Even though the Santa Ana’s brought the temperature up to almost 90 in the last couple of days, I wanted to make soup. Specifically, Split Pea soup using the beautiful ham bone I saved from our Christmas feast. So, at 5 a.m., that’s what I did.
Mmmmmm, it smells so good. My family will think so too, as they each get up – one by one – to get ready for the day. They’ll follow their noses into the kitchen for coffee or breakfast, their sleepy eyes closing in pleasure as they get a full noseful of delicious.
True Confession: I probably wouldn’t have made it on THIS particular day, as hot as it is and as busy the schedule, but when it was cloudy and 62 a few days ago, I also promised Mom that I would bring some this weekend when we visited. She’s been a soup aficionado since before I was a twinkle in my daddy’s eye. So this better be good.
Funny, I couldn’t find my original recipe. I think I threw it out a year ago. And I think I remember why I did – what I was feeling at the time – when I did. I was riffling through my recipes looking for it and when I found it, I was immediately bombarded with a memory that was painful. Tossing it out was a spontaneous decision. A “purge”, even, and that is ok with me. Old school Split Pea Soup like this is easy.
Back in the day, a meal like this was considered Pheasant food because it was a hardy stick-to-the-ribs meal using leftovers and a few veggies. But these days, a big bowl of this kind of soup can cost you a small fortune in a restaurant. (and, between you and me? Not nearly as delich! ha!)
Oh, that bone, that bone, that ham bone! With a few big succulent chunks of ham on it, chunks that will fall off the bone while cooking, it gives the soup its smokey meaty flavor. Thrown into some stock with split peas, diced carrots, onions and potatoes, and seasonings, it will be cooking up all day while we’re out and become Heaven in a Spoonful.
I’ll serve it tonight with big chunks of crusty French bread and a salad. Hopefully it will be below 75 degrees by then.
Almost exactly 3 years ago to the day, I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer.
At the time, it seemed this news – and the 18 month healing journey I would have to undergo – was the end of the world. And, in many ways, it was. I was physically, emotionally, and spiritual stripped to the bone and then some. The pieces of my life fell dead to the ground, bit by bit, along with my hair. I lost so much… my career, friends, a sense of self…All swept away.
And during the blackest hours, I lost hope that I would survive. All I had to hold onto, literally, was the promise of better days – a better LIFE – as I kept my eyes on Jesus.
Fast forward to today. I am a happy, healthy Stay-At-Home Grandma, carpooling my grandson back and forth to school, drum lessons, karate, and Brain Balance. I take long morning walks in the park that make my soul sing, and spend as much time in the garden as my fingernails can handle. My husband and I, our marriage renewed as well, are members of a loving and supportive church family where we are making new friends and are in community with people who believe like we do.
This past December I was accepted into the Master Food Preservers Program, offered through UC Davis Extension, and classes started last week. I am back in school learning and practicing another of my interests – home canning and food preservation – while having the opportunity to make even more new friends. I also get to volunteer at local farms, farmers markets, the OC Fair, and more.
Next week, I’ll start my part time job working through Tax Season (February – April) in a local CPA’s office while HomeBoy is at school. Last year when I did this, I REALLY enjoyed not only the work but the people, so when they invited me to come back again, I didn’t hesitate to say, “When do I start!?!”
This morning I’ll be heading out to attend a workshop entitled “Craft Your Creative Vision For 2018”, and then get my hair done. (YES, it grew back and YES, I am blonde again! :) ). I’m looking forward to hearing what the instructor has to say, and how I can take things to the next level because frankly, they are pretty awesome right now. But, greedy wench that I am, I’ll take MORE of the good stuff any day!
The life I live today, this life of freedom, joy, creativity, renewed faith and new friendship, wasn’t something I could “see” 3 year ago. But it was THERE, waiting for me, just as God promised it would be. All I had to do was take one day at a time, keep the faith, keep moving and remember:
It Ain’t Over Yet