Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Fall Curried Stew (recipe)

Yesterday was a busy day, as most weekend days are for us.  In the summer and early fall months, Honey and I are usually working on house or garden projects.  By the time the late fall rolls around it's time for the grape harvest and wine-making season.  Grapes are very demanding little fruits and must be dealt within a small window of time after their harvest.  White wine grapes are particularly labor-intensive, and since this was such a horrible year for the harvest, this year we ended up with only white wine grapes.

Thankfully our new crock pot allows me to put together a meal and forget about it so that by the time we're ready to clean up and eat dinner is actually ready.

This stew was originally meant as a curry, but it ended up with plenty of broth and tasted good as a soup. Normally I create very spicy meals, but this was flavorful without being spicy and so it works as a recipe we can share with others.  I found inspiration for this meal here and here, but the recipe is my own creation.

Ignore the mess!

Happy Fall Curried Stew
1/2 c. lentils (I used red lentils)
1/4 c. split peas
1 large sweet potato (or yam), chopped
1 acorn squash, chopped
2 medium apples, cored and chopped
1.5 lb. spinach
1 onion, diced
2" ginger, peeled ad grated
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 can coconut milk
2 cans diced tomatoes
1.5 c. water
1 tbsp. Madras curry powder
1 tbsp. red pepper flakes
1.5 tsp. tumeric
1.5 tsp. garam marsala
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1.5 tsp. sugar
salt & pepper to taste
We used acorn squash from our garden -- they were really tiny this year!
So two squash from our garden equals about a pound, the size of a
small, store-bought squash.

Layer ingredients on the bottom of the crock pot -- sweet potato, onion, squash, apples, lentils, split peas, ginger, garlic.

Pour canned goods on top (coconut milk, tomatoes).

Add half of the spinach.  It will fill the crock pot but don't worry, it will cook down and you'll be able to add the other half later. (Or, if you're not a huge fan of spinach, just add the 3/4 lb and don't worry about adding the rest.)

Take the empty coconut milk can and fill it half-way with water.  Add the spices (curry, tumeric, garam marsala, paprika, red pepper flakes) and mix to get a paste.  Fill the can the rest of the way with water.  Pour on spinach.

Cook on HIGH for two hours.  Mix and add the rest of the spinach.  Continue cooking on high for another three hours.

Add balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and salt/pepper to taste.  Serve by itself, with garlic bread, or over rice.  Yum!

I used our large (6 quart?) crock pot and it was full of stew. This makes enough for about ten hearty bowls of stew -- so enough for dinner plus leftovers for lunch at work!

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Yesterday was The Cougar's birthday.  I spent it elsewhere, celebrating my own birthday (albeit a week early).  This is the first time in years that we have not celebrated together.  Not too long ago I decided that instead of doing a clean break and getting rid of the friendship (something that I couldn't figure out how to do because our families have been so intertwined for years that the prospect seemed even messier than a divorce), I would just stop initiating.  Anything.  Full stop.  I stopped hearing from her for two weeks.  And then our birthdays arrived.  I made plans for this Saturday, her birthday, and so that meant that she asked if we could go out to dinner on Sunday.  I will go, but I am not looking forward to it, and sometimes I wonder why I continue in this way.  Honey asked if I should just be direct about things and I explained why I was being kind and friendly but not initiating, waiting to see if she asked or could figure out the problem.  The reason is this: in many ways The Cougar is like a 14 or 15 year old.  Her emotional maturity is severely lacking, and while there were plenty of signs there I refused to see if for a long time.  Now that I see it, I'm trying to figure out how to address things in an age-appropriate way.  Young teenagers do not do well with direct confrontation; things really backfire if that's your game plan!  But if they come to you and ask for help or advice, that's when they're finally ready to listen.  I'm still waiting for that with The Cougar.  We may never get there.  I wonder how long the awkwardness will last.  I'm glad Honey and I did something else yesterday.

It was a beautiful day in our city and Honey and I were in downtown with some friends -- the first time in ages we've been downtown together.  On days like this, it's easy to remember why we live in (or near, as the case may be) this city.  When the rain clears and the sun comes out, few places are prettier.

Honey had to take a picture of the pretty plaza.
Of course I may be a bit biased.

Yesterday was an excellent way to celebrate my birthday.  We went to see the film Anonymous with our friends, a lovely couple whose family is like our extended family, and then we stopped by my favorite bar to have a drink during happy hour.  (Who am I kidding? The last time I went out was years ago and this is the only place I know -- but it's lovely and trendy and nationally known for its unique drinks and best of all it's relatively cheap during happy hour.)  Afterwards, we returned to our friends' house for dinner and wine and had a very enjoyable time visiting.  I received the two things that I wanted most for this birthday -- a treadmill (thanks, Honey! :-)) and a fun afternoon/evening with friends.

This morning, Honey received an e-mail from The Crazymaker, who thought that it would be lovely if we'd all go over to her house for dinner on my birthday.  It is very clear that The Crazymaker has no idea what I would like for my birthday, which is, primarily, to be left alone.  Chances are she'd make (or buy, since she can't cook) pork or beef, neither of which I eat (a fact I've been trying to get her to remember for a decade), and we'd sit awkwardly for an hour or two, all the while I'd be thinking "I could've just had a nap. That would be a lovely birthday gift."  Part of me wants to say "No! I'm doing what I want to do!" but the rational part of me realizes that I should not willfully hurt others.  That is why we'll go to The Crazymaker's (although maybe I can convince her that I'll bring pastries and we can just have coffee in the morning together -- a compromise), we'll go out to eat with Honey's family (an ever-so-painful experience complete with a snobby restaurant with overpriced food, stilted conversations, people who don't know what espresso is even though it's been explained every year for three years, and the knowledge that if I contemplated ordering a glass of wine I would forever be condemned to the pit of hell), and then I'll come home and do what I always do -- make dinner, sit down, and have a couple hours to unwind before the week starts all over again.

I have a difficult time learning what is a good balance between being selfish (but feeling sane) and being self-sacrificing (but feeling like I need to be committed).  This year it has been a slow process for me to find that balance and every time I think "Okay, now I've got this," a new situation arises and tests me.  I don't know how to handle everything perfectly.  For now, some compromise will have to be good enough.

UPDATE: I should clarify that I do love my family and Honey's family. They have good hearts.  I just love them all more at a distance, punctuated with brief interludes that remind me why distance is so beneficial. And there are a few members of either side of the family who I love and wish I could see them more often.  Okay. Hopefully that is a helpful explanation.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

"Anonymous" and the Question of Shakespeare Authorship

Roland Emmerich's film Anonymous premiers across the nation on October 28 -- tomorrow.  I am so excited to take friends to see this film because it is the first movie to deal with the question "Who wrote the works attributed to William Shakespeare?"  I was privileged to see the world premier of the film before it made its debut in Toronto and I found it quite enjoyable.  Just look at the preview and you might catch a bit of my excitement.

It is amazing to me the kind of flak that this movie stirred up already -- and most people haven't even seen it yet!  One thing that I noticed is that the reviewers attack the concept behind the film: that an earl wrote the plays and used a commoner as the face of the plays.  That strikes me as odd.  What about the story itself?  If this were 100% fantasy, not set in Elizabethan England, not using historical figures as characters, would reviewers still criticize the plot as a preposterous notion?  Or would they be able to sit back and enjoy it for what it is -- a movie, something that is meant to entertain.  When Shakespeare in Love premiered were people up in arms saying, "Now our children will believe that Romeo & Juliet is based on Shakespeare's life!"  I don't remember that happening...but maybe it did.  Again, I would say, it's a movie.

I am willing to admit that perhaps I just defend the film because I have studied the authorship question for years and don't believe that William Shakespeare from Stratford wrote the works attributed to the Bard.  Maybe that makes me crazy.  Certainly when I mentioned this in passing to a recent acquaintance I received a look of incredulity upon my admission.  But why do we believe Shakespeare wrote the plays?  And why it is so wrong to question that assumption?  Shouldn't we strive to know what we believe and why -- and hope that those beliefs are at least somewhat grounded in logic and reality?

Growing up I was taught that Shakespeare from Stratford-upon-Avon was the Bard. However, once I was in college I started questioning that assumption. As someone who was looking to make sense of her long-held beliefs (about many things), I wondered why or how someone who received relatively little education and who left behind little evidence regarding his life was attributed with writing the greatest plays in the English language -- plays that surpassed even those authored by better-educated contemporaries, such as Marlowe.  After researching theories and learning about Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, I concluded that while authorship cannot be definitively proven, it makes more sense to ascribe the writings to someone like Oxford.

As an educator, I believe that some learning fundamentals and adolescent development have not changed much with the passage of time. Throughout my experience working with students, I was constantly reminded that while students may have innate genius and talents, without a person or a system to support the development of talents and encourage the expression of genius, the talents and genius will give way to more pressing concerns (like "How can I get a job to help my family?"). In Elizabethan England, I find it hard to believe that Shakespeare from Stratford had the time and resources to learn about multiple languages, countries, political intrigues, histories, etc., and then have the time to write in addition to holding a job and providing for his family. 

If, by some miracle, it was possible for Shakespeare from Stratford to read and educate himself far beyond the levels of a countryside grammar school education and he was able to write beautiful works, I wonder why there are not more examples of writers with this level of education writing as Shakespeare's contemporaries. 

It is a nice story and of course one wants to believe that a peasant with little education and experience was able to rise above a hum-drum life and write some of the most beautiful poetry in the world. As Americans, I think we long for the fairy tale that says a bit of talent, a bit of genius, and a bit of hard work is all that is necessary to bring success. Nevertheless, reality is often very different, as we see daily. It might be nice to say that Shakespeare from Stratford wrote the works of the Bard, but I don't buy it.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Recipe: Crock Pot Elk Stew

My obsession with my recently purchased crock pot seems only to grow as time passes. Now I understand why there are blogs devoted to recipes for this marvelous slow cooker tool.  It is lovely to mix a bunch of ingredients together and then ignore them, knowing that over a number of hours they will slowly cook together and make a meal.  Chicken has turned out especially well, easy to shred and full of flavor.  With that success behind me, I decided to tackle a much more daunting hurdle: elk.

Elk, like most game meat, tastes, well, gamey.  When I first made elk, I used plenty of garlic and soy sauce to leech the gaminess from the meat, but there was no disguising the roast for what it was: great for fajitas (where the strong flavors mask the gamey bits), but I wondered what else I could do with it.  At the time, I thought that marinating overnight and/or slow cooking it in the oven could be an option.  Then the package of elk roast was hidden in the freezer, covered by frozen fruits and vegetables, and I forgot about it...until now.

Crock pot + elk + hours of cooking = possible incredible meal.

I found this recipe and a few others for elk stew or elk stroganoff.  I most closely followed the linked recipe but of course had a few of my own variations.

Crock Pot Elk Stew

    Elk roast (I used one package -- maybe that's a pound?) 2 medium russet potatoes, chopped 3 long carrots, chopped 1 yellow onion, diced 1.5 TBSP minced garlic (I like a lot of garlic and it helps mask game flavors) 3 sticks of celery, including leaves, chopped 1 pkg dry onion soup mix 2 cans cream of celery soup (I would've used cream of mushroom but we were all out) 2-3 cans of water
    1/4-1/3 c. low-sodium soy sauce
    1 small acorn squash (from our garden!)
    1 TBSP red pepper flakes (use less if you don't like spice)
    1/2 TBSP chicken bullion powder
    garlic salt (to taste)
    sugar (to taste -- about 1/2 TBSP)

Put soy sauce in the bottom of the crock pot.

Open package of elk meat, rinse it, pat dry, and put in the bottom of the crock pot (over the soy sauce).  Spread garlic over the top.  

Add onions and celery, then sprinkle onion soup mix and other spices (all except garlic salt and sugar) over the top.

Add potatoes, squash, and then pour creamed soup and water over everything.

Cook on high for three hours. Take out the elk and chop it into large (slightly bigger than "bite sized") pieces and return to the pot.

Cook on low for another five hours.

Taste.  Add garlic salt and sugar as needed.  *I also added 1/2 c. Greek yogurt and 2 tbsp. flour in the last hour and then served the stew over pasta like a stroganoff because that sounded good today.

*Tip: 1-3 tsp. of sugar is the secret ingredient in many recipes. It helps to balance the flavors in soups, chili, curries, and other dishes.  Try it! Just start by adding a little bit -- you don't want a savory dish to suddenly be sweet.

P.S. Thanks to the lovely and talented Shiree and her family for the elk!  It's been a treat!  And The Teenager thanks you for saving him from a meatless existence this week. :-)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Busy Bee

Today I get to stand in front of a room full of graduate students and teach.  I am nervous and excited.  I love teaching!  And this is the second half of a workshop (the first half I taught the beginning of the month) and so I know the group, which is good.  It's a paying gig, which is helpful since I'm currently unemployed, although if I calculated how much time I've spent preparing and teaching against how much I'm being paid...well, let's just not do that right now.

Teaching is my life.  I love it.  I especially love teaching when it's a subject I enjoy.  Perhaps that is why I friend suggested last night that I try a new type of business.  She noticed how much I enjoy doing things at home -- cleaning, cooking, canning, gardening, harvesting, baking, crafting -- and said that I was like a professional homesteader so maybe I should see about teaching adults and teens how to do the things that I love.  This is a lovely idea.  I'm not sure how to turn something like this into a business -- most of the time I think "Yeah, but this is all so easy and anyone can do it and I am certainly not a professional and most of the time I'm just winging it."  I worry that someone would discover I am a fraud.  Hey, lady, who do you think you are?  You think you actually have some sort of valuable information to share with people? Who are you kidding? 

Obviously, I have to work on squishing my Critic and Guilt Monster because they are threatening me, undermining my inner thoughts.  But for now I will shove them into a closet inside my mind, ignore them, and think about possibilities.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The phone works both ways...or does it?

Last week I came to the conclusion that I would need to allow my relationship with The Cougar to end.  And although the twelve-months-ago me would have argued vehemently against this relationship ever ending, the last week me knew it was the right thing to do -- just not how to do it.  How does one pull out the cords from lives that have been completely intertwined for years?  (Sometimes, I wish that life came with a life's-messy-problems-seam-ripper.)  After a bit of thought, a bit of talking with an amazing woman I really respect, and a bit of input from Honey (who tends to remain very grounded, especially during my flighty moments), I decided that the best way to let this particular tapestry by The Fates dissolve would be to just not initiate anything on my side of the friendship.

Today I realized that I haven't heard from The Cougar in over a week.

I'm not sure what that means on her end, but I think that it means that my policy of not initiating -- not making sure she has someone to talk to after work, inviting her over for meals, making sure things are taken care of and she has the support to get through life -- is working on my end. The tapestry is dissolving before my eyes.

I have decided to let a quote attributed to Dr. Seuss be my motto in terms of this relationship: Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened.

For me, it truly seems over, although I imagine there will be a state of flux for several months at least. (Of course I imagined that last week and look at how that turned out, so maybe I'm through the flux already.)  This is one relationship where I will still be able to look at old pictures and smile and laugh because the memories are good.  It's just that sometimes memories are not enough to keep something moving in the right direction. And sometimes, when on life's journey with a friend, it's okay to look at a fork in the road and decide to go in separate directions.

I read a quote on Pinterest recently and the quote really resonated with me (I wish I knew who wrote or said it): At some point, you have to realize that some people can stay in your heart but not in your life.

So bear with me for a while as I get nostalgic. Learning to let go is a lesson I have not yet mastered, but it seems that every year I get a chance to work on it a bit more.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Green Tomato Bread

Today, finally, I finished using and preserving the last of the tomatoes.  It's been a horrible year for growing vegetables and our garden's chances were not improved by the two and a half weeks of summer neglect while Honey and I were in Vietnam, so my dreams of hundreds or thousands of pounds of tomatoes did not materialize.  As it turns out, that was probably a good thing -- for this year at least.  After spending all day every weekend either working in the garden or canning -- or both -- for weeks and weeks, I was quite tired of tomatoes. Or anything garden or canning related, for that matter.

Last Monday I attempted to finish the last 50 or so pounds of green tomatoes, but that turned into a frustrating experience.  I thought about throwing the canner through the window but then realized I'd be the one to clean up that mess and so had to find another way to overcome stress.  I ignored the last basket of baby green tomatoes.  Until today.

Green tomatoes make excellent pseudo-apple pie and so I thought about making an "applesauce."  Then I found this recipe for green tomato bread.  A sweet bread that packs a nutritious punch? How could I say no? Of course I had to modify the recipe a bit because...apparently that's just what I do, according to Honey. ("But Honey," I say, "I can make this recipe so much better!" to which the response is always very logical: "How do you know if you don't try the original first?" Sigh...conformists.... ;-)

Green Tomato Bread
1/3 c. canola oil
2/3 c. Greek yogurt
3 eggs
1 c. brown sugar
1 ripe banana
2 c. green tomatoes -- pureed
1 tsp. vanilla
3 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4-1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 c. coconut (opt.)

I love the food processor.  Just remove the stems from the green tomatoes, drop them in whole, and puree.
Be sure to let the tomatoes drain -- like zucchini, they carry a lot of water and you don't want that to dilute your bread.
In a large bowl, mix together oil, yogurt, eggs, sugar, vanilla, banana, and tomatoes.  Then sift in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and spices.
If using, add coconut.  (And of course you're using coconut! Who doesn't like coconut?!) Mix all ingredients together -- don't overmix.

Divide batter and pour into two greased bread pans.  Bake at 350 degrees until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean -- about 45 minutes.
The bread is good, not too sweet but soft and delicious.  Most tomato bread recipes I've seen call for twice as much sugar, so if you like your breads super-sweet then try that.  But I think it's perfect just the way it is.  Yum!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Growing up, growing out

What does it mean to have a best friend for life?  That's a question I've pondered a lot recently.  I still don't have an answer, perhaps because the answer is different for each individual.  As an introvert, I've always thought that it meant I may know a lot of people but I am only close with a few and those few I keep forever.

Sometimes a relationship is simpatico and it doesn't matter if you see the person once a month, once a year, once every five years, and it doesn't even seem to matter if you talk in the interim.  You meet together and instantly it's comfortable and like you've never been apart.  Those are my favorite relationships because they are easy -- the bond is so strong that there's no (apparent) work involved.

Sometimes there is a bond that seems simpatico -- and may in fact be that for years -- and then something happens, life happens, and bonds dissolve.

For me, it's easier to let those bonds slip away when I am separated geographically from someone.  Honestly, I'm such a home body and like taking care of what's in front of me that the extra effort to keep in touch with someone hundreds or thousands of miles away is just too draining.  My energy is needed at home.  This does not necessarily mean that I stop thinking about that person, but chances are we'll drift apart and generally speaking that ends up being okay.

(As a side note, social media like Facebook has really changed this, or at least facilitated an easing of the guilt: "Sure, I know what's going on in so-and-so's life -- I 'like' her posts on Facebook all the time!")

I am not sure how to change a relationship when I am not separated geographically from the other person.  What happens if you realize that life was wonderful with a friend but that it's now time to go your separate ways and yet your lives at this point are so intertwined that you can't even imagine how to do that?

Sometimes close friendships are like marriages (or maybe I should say, more often than not).  It takes time and effort on the part of both parties to maintain the friendship, but more than that it takes commonalities -- similar goals, purposes, ways of approaching life.  In a marriage, especially one that starts very young, there is a real possibility that people will grow up differently and no longer be really compatible.  Honey and I agreed, back before we were married, that if that happened we would do our best to split amicably.  Now, ten years into a marriage, we have talked about how lucky we are that even though we have both changed dramatically in the past decade, we happen to change together.  That cannot be said for the close friendships I've had over that same time period.

Yesterday, I went to speak with a woman I really respect, to share with her what was on my mind.  It was so nice to hear her message: It's okay to grieve for a friendship and It's okay to acknowledge you've grown into different paths and let a friendship go.  When I returned home and prepared dinner, this song played in my head:

I am not saying this has to happen all the time.  But there are times when a friend has chosen behavior that is personally destructive and sticking with that person would bring the destruction into your life.  That's when it's okay to say goodbye.

But I still don't know how to do that.  And so I've got to sit and ponder a while longer.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Babies, babies everywhere

I keep expecting that one year in my adult life there will be a lull in the birth rate of those around me.  Needless to say, that lull has yet to arrive.  And some years seem to be a bit more full than others!  Right now there are a number of people in my life "expecting" (such an odd term).  Bestie #1's little sister is getting ready for her first, I have numerous former students who will deliver sometime between now and next June, and my little sister called to let me know that I will be an auntie for the third time over.  So many babies!  So many gifts to make!  So much anticipation!
Honey likes children when they are old enough to do things he likes --
like throwing poppers on the cement during Fourth of July.
He then likes them to go entertain themselves. 
I get my baby fix by holding the little ones.  While The Teenager believes that my collection of four-legged children is merely a replacement for the two-legged variety, that's not actually the case.  If a child were dropped in my lap because (God forbid!) something happened to the parent/s, of course I would step up to the challenge.  But voluntarily bringing one into the world -- no, thank you.  I have enough teenage and young adult kids to take care of and I am tired all the time.

Instead I will gladly play with babies, talk with toddlers, and teach school age children how to bake, read, clean, build...and then I will gladly hand those children back to their mothers at the end of the day and be grateful for my (somewhat) quiet home.
I'll do silly things to get a baby to laugh.

In or Out

Raising a teenager is not an easy task.  It is infinitely more difficult if the teenager joins a household at age 16, has the manners of a wolf pack, distrust and abandonment issues from a less than ideal childhood, and if the person doing the raising is actually a much older sister who seems a bit more like a step-mother than anything else. Perhaps it is the stress from this situation that is causing my aching bones and lack of sleep.

Two weeks ago Honey and I had a sit-down conversation with The Teenager.  If he wants to live here, we have expectations. After a discussion and an agreement, I felt better.  And then reality struck.  I am caught wondering if The Teenager wants to be here or not.  He could do the same thing that most of his siblings have done -- leave home at 15 or 16, struggle on his own for a number of years and finally find a path (or not find anything and still be a bit aimless at 25).  Obviously I don't want that for him, but I can't make him choose a better path.

The Teenager is extremely rude all the time.  Well, I shouldn't say that.  His attitude has improved somewhat, but it is not anywhere close to acceptable.  Last night was, perhaps, Honey's last straw.  We sat down at the table for our once-a-week-everyone-eats-together-and-talks-like-adults dinner.  The Teenager made it very clear that he did not want to be there at all, that having to sit at a table for 30 minutes was pure torture.  He knows the reasoning behind the dinner and he agreed to participate as a member of this household...but apparently forgot that part of the agreement was so behave like an adult, which means no rudeness at the dinner table.  I gave The Teenager his space and then went to talk with him later about the behavior.  Needless to say, he believes he has a right to be rude because other people are.  He has no empathy and it drives me nuts.  (Let me pause to say I know that ability develops later in life, especially for boys, because of the way their brains develop and I know he buries any sense of empathy because he sees it as a sign of weakness and has some issues from growing up -- knowing those things does not, however, make this any easier.)  Honey told him that being rude -- especially rude to me, since I work so hard to take care of this boy -- is completely unacceptable so he can shape up or get out.  Honey is one of the few people The Teenager actually respects -- and the only person The Teenager has voluntarily apologized to -- so this may make a difference.  But I don't know.

This is much different than dealing with difficult kids in a classroom.  I am used to kids kicking and screaming and being a pain for several weeks until I win them over and then they are my kids for life.  Of course I was not their mother, so that probably makes all the difference in the world.  I can handle those kids.  What makes this different?  And why do I tolerate verbal abuse from this teenager that I would never tolerate in a classroom?  Honey asked these questions and more.  I don't have all the answers.

One answer: I don't like feeling like a failure.  On my bad days, my cranky days, my depressed days I feel that way too often. And sadly, I think that's the way The Teenager views me.  I am a failure in his mind because I have all of this education but no job.  He doesn't see the to-do list that is a mile long every day, doesn't notice that I am constantly moving, always busy, and that the things that I do are meant to keep this house and family running.  For a while, I was upset about this.  Then I realized that he doesn't know what I do unless I tell him, so I've made a point of talking about what I do and why, about showing and telling what happens in a job search, about making the point of household chores clear.  (This may or may not make a dent in the psyche of a teenage boy.)

None of this addresses my real concern: what is going to happen next?  Honey is ready to say this Grand Experiment is not working and pull the plug, although we've agreed to give it a couple weeks.  This thought is very hard for me.  I am willing to do the work to raise a teenager and hope that it sets him on a better path for life, but I can't force him to make good decisions.  And if he leaves to do his own thing I think that I'll be so disappointed and angry at my upbringing and family that led to this mess that I won't want to see anyone for a while...or ever.  I wanted to give this boy a chance, but I know he has to want it for himself.  And I am afraid that getting to him at 16 is just too late.
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