Always, watch the road.

The road spans convexly, and if I dared to pedal along its edge, dandelions and grasshoppers would greet my fall. The hill below, slanted and harsh, takes the clumsy to a charming enclave. Dispelling the occasional cowrie shell, the Pacific Ocean kills. I remember the newspaper headlines – “Two Young Marines Swept out to Sea Watching Typhoon Bart.”

Early March with cloudy weather. Not a bit too sweltering. Like any other Saturday, I slipped into tights from Kindergarten, snapped on a helmet approved to protect the precocious musings of fourth graders. I turned ten three months ago, but only outgrew training wheels days before that. Normalcy and friendships formed like calluses. A death grip on my handlebars. To a few special people was I securely attached.

Spinning my legs like spokes of wheels made me forget about math tests, and speeding was a crime to commit unpunished before turning sixteen. I squeezed my brakes in excess force, but the jolt in itself electrified.

I biked on the inside of that road, defying oncoming traffic. In this part of the world, the right lane’s left, and vice versa. Five minutes into the ride, and I roll across a thick pile of rope. Perhaps a deflated tire.

But tires are not sold in shades of yellow green. And ropes do not hiss, their ends not triangular. Neither possesses the capacity for pain. Neither makes a sound. And neither leaves you dead, or with legs unable to spin.

How I escaped a snakebite.

I slept on a windowsill, but not on my own sofa.

Last night, I sat on the sofa
while Mom’s friend from work,
without shame
went ahead and dug her toes into my back

So I’m fluffy. Not an excuse.

She proceeded to tickle my head,
tamper with whiskers I need
I can only hope,
Mom, don’t give her the scissors

Fat. But not a toy.

I continue to sit on my special end
No, my name isn’t Sheldon
Toes, the midnight snack of choice
Thus Mom named me Devilspawn

She wouldn’t leave, and stayed the night
Kicked me to the sill in the midst of Pomeranian dreams
Nothing I’d really like
But please, do bleed, as I succeed in puncturing your foot

Mom, I love you and all,
but coworkers aren’t roommates.

Cat No. 7 of the 500 Cats Project

Recalling Times of Joy – New Year’s Eve, 1999

I proceeded to fold my 43rd paper dove, poking its core with a needle, stringing teal glass beads along a chord from which good fortune would dangle from my sister’s bedroom door frame. Every December our television blared a special – how other countries welcomed the year to come. 2000 doves, released into the eve of our new millennium. In synchrony and independence, they fluttered in formation, mirroring phases of a constant moon.

A plate of spaghetti, dashed with pepper. A maternal tradition, banana ketchup her secret, beloved spell. The fork twirls through strands of gold, like my paper doves when kissed with a draft invited by an open window. I chew, thinking about the can walking stilts we made in class before winter break. Visiting Auntie would wait until summer. For now, I slurp up this dinner my cousins are eating too.

It’s quiet outside, and no one’s here but the four of us, in a clean house. Grapes, oranges, pears, bananas. Perched on the dining table. Ripe and uneaten. No one can answer my question about whether avocados are vegetables. I walk away knowing that eating them makes you live to be one hundred twenty.

The canvass of night glows golden. Our neighbors begin to sing – a song I learned to play on a recorder in music class:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And auld lang syne

Saying goodbye to flowers grown stale, I jump for godsends.

“Fragola Granola”

I take many sayings a bit more seriously than I should, but I admit I can be a bit dismissive when people say that breakfast is truly the most important meal of the day. It’s time I take this to heart, and go back to some wonderfully simple treats I made a long time ago, now that I’ve purchased a blender. What you see is “Fragola Granola”. It’s a smoothie of sorts, topped with your favorite brand of granola, cereal, chopped fruit, or any other of your preferred toppings. I can see this being liked by children and teens during the bustle of busy mornings. I can also think of several adults, including myself, who could use a quick, nutritious breakfast made in ten minutes’ time.

The recipe: 

1 1/2 cups of skim milk (or whole milk. You can always customize).

1 cup of Strawberry Gelato (use your favorite brand. I typically buy my local grocery store’s generic kind. There are low-fat varieties too).

1 Tablespoon of Laura Saddler’s Natural Peanut Butter (the texture is lovely, almost like a peanut butter milkshake. Try it! But Jiff and Skippy do the job too).

1 medium-sized banana (not the one you use as a comedy phone).

NOW: 

Mix these ingredients in a blender. For something smooth and milky-like, blend on high. For a treat that resembles a smoothie or healthy shake, blend on low to medium. Blending usually takes me 2 to 3 minutes no matter the consistency I want.

Lastly, top this creation with your favorite granola. Or, let me restate: Your favorite cereal, chopped fruit, a dash of cinnamon, and even chocolate syrup for a decorative touch and a dash of decadence.

Breakfast can be a chore, and is often overlooked. But don’t underestimate its importance, especially as you grow older!

Do you eat breakfast regularly? If so, what do you usually eat? 

I am not trying to creep on you.

Within this apartment complex
I’m known as Little Timothy
hiding from the mastiff
who waits for me below

Within this latticed shelter
is an opening, through which
squabbles can be seen
from balconies so near

I promise that I flinch
when you walk in all your glory
emerging from your shower
curtains unknowingly parted

I promise that I sleep
in the face of your conspiracy
so if anyone asks,
I stay curled up, an unreliable witness

Within this northwest quadrant
food remains aplenty
all the Chinese takeout
best among the town’s

Within this fickle world
where mostly, the sky is cloudy
I remain within my station
Wordless at your folly

I promise
I assure
I guarantee
that I am not a spy

*Cat No. 6 of the 500 Cats Project

Turn hamburgers into healthburgers, with spinach!

Sinking into the juiciest of hamburgers can be quite an awesome experience, though I see and eat them all too often. Is it too many barbecues, my textural sensitivities, my being long accustomed to American food? Or is it that I’m too lazy to make the trip to a proper grocery store to gather the goodies for great eats? Probably the latter.

I’ve chosen to liven up the burger with a vegetable I used to fear as a child. Spinach. Stressed a bit more than I was at, say, five years of age, I surely could benefit from a little more spinach. A lush handful of vitamins and minerals, regulation of blood pressure that tends to soar when someone’s a bit too dumb, a boost to the immune system in the face of flu. I’m in. Also, my skin needs life. Spinach, I trust in you!

Here, I list steps to make fantastic spinach burgers. Perfect for vegetarian gatherings, church and school celebrations, and the workplace. As New Year’s approaches and resolutions to live healthier run wild in blogs and color the pages of personal journals, now would be an opportune time to try this recipe.

The Foods You Need

1 bag of thawed and well drained chopped spinach. While this one is organic, it doesn’t necessarily have to be!

Two egg whites. Here’s someone with nice, clean nails making the great separation.

Featured in its simplicity, 1 whole egg. No separation of yolks and whites.

1/4 cup of diced onions. Stay strong, and chop on.

1/2 cup of shredded cheese. What cheese you should use totally depends on what YOU like. I prefer cheddar. Some like Monterrey Jack.

1/2 cup of breadcrumbs. I’ve used crushed croutons as well and the result is just as great.

1 Teaspoon of Red Pepper Flakes

1 Teaspoon of Salt

1/2 a Teaspoon of Garlic Powder

NOW…

Mix all the ingredients I listed in a mixing bowl, like this one. It doesn’t have to be red. I prefer aquamarine.

Now, shape the mixed materials into the patties you see and heat them on a non stick skillet over medium high heat. Use a small amount of cooking spray. Small. Be sure to cook each side of each patty for a good 4-6 minutes.

And behold, a half-sandwiched spinach burger! This one has what I believe to be either apple or avocado. I don’t see why either wouldn’t work. I have mine with chipotle mayo. Sometimes I add a slab of cheddar cheese. The great thing about this healthy and easy-to-make meal is that you can add all sorts of customizations and it’s not likely to taste too overwhelming. Or weird.

Happy eating, and merry living. I particularly enjoyed this recipe in college as it was 1) Simple, and 2) A fun activity for all involved. If patties bore you, try spinach balls! There are so many opportunities to get creative with this. Feel free to let me know of any changes you make to this easy and tasty recipe!

Enjoy. 🙂

Meet Bagheera, the Elusive Miniature Panther

I am Bagheera
watching you stumble
out of a dreary meeting
at corporate headquarters

You eye me with that gleam
a toddler’s oblivion
my coat wields deception
and you fall for my wiles

I amble along the jagged brush
the thistles and trees –
foliage of a metropolitan jungle
that never really was

So abruptly, you arrive
pencil-skirted girl
your makeshift Nikon
your homage to Apple

She’s squealing and kneeling
I’m happy to oblige
happy to stop, stand still
for the easily amused

And she speaks of me like some lost fossil
but this isn’t Iriomote Island, my love
she speaks as of worshiping a stone-carved panther
stone-cold phantom, I assure you, I am

*Cat No. 5 of the 500 Cats Project