shredded cabbage and grated carrot: a bag of cole slaw in the salad section of the market. That prevented me from wasting a half head of cabbage (or finding another use for it) and it meant I didn’t have to buy carrots that I didn’t want. And the cost difference was not significant as the bag of veg was on sale for $1.50. To the lab!!
As usual, I was less than thrilled with the ingredients listed on the wrapper package, so I modified it a bit. The result was a flavorful blend of meat, vegetables and spices. Regretably, I had to use canned sprouts (the store I shopped had minimal offerings). Next time, I’ll go to the Asian market and get fresh sprouts or shop somewhere else. For  about $10 we had 21 delicious egg rolls. The mixture took minutes to put together and minutes to fry up. The longest part was rolling them all, but if you have helpers, even better.
I will definitely make these again. The filling is versatile and I’d love to try them with other proteins (I used pork this time). I also think I’d freeze some to prevent the temptation of eating all 21. We ate them for dinner with no other dishes. I know that typically egg rolls are considered an appitizer, but when I gave it some thought, they were a complete dish of meat, veg and carbohydrate. If you eat enought of them (babe was 11 enough??!!) then you really don’t need anything else but a beverage and a napkin.
Enjoy!
Ingredients:
1 Package egg roll wrappers (I use Nosoya)
1 Bag cole slaw “salad” mix (cabbage and carrots)
1 package or can of bean sprouts
1 lb ground pork (or shrimp, chopped…or ground turkey, tofu, chicken, seitan crumbles)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 inch of ginger, minced or 1 teaspoon ground
3 scallions, chopped (white and green parts)
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of sugar
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
Vegetable oil (if frying…can also be baked)
Sause of choice for dipping, if desired
Directions:
  • Heat a skillet. Once hot, add half of sesame oil and meat.
  • Saute until half done. Add entire bag of cabbage mix. Stir, cooking 2-3 mins.
  • Add ginger, garlic, salt, pepper, soy sauce, cinnamon, sugar, rest of sesame oil. Stir.
  • Cook until the veg is softened and the meat is done (about 5 mins).
  • Add scallions, stir, turn off heat. Let cool to room temperature.
  • Wrap 2 T of filling into each wrapper, following the directions on the package.
  • Place the filled and rolled items on a lined baking sheet.
  • Bake or fry according to directions on wrapper package.

Seasoned

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Like a lot of people, especially people who live in places with four seasons, I crave different foods depending on the weather. Typically, when it gets cooler in September, I want comforting foods: mac and cheese, baked chicken, fall vegetables, etc. As the weather turns even cooler, Thanksgiving approaches and all the traditional favorites come to mind…and to belly. By New Year, I have had about enough turkey, ham, stuffing and rich dishes. I am not the type to make promises about diet on the first of January either. Fortunately for me, this isn’t a health concern and I try to eat well year-round. Besides, it is still plenty cold where I live and I want good, warm food.

After January’s new year optimism has waned, I realize that there is still a lot of winter to get through. Particularly February which tends to be the snowiest month around here. The days are grey and cold and windy and sometimes wet. If I can’t get to a warm, tropical locale, then I need those flavors in my mouth. So, come mid-February, I find myself wanting Asian foods, East Indian foods, Caribbean spice…something that taste like sunshine.

The last couple of weeks have been Thai inspired seafood dishes. There was a lovely Thai soup that was steeped with lemongrass http://www.blueapron.com/recipes/thai-shrimp-soup-with-coconut-lemongrass-red-curry/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social-organic&utm_campaign=thisweek&cvosrc=social-organic.facebook.thisweek . Oh my, was that delicious. There was a southern inspired shrimp and grits recipe…made with pureed cauliflower instead of grits! That meal blew my mind http://www.tessemaes.com/blogs/blog/16398009-chesapeake-shrimp-bacon-grits . I’m going to make that again with the abundance of cauliflower available in the markets. Patak makes some especially good simmer sauces. I like these with lamb, chicken or seafood http://www.pataksusa.com/products . Paired with some naan from Trader Joe’s http://www.traderjoes.com/fearless-flyer/article/1583  and some steamed vegetable and jasmine rice…yum. Yesterday I made some homemade pork dumplings that we ate as a late night snack while watching TV. Quality ground pork and intense flavors of ginger and garlic, made these nuggets of goodness worth the effort. http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/recipes/traditional-pork-and-ginger-dumplings.html

On tap will be a beef and broccli stir fry for tonight. Warm, beefy, comforting, with plenty of vegetables, so we don’t feel guilty about enjoying it so much. (Though food guilt is not a serious issue for me.) The bonus is that there are still dumpling fixings left, so we can have an accompaying starter before the main course. Now if only I had some sake.

Anyway, spring is just around the corner. I like the spring vegetables and the young meats that appear (like lamb and duck). But for now, I’m going to enjoy the literal spice of life and blanket my winter blues with savory goodness.

Pekapoo on Percocet

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Over a decade ago I became the caretaker of a lovely little Pekapoo. She was black and white, all sass and class, with a bit of a diva complex. She knew she was pretty and deserved to be doted upon. It was appropriate that her name was Sheba. She was five years old when we got her and very well trained. Not without her share of drama and issues…she often took a notion to finding ways to escape the yard and go for journeys. She also did not like to be bathed or groomed. She was fiercely protective of her home and her family but otherwise a very loving pup.

On some occasions, when she was “on guard”, she would throw her back out. Initially, we weren’t sure what was happening to her. We’d find her curled up on the sofa or the bed, shivering. She would accept a gentle massage, but yelp if you touched her muscles in a way that caused her pain. Then she would be careful and a bit slower walking and with stairs for a couple of days. Once she was better, it was like nothing had ever happened. Until it happened again. After about the second or third episode, we decided to consult our veterinarian.

Sidebar: I’ve generally been lucky with animals and the veterinarians I’ve done business with. My pets were low maintenance and their doctors matter-of-fact. Pretty much a good match. I trust veterinarians more than I do dentists but less than my general physician. As with most types of medicine, veterinary medicine is a bit of a racket in many cases. I am always on the lookout for one trying to take my money unnecessarily.

So, we take Sheba to the vet. He examines her. He can feel the heat in the area of her back that is causing her pain. He askes what our usual remedy is when this happens. We tell him that besides massage, we try to keep her from aggravating her back further and convince her to rest. Usually that works (in our view). He prescribes Percocet. Thirty pills at a cost of $1 per pill. We are suspicious, but we want to ease her pain.

On the way home we discuss this pharmaceutical option. We aren’t fully comfortable with it for a number of reasons. One: we had a cat we had to medicate. That was not fun. Tricking the cat into taking her pill was often an exercise in futility. Sheba was smarter than that cat. She loved a good treat, but she could usually find the pill. Sometimes it was several moments later before we realized the pill had not been consumed. When we succeeded in getting her to eat it, she didn’t realize she was “hurt” and ran around like nothing was wrong. We could tell when the meds wore off because the hot back would return, she’d be shivering and still again. This got us thinking.

If we didn’t give her the pills, she’d lay still and is better in about 36 hours or less. When we’d give her the pills, she’d be oblivious to her pain but would continue to re-injure her back. Which, in turn, would make the injury prolonged. This left us with a choice to make and a bit of a realization that we henceforth would apply to many of life’s “pains”.

It is better to feel the pain and get through it than to medicate yourself and ignore that pain while still doing whatever it is that caused it. Clearly the pills were not curing the dog. If they were, we certainly would have continued to give them to her. They only dulled the pain until the next time. Percocet in humans is a habit forming narcotic. It comes with lots of warnings and precautionary statements. Fortunately for Sheba, she did not cozy to pill popping and we did not encourage her to ignore her pain for the sake of feigned happiness.

We learned many valuable lessons from that dog and pets before and after. One of the greatest is the difference between coping skills and coping habits. Don’t ignore your body, take care of it as best you can. And, importantly, don’t salve the pain indefinitely. Pain is a way of nature to inform you that something is wrong. Something in most cases, that can be resoved with nutrition, rest and attention instead of an abundance of unneccesary medication.

And don’t misunderstand me. I keep a small bottle of ibuprofen for the rare occasion when we just can’t tolerate the interruption of physical pain. A bottle of 24 pills usually last beyond its expiration date. Maybe our tolerance is greater than most. A machine had to tell me I was in labor. For this, I am fortunate and grateful. May whatever pain life brings always be tolerable.