I’m very glad you stopped by. I’m not Merle, that was my father, but I’m honored to give my blog his name. He was hilarious, difficult, loving, and complicated, and his presence is filtered throughout these pages.
Hi! I’m glad you are here. You’ve just made my day.
I love that I’ve made some wonderful friendships here and even though it’s on-line, heart and soul come through time and again and it’s fabulous. I’m here for the long haul; I hope you are, too. Read more Say Hi!
Next, prepare the egg mixture that is brushed on the dough.
Eggs–two per loaf.
Parmesan cheese–roughly 3/4 cup per loaf.
Oregano–usually one teaspoon per loaf.
Mix well and set aside.
Next, slice cheeeeeeeeses of your choice. Here, I used provolone, Colby, and pepper jack. This can vary in both type and amount. I’ve also made this without pepperoni, turned it into a cheesy herb bread. I prefer it with pepperoni, but either way is delicious.
I try to have the egg mix, the sliced cheese, and the pepperoni ready BEFORE I roll out the dough. It’s quite elastic and tends to shrink back in. If all is ready, it can be put together and rolled in short time. The cheese can be shred, but it’s not necessary.
Roll dough into a rectangle, and shoot for 12″ by 15″ if you can get it that large. It should be large but not overly thin.
Next, roll and seal the edges. It will expand substantially and I like it to stay on the baking sheet. I roll from right to left, side to side, not from top to bottom, to make a shorter loaf.
I use separate baking sheets because the dough may rise in an unpredictable manner. The leaves don’t need to be that friendly. You’ll thank me later. I then let both sheets rise side by side in the oven on the top shelf, over a metal pan half full of boiling water. This works well. I let them rise until doubled in size, usually an hour.
I bake each loaf alone. If they are baked at the same time, the edges cook faster at this high heat and the final result is less desirable. The only problem I’ve encountered here is that my family has devoured the first loaf before the second is ready and they have to wait.
Cover with foil and bake at 425 for ~ 30 minutes. Just try to let it cool–I bet you can’t–before you enjoy! 🙂
I promise, no one will care. If there are childrenadultsneighbors people around, anything you’ve sliced will be gone before you’ve finished cutting the loaf. Once I began slicing, they vanished. I have no pictures of any cut slices.
“…it’s going to have diamonds, rubies, and emeralds….” I’d tell my mother, according to my childhood fantasy. Beyond that, there is a certain image I attach to my ship. But, I’ll get back to that.
When I was young, When My Ship Comes In is a game my mother played with us. There were plenty of card and board games, but this was one of my favorites. Mom’s eyes would light up and she’d start by saying, “When my ship comes in, it’s going to have….” and then list all the things she would love to have. Then it was our turn, and we’d tell her what our ship was going to contain.
It was always fun to hear what would arrive on someone else’s ship. Sometimes it was kittens and puppies. Other times it was chocolate bars, pickles, or some load of silliness. Beyond that, it called for imagination, a slice of fantasy, for what may come. I suppose it helped me to envision the future, that there was one. It gave me a sense of possibility, that one never knows what life will bring. The sense of surprise was delightful.
My daughter works in a grade school where, lately, each day is a challenge. She’s been placed in charge of a young student whose home life has been disrupted. We’ll call said student Quinn, a non-gender specific name. From what we can gather, Quinn sleeps on a couch (does not have a personal bed). There appears to be no regular bed time, nutrition appears to be a non-issue, and the food that does come from home is sugar-laden, processed, or both. Quinn arrives each day with bags under the eyes, and has enormous trouble focusing. Flying off the handle and yelling and screaming are the norm. Having said that, there has been no diagnosis of any condition; therefore, there are no “services.” Attempts at academics have fizzled; Quinn is not allowed to sit among the other children due to disruptive behavior. A typical activity is throwing other children’s lunches on the ground, stealing items from a teacher’s desk, running out of class, throwing items at teachers and staff, breaking anything in sight. Quinn destroys; others clean up after.
Maybe due to school policy, personal preference, or just getting through the day, it has been left to my daughter to hold Quinn accountable. No one else makes Quinn say please and thank you or right a wrong; indeed, others walk away (for whatever reason). My daughter is the only one setting boundaries.
When the family is called to retrieve Quinn it’s often at the beginning of the day: it can be at zero minutes in class to an hour or more. Currently, Quinn is allowed in school only three hours on any given day unless a full week passes without incident. If so, more time for the following week is earned. This has yet to happen.
I sigh, and recall fondly a mother who played games with us, someone who genuinely cared and wanted to spend time with us. We were well fed, clothed, and loved, every single day.
When I remember that game we played long ago, I recall my ship out at sea, slowly making its way to shore. It was filled with goodies just for me. The images I associate with my ship–and mom’s for that matter–are all of a certain type:
The type of ship in my childhood fantasy was irrelevant; I recall images with still waters, clear skies, the bluest of sunny skies, and very little wind. It was calm. Peaceful. Serene. Beautiful.
What I did not imagine was this:
Never did my ship have to navigate dark skies, rolling waves, rough waters and the threat of death in a stormy sea. My ship sailed in still waters.
I imagine Quinn must feel tossed about on a regular basis.
There are no rules.
There are no boundaries.
There is improper nutrition.
It appears there is a diet of sugar and processed food.
There are no friends in Quinn’s world.
There is no discipline.
This child appears to be neglected (and is acting out for attention).
Did I mention Quinn is six years old? My heart breaks for this child (and mine who is tested to her limit every day and comes home exhausted). None of what I’ve described is Quinn’s fault; indeed, it appears to be a breakdown of the family unit. Mother is young and distracted, father is absent, grandpa picks up Quinn and helps when he can, mother’s boyfriend does what he can. It truly breaks my heart.
I lunched this past week with a college friend, a retired teacher who’d been in the system for over 30 years. As I described my daughter’s job, my friend looked at me squarely and said, “You’d be surprised how many Quinns there are.” I feel for teachers as well whose hands are tied.
Now, when I think back on my long ago childhood game with my mother, and as I recall her bright eyes at the start of our game, I create a new list for my ship.
When my ship comes in, I want it to head for Quinn’s harbor. I want it to have games, play dates, friends, and sleep overs. I want it to include special time with mom, dad, and grandparents. I want there to be vacations and holidays, filled with togetherness and love. I wish there to be nutritious meals, every single day. I wish for regular sleep, so the next day can be met with sufficient energy to learn and grow. I wish that the adults in Quinn’s life realize what this child is in need of and be able to meet that need. More than anything: I wish for Quinn to have barrels of time and attention and love.
I wish for the gift of time so that one day, Quinn can look back on the early days and recall a mother/father/aunt/uncle/grandparent who took the time, who made time, because nothing is worth more to our future than a child.
What’s on your ship?
Featured Image: Big photo dot com. Others: Internet, free images.
I woke todayin need of a really good chuckle. A belly laugh would be best. I searched my archives and found the following:
Did it work? It perfectly captured my sentiments. After this week I’m feeling old, rusty, and a bit saggy. I mean my brain, but still…I’m feeling rather exposed.
I started a new adventure and I’m not sure whether I’ve bit off more than I can chew (pun intended!). I told you about my new adventure last week; I began as a volunteer dental hygiene instructor at a community college. You can read about that here if you like. I now have a full two days under my belt. TWO DAYS, and…does anyone know where I can order a portable oxygen tank?
My role (newly defined as of yesterday morning) includes BEING BACK IN THE MOUTH. Yikes! Not only am I allowed in the mouth, I may help with instrumentation and placing films for the full series (18 individual films), a pano (where the machine goes around your head), 0r bite wings (the 4 you bite on at your re-care appointment). As a volunteer I may not grade them–Thank the plaque Gods above!–but I am allowed to dive in and help if needed. My biggest concern is my back; this is why I hung up my scalers a year ago.
Well, I dove, and, while there were a few retakes in radiology, now I know their system and what the lead instructor expects. I stood directly behind her as she assessed the full mouth series I helped a student take and I learned those expectations. In the real world as you may guess, it’s a whole new ball game, and the doctor may want a specific angle or just the root tip on a certain film. Here, in school right now, the expectations are different–indeed the bar is higher and slightly different–exactly how it should be. Now is the time to perfect the basics. Later, they may use the tricks I am showing them now.
My sudden “ah, ha” moment: Part of my role is I am there to help them think. They are learning one technique, but I bring years of experience. It’s all good.
My new revelation? In spite of last week’s experience in radiology, I LOVED BEING THERE THIS WEEK. I was shocked, but I ENJOYED HELPING THEM PLACE FILMS. Maybe they’ll let me park myself back there and mainly help in radiology. I would LOVE that.
As I left the clinic last evening and began my drive home, I felt shaky. Rusty. A complete and incompetent outsider. I felt so alone! That was eventually countered by feelings of, “But, Karen, this is your thing!” and “You KNOW this!” and “You’re being FAR too hard on yourself,” and “You need to chill, woman!”
There were some very nice moments from yesterday:
I was greeted with warm student smiles on my second day in clinic.
Out of the blue, a student thanked me for donating my time on Fridays.
Another thanked me for helping her use the ultrasonic scaler in a tough spot in the posterior teeth.
An instructor and I had a very nice chat about hygienists, our level of education, how our profession has been held back in several ways, what obstacles lie ahead. This is big as we are not self-regulated; we are regulated by dentists and one of the very few health professions not self-regulated).
I shared my experience with the same instructor about trying to bridge Oral Health and Gerontology with those in my master’s program (who were not overly receptive at the time). She stated an article needs to be written about this.
As I continued to drive, the next thing was, “How would YOU feel were you a student now?” Well, since I can’t grade them, and since they don’t know me yet, I sense they’re holding back from asking for my help. I get that, and I might do the same thing were I in their place. What I’ve done is PUSH MYSELF to start talking with them, ask them about their day, what’s on their schedule, and how it went with their last patient. I need to earn their trust.
And, do you know how UNCOMFORTABLE that is for me? Holy Buckets! This is NOT my default setting. It feels as though I am naked, that the 20 students, the five hygiene instructors, and the one dentist are staring at me (never mind talking about me when I’m not looking). Sigh….
“If the door closes, quit banging on it! Whatever was behind it, wasn’t meant for you. Consider the fact that maybe the door was closed because you were worth so much more than what was on the other side.”
~ Author Unknown
While I can’t say that I know volunteering here is meant for me, or that what I’ve left behind (private practice) is behind me permanently, I can say I need to push forward, difficult as that may be. I simply don’t know what’s in store. And that feels like I’m teetering, bare naked, high on a cliff….
And, today is a new day. I’ve slept well and feel much better after I’ve had a chance to rest my battered brain. It’s a great feeling to tackle a new day. That feeling was only enhanced by the following post when I opened up my Reader.
“I´ll never be content with the surface of things. So often we hold ourselves from going deep because we are scared it may be more than we can handle or worry what people might think. But we will grow so much more from it. Exposing our hearts is not weakness. It´s bravery. It´s authenticity. It´s love.”
And the last:
“You are my people. I see you. I believe in you. So tell me anything. Tell me everything. I am not in this world to make small talk. Talk real to me. I am here for you. I want to be a reminder that it is okay to share what you are feeling inside. Your voice is needed and it matters. A lot. “
How fabulous is that?
As the day wore on and as I reflected on yesterday, I relaxed after re-reading Carola’s words of affirmation, her request to share, her knowledge we are not alone as I’d been feeling. This is what blogging is all about. Thank you. It is the push I need right now.
I took a big leap last week and dove head first into a realm I’ve thus far only dreamt of. I re-entered the world of teeth. It’s the reason I’ve been somewhat absent from here; I’m processing. Oh, am I processing…
“We need to give each other the space to grow, to be ourselves, to exercise our diversity. We need to give each other space so that we may both give and receive such beautiful things as ideas, openness, dignity, joy, healing, and inclusion.”
~ Max de Pree
I hung up my scalers a year ago and have since wondered how I might stay in the field but out of the mouth. In 1983 when I was licensed, I hit the ground running and became a hygienist completely in love with my profession. Does that make sense? In spite of what may be perceived as downsides: I LOVED MY JOB (and yeah, I miss it).
Last Friday I was given a chance. I began what I hope to be many months if not years of helping dental hygiene students become proficient excellent oral health care providers. What have I done? I started as a volunteer “instructor” in a dental hygiene clinic in a school that offers a Bachelor’s degree in Dental Hygiene.
As a volunteer, I primarily coach the students with instrumentation and placement of films in radiology, or wherever they may need assistance. I’ve been assigned to the junior class, and they’ve just learned to use the ultrasonic scaler, how to administer anesthesia, and to use specific scaling instruments. I am not able to give grades; however, I can advise and encourage and share my experiences and stand on my feet all day long and leave the clinic with a huge smile on my face, hoping knowing I’ve helped in some small way.
“Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself.”
~ Charlie Chaplin
Thanks, Charlie, and while I won’t say the day was a failure, I will say that at one slightly hair raising moment I felt a bit foolish.
That’s how I imagine it anyway in the eyes of Sarah*. I advised her on film placement with an angle too severe resulting in a mandatory re-take (oops!). I was familiar with the system in general, but not the film holders they are using. Be patient; I’m learning just like you, I wanted to scream. As the quote says, we need to allow each other space to grow, including me. Sarah summoned two instructors for help while I stood by trying hard not to look stupid (never mind how I felt). Because, aside from the film holders, I didn’t know my specific role. I was unclear whether or not I was allowed in the mouth–I assumed I was not–so I held back.
I must remember that I am the clinic’s first volunteer hygienist, and they don’t know what to do with me. I had completely forgotten this my first day on the “job.” OK. Deep breath. And, again. As I try to imagine my presence in their eyes, it became easier, roles defined or not. Aside from their, “What are we to DO with her,” and my “What the heck am I DOING?” I feel the day was a success.
As she said she would the day before, the clinic lead threw me to the wolves. I was introduced in the morning–and was greeted by the students with a heartwarming round of positive responses–then left to my own devices. New to the learning environment, I felt dazed; indeed, I’ve not set foot in a hygiene school for 36 years. The pace is slug slow (compared to private practice, i.e. the real world), and students are graded on everything. My brain was ready to burst, but I hung in there. I wasn’t going to let my eight hour hot flash induced by stroke level blood pressure a little nervousness get me down. I wasn’t going anywhere. Not yet. I tried to breathe without passing out. Is it possible to hear someone sweat?
Parts of my day went pretty well were freaking awesome:
I helped Tereza* with instrumentation after practicing the ultrasonic scaler on a plastic model. I helped with angulation on anterior teeth as well as in imaginary, deeper areas–the “pockets” your hygienist talks about–on posterior teeth. After her afternoon patient had left, I checked in. That’s when she smiled and told me that what we did that morning helped. HALLELUJAH! I helped! I actually helped! WOO HOO!!! HAPPY DANCE!!!
I helped Cori* with a suggestion for making the periodontal evaluation more comfortable. I advised she use topical anesthetic on the tip of the probe, or, better yet, keep an anesthetic soaked Q-Tip handy, in case. The priceless look on her face told me it never dawned on her to use topical outside of giving an injection. Go, Karen! Go, Karen! Go, Karen….
I talked to Cheryl* about what brought me here and why I got my master’s. Aside from talking about me when they thought I wasn’t looking, I know they are curious. Who IS this woman who WANTS to come in and spend time HERE?She’s lost her marbles, I’m guessing they’re saying. I need to show them I am real, I’m human, that we likely have much in common.
I revealed my humor when talking with Ava*. She told me about a difficult patient she was debating whether or not to treat. Thus far, all of her patients had been easy. The difficult patient would definitely be a challenge, so I told her two things: 1) in the real world, she will not have a choice; and, 2) he needs treatment and this is why we are here. She appeared near crestfallen, but I added, “Just between you and me, I won’t get mad at you if you choose not to take on this patient.” She burst out laughing, and proceeded to ask me if I was coming back for the afternoon clinic.
“Nothing you wear is more important than your smile.”
~ Connie Stevens
So, yes, I dove in head first. I fled the comfort of retirement. I’ve taken on the familiar but that which must be revisited (and updated). I’m challenging myself to stay the course. I am pushing myself to go against my default zone of holding back, not talking, staying withdrawn, but pushing myself into conversations and situations where I can share my experiences that may be of help. I will not quit (I just checked my email and I’ve not been told not to come back.)
Once I began stalking engaged the students with conversation and got a little nosy bombarded them with questions of my own, the time started to fly and I stopped looking at the clock. Breathe, Karen, you can do this.
I recalled my lifelong dream to mentor dental hygiene students. I will stay the course, because, aside from the awkward unease we all feel when things change, to the depth of my deepest cell, this feels right; it’s where I belong. I am beyond excited to be there, to be able to walk in and spend time with these eager students. Am I scared? Uh, huh. Am I going to quit? Nope. Why?
“The world is the great gymnasium where we come to make ourselves strong.”
~ Swami Vivekananda
A couple yearsago I found a photo of the Gladstone, Oregon Pow-Wow-Ettes. You read that correctly. We were green and white, sequined, baton-toting twirlers who strutted with pride. We represented our town, Gladstone, the group named after an historic tree. It was the late 60s.
We marched in local parades and for my family, it was an event. My mother made the outfits my sister and I wore; I wouldn’t be surprised if she made several others. Mom was an exceptional seamstress. She marched right along side us as we twirled. Neither she or dad missed a parade, or rarely any event.
Before the days of backpacks, mom carried anything we might need: Band-aids, a metal thermos of water, Bactine, salt tablets, white shoe polish. Our shoes had to be white. Not dingy gray like mine; they had to be white. Polish stunk. Maybe because I required extra. I recall the squish from marching with wet toes, the polish having leaked through my thin shoes and socks. Mom was forever after me with her bottle of polish, telling me to stand still so she could apply more.
Dad was a writer and photographer who stood behind the camera, capturing much of our childhood. While he did not take the following picture, he took and wrote about many others.
I saw where a social media friend recently copied and shared the group photo above, the one I posted a few years ago. As it floated around again and we collectively tried to recall names, I thought about my roots. The building in which we posed for those pictures is now gone, a place where gym and band classes were held. We called it “the old gym.” I believe it was Gladstone’s original grade school building.
Our band teacher taught us to play the black, plastic Tonette in fifth grade. Later, I played the sax. Classes were held on the upper level at one end of the gym. There was a separate door inside our classroom which led to the bathroom below. I recall our teacher sending someone after me; he got worried when I left with a bloody nose and did not come back directly. That happened more than once.
What I recall having learned as floor exercises are what I’d now call prehistoric yoga, but it was on that blindingly polished floor where we learned to lean, stretch, and stretch some more. We were lined up in rows, each within our invisible 7 or 8′ exercise square. One day as I leaned and stretched I was admonished by Jane. With eyebrows scrunched together, she said, “Karen, you are doing it wrong.” The look on my face must have revealed my surprise. Indeed, I felt I was getting the hang of it quite well. I wasn’t the quickest or strongest, but I copied very well. Jane made no sense. I followed with the highly intelligent, “Huh?” to which she replied, “You’re taking up too much space.” Ah, then I got it. I moved back (but only a bit. When I realized what she meant, I knew I was within my rightful space). I took the polite road.
Another lesson I learned in that gym is something I’ve never shared. It is one of the most important lessons I learned, a life lesson, and one I’ll never forget. It has shaped my thinking for the better, and, reflecting on choices I’ve made, have wondered whether my band teacher deserves the credit.
We were ten that year, all fifth graders, and it was time for band. We’d lined up on the stairs waiting the arrival of our teacher. Sandy and I were at the head of the line near the door. For some unknown reason (that I would later realize impacted my life), our teacher was late. Really late. I never knew why, but that hardly mattered. As we fretted and waited and as our impatience grew, Sandy shook the door knob. Nothing. I also tried, to no avail. The door was firmly locked. We waited. We waited some more. Minutes passed. Finally, after we tried unsuccessfully to open the door once again, Sandy had an idea. She reached into her bag and brought out a skinny, plastic pixie stick. She then said, “Here, try this” and handed it to me.
Well, the wise kids would knowingly say, “No, you try.” Knowingly, because, of course, they would think it through and realize this was a stupid idea. They would gladly stand there and watch you try, but they would know better. They were quicker on their feet.
My world was about to shake, rattle, and roll.
The band teacher arrived, finally. He hurried up the stairs, sheet music in one hand, key in the other. He tried to open the door. Nothing happened. He tried again. Nothing. He then bent over to peek inside the tiny key hole. He could see that something was inside, blocking the hole.
He stood up straight and slowly turned around. If you think about it, this adds to the impact. Sandy and I hadn’t had the foresight to head to the back of the line; nope, we stayed right up front. When the teacher turned around we were the first kids he saw. Guilt by association. In hindsight, I wish I could see our faces at that moment. We knew we were toast, but like frightened kittens, we stood there shaking in our boots.
Suddenly, our teacher bellowed something like this, “DID SOMEONE PUT SOMETHING IN THIS LOCK?!”
Sandy and I and everyone else stared blankly.
He then asked again, with a bit more emphasis.
“DID SOMEBODY PUT SOMETHING IN THIS LOCK?”
I meekly offered “I did, but she told me to” and gestured towards Sandy.
And that’s when he slowly leaned over. He positioned his face directly in front of mine; we were eye to eye. He had thick, curly hair and he wore thick glasses. He was a tall, thin man, and someone I secretly worshiped. He was a fabulous teacher and a personal friend of my parents which made what was about to happen that much worse.
He puffed his chest and bellowed in my face, “WELL, IF SHE TOLD YOU TO JUMP OFF A CLIFF, WOULD YOU?!”
I’m not sure if I peed my pants then or when he first bellowed, but I’m certain I leaked at some point that afternoon. While most of the rest of that day is a blur, I do recall walking through the main gym doors and up the inside staircase to reach our room. And, in no uncertain terms, I was informed that not only was I to write a letter of apology to our teacher and the principal, I also had to write one to our class. I did both.
Here are some of my lessons from the gym:
Don’t doddle when you have a bloody nose. Someone WILL come after you (and you will be more embarrassed). Arrange to have discreet bloody noses.
Respect other people’s space when you’ve unintentionally crossed into theirs (because you can always trip them lateryou can put a dead fish in their car it’s the right thing to do). Keeps the peace.
When you try to throw your friends under the bus, karma says KABOOM!! Really.
If your teachers are worth their salt, they WILL yell at you when necessary (you’ll later love them for it).
I learned to THINK FOR MYSELF and not follow the crowd (over the cliff, unless there’s chocolate at the bottom).
When I think back over decisions I’ve made and how I’ve conducted my life, I see that I have always operated outside the main group/idea/event and on the fringes. I don’t delve into the mix. I’m a watchful observer; I watch and wait (and then make my move). My comfort zone is on the edge. I’ve never been a sheeple. And you know what? Every bit of this is perfectly OK.
I was one of the lucky ones. As I get older and reflect on my growing up years, I feel unbelievably fortunate. Yes, the world is where we live and learn. We rise and fall. We fail and we succeed. We continue on our journey, sometimes with tears, sometimes with joy. We love. We learn. Some of us had great parents AND teachers. We survive out there based on where we began, from strength earned and gleaned from the early lessons that have become gems. It all started somewhere, in some gym in Smalltown, America, with a group of kids much like you, whose parents were much like yours.
This is my somewhere.
“Know from whence you came. If you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go.”
~ James Baldwin
A bit about the historic Pow Wow tree.
“The white settlers lived alongside the area’s Indians, who operated a ferry across the Clackamas River. The famous “Pow-Wow” maple tree marked the place where the different Indian tribes, mainly Clackamas and Multnomahs, met to make trading agreements, settle community affairs, and conduct wedding ceremonies. The tree still stands on Clackamas Boulevard, though a little battered. Adjacent to the “Pow-Wow” tree was an Indian racetrack that Peter Rinearson later used as an exercise and training ground for the racehorses he bred. In 1861, it was used as a parade ring for the First State Fair held on the Rinearson property, with the “Pow-Wow” tree marking the entrance” (http://www.ci.gladstone.or.us/gladstone-history/).