she's a rebel.

 I always was a good student, in grade school.

Not just good as in good grades good.  That happened, too.  What I mean is the well-behaved, please-and-thank-you, "She's such a sweet little girl!" monotony.  I suppose I looked like a model student, to some.  And like an insufferable goody two-shoes, to others.  But really, all I wanted was to please.  And if I've since learned this is one of life's least best goals (and if I still sometimes do it pffft! pesky old habits), it meant I skated through grade school with few ripples.

Except in the fifth grade. In early January. That year all bets were off.
In early January, we were assigned New Year's Resolutions.  I didn't like New Year's Resolutions.  In fact, I loathed New Year's Resolutions.  So much so, I refused to do them. This was a little like Mother Theresa announcing she'd had a change of heart and decided to join Eloise at the Plaza.  Out of character.  But I chafed at what I saw as resolutions' inherent limitations, the way they narrowly and unnecessarily circumscribed possibility.  Worse, they struck me as hopelessly presumptive, that a person could pretend to know what a year might bring.  (No, I didn't have quite this vocabulary at age ten.  But I absolutely had all this righteous indignation, and then some. Plus, this was about the time my rebellious side started to come through).

Somehow, I muddled through that treacherous assignment. on the coattails of my ordinarily excellent behavior. But it left it's scars. And then I started high school, became a rebel my own person. and when I came out the other end, I slowly started coming 'round.

For a while I was an ace resolver.
In fact, my complete turn around puts my fifth grade teacher to shame.  Now I not only sit down every New Year's Eve to compile a tidy list of exemplary goals.  I then conscientiously mind it, the next twelve months, and—get this—follow through.

I know.


And a wake-up call, at least to this rebel deeply former reluctant resolver.

Yeah, it took me a little while—say a decade, and change—to see what good could possibly come of this practice.  But over time I began to entertain the idea that this list-making business might be less oppression than opportunity.

That in a world wild with distractions, knowing there is a certain solace in minding a few things, not Everything. That possibility became a wonderful thing, but endless possibility's a little overwhelming, so keep in mind that resolutions need not be marching orders, but gentle reminders, to heed at will.

 What once looked like overreaching horribly binding handcuffs (ahem), started to seem more mooring in a storm. That in the midst of all life threw in my path, the unexpecteds, the unknowns, the uncontrollable curve balls, there was certainly room for a handful of intent.

In 2014, I intended to slow down. I didn't.

 I resolved to simplify, way back in late October, in part because I still had the promise of my words ringing in my ears.  Life was still lovely. Earlier that month, I'd said something radical, something like "This year, I'm going to like December. I'm going to slow down, and that's a new thing."  In the past I liked December, loved it, actually.  But sometimes, I loved it a little too hard, squeezed in too much twinkling, baking and merry-making. I missed that this year.

Still I am step-by-stepping my way back into the saddle, (re-)acquainting myself with routines, appointments and the vacuum cleaner. The differentiation of days, five and two, week and -end. That old familiar rhythm, that always takes new getting used to.

I am back in my very own bed. The dinner plate count has gone up by one. The tea consumption, after an extraordinary December spike, has dropped off precipitously at this coffee-chugging address. Afternoons are purposefully quiet, watercolor dreams and small soft bowls of soup.
The dust bunnies, threatening revolt in the border zones, were mollified between pill dispensing with a hasty broom. I was able to write my name on the bookcase shelves, yesterday morning. By evening, the dust was 76% gone. I'm fairly certain that's about the upper limit. Dusting, I'm convinced, is not eradicating small particles, but simply shifting them about, diligently, then turning on one's heel and studiously ignoring the evidence.

I am indeed approaching regular routine, and it's nice. Almost as nice as the months that went before.
The months when I was organized, 24x7. When it snowed just enough to build a snowman. When I ate leftover cheese soufflé for breakfast, and made spontaneous road trips, and could spend an entire Saturday afternoon traipsing through old photos.

Half right, then. I am glad of the regular routine, largely because  I've been elsewhere so long. The ordinary's welcome for having just vacated the extraordinary, two months of Momma time, being an exception from the rule. but this space, is the brilliant pink tulip in a room of palest blue, re-christened chartreuse. POP! I need that contrast, that bas relief, to keep it all interesting, life and whatnot. Were it not for these whimsical visits, ordinary might soon be spelled d-u-l-l. The routine, and the breaking of it, it is all good.

So I decided this year would go down differently.  I'd actively work toward this "all is calm" angle, which for me might look like staring at the moon sparkling off the snow for ten minutes. Period.  Period.  It's an admirable goal, and a stretch since I am not a skilled single-tasker.  I realize I may need another twelve months to prepare.

just sayin'.

Shrimp and Rice Casserole

1 1/2 lbs raw shrimp, deveined with shells and tails off
2 cups raw white rice
4 tbsp butter
1 can (10.75 oz) Campbell’s Cream of Celery soup
1 can (10.75 oz) Campbell’s Cream of Chicken soup
1 can (10 oz) Ro-tel (diced tomatoes & green chilies)
1 tsp salt
1 yellow onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place the butter in a 12 x 9″ casserole dish and place dish in the oven so the butter melts. After the butter has melted at the bottom of the dish, remove from oven but keep oven on.
In a large bowl, combine the shrimp, RAW rice (do not cook first!), cream of celery soup, cream of chicken soup, Rotel, diced yellow onion, diced red pepper, salt and pepper. Stir well to combine.
Pour mixture over the melted butter. Cover dish tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, stir well. Re-cover dish and cook for an additional 40-45 minutes—when done, the rice should be fluffy and have absorbed all liquid!
Serve warm.


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