QueQUE? A Day With No Azucar

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I’ve always said that I did not have a sweet tooth, that you could put cake, pie, rich desserts, and the like in front of me, that I would have no problem turning it down, that I was more into salty things like chips, tacos, limon…

That is, until recently.  Especially when I got Covid19, I had no taste and thought to myself, “I’ll eat a piece of chocolate to calm my hunger down” and with the Covid19 insomnia, I would regularly get up at 4am and go into a local donut shop to “buy my Dad coffee” and I would always come out with a cinnamon roll and the like.  Adding to the madness, when I’m sick, comfort food for me has always been cookies.

On the day after Valentine’s Day, which also happened to be Fat Tuesday, I went into Walgreens to buy some paper towels and I came across the super-discounted Valentine Day candy section so I put a bunch of it into my cart, it was 50% off (or more), what was the harm?

I was thinking about Ash Wednesday, Lent, and what would I give up for Lent this year?   I know that this may sound crazy, but I kept hearing a voice in my head telling me to give up sugar.  After all, I was trying to work out and watch what I was eating.  Why should I give up sugar?  It had turned into my little reward…for working out…for handling my responsibilities…for anything.   It almost felt like my mind was fighting for control:  the devil saying ‘keep the candy’, the angel saying ‘you can do it, it’s only 6 weeks’.  A Day with No Azucar, maybe;  but 40 Days with no sugar?!?

In the end, I decided that it must be either God, Jesus, or the VirgenOfG, or a combination of the three who were sending me a message, because I did not want to put my candy on lockdown.  And, thankfully, Covid19 is over for me.  So here I am doing the no sugar thing until Easter Sunday and, while on Day 2, everything I saw looked like chocolate or donuts;  I’ve actually been very peaceful about it, doing pretty good and, dare I say it?  sleeping better, eating better, feeling better.

First week down, five more to go.  Note:  my ‘new’ candy in the picture.

 

My Forever Reclaim My Power Day

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I couldn’t figure out why I was so restless this morning.  Then I saw one of my Facebook memories come back at me:

Feb 15-2013:  It is so true that when you are down to nothing, that God is up to something. A huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders today and there is nowhere left to go but forward. #newdaygodisgood

     A cryptic message as I still had to be careful.  But a momentous occasion that I needed to document.  This was the day that I met the cyberstalker in a court of law.  This was the day that I got justice.  This was the day that I got to get in front of a judge and tell my story.  This was the day that I could start moving forward.
     For some, it’s very easy to get up and stand in their truth.  For me, it was very difficult and complicated.  I knew that, while I did get justice, that I had been through so much emotional turmoil, had to watch as this person contacted employer after employer, one family member after another, friends, coworkers and even random people with whom I had no contact, or even crazier, people whom I had never met.     It seemed a never-ending roller coaster of negativity, hate, vitriol, trying to defame me and bring me down.  I lived with my head down, always ready with an apology for things that I had never done.  It took some time for me to live down that trauma, but I eventually did.
     It seems like a lifetime ago.  I’m super grateful to live in relative peace and joy, something I never thought would be possible.  I’ve also learned how to watch my back and my front and my sides.  I’m super vigilant with social media and things that I like to do.  I will no longer live controlled by the actions of others, it was a very exhausting time for me; trying to control what this person would do or say.  Fruitless and impossible to live that way.
     As I was scrolling my social media, I came across the quote above and it hit home for me.  No way to control the mind and actions of a twisted individual, no way to know when and if he’ll be trying to make contact, comforted in the fact that I have the justice system behind me, living my life, sleeping at night, grateful.
     Certain anniversaries no longer need to be traumatic ones.   Not for me anyway.

Tortillas with Anything

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If there is one thing that I’ve noticed during this pandemic, I’ve kind of reverted to when I lived at home (before I went out on my own).   The difference being, at that time, I wanted nothing more than to get out of here and to start living my own life.   Part of my chores was to cook for our family.  Part of cooking including making tortillas.  I took my turn with my sisters making the masa, rolling the tortillas and cooking them.  There was nothing I liked about this process and, as no one wanted to get their hands all dirty, I usually made the masa and the girls would handle the rest.

Flash forward to now.  We’ve been into the pandemic for 11 months now and, in the beginning, as you recall, it was an ordeal to get into a grocery store and most of them closed super early.   For those first few weeks, doing an evening store run wasn’t a smart thing, thus I started cooking more and more.   Mexican food is the ultimate comfort food for me and I started to work on the bettering the basics, rice, beans, carne con chile, papas, the super simple staples that are in many Mexican homes.     The pandemic has helped me learn to make great pozole verde, caldo, rice, beans, shrimp with garlic and chile, almost any vegetable with chile LOL.  My father especially loves calabacita (squash/zucchini) with chile and meat.

But nothing comes close to homemade tortillas.   If I ask Dad what he feels like eating, he will say, “tortillas”, if my siblings, especially my brothers, come into the house and find out there are tortillas, they react just like Dad.  The tortillas become the main dish, who cares what else I make?  Anything tastes good with fresh tortillas:  eggs, beans, rice, peanut butter and jelly, salsa, mole, cheese, any type of soup or main dish, anything.  I’ve been told that homemade tortillas remind them of Mama, they are the ultimate comfort food, they can say they’ve already eaten, and they’ll always have at least one.

I smiled awhile ago, as I made some tortillas for one of my brothers, I kept a couple for my sister who would be delivering them.   I decided that I “had” to make some more for my other brother and Dad who would be arriving soon LOL.

The was so something my mother would have done.  Or made us girls do.

It’s the simple things that make my family happy.  Me too.

QueQUE? Torres and Daughter

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As I read of the passing of Latino actor Gregory Sierra, who was Julio, a featured character in the classic sitcom “Sanford and Son”, I was reminded of a conversation that my niece held with her mother, my sister.

One night I get a call from my sis who’s laughing, “We were sitting here watching Sanford and Son and your niece says, “Mom, they’re like NinaCarl and Abuelito“.  (some of my lil ones insist on calling me NinaCarl).   I was a little stunned at first and then I had to give in with a smile.  If you’ve ever watched Sanford and Son, you know that Fred Sanford and son Lamont get along in their own special way, with Lamont always on Fred’s case for one thing or another.    My father and I go there, with love, but we do go there.  I’m on him to pick up after himself, to take his meds, to go to bed, to check on him, and, some days, I go crazy with why is it so hot?  look at these floors, Daddy que desmadre?! etc.   My Dad basically turns off the drama when I’m in drama mode and he just listens, I’m sure that I drive him crazy and he’ll go outside or something when I’m going on and on.

Before y’all think that I’m a raving b*&^% all day, NOT the case.  I’m a Daddy’s girl remember, I take care of him and the house, most days, I make him breakfast, lunch, or dinner, sometimes all three and yes, he’s a little spoiled.  And we do have some hilarious conversations at all hours of the day/night.

The other night, as Dad is telling me a story, I wanted to laugh out loud and you’ll see why in a minute.

‘Mija, the boys and I were outside trying to fix the fence and we ran out of hooks and poles.  The boys said that we would have to go buy them tomorrow.  I came to look in all of my junk outside y que crees, I found everything that we needed to fix the fence!” says Dad proudly.  And then he says, “And everyone thinks that why do I need to save all of this stuff all of the time, that I should just throw my junk out, y mira, I just saved us some money and we got the job done!”

Why did I want to laugh?  Because Fred Sanford is a junk man.   So my lil mamita is right, we really ARE like Fred and Lamont.   For sure, we are Torres and Daughter, maybe we could have our own show one day, at least a reality show.

Thank God for my Dad Mike Torres.   Rest in Peace Gregory Sierra.

Care from Heaven

“Amor A Todas Horas”  painting by Simon Silva

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It’s 5am.  I wake up moaning in pain.  Maybe I’ll feel better sitting up versus laying down, so I get up, and yes, it’s a little better but the pain is throbbing and I’m getting more and more nauseous.  I get myself to the bathroom and put my head over the toilet, to start the first of many many vomit sessions.   The pain at my back is intense and I groan as I recognize that I have been here before…it is, very likely, a kidney stone that needs to pass.   I also remember that, the last time this happened, that there was nothing that I could do but help it pass; and I hoped it would pass quickly.

Six hours later, the pain and the vomiting have subsided, the nausea doesn’t feel as bad, and I finally fall asleep.  I spend the entire day in bed, drinking water, juice, and taking pain medication.   And sleeping.

And dreaming.

Every single time I fell asleep, she was there.  I would see her in my dream.  I would wake up thinking, wow, I dreamt her again.  And again, and again, and again.

Every single dream for the next 24 hours featured my mother.  After like the 10th time, in my delirium, I thought to myself, “is it my time yet?”, because you know, folks say that you see your loved ones when you’re about to cross over to the other side.  The pain was so crazy that I figured it might be the end.   But she didn’t seem to be coming for me, she just seemed to be hanging out with me.

At one point, in the dream, we were going to go somewhere and she was waiting for me, I tell Mama, “sorry I wasn’t ready”, she tells me not to worry, that “I’m just here with you.”

It seemed so real.  Maybe it was.  All I know was during the worst part, where I was rolling around in pain praying to God that I would go to sleep, that I was so tired, that maybe Mama decided to hang out to take care of me.    Each time I woke up from a dream, I felt a little stronger, so I’m pretty convinced that Mama really was here.

After I started feeling stronger, I didn’t see Mama again.  I was kind of sad about that but I was also super grateful that I didn’t go through these terrible hours all by myself.   If anyone knew that I have NO tolerance for pain at all, it was Margaret, thanks for being here with me Mama!

2021 has started off with me dealing with health issues, first Covid, now kidney stones.   Mama used to always tell me, ‘you better take care of yourself, or you’ll end up like me’, and my mother had her share of health challenges.  This month has scared me straight, my health WILL be the priority for the remainder of 2021.  I’m still not 100% and I want to be well.  I can, and will, turn things around.

Mama to the rescue.  Again.  And again,  And yet again.

Covid-19 Hits Us Hard in California

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So much happening in this world this week.  So much to talk about.  So much to think about.  So much to write about.

It’s 3:45am and I’m wide-awake, trying to get it together as I deal with Covid 19, just when I think, “ok, todo bien, it’s all good“, then I have a day like yesterday, body aches and fatigue that rendered me completely useless; without the energy to do anything.  I was in bed in various states of sleep, anything to be under those covers.

As I’m watching the early news, I am struck by one of the Covid headlines on the news.  The headline that LATINOS MAKE UP HALF THE COVID DEATHS IN CALIFORNIA.   I shake my head and put my eyes down, it’s sad.  I live in California, I have Covid, I have learned of easily 10 deaths in the past week of people who have died from Covid, all Latinos.

So many of these people are essential workers, healthcare workers, teachers and educational workers, grocery store workers, field workers, workers that are making this country run, workers taking care of our children’s learning and sanity, putting the food on our tables, making sure that the shelves are stocked, delivering things to homes, and being there for the many, many, many people dying of Covid, people who have had to die alone.

Some of these folks are infected because they are essential workers and, sadly, don’t have an option to work from home, and they have to take rides to work in full cars or public transportation.  Add to this, lots of people live in one house, especially as the family rents out rooms or garages to try and make the crazy-high California rents.

Others, however, are still hosting large family gatherings, many with no masks on,  and all I can do is shake my head.  Why don’t they take this seriously? Who knows where everyone’s been?  Who knows who is asymptomatic and is Covid positive?  How can people be around their viejitos KNOWING that they would have a very difficult time should they get Covid?  So many questions that, maybe I took for granted before, but NOW…I really worry for my Dad, for my tias, for myself, for my little ones, for my siblings, for my family.  Especially as we are Latino, we live in California where the daily news now reports how many ICU hospital rooms are available.  Sadly, today there are none available in the area where I live.

Thankfully, my bad Covid days are nowhere near the suffering others are going through, I haven’t had to be hospitalized, I can breathe, I can be at home to get better.  My challenge is to keep a positive attitude,  be patient, stay out of ‘freak-out’ mode and to concentrate on getting better.

Stay safe y’all.   Wear Your Mask.  Wash Your Hands.  Stay 6 Feet Away from Others if you have to go out.

It’s Still Our Christmas…Feliz Dia de Los 3 Reyes Magos

Just took this picture of our Torres Fam Christmas Nativity Scene

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El Dia de Los 3 Reyes Magos/Epiphany is celebrated throughout Mexico and Latin America for sure, as well as many places in the world on January 6th.  Epiphany marks an event in the life of Jesus Christ:  The remembrance of the biblical story when the Three Wise Men, Melchor, Gaspar and Baltazar, visited Baby Jesus and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 

In addition to receiving gifts on Christmas Eve, children also receive gifts from the 3 Reyes Magos on January 6.  It is also customary to eat Rosca de Reyes, symbolizing the crown of the 3 Kings, a wreath-shaped fruit bread baked with a figure of baby Jesus inside. The person who finds the figurine of baby Jesus inside his or her share of the sweet bread, symbolically “becomes” Jesus’ godparent and is responsible for providing tamales for all on February 2nd, Dia de La Candelaria/Candlemas Day.  Feb 2nd celebrates the official end of Christmas season as well as the presentation of the child Jesus; Jesus’ first entry into the temple; and it celebrates the Virgin Mary’s purification.  It’s always fun trying to see who gets the “baby” in the Rosca!

I learned about the importance of this celebration in my radio/events work, I have worked MANY Dia de Reyes Celebrations.  Beautiful family events all.  However, in our house, we never really did the Rosca de Reyes or leaving the shoes out for gifts tradition.  However, our Christmas tree and/or decorations, never came down before January 6th and the day was a really special day for us.

For many years, we have ALWAYS held our Torres Fam Christmas celebration on January 6th.     I remember, for a while, Mama had us opening gifts when “Daddy got home from the gig” on December 24th, which would be like 3 or 4 in the morning of the 25th.  I know that she was happy once she decided we would celebrate on Epiphany as she always enjoyed it when it was a “just us” celebration, removed from the hustle, bustle and musical obligations of the December holidays.

Now that Mama has passed, we still love to celebrate our “Christmas” on January 6th and our Christmas is very different than people would think…in public, we are always the organizers, running the show, making it happen etc.  Not on January 6th:  we always have a very low-key, relaxing, brunch or dinner, pray, and exchange gifts.   I remember our Ita enjoyed it too.  I like the fact that we don’t have to be “on”, that we can be completely be ourselves, and enjoy each other’s company.  It took me a long time to relax enough to enjoy my most important gifts of all, my family.  

Well worth it.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 

El Año Viejo -or- Pa’ Todo el Año? You Decide… Happy New Year!

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As the clock gets closer to midnight, closer to the New Year, so many thoughts of 2020 flood my mind, 2020 was unprecedented, that’s for sure.  The Coronavirus Covid 19 Pandemic rages on after more than 9 months, our lives have completely changed almost overnight.  With no real leadership from the White House, it is as if it is every man for itself, death tolls rising on a daily basis, with the amount of people testing positive, including me, in the millions. This was an Election Year for the ages, it was the classic good vs. evil battle in so many ways, black vs. white, immigrant vs. ‘Americans’, Trump vs. the World, Republicans vs. Democrats, haves vs. have nots, rich vs. poor, health vs. politics.  It has been complete madness to watch how racism, nepotisim, sexism, have divided not only the country, but the individual states, cities, towns, ranchos, friends and families alike.

I struggled to find something, anything, that could bring people together at the end of the year, to bring happiness, hope, and even acceptance of our current circumstances.   Then it hit me, music.  A great song knows no boundaries, no barriers, no colors.  We can enjoy a great song together, we can dance to a great song, we can laugh or cry to certain songs.  

The Torres Household has always been all about music.  So I thought about the songs that we hear at New Years Eve/New Years Day.  There are so many songs in English and Spanish, for this post, it will be Spanish songs all the way.

Both of these songs are super c l a s s i c  holiday songs in Spanish. 

If you’re out at a New Year’s Eve party or dance, you are sure to hear the classic cumbia “El Año Viejo”.  Even if you tell yourself you’re not going to dance, it is impossible to not get into this infectious beat, you’re at least nodding your head or tapping your feet to “El Año Viejo” which sings about everything that the old year has brought to this person’s life and how it will never be forgotten.  This is a happy way to be thankful for what the old year brought you and what awaits you in the new year.

Now if you’re in the mood to drink your way into the new year, what better way with a mariachi, some type of adult beverage, and a song to belt out your sadness at the loss of a great love, then this situation calls for you to hear “Pa’ Todo El Año” the classic ranchera written by the legendary Mexican composer Jose Alfredo Jimenez, the perfect song to get your grito on with tears running down your face. 

I like to think of “El Año Viejo” as the classic party song where all is fun and then you break up or have a fight at that party with the one you love, and then it’s all about crying time to “Pa’ Todo El Año” at the end of the night.  Either way, these are two songs that will help you ring in the New Year.  You figure out which one works for you.

Enjoy different takes on these great songs below…as 2021 approaches, choose your favorite.  I think that for me, today, right now, I’m more of a ranchera girl, I will take Pa Todo El Año, as I am over 2020 and this song allows me to use the f word, cry, scream, and say adios to this wild year and onto the new year.   Si o No?

¡Feliz Año Nuevo!  Happy New Year 2021 

 

 

– Tony Camargo

El Año Viejo – Oscar de Leon

Pa’ Todo El Año – Javier Solis

Pa’ Todo El Año – Jose Alfredo Jimenez and Lucha Villa

Pa’ Todo El Año – Little Joe y La Familia

Ode to my Chanclas

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My favorite shoes in the entire world.  Just as I started writing this post, I am interrupted by an envelope I received in the mail, with a gift from my friend Rebecca…with these awesome ‘concha’ slippers, (conchas are the classic Mexican pan dulce)

Chanclas.  Some folks call them flip flops or slippers, pan-tu-flas, chanclas with fur. Love them all.

You know how it is when you absolutely have to get out of your work clothes and take the bra off?  That’s exactly how my feet feel every day.  You better know I always keep a pair of chanclas in the Jeep, in my overnight bag, and sometimes in my work bag LOL.  I can be found trading chanclas for shoes for work situations and then BACK to chanclas. My ankles and feet are the first thing to heat up all of the time so I’m convinced that my body heat generates from there so I am always much more comfortable with my ankles and feet exposed to fresh air 24/7.  I have become that woman, that woman who wears SOCKS with chanclas with my mevalemadre attitude firmly intact LOL.  I have that chancla tan line that I hate but I just can’t quit wearing them.

At the Ranch, I used to go barefoot 24/7 and have walked out there descalza in the rain, jumping in search of cool grass in the heat, and in cold. I have stepped in all types of matter:  dirt, lodo (mud), water, bugs, spit, animal feces, and finally drew the line when Dad put gravel all around the driveway – any kind of rocks, especially in the heat, made me finally put on shoes before going outside in the yard.

I must confess, I have never yet taken one of my chanclas off to throw at or to hit someone as many of my ancestors have done.  I remember that just seeing one of my aunts holding a chancla in her hand was ENOUGH for settle us kids down and put us all in line.  It’s not the actual ACT of throwing the chancla, it’s the anticipation of pain and suffering that we all fear.  It’s remembering things that our parents SAID as they took the chancla off of their foot and put that mighty weapon in their hand…that talking out each syllable as they get ready to whack you…Que-te-dije-I-told-you-not-to-act-up!

Instead of seeing chanclas as weapons, however,  I see them as the ultimate comfort zone,  my instant attitude adjuster, my stress reliever, my ‘aaaah’ moment after a long day.

Con o sin socks, nothing beats my chanclas.

 

The Midnight Prayer

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Flashback to when Mama was in a care home and it was the middle of the night, I was usually the one who took the overnight shift, as we never left our mother alone in the home, ever.   Usually she would be awake for a little while and then sleep, I rarely slept and basically kept watch over my mother.

On this particular night, we were awake and watching TV.  We kept hearing a buzzing sound coming from Mama’s roommate’s bed.   Her curtains were closed so we couldn’t see anything. The nurses would come in and out and the sound would be gone.   After awhile, we must have fallen asleep and I remember being woken up by a flurry of activity:  nurses coming in and out, the sound of the curtain being open and closed, rolling sounds of equipment being brought in/out.

When the nurses closed Mama’s curtain, she and I looked exchanged looks.  We could hear something happening but we didn’t hear anyone saying anything which was strange.  We spoke with our eyes, as if to say, “what’s going on?” “I don’t know” “there’s a lot going on” “should I ask someone what’s happening?” “do you think that the lady is alright?”  And then, just like that, all of the movement stopped and all was silent.  I remember asking Mama, “OMG do you think she died?”

Our curtains were still closed and I was afraid to open them.  I asked Mama what we should do and her answer was “pray for her” so I started to pray and when it was Mama’s turn, she says, “I pray that she is able to walk with the angels to her eternal home” and she tells me that each prayer gives folks the strength to take another step and that it was important that those who have passed are able to hear our prayers as they pass from one world to another.

After awhile, the nurses opened Mama’s curtain and I asked if the lady passed, the nurse nodded ‘yes’.  Mama and I sat together for the longest time and, again exchanged looks as if to say, “it’s a good thing we prayed for her” and I was sad, sad that this woman had to die basically alone in the middle of the night.   Mama tells me that the lady didn’t die alone, we were with her and maybe that was God’s plan, that we were there to help her find her way back home.

As I read and hear so many stories of people dying alone of Covid19, it’s sad and it’s scary.   So many individuals and families affected, so many who don’t get the gift of closure.  I hope that someone somewhere is praying for them, Mama always believed that our prayers can reach anyone, anytime, anywhere.

Tonight, at Midnight, I’ll do a prayer for anyone who needs it…