Rainbow Club!

In belated honor of Kimber's birthday on the 27th, I'm posting this delightful and delectable club sandwich recipe from last summer. It's fresh and bright and color-laden -- everything you could want from a savory summer slice. Charity was the mastermind behind the recipe, but I took all the pictures, so I'm calling dibs. As you might have guessed, intense saturation outweighed intense flavor as the primary objective of this dish. The good news is, with Charity in charge, the sandwich tasted as good as it looked. Details below.

Ingredients (as far as I remember them)

something white like clouds (we used goat cheese)
something red (roasted beets)
something orange (Charity's sweet potato hummus + sliced sweet potatoes)
something yellow (pickled beets)
something green (Charity's green sauce + a pile of basil)
something blue, indigo and/or purple (we used thinly sliced onions, lightly pickled. I imagine a blue potato salad could work wonderfully here as well)
a loaf of good light bread, sliced lengthwise

So the order goes: slice of bread  (white) slice (red)  slice (orange) slice etc, all the way down the rainbow. The fun thing about club sandwiches is how much you can play with them (that would make them fun, wouldn't it?). Come up with you own color or flavor or bread schemes and then layer away. The regular slices of bread work like support beams to hold the whole thing together, even as you stuff it with more goodness than any one sandwich ever deserved to hold. And that's all the more reason to be extra generous with fillings and spreads, ensuring deliciousness and avoiding dryness in your final product.

Once you're done stacking, give the whole thing a good smoosh and cut it into more manageable pieces to reveal the kaleidoscope colors inside and share with friends. Or eat the whole thing alone in the dark. I've found both approaches very fulfilling at various periods in my own life.

If you're so inspired, I'd love to hear about your favorite, brightly hued spreads and vegs for the next time I *cough* Charity *cough* undertake to make this bite. Maybe to celebrate DC's Pride Parade on the 11th? Eh? Chary? You in?

Leave a comment with your own ideas for colorful sandwich fixins' so we can all build beautiful, precarious, delicious bread towers together 🌈 🌈 🌈



Why have the last 6 months been so awful?

On a Sunday in January, I sat down by a friend of mine. He introduced me to the woman sitting next to him who promptly asked if the past four months had been awful. I thought it an odd question; I had barely learned her name. But she was right. Starting in September, things had been rocky - leading to what had been one of the most challenging periods since my transplants. After letting her know this, I added "It's alright. I've decided 2016 is going to be amazing." "Don't hold your breath." She responded, "I practice Kabbalah and it's a Jubilee year. All sorts of trash is going down before the Jewish year comes to a close this time". I nervously laughed and relegated the conversation to the back of my mind. Later that week I was diagnosed with cancer. 

All this is to say that, while I know it's been a challenging time for me and Yoni, I know we're not alone. As our second week of radiation and our second round of chemo come to a close, it's strange how close those challenges are striking. Just this past week, we had a truly lovely dinner with the Mom of Corban's best college buddy along with two sisters and wonderful musicians from DC who are studying at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Per chance, one of them ended up in the ER for most of the weekend and is back there today with a terrible infection. In the past few months, I've met more people who've dealt with serious medical, emotional, financial or personal problems than I have for a long time. And it's been crazy random.  A bunch of friends have had their identities stolen. Another friend's son was diagnosed with autism. A childhood friend randomly died in his sleep of a heart attack. Other friends are facing serious fertility issues - while others are battling different kinds of cancer. Financial challenges, troubles with faith and serious questions about marriages - the list could go on. It's been a crazy few months.

It reminds me a bit of 2008/9 when I had my darkest year on record. My father and grandfather died two months apart. My health deteriorated and I couldn't return to my friends or career in Europe. I received my first transplant and was in a coma for over a month. But I believe hard times can set the stage for the wondrous to unfurl. During my last horrible year, I fell in love for the very first time. That man is now napping beside me. This year, we will have been very happily married for 5 years. Corban and Liberty also found the loves of their lives that year. This year, they'll both bring little boys into the world (Libby's is coming LITERALLY any day now. We're SO excited, I just wish I could be with her!). 

So today, when my musician friend texted to tell me she was back in the hospital, I wanted to help. The problem was Yoni and I were supposed to be in the hospital all day for chemo and radiation. We texted back and forth for awhile, until I realized that sometimes we're not able to help how we want to. But maybe we know someone who can be of service. I called my mom, who's in Denver with Libby. Soon, she was on the phone with my friend's mom, the nurses and doctors at the other hospital. She navigates bureaucratic red tape as well or better than anyone and, after a number of hours, was able to help them find the information they needed. It didn't make my friend well. But I hope that at least it let her know she wasn't alone. When Kathy and Cathy, an old and new friend from Cleveland opened their homes to me and my family here in Cleveland, they let me know that they're with me. When I opened the teas from Mary, the sweets from Libby, Katie and Jon, the beads from Corban, Kimber, Mercina, Mom, Glorianna and Narae, the shoes from Shiloh, the paints from Dulcia and Mimo, the coloring books from Kizzy, Emily, Glorianna, the Swetts and the Dorons, the stained glass from Eva, the jewelry from Lori, the bread from Elaine and Nancy, the dinners from Mary Joy and Jovy, the sweets from Sui or the flowers from Jeannette, Margot, Nancy, Justin, Helen, Bill, JP and Tam, it didn't make me well, but it did make me feel loved. 

While this certainly isn't the most articulate post in my personal history, I guess my point is two fold. First, if this is a hard year for you, you're in good company. If you look a little bit, you'll see that there are plenty of people struggling along with you. Second, the best panacea is reaching out. When we reach beyond ourselves, when we serve others, mourn with others, love others during the dark night of their soul -- bonds of friendship and love are built that make joy sweeter and sustain us during our own shadows of death. The woman at church was right. This has been an exceptionally trying year. Between everything else that's happening, the next 6 months are going to be a wild ride. But the love that you have heaped upon me has replaced my fear with hope -- even confidence. While the trash might be raining for a while yet, I think it's going to a compost pile that will lead to things of true beauty -- even wonder. 

Have a wonderful week.




Felicia's Angel

I pride myself on angelic awakenings from surgery. I'm happy to be awake, to be alive, to see my family. It's not that I plan on it, it just always ends up happening.

This time was different.

My eyes open and a giant, white snake thick as a pudgy child's arm emerges from my mouth where it wriggles out entirely. It's a breathing tube. For the last two days I've been lost amidst a sea of black far more quiet than the terrifying scenes that filled my dreams during the transplants. This time, waking up was what I was afraid of. Letting out a heaving breath, I reach towards my mouth. I can feel the stitches. 

The cancer invaded the nerve. 

I begin to thrash. Mom tries to comfort me, explaining there's no trache -- I can breath on my own. So I begin to cry. No, the nurse assures me. My nerve wasn't invaded. I bite down, and the right edge of my mouth curls into a smile. During the pre-op meetings, the surgeon explained if something was wrong with the nerve, the plastic surgeon would take a tendon from my thigh and attach it to the edge of my smile and the corner of my eye so when I clench my teeth, I'd make a smile. Either the nurse didn't know or she was lying. Then again, I can blink. Maybe they preserved some of the nerve? 

This isn't my first brush with a major medical challenge. At 20, I was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary hypertension. After five years and some personal challenges, my health went into decline and I needed a lung transplant. After a year, I rejected the graph, necessitating a second transplant. Since then, life has been relatively quiet, but last fall that began to change. Since doctors removed a nasty facial tumor last November, I've been assessing how physical appearance, race and beauty have shaped my life and my diseases. The Gabor Sisters are my cousins and when we were younger, Mom, my great grandma and me all took our turns as reigning beauty queens. My parents wouldn't buy us Barbies growing up and I wasn't allowed to wear makeup until I was nearly 16, but beauty was still a big deal in my house. Whatever happened, I was used to walking into a room and being cherished. When people found out that I was hard working, friendly and caring, that only confirmed a bias shaped more by my pageant-procured makeup skills than any virtue I had cultivated. When I began feeling pain in my jaw a month ago, I never imagined the fast growing mass which followed was cancer -- or as I found out early the following week, parotid gland cancer. I never imagined how it could change my face. At 4am in that dark ICU, I realized that bias along with my mega watt smile would never be the same. "You can't understand!" I sobbed at my gorgeous mother. She tried to reason with me before retreating, letting me explain my woes to my husband. A pretty 30 something nurse walked in, hoping to calm me down. "You don't understand" I repeated, over and over as she tried to assure me that in fact, she does. Her insistence, only serves to infuriate me further. I outline my lists of virtues against my challenges. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a nurses's aide. A tear falls from the side of her eye. The nurse walks away and I sit in my bed, defeated and sad. The aide steps in front of me. Pretty and about my height and a little slimmer, she crouches down. "I can't understand what it's like," she says, crouching down to my level and crying a few tears, "but if I can help, I'm here."

She stayed there, holding my hand for a few minutes more before asking to take my blood sugar. 

A few hours later, I was discharged to the step-down unit. Just as the movers arrived to take me to another hospital floor, the nurse's aide ran into the room. "what you said -- most people don't understand most things, but they think they do. This is for you. She'll watch over you. I'll pray for you." 


She stands about five inches tall, with skin painted a few shades darker than mine and a few shades lighter than Felicia's. This hasn't been my most heroic performance. I've been far from angelic. But Felicia reminded me that even in our darkest hours, there are angels among us. 

Thank you to EVERYONE who has supported me and my family through this difficult times. Your time, flowers, packages, well wishes, prayers and love have sustained me. I'll try to keep you updated. With much love, Charity




What Kind?

What kind of cake would you be?

Kimber  - lush, tart,  gracious  Double Chocolate Layer Cake with Spicy Chocolate Ganache, Spiked Whipped Cream and Liqueur Soaked Cherries   ( source )

Kimber - lush, tart,  gracious

Double Chocolate Layer Cake with Spicy Chocolate Ganache, Spiked Whipped Cream and Liqueur Soaked Cherries 


Charity - bright, cheery, fabulous   Layered Pavlova Filled with French Vanilla Butter Cream and Passion Fruit Puree  ( source )

Charity - bright, cheery, fabulous 

Layered Pavlova Filled with French Vanilla Butter Cream and Passion Fruit Puree


   Liberty - complex, spicy, golden  Browned Butter Ginger Cake with Mango Curd, Chai Frosting and Cayenne Chocolate Drizzle      ( source )


Liberty - complex, spicy, golden

Browned Butter Ginger Cake with Mango Curd, Chai Frosting and Cayenne Chocolate Drizzle    


Mercina- elegant, understated, enchanting    Amaretto Cake with Pear Preserves and Champagne Buttercream  ( source )

Mercina- elegant, understated, enchanting  

Amaretto Cake with Pear Preserves and Champagne Buttercream


Glorianna - colorful, unconventional, witty   Tiered Funfetti Cookie Dough Ice Cream Cake with Pop Rocks  ( source )  WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Glorianna - colorful, unconventional, witty 

Tiered Funfetti Cookie Dough Ice Cream Cake with Pop Rocks





Away we gooooo!!!

A few weeks ago, Liberty, Premal, Tom and I headed to Glenwood Springs for their annual Hot Air Balloon Festival. It was a long drive (nearly four hours), but driving through an unusually lush Colorado was actually a real treat. Whenever I come home I can't help but be in awe of just how beautiful this state is. Because call time for the hot air balloons was at 6am, we drove up the night before and camped out at a pretty little campsite a few miles from where the balloons were supposed to launch. Despite Premal and Tom's best efforts (Liberty and I stayed in the car and ate cookie butter while they constructed the tent), we were not comfortable. But apart from a less than perfect night's sleep, we had a blast. I felt like a kid in a candy store. Everything was so vibrant and everyone was so knowledgeable and solicitous about answering our questions (can you believe the two matching balloons were homemade by one of the pilots?!!!). Needless to say, we are definitely coming back - and may even visit New Mexico's festival this fall! 

hotairballoon colorado
hot air balloon the twins



Hi, I'm Glorianna.

This graphic is upsetting. I get that. But it's a question I feel forced to ask myself in light of recent events. For perspective, I've linked to the "I'm a Mormon" profile I wrote several years ago. I didn't have doubts then. I have doubts now.

This graphic is upsetting. I get that. But it's a question I feel forced to ask myself in light of recent events. For perspective, I've linked to the "I'm a Mormon" profile I wrote several years ago. I didn't have doubts then. I have doubts now.

"I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints." So goes the song Mormon children have been honking out in Primary Programs across space and time. "I belong to" -- what an endearingly possessive little phrase. Some people think it's indoctrination, but I've always found it more comforting than cultish. The Church has me. I'm supposed to be here. It's drawn its initials and telephone number onto the tag of my shirt with permanent marker so I'm easily returned if ever misplaced. Because the Church is just a place where people belong. The claim is pretty integral to its whole thesis, when you think of it: each person is a child of God; God loves His children; He wants every single one to come back and be with Him. If the Mormon church really is the tool God uses to achieve this ultimate aim, then people belong there. I do, you do, everyone does.

But Thursday night, news outlets broke this story. The Church has now proactively excluded gay couples and their children from its fold.  They've taken aside those families and told them "No. You do not belong to us."

My religion is now at odds with the values it has instilled in me from infancy. This inconsistency has left me confused, scared, frustrated, infuriated, concerned. All of the bad feelings. Think of it this way: Mormonism is a 100,000-piece Bob Ross jigsaw puzzle of the snow-topped Rocky Mountains. I love the picture on the box. It gives me warm tingly feelings in my belly. I've been working on putting the puzzle together for the past 22 years. The process can be challenging, but on a deep level it makes sense to me. As the years go by, I fit more and more of the pieces together -- and at very least I can see how every empty edge must have a mate jumbled somewhere underneath the huge pile I've yet to assemble. Then, Thursday night, some old dude (let's call him Neil) walked up to me, tossed a shark tooth onto my pile, and said "here is another piece to put into your puzzle lol bye." NO NEIL. NO. I CAN'T PUT THAT IN MY PUZZLE. WHY? BECAUSE IT'S A F☃CKING SHARK TOOTH THAT'S WHY. JUST BECAUSE YOU'RE OBSESSED WITH OCEAN PREDATORS DOES NOT MEAN I CAN FIT A SHARK TOOTH INTO MY ALPINE-THEMED JIGSAW PUZZLE. Anyway, thanks to Neil, I now have a stupid shark tooth floating around my otherwise-groovy jigsaw puzzle. It hides out and jabs my fingers whenever I try to reach for new pieces. Do I ignore it? Do I throw it out? Do I give up on the puzzle? Or worse, do I try to fit the shark tooth into the puzzle -- poking and stabbing it into other pieces until they become mangled enough to accommodate the foreign body? To stop with the weird-butt metaphors and make my point, this new policy (policy NOT doctrine policy NOT doctrine policy NOT doctrine *starts hyperventilating*) simply does not fit with the Mormonism I know and love. It's made of other stuff entirely.*

I had the sister missionaries over on Thursday night, before I learned about any of this. For their spiritual thought they asked me to reread Elder Nelson's talk, A Plea to My Sisters -- one of my favorites from this past General Conference. In it, he exhorts the women of the Church to make our voices heard. He tells us "we need women who know how to make important things happen by their faith . . . who are courageous defenders of morality and families." This is me trying to be that, Elder Nelson. This is me speaking up. I love the brethren's good counsel. I'm grateful for their inspired leadership. But I do not accept this new policy. I once heard Elder Holland say that the Church can withstand a little false doctrine; what it can't tolerate is an absence of Christlike love. This new policy combines both of those things at the highest levels. It's a big old crack in the edifice of my religiosity.

So, dear brethren, fix this. Please. I'm not asking on behalf of gay people. Not for their children, either. This is a totally selfish request. Fix it for me because I'm afraid of leaving the place where I've learned the truest things I know. Fix it for me because I don't think I can become a bigot-by-association with an institution which proceduralizes discrimination against families.  I don't know how you're going to do it -- the past days haven't exactly given me faith in your collective judgement -- but fix this because, right now, you're the only ones who can. You're my best hope against total despair. Please get this church back on the right track and please do it soon.

In preparation for a talk I'm giving next Sunday, I was googling the word 'meek' (I was thinking of doing this totally cool thing where I, like, *define* meek in my talk by, like, using the *dictionary* definition?!). One of the first things that pops up is a hella-corny needlepoint of the phrase 'If you think being meek is weak, try being meek for a week.' I'm going to take that sign as a sign. I'm going to try to give you time. I'm going to try to be forgiving and long-suffering and obedient. But don't expect me to ever fall in line with this bullshit and don't expect me to wait quietly for you to clean it up. Sorry for cursing. But seriously. This shit's fucked up.



*This isn't to say the church has never done stuff in the past which doesn't jive with me. There's a long list of non-groovy policies, practices, and decisions that I could lay out here. But somehow this one's combination of unnecessarines, contemporariness and officialness (← all made-up words) is especially galling. It's implementation reflects directly on the judgement of the present Church's presiding authorities.