Archive for November 2009

Challenge

November 30, 2009

Christy, the woman who taught my personal training certification class, said one thing that made a big impression on me, bigger than any of the other information she conveyed about fitness, fitness assessment, nutrition, or training.  She said, “Challenge yourself.”   Two simple words.  Two powerful words.

It’s not like I don’t challenge myself.  I try to improve my running times and distances, and I include weight training, flexibility training  and cross-training in my fitness program.  I have clients of various ages and fitness levels, who all have different fitness goals, and I love the challenges of creating exercise prescriptions that are tailored to their specific needs and goals.  I am constantly reading about and studying cutting edge material in my field so I can help my clients improve their fitness, vary their routines to keep things fresh and interesting, and also meet their specific nutritional needs.

Challenge translates to my personal life as well.  Parenting, working, and taking care of our home and day-to-day lives are all constant my life.  Supporting my husband as he deals with work pressure with fortitude and grace, helping my college-aged teenager navigate sophomore year (only when I’m asked to!),  and guiding  my high school sophomore  to utilize her time and intelligence to maintain her GPA as she thinks about college all take a lot of energy.   When work comes my way I take it— whether it’s teaching, house painting, fitness training, interior design consulting, or consigning my art or handwork— I do whatever it takes to contribute to tuition, groceries, or the infamous Rockport water bill.  It’s not that much in the big scheme of things, but I do the best I can.  And I still cook dinner almost every night.

The biggest challenge for me is finding and then maintaining the balance of this short, precious life.   Some days it’s basic, like scheduling three clients in between school drop-off and pick-up, and stealing an hour in there for a run.  Other days it’s not so basic, like when some boy breaks my daughter’s heart and I have to be the best mom I can possibly be—  when I tell her she’s smart and beautiful and worth more than any boy could ever imagine as she leans her head on my shoulder and sobs— when I hold her and let her grieve.  There are lots of in between times with plenty to do, as each person who squeezes in time to read this knows.

Hearing Christy say to challenge myself really made me stop and think.  It made me think about who I am, what I do, and what I want to do and achieve in life.  It made me realize how hard I can be on myself and the people in my life, and maybe, maybe, the biggest way to challenge myself is to ease up on everyone I love, and to ease up on me, too.   To realize that every aspect of life is a challenge, and to take the lighter road once in a while. Thanks, Christy!

How do you challenge yourself?

Pizza Break!!!

November 29, 2009

Happy Post-Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas Rush to all!

It feels good to have celebrated the big bird holiday with most of our family.  I even managed to sneak in my very own Turkey Trot on Thursday morning while the pumpkin custard baked in the oven.  I took Friday off to weight train and avoid the downpour outside, then it was back to my very best gazelle imitation on Saturday and Sunday. I logged more than 30 miles for the week.  I am proud to have made that goal during a holiday week.  The weather made it pretty easy, though.

It’s time for a turkey break, so here’s my bird-free, get away from big messes in the kitchen, easy post- feast Friday night meal:

Scampi Pizza

Ingredients:

1 pizza crust (we like whole wheat, but make or buy your favorite)

10 oz. goat mozzarella or cheese of your choice

1 pound extra large shrimp: defrosted, peeled and deveined

3 cloves garlic, blanched and minced

1/2 pound asparagus, ends trimmed and sliced into 1/2 inch pieces

12 oz sliced crimini or baby bella mushrooms, sauteed in olive oil over high heat until juices release.

Method:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Lightly oil and sprinkle with cornmeal a large single layer baking sheet or pizza stone.  If using a pizza stone, preheat it in the oven first.

Drain mushrooms.  Reserve liquid for a future soup or stew if you wish.

Stretch out pizza dough to fit your baking sheet or pizza stone.

Sprinkle cheese onto dough.  Layer on mushrooms, garlic, and asparagus.  Arrange shrimp on top of vegetables.

Bake pizza in lower third of the oven for 20 – 25 minutes, or until cheese bubbles and crust is crisp.

Serves 4.  Enjoy!

Giving Thanks for that Little Octopus in the Kitchen

November 26, 2009

This morning my running friend Sue was sick, and so I took to the street by myself.  It’s a cool but not cold, bright but not sunny, damp but not raining, perfect Thanksgiving morning to run.  I took my usual route and ran 6 miles in 50 minutes, a surprise because yesterday I ran 7.3 in 61.  I was expecting to be tired, and for this morning to be harder.  It seems the more I run, the easier it gets and the better I feel.

The roads were car-quiet, but plenty of folks were out running and walking their dogs.  I cheerfully greeted each and every runner, walker, dog walker, and newspaper gatherer with a bright “Happy Thanksgiving”, and in between people, I tried to focus and meditate on all the reasons I have to be thankful.  Here’s a partial list:  my husband, my children (and how good they have always been!), my parents, my sister and her family, my mother-in-law, my dear friends, my health, home by the sea, the fact that I can run at all, never mind the whopping 9 miles two weeks ago!!!, and life just as it is- joyous, miserable, scary, easy, hard, challenging, bountiful, scant— all of it.  I topped the final hill and walked for a couple of minutes, catching my breath and thinking about what I had to cook and pack before leaving for a family dinner at my sister’s house.  Hot, sweaty, thirsty, I burst in the front door and went right to the kitchen.

On the counter, on a wooden cutting board, lay a small— by that I mean maybe a 12 inch tentacle spread— cooked octopus.  Mmmm hmmm.  That’s right.  The smell, well, let’s just say low, low tide is the best I can do to describe that.  I am an adventurous eater, especially when it comes to fishes and sea creatures.  I have tried all our local sushi chef has to offer.  Let me be really honest and say whole octopus does not lo0k anything like that slender slice of purplish flesh gently laid across a ball of sticky rice.  And perhaps at room temperature the smell is a bit more subtle…  I inhaled deeply through my mouth and grabbed my water bottle, then took myself out the back door for a good long stretch and some fresh air.

You are looking for the back story, aren’t you?  Here it is.  My non-meat-eating teenager asked a few weeks ago if she could prepare her own entree to bring on Thanksgiving.  I said of course she could.  After all, I was a vegetarian for years and understand what it’s like to sit down to a meal drenched in animal fat, or laced with animal flesh, be hungry, and see nothing I can put in my mouth and enjoy.  Yesterday I took the teenager to the fish market, then the grocery store, and helped her select her meal for today.  I knew it was octopus.  I did.  And I knew she would cook it at home and bring it with us today; however, I did not expect to meet that blanched little purple guy in my kitchen this morning before breakfast.

As for the title of this piece, one thing in particular for which I am grateful is the way my children are comfortable enough with who they are to go ahead and forge their new territories without embarrassment or fear.  While raising them, I have encouraged them to be themselves and not worry about what other people think.  To trust themselves and do what feels right, whether it’s preparing and bringing octopus for Thanksgiving dinner or coming home on weekends from college because they are not ready for parties and are doing their best to stay safe.  So, yes, I am thankful, especially, for that little octopus in the kitchen…

I invite you to use the comment section of this post to write something for which you are thankful today.  Happy Thanksgiving!

P.S.  I am not posting the octopus recipe unless someone asks for it…

Gone

November 23, 2009

I was out running the other morning.  The sun was rising over the Twin Lights on Thatcher Island, and I kept stealing glances at the sky while trying to avoid tripping in the various potholes and landing in the puddles that make up Eden Road.   The tide was low, and the rocks were dark with moss and seaweed.  White curls of waves lapped and licked at the growth upon the granite stone, the water rose up like deep breaths from the sea.  Morning sunlight twinkled on the water, catching hungry gulls and ducks off-guard, thinking bird-thoughts about flashing fishes.

I was listening to the Corrs playing “Haste to the Wedding”, a rollicking jig that rolls into a reel, when I realized you were gone.  I don’t know if it was the music, the sea, or the pace of the run that slammed the knowledge into me.  Perhaps it was the nothingness of it.  In a really good run, everything becomes nothing.  I don’t think.  I just am.  I am a wide open space, and that morning, you rushed in.  With every breath, every stride, every beat of my heart, I knew a part of my life was over.  And somehow, in my day-to-day waiting for you to go, I had not noticed.

I felt a tiny ache thinking I had missed your going.  I wondered, as I turned onto the road between the marshes, should the ache be bigger?  Do people cry?  I didn’t feel like crying.  I smiled as each breath pulled in and flowed out.  As I hit the soft sand along Pebble Beach, I thought of the summer you surfed on the next beach over, Cape Hedge, and how I worried only a little each time you tumbled into the waves as they crashed the shoreline.  I thought of the way you surfaced in your black wetsuit, your straight blonde hair dripping ocean into your green eyes.  The way you grabbed your bright blue board and headed right back out to catch the next wave.

I smiled  again, thinking you have a headstart on me, because now I must wait for your sister, too, to go.   I attacked the hill rounding up Penzance Road, pushing, pushing, pushing hard to the top, and began the long, slow climb up South Street.  I burst past Emily’s house and remembered you and her together, that first girl, that first perfect year you had, and then the second not-so-perfect year.  I think of all the nights you and she cried over and for each other and how many nights you turned to me to talk.  You learned about love, loss, anger, moving on and starting over.  You shared it all with me.  Somewhere in there, in that learning, you were packing to go.

I didn’t put a lot of thought into the actual going part.  I looked forward to it, to not wondering where you might be when you are not home, to not trying to be quiet in case you were sleeping late behind your closed bedroom door. I have looked forward to your next stage in life, when you have the chance to figure out who you are and who you want to become.  I have equally looked forward to my next stage.  Even though I love you, and your sister, and have always loved being your mother, I’m feeling ready to spend some time alone with your father, and to regain some of the freedom that I gave up to be a full time mother twenty years ago.

Last year we packed your things to go, gathering fresh bedding in extra-long twin size, text books, a new pair of warm winter boots– remember when I splurged on those soft green suede UGGs?—and boxes of gum, crackers, tea, and a water filter for your room.  You came back home nearly every weekend and it was as if you hadn’t left at all.

At the end of your second semester, you moved your clothes and shoes, bedding and books, and your self back. You were soon up to your old tricks, heading out to the beach every day, then to work in the late afternoon, slipping in the front door quietly in the middle of the night while the rest of us were asleep.  Your room looked like the center of a cyclone.  You used the floor as an enormous shelf, littering it with damp towels and board shorts, dirty tee shirts and open water bottles, papers, mail, and text books from your last semester.  I hated to wake you, but I never saw you, so I peeked in around noon each day if I was home, just to look at your long strong man’s body thrown carelessly across your bed in sleep.

When the time came for you to return to school this year, I let you pack and get ready by yourself.  I thought you would like privacy and space.  I also thought it was time for you to learn to do this without me.  I did help you with the actual move into your new dorm.  You and I lugged heavy boxes and bins from the car up flight after flight of stairs, and down the long corridors to your apartment.  It was like hauling rocks. I wondered what you had packed.  Everything?  When I returned home, your room didn’t seem very empty.  No wonder you used your floor as a shelf.  And still, I hadn’t really thought you’d gone.

This semester, you don’t come home on the weekends.  You call once in a while, and you send me text messages. You ask how I am, how the rest of us are. You talk about your courses, your roommates, and skateboarding from class to class.  You sound both settled and excited.  During this run, it occurred me that you talk to me.  You told me this week that Tuesday is your laundry and grocery day. You!  Laundry and grocery day!   I never expected you to be so ready, so good at life right away.  And I guess I wasn’t sure that we’d keep the same kind of relationship we had when you were younger, particularly the way we easily communicated, when you left.  I did not let myself count on it, in case you turned out to be one of those boys who left and never looked back.

I picked up the pace for the last third of the run.  Long, hungry strides propelled me toward home.  I sprinted and I grinned to myself.  This is why the ache is so very, very small.  I know you will never really be gone.

Sprouting Wings, Then Wheat Berries

November 20, 2009

I set the alarm for early this morning.  It’s Friday, and hubby is working from home, so he can take the teenager to school and I can run before the client I am training arrives at 7:45.  I get up right away, not using the the snooze button even once.  I have to drink that first cup of coffee before I run, otherwise I might as well stay in bed.

I quietly slip out of the bedroom and head for the kitchen, where my favorite brew, Starbucks House Blend, is hot and ready in the coffee maker.  Before I go back upstairs, I make a cup for the hubby.  I dress, throw together a lunch for the teenager, and head out.

It’s warm, and I am glad I wore capri running pants instead of the winter ones.  There is a bit of mist in the air, but the sky does not look at all menacing and so I begin my regular 5.3 mile loop.  I am about a quarter of the way through my run when that friendly mist starts to become a light drizzle, and a couple of streets before  Eden Road, it actually starts raining.  As I have mentioned before, I don’t run in the rain.  I hate the feeling of water dropping on my head and my face.  I hate how slippery my skin feels when rain and sweat mix.  I hate the fear of slipping on wet leaves and falling hard on my back or butt.  I start a little internal conversation.  Okay.  If the rain stops before I can see the lighthouses I’ll keep going.  Don’t be such a baby.  It’s not that bad.  Just keep going.  Maybe when the hubby goes out, he will notice the rain and come find me- he will rescue me.  Drive me home.  He’s not going to come find me.  He’s thinking I knew it was going to rain and decided to go anyway.  He’s thinking I have my cell phone and I’ll call him if I want a rescue.

There is a 90 degree bend partway down Eden Road where the view of Thatcher Island and the Twin Lights begins.  It’s one of the most breathtaking views of my loop and every day I pay close attention to that part of the route.  Every day the island and lighthouses look a little bit different.  Sometimes they are not even visible if there is heavy fog.  Sometimes the sun is just coming up between the two lighthouses and the water sparkles and it looks like heaven’s gate.

sunrise over Thatcher Island

Today when I turn the corner the wind picks up like mad but the rain has softened and I can see the island and the lights settled comfortably in the gray, smooth water, and the sky above is a lighter shade of gray, almost silver.  I have a feeling, one from my dreams when I was younger, that I can fly.  As I run, I open my arms wide and lift my face,  letting the wind push against me.  I can almost feel myself lifting off of the rough, uneven pavement, and that gentle rain feels good on my hot skin.

I wonder, when I return home— drenched, winded, joyous with the exhilaration of today’s run—  if I should have waited.  A bright yellow sun has broken through the grayness, and it feels like June.  My client comes, we walk and then weight train, finishing off the session with some core work and stretches.  I walk her to the door, and see that rain is pouring down in wide, torrential sheets, landing and cascading down the road in a river-rush.  I wonder if my friend Michelle is out there in it, or if she ran early like I did today.  I think I’ll send her an email and ask.  And tell her I am not dry-clean-only after all.

Here is a recipe for sprouted wheat berry cookies I emailed Michelle today, after my ‘real’ shower.

From the Celebration of Wellness cookbook:  Sprouted Almond Croquettes

1 cup sprouted wheat berries
1/2 cup applesauce
1/3 cup raw cashews
3/4 cup currants
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/4 cup toasted, minced almonds

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
1.To sprout wheat:  put wheat berries in a bowl or jar and cover the wheat berries with water, let soak for 24 hours.  Drain out the water, then rinse with fresh water and drain again.  Rinse and drain morning and night for 2 more days or until white sprout tails appear.

2. Pulse chop the sprouted wheat in a food processor, stop and scrape down the sides.  Pulse chop in applesauce and cashews, then add the currants and almond extract, blending for another 30 seconds.

3.  Lower oven temperature to 200 degrees.  Stir in almonds into mixture and drop the cookie dough by tablespoonfuls onto a lightly oiled cookie sheet and bake for 1 1/2  hours at 200 degrees.

Yield: 20 cookies

Notes from personal trials:
Measure out about 1/3 cup wheat berries to soak.  That yields a little over a cup for the recipe. Make sure to lower the oven temp before you put them in, otherwise the bottoms turn a little bit black.
The cookies don’t spread at all, so you can fit all 20 on one large cookie sheet.
You can substitute golden raisins, dark raisins, apricots, dried cherries, or any combination of these for the currants with great success.
Tasting the batter can be a big mistake.  It’s so delicious, you may not have enough left to make the cookies.  I think the batter makes an excellent breakfast.
These cookies freeze well, so I have doubled the recipe twice so far.

A little about sprouted wheat berries:  Sprouting converts its starch into simple sugars, the vitamin E content triples, the vitamin B content increases from 20 to 1200 percent, and the vitamin C content increases by a factor of 6.  Baking the cookies at a low temperature allows the nutrients to remain intact.  Wow!  Bring it on!

Coffee Cake for a Day Off

November 19, 2009

Yesterday I ran 7.2 miles in 64 minutes.  I felt great. It was a gorgeous morning, cold and sunny. The air was still.  I ran part of my route with the other Sue I meet up with sometimes, (a powerful runner with great form and intense commitment to running!), and we chatted about our kids.  She has four!  Her last one attends the same college as my first one.  We traded notes on the benefits of going to Salem State College, and how nice it is for them to be away at school but close enough to visit sometimes.  I ended my run by looping around Bearskin Neck, sprinted down the little hill there, then taking an easy jog back home.

As the morning grew into the day, an intense ache wormed its way into the depths of my head, and by the time dinner time rolled around, I felt a little queasy from the pain.  I had morning plans- to run, of course, and then tea with a friend, so we could catch up on each others’  lives.  I sent her a quick email to let her know we would need to check in this morning, in case I actually was sick.

I woke up with the headache still there, but recessed.  I decided to drug up.  Three liquid gels later, I turned on the oven and took out what I needed to make my best coffee cake.  There were 15 minutes left on the timer when the phone rang.

“How are you this morning?”

“Fine, fine.  The headache is much better.  I’m not sick.”

“That’s great.  But I’m not coming.  Tessie’s sick.  She turned to me in the car on the way to school, smiled sweetly, then threw up.  We came right back home.  She’s on the couch with a glass of  ginger ale and the television on.”

Tessie is her granddaughter.  And my friend is a very good, and very available Grandma.

“Yuck!  I’m so sorry.  We can reschedule.”

“Yes, that’s fine.  But I’m really going to miss that coffee cake.”

“Oh, don’t worry- it’s easy to make.  I’ll do it again next week when you come.”

So I’m taking today off from running, and eating coffee cake all by myself.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Ingredients for the batter:

1/4 lb butter, 1 cup sugar, 2 eggs, ( I use egg beaters), 1 cup lowfat plain yogurt, (did you really think I would use sour cream?),  1 tsp vanilla extract, 2 cups whole wheat flour, dash salt, 1 tsp each baking soda and baking powder, 1 cup fresh cranberries.

Ingredients for the sprinkle-y stuff that makes it coffee cake:

1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, stirred together in a separate bowl.

Method:

Cream butter and sugar well, beat in eggs, then the yogurt, and vanilla.  Add dry ingredients and mix well.  I use a counter top mixer,  but you can use whatever works for you.  Just make sure you fold in cranberries at the end.

Oil a large pie dish or tube pan.  Spread 1/2 of the batter in the bottom.  Sprinkle 1/2 of the sugar and nut mixture over the batter.  Spread remaining batter over top, then the rest of the sugar and nut mixture.  Bake for 45 minutes.

You can substitute blueberries, chocolate chips, raspberries, or a combination of any of the above for the cranberries, but the tartness of the cranberries really works well in this cake.  It’s good warm or room temperature, with coffee or tea, but best when shared with a friend…

Barefoot

November 18, 2009

My mother-in-law clipped an article from the Boston Globe the other day and passed it on to me.  It was about running barefoot.  A local group of runners swear by it.  The article quoted some  runners who were experiencing pain in sneakers and are now running barefoot and pain-free.  Reading that article brought back memories of my younger days as a runner, when night time was the right time, when I had no gear and bare feet were the best thing to run in, when I had so much energy I didn’t know what to do with myself other than run it off.  There was a time when… and there was a boy…

My feet slap the surface of the street, over and over, the thwuck- thwuck  of my soles echoing with each step.  The street lights are on, and as I run under each one I see my shadow approach me, then disappear.  The road is lumpy, the tar mixed with small stones and bits of smooth glass,and I can feel them first under the balls of my feet, then under my  toes when I dig into each step.  The bottoms of my feet are thick and black, like the pads on the feet of a dog.

Tonight I am wearing a very short tank dress with just a pair of white cotton panties underneath.  I run with my hair down, and it bounces upon my back, landing at my waist each time and brushing my elbows.

Soon I am far from the house on the corner of Nashua Street in Oak Bluffs, where my friend Amy and her seven housemates live together this summer.  Rita, a friend from off-island, is still there, slumped in an old tattered armchair in the living room, either asleep or passed out.  As I tried to slip out the back door, Javier, the sexiest of Amy’s housemates had called out to me.

“Adonde vas?”

“Just out.”

“Por que?”

“I’m going for a run.”

“Ahora?  Es las una!”

“I know it’s one o’clock.  But I’m still wide awake.  I have too much energy.  I gotta go.”

“No.  No.  Vienes conmigo!”

He gestured with his left hand, sweeping his arm toward his bedroom door.

“No, Jav.”

“Pero tus zapatos!”

“I don’t need my shoes.  See?”

I turned one foot up, then the other for inspection.

“No zapatos.  Hasta luego.”

“Yeah.  See you later.”

I turned and went out into the darkness.

It’s hard to see, and I’m still a little drunk from partying with Amy and and the housemates.  I had tripped on the front walk, but once I hit the street, I was fine.

I run and run, almost to Vineyard Haven along the dark roads.  My head is filled with leaving, although I have been gone for more than a year.  I think about the boy I left, who really left me first but then changed his mind.  I think about my family I left, and am running so fast and hard that each breath is a gasp.  I am far beyond the streetlights.  There is no moon.  The tiny stones in the pavement glow enough to show the road.  No cars pass, no lights are on in any of the houses I pass.

I loop around in the middle of the street and stop for a moment, feeling the smooth white stripe of paint marking the center, and head back toward Amy’s.  I am running slower now, my breath comes in long, even pulls.  There is a rhythm in the running and the breathing, and I am sober.  My mind slips into a peaceful silence.  Before I reach the streetlights I hear another runner.  I peer ahead into the darkness and see a faintness of white flashing on the ground, falling into my rhythm.

“Que tal?  Vienes a casa?  Tienes hambre?  Maria is cooking breakfast.”

Javier, hero of the night, has come to find me.  He pivots and falls in step with me, our strides long and slow.  We run in silence.  We reach the streetlights, turn to each other, and grin.  At once, we break stride and sprint, our steps now leaps, our arms pumping fast and hard.  I can barely breath.  I am churning up the street beside Javier.  I shout out.

“Stop!”

And we do.  Tumbling and laughing, we fall into each others arms.  We are damp with sweat and the night’s thick, salty ocean air.   We stand together outside the house, our breath coming in ragged, panting gasps mingled with laughter and I feel good.  My mind has stopped its nonsense, I am exhausted, and although by no means am I in love with Javier, I like him very much. He is an avid fan of me- the dancer, the runner, the girl who is not afraid to throw up in front of him, the one who laughs as easily as she cries.  Javier kisses me and I kiss him back.

He pulls me into the darkened living room, and Rita still sits slumped in the chair.  She snores loudly, and I put my hand over my own mouth to stifle a giggle.  We tip-toe past her and into the kitchen.  Maria sits at the oak table.  Her eyes are bloodshot, her short blonde curls a tangled mess framing her pretty, round face.

“Hey.  Where did you guys go?”

“Just for a run.  Javier said you were making breakfast.”

“Oh.  Yeah.  Here.”

She pushes a plate across the table toward us.   Little, brown, odd-shaped bites are each stuck with a toothpick.  I notice a skillet on the stove and a strong animal smell.

“What’s this?”

“Chicken livers.  Love ’em!”

She grabs a toothpick and holds it up, wiggling the brown liver in front of my face.

“Here.  Try one!”

My eyes grow round and I take a step backward, turning my head.  Javier is grinning like a maniac.

“Come on.  Eat it!”

“Oh, ah, no thanks. ”

Maria squints up at me, still waving the chicken liver, which is not centered on the toothpick and twirls by itself to gain balance.  Her eyes are so bloodshot and blue all at once that I stare and forget the liver for a second.  Javier sees his chance and grabs the liver from the toothpick.  He stuffs it into his mouth.

“Gross, Jav.  Don’t eat that!  It’s a liver!”

Maria looks hurt.

“I love these.  I sauteed ’em in garlic.  My mom used to make them for me all the time.  I wanna share them with you guys.  Come on.”

She drops her head, and the toothpick falls from her hand onto the table.  She leans forward, folds her arms across her chest, and pouts.

“Thanks, Maria, but I don’t eat meat.  I thought you might be making pancakes or toast or something.  Breakfast.  Where’s Amy, anyway?”

“Who cares?”

She looks up again, the bright light form the chandelier once more  illuminating those eyes.

“I’ll eat ’em all myself.”

“I’m sorry Maria.”

Javier puts his hand on Maria’s shoulder.

“I like theeese.  Leeevers.  Bueno.”

He pops another one into his mouth and I watch him chew, his dark eyes unfocused, his full lips glistening from the oil on the meat.  He reaches for my hand and pulls me close to him, but the smell of the liver on his breath turns my stomach, makes me turn my cheek when he tries to kiss me.

“I’m gonna go wake Rita and take her home.”

“She’s out.  Duerma.  Tiene sueno.   Vienes conmigo.”

“Sorry, Jav.  I’m not coming with you, cute as you are.  You just ate chicken livers.  Ugh.  But thanks for the run. Thanks for finding me.  Now go have your breakfast. I’m going to find my shoes and go home.”

I gently push him back to the kitchen, Maria, and the glistening plate.