Saturday, January 26, 2008

Marcie and singing: unexpected attentions

Jane and I were discussing Marcie and singing in an email, and I realized that a number of people would be surprised to know that Marcie was not much for singing in public, but she did like to sing at home.

Specifically, following Jane's email in which she shared her Marcie dream, I wrote to her:

She did used to sing, though usually just for herself. I would walk in and listen, and she would sometimes be so embarrassed that she would pretend I scared her and chase me out. It was quite cute to hear her sing songs by The Cranberries.

Marcie sometimes walked around in a bubble, and she didn't always recognize that other people were there, too. Jane, as it turns out, was pretty familiar with this aspect of her personality, and wrote back:

I can totally imagine her getting "mad" at you for that, and I love that memory. Maybe you can add that to the post about my dream.

I think the dream belongs in a post all its own, as it is. Marcie's inner joy and extremely private ways mixed oddly at times, to be sure. There's more about the singing...

Marcie was a redhead and therefore also loved Tori Amos. There is likely more to it than that, but she wads redhead-centric. She was also partial to Sarah McLachlan, and these two never failed to elicit a sing-along from her whenever they were played on the radio.

Marcie would also dance when she sang, which, if she knew she was observed, would have usually been okay, as the voice volume went down but the dancing became more to invite than to enjoy. Dancing in the kitchen with her in her "cleaning clothes," and old and me in my sweats was always fun.

Marcie's most common defense tactic was to take umbrage with even the most innocuous intrusion when her defenses were down. But I had my own ways of being silly. I never stopped blushing when she confronted me about watching or staring at her.

I often found myself watching her in a quiet moment, admiring her and generally being happy and smug that I had her. When she would notice, it would always trigger a little routine she liked to play out with me.

It always felt like I was beign caught watching the pretty girl across the room, and she never let it slide, which I am glad for, really.

"What are you looking at?" she would ask, her mischievous half-smile and half-closed eyes belying her delight.

"You," I'd say. I would invariably be blushing like a teenager. On the spot.

"What are you looking at on me?" she would ask.

"Your eyes," I would say.

"Are they pretty, honey? Do you like my eyes?" she would ask, and sometimes tease me about blushing.

They were always pretty, but they weren't always her eyes. Sometimes it was her soft lips or her hair or her pretty face in general. Sometimes it was her legs, her hips, her breasts, her butt. Regardless, the pattern remained the same.

"And my lips? What about those?" She would ask, smiling a little more, never quite disengaging from the task I was observing her in.

And what would follow was a long, playful interrogation in the same vein. Sometimes a few questions long, a little smile and eventual silence. But sometimes it would meander, which I greatly enjoyed.

When she either ran out of body parts and attributes in general, or became bored with the game and being the most beautiful, intelligent, gracious, talented, loving and the sexiest wife on the planet, she would move us on.

"That's right," she would say. "And you'd better keep that in mind."

Generally, if she caved in to me like that, she was blushing, too, though I took care never to mention it. But sometimes she would give me an extra treat.

"So, honey," she would smile, closing her book or setting aside her cooking utensils. Sometimes she would lean over to me, biting her lower lip. "Was there anything else you wanted to tell me?"

I always had a little list of things she had not asked in my head, which I would tick off to her as I kissed, touched, squeezed and held her. And sometimes she would ask me, but kiss me to quietude. Tell her some other way, that meant.

We always ended up in the same place and on the same agenda. It was just nice to get there with a little appreciative lust first, and to get it, all I had to do was "happen upon" her as she did her thing.

It was a habit I miss indulging. That I can certainly share.

A Moment of Marcie: Jane's Dream

Jane, who everyone here knows from many entries in the blog and many of our other from Marcie's loving tales of her, wrote me an email and told me I could share the following dream she had. I hope you enjoy her gift as much as I did.

From Jane:

Hellllo Francis,
I had a Marcie dream finally. I'm sure I have them all the time, but I haven't had easy access to my dreams for quite some time now. The details are a bit sketchy, so I'll just tell you that it was in a big beautiful church that was full of light, and it was a memorial for Marcie.

The pews were full of family and friends, and people were sharing stories. There were some heartbreaking moments, but the overall feeling was one of love and community.

The crazy part is that in the midst of all this in comes Marcie. All beautiful and radiant, she walked into the church and she started singing.

In my head I was thinking that I'd never heard Marcie sing, and that it's so unlike her to sing in front of a large group of people. But sing she did.

And it was beautiful. That's all I remember, but I was grateful to have that dream, no matter how vague.

Friday, January 25, 2008

A little hiatus due to fire... and selling stuff

Well, I did it. I almost burned down the house last night, hence no post. I was making some beans that take hours to cook (Lima -dried- beans). A neighbor who needed some help with their computer came over and I walked away...

I forgot the beans. Seamus was fine, but the pot of beans became a smoke generator. The fire department aired the house out for me after ascertaining that the pot of food was all that burned. Thanks, gents. Seamus is okay and was under the bed, but he coughed a lot today when I came home from work.

I need to get my head together, but I have a million things to do still and a bunch of crap to handle. I'll get there.

Tomorrow, I have friends coming over who work in the vintage clothing business to root through Marcie's things. Curt and Kirsten from Frock You will take a look. Everything will go that they want except for things I personally want to keep, like the wedding dress and some other little items special to me.

It's going to be painful to see them rummage around, but at least they will be familiar faces doing it, not utter strangers. It will all, of course, go into the kitty for the big mission.

At any rate, I will catch up over the weekend. I need to get out and stretch my legs after being a gang task force conference all afternoon for the district.

Once again: the house is not damaged, the cat is unharmed (sporting a cuddlier attitude after the fright), I'm okayish. More posts tomorrow or later tonight if I feel poetic.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Last Recipe - Marcie's Chocolate Chip Cookies

So, everyone has always asked about Marcie's chocolate chip cookies. Well, as she always said, they are very simple to make and don't deviate much from the stock tollhouse cookie. But they do deviate a bit...

These cookies were made dozens of times. Sometimes, we made them for friends, sometimes for coworkers, sometimes just for us and even for family. They had a number of iterations, from those with nuts to those with toffee, chips or chunks, peanut butter chips, M&M versions, Reese's Pieces and almost anything you can imagine.

Just substitute some of the chips with your favorite confection. It's all delicious.

Marcie's Monster Cookies of Delicious Delight

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
vanilla extract*
2 extra large eggs*
2 cups of chocolate chips, toffee bits, whatever you like
1 cup chopped nuts (very optional)
A friend or two to lick beaters with (not optional)

*These items vary from the original recipe. Go with extra large eggs and just use the vanilla extract as I describe later. This is where the difference came in with Marcie's cookies.

PREHEAT oven to 375° F, but only if you are not making dough to eat instead of cookies (we did that a few times).

Mix flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Beat the butter, sugars, a teaspoon of vanilla extract in a bowl until it's smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, using a mixer to really work them in. Gradually beat in the flour mixture. If the mix gets stiff, add another teaspoon of vanilla. You will probably use it 2-3 more times... Stir in the chips and any other goodies you love.

You can eat it if you wish, but even if you do not, you must lick the beaters clean. It is ok to make a "mistake" and have to reuse the beaters after "cleaning them" once, but don't overdo it :)

If you must cook this, and not simply devour a bowl of instant diabetes, then give it 9-11 minutes in the oven at 375, or until golden brown. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for a bit, then remove them to a plate or other cooling spot. Act too soon and they break.

I highly recommend raiding the pan when the baker is not looking, then running away cackling with chocolate-covered fingers, leaving only a smudgy cookie outline where you struck. There really is no such thing as a cookie too soft to be snitched.

Night, folks. Salsa time. Recipes come down this weekend, so save away. The last dream from Christmas will be posted soon.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I guess she (I) is (am) not done with me (her) yet

So I have had an unusual weekend and have been wrestling with it. I have tried to wake up a little and open my eyes, to slip out of my little cocoon of the familiar and be out and about. I needed to see what was out there.

I have been avoiding just being home because it's sucking me in and I am afraid I will just shut down, but...

I tend to go to extremes in my life. This weekend was no different. I went to a coffee shop/wine spot on the way home and saw a pretty woman smiling at me from across the place. I ordered my glass and went and sat near her, wondering why she seemed familiar.

I could know her from my time at another publication, before The Star-News. Or not, as I try to remember more clearly. She had attended a massage school that I handled ads in CityBeat for. It didn't matter, really.

She was nice, we chatted a bit and I eventually got uncomfortable, then told on myself. "I lost Marcie in October," I blurted out. She had asked when I became a widower, I had been direct. The conversation changed, to my rather mixed relief.

I guess that I was intimidated, or chickening out a little. More honestly, I am just not ready, knew it, and I wanted to not go there yet, as she gave me signals that we might. Whatever it was, I went home and left half a glass of wine at the restaurant after she made her exit. Leaving me her card, that is.

But that was not the end of my strange weekend. I went to the Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce installation dinner with my former editor and we were seated with a nice group of bankers from Mission Federal. I took a card from one, a woman named Michelle, and was told to give her a call.

I was surprised when she handed it to me. We were just passing time as I worked on ambushing the politicos and saying hello to old pals. I did, since she gave me a card, ask her to dance, but she was off to pick up her son's girlfriend at the airport. I am definitely not ready to call anyone, though.

I may have given a sigh of relief, or perhaps not. It didn't matter. I did dance, though, with a group of women from Sweetwater Union High School District, to a few really good Latin dance hall favorites. It was fun, it was relaxing, and I was pretty amazed that only two other guys danced in a crowd of a couple dozen women (some very cute) on the little dance floor.

I ducked out on drinks afterward when I was asked by a couple of ad representatives from the Union-Tribune. They seemed nice, but I was almost immediately uncomfortable and had that same feeling I had gotten in the coffee shop. This time, I didn't blurt anything but said I had to feed Seamus (I did have to), and went home.

I ran into the woman from the coffee/wine bar on Saturday while I updated the blog over a nice drink of strong coffee. I gave her my cards. One has the blog on it, the other is from the school district. There's nothing like full disclosure and time to chew on things to scare people off.

The uncomfortable feelings weren't done with me.

I went to Hot Monkey Love Sunday for salsa classes, which I am taking with a specific friend in mind. They're free and the venue is an alcohol-free club. It was fun, I learned a few new steps and some basic but salsa-specific spins. I enjoyed the whole thing.

We kept rotating partners as a group until the dance lesson ended and the floor was turned over to the DJ. I was about to go when one of my partners, a pretty brunette, pulled me back out. We danced, some of it probably legitimate salsa, the rest just rhythm. I took my leave after some time. She could not have been more than 25.

I was complemented when she said she hoped I would be back. I said, smiling, "Maybe." But I may go get lessons somewhere else. I could not shake the feeling that I was definitely doing something bad behind Marcie's back as we talked.

I dreamed Sunday of Marcie scolding me. It was very French, and I only caught bits of it, but the word "salope" was uttered often. That I understood. Whatever else was said, I know I was behaving badly. I needed to be home and grieving a bit more, not running from it and certainly not flirting.

I ran into the woman at the coffee/wine shop again on Monday and pretended not to notice her. I couldn't figure out if that was because I had seen her three times in one short weekend and did not want to freak her out, or if I was just hoping not to talk to her again yet.

It worked out. She left the coffee shop. I felt a good mix of regret and relief. I had a rough night last night, and it included a dream with Marcie. I broke down in it and she stroked my back as I held her, comforting me.

"Oh, honey," she said. "Oh, baby. It's okay, honey. It's okay."

She is not through with me yet, even if there had been so long without dreams of her. Waking up this morning, that was comforting enough to make it hard to stay awake and not seek more sleep, to get up and go to work.

It sure was nice to know that I am not limited to dancing with my baby's also-mourning girlfriends, though there is the added bonus of not feeling any guilt (so far) in that case...

But I wish Marcie would/could/will dance with me again.


Monday, January 21, 2008

Nutty Rice and Mixed Stir-Fry... plus...

This is the most important recipe of all of them. I invented it for our first anniversary. Marcie instructed me to come up with something a little different and tasty that would not remind her of teriyaki or sweet and sour. The following is what I came up with as a base starch.

Originally intended to be a reddish sauce that would color the food the same way, the dish evolved when the rice came out brownish instead. I had called it "redhead rice" but Marcie changed it to "nutty rice," reflecting its flavor and smell, as well as her opinion of the ingredients as I worked on the whole thing.

*Nutty Rice*

1 cup cashews, unsalted:
1/2 cup broken
1/4 cup whole
1/4 cup crushed

1 tbsp crushed sesame seeds
1/4 to 1/2 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp crushed ginger
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 tsp La Yu Fire Oil
1 tbsp red bell pepper olive oil
1-2 tsp sesame oil
2-3 tbsp soy sauce
1 ton of heartfelt devotion
4-6 cups of steamed rice (2 cups uncooked)

Mix all the ingredients, save for the rice. Dump them into a heated pan or wok and immediately fold into the steamed rice which should be added just as the oils and soy sauce begin to boil. Can be eaten alone or used as a base for stir fried food.

*Sticky Mixed Stir-Fry*

1 steak, cut into shirt strips
1-2 chicken breasts, cut into short strips
The night before you are to serve, mix 1 tbsp Hunan red chile paste with 2 tbsp honey and 4 tbsp of black bean garlic sauce. Marinade the meats and make a small additional amount for cooking with.

1 diamond-cut red bell pepper
1 onion very thinly sliced
8 oz mushrooms, to suit tastes
2 cups Chinese/snow peas
1 cup Bean sprouts
1 cup cashews
2 tsbp peanut oil
A little bit of deviltry (2 pinches and a kiss)

Heat the peanut oil and add the meat first, with the cashews. After the meat has been stir-fried a bit, add the onions, the bell peppers, the mushrooms and any other vegetables, the heaviest first and the fastest-cooking last. Add any additional sauce reserved before the marinade. Cook until the onions become dark and caramelized, then remove. Serve over rice (as above) or noodles.

The caramelized onions will help make the rice and other items stick for novice chopstick users because they are sticky and circular to boot.

Tomorrow, I will post Marcie's modified cookie recipe. Everyone wants to know what is different about it, since it is a basic tollhouse recipe... There are some differences, which I will share. I may not post the last dream right away. Eventually, though. I have a lot more to post after they are done. More moments, more memories...


Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Last Recipes

The final recipe, Nutty Rice with mixed stir-fry, will be posted tomorrow. By Wednesday, the recipes will not be available online. Please save copies now if you would like to keep them.

Marcie's Passions

I drifted to sleep with the sound of sparrows in the bushes outside. They lingered loudly and somehow the awkward, angry cheeps and peeps, flutters and tussling sounds outside became more distant. Sleep came again, though I had thought it would be impossible to enjoy after so many interruptions.

The soft furry feeling under my feet was wonderful and soothing. I walked down a hall full of books. Again, endless corridors of objects branched away in the distance, and I smiled at the open sky above, the birds flying by against a blue deeper than I have seen in decades.

I ran right into Marcie and held her, kissing and nuzzling her as a stream trickled from my sore, burning eyes. She kissed back furtively but soon pushed me back just a bit and took my hand.

She did not so much lead me as pull me behind her. She flew down the aisles of titles I both knew and did not, books then movies, some of which seemed to have titles written in some alien script.

I lofted like a kite behind her, just above as she ran, the books and the ground a blur, and a bright sun, embedded in the ground, loomed large before us. And then she ran inside and I fell, long and gently. She fell with me and grabbed my hands.

She pulled me into her arms and I felt her clutch me tightly, holding my head to hers, my mouth to hers, kissing mew deeply and then tucking my head in her neck as i had done to her so many times before.

I felt us land in silk and cushion and sensation that rose and fell around and on me, her hands and her body indistinguishable from the sea of soft warmth. I was drunk with lust, and we emerged in a kiss as a room slowly formed from retreating folds of red and white satin.

She laid me back and I felt warmth on my ears and cheeks as I dreamed a blush. Marcie's laugh was inaudible and deafening in me at the same time. She reached over to a nightstand and drank some water, then read a poem from Yeats.

The Sorrow of Love
by William Butler Yeats

The quarrel of the sparrow in the eaves,
The full round moon and the star-laden sky,
And the loud song of the ever-singing leaves,
Had hid away earth's old and weary cry.
And then you came with those red mournful lips,
And with you came the whole of the world's tears,
And all the sorrows of her labouring ships,
And all the burden of her myriad years.
And now the sparrows warring in the eaves,
The curd-pale moon, the white stars in the sky,
And the loud chaunting of the unquiet leaves,
Are shaken with earth's old and weary cry.

I touched her thigh, knowing it a ghostly one again, and I let my hand slide down her leg as she watched me, rueful smile on my face. It was the most direct correlation between the world and my dreams yet.

"It doesn't mean it's all in your mind, honey," she said. "Everything, everything is shaped and everything is flavored by what we have passion for."

I was sad, wordless as she kept speaking, but still listening. I wished more than ever that I did not know when I had dreamted but only knew the dreams themselves. This was a dream I had wanted to be more than that by being less. I wanted to not be lucid and to wake in full memory, untainted by doubt and aglow.

She took my hand. "Oh, honey," she said. "You just need to accept that you are who you are. I loved to travel, I loved my books, and I loved my movies. But I would have given any of them for you."

And before I could answer, she whispered, breaking my heart with her strained little voice, which echoes in me now as I type, "I know you wouldn't make me choose, but I would have if you asked."

As she put the big book aside and I remembered the poem, remembered reading it to her and remembered its name, she obliterated it, and my dream, with a kiss too demanding for refusal, too long for doubt. But I remembered Yeats.

I did not wake, but was wakeful, and I can only vaguely remember what transpired beyond that kiss. But as unaccustomed to everything afterward as I was, and to the aspect of her she had shown so rarely, I never awoke more fully consumed but content.