Author: sub524

On Making Fountains and Gal Pals

On Making Fountains and Gal Pals

*Ratatatatatat wham wham* Jackhammers pound outside my front door.  I live in the city, but this is not street construction. I’d love it if there were more street construction here in Dallas. The bumpity roads have caused me to replace all 4 tires after only a year of driving on them, then last week one of the new ones got a bolt in it, so was replaced again.  However, this construction *Ratatatatatat wham wham* is happening in my very own courtyard. The gated complex where I live is installing fountains in what were pretty, round flower beds.  This will be lovely when it is done, but it is unlovely and *Ratatatatatat wham wham* noisy now.  The noise, cement dust and general manly cursing have defined my last few days.  This is when it is NOT good to work from home. I’m trying to look forward to delightful splashing *Ratatatatatat wham wham* sounds of a fountain, but it’s eluding me.  Being a sometime cynic, my brain rushes to thoughts such as; “That fountain is going to attract more mosquitos than usual this summer.”  I know they don’t like running water, but my imagination has the fountains only working sporadically, becoming a murky thing filled with green slime.

That knee-jerk default to dark thinking is why gal *Ratatatatatat wham wham* pals are so necessary in my life. Talking to gal pals help get these dark thoughts out of my head, where they jab me awake at 3am and make it impossible to go back to sleep. Leaving my friends of the past ten years when we moved last year was hard –the women I walked with, read books with, and cheered for the swim team with. There is something so bonding about losing all feeling in your rear sitting on those cold metal benches yelling for the kids to “whoo-hoo swim faster”.  Those gal pals kept me sane in the years my children went through puberty and moved on to college. You can’t replace those friends. If you want to stay sane and not yell inappropriately at your spouse or the workers who are simply following orders by putting in a damn fountain, you must make more when you move. It requires one to be brave *Ratatatatatat wham wham* and say hello, find commonalities, and ask for cell phone numbers. As an introvert writer, getting out and meeting people feels like a thousand-pound weight every time.  It requires fixing in your mind the reason you are doing this – it will make life bearable and might even be fun. Secondly, you make plans, get dressed, do your hair, and go out for coffee. Then the worst part – after all that bravery — many times you must accept the fact that while you might like the person you are coffee-ing with, they may not like you back, or more to the point, they don’t have time for someone new in their lives. Ghosting is a thing for us older folks too, it’s not just for Millennials. It’s hard texting someone for a 2nd get-together and then… you just don’t hear back.  It feels like middle school all over again, and let’s be honest, none of us had any fun in 7th and 8th grade. I wish we could come up with a better way of being dumped as a new friend.

I am happy to report I have made some outstanding new gal pals here in Dallas. I’m so grateful for them. They’ve kept me going through this most difficult year, helping me to laugh and to escape my dead-end thoughts as I listen to what is keeping THEM up at night. There are always shared similarities – body parts that are no longer behaving as they should, adult children going through their own crises, plans that fall through.  Politics and issues of the day. There are joys too, and it’s the shared joys that hold the most healing.  Its good to feel happy for someone else. You forget the *Ratatatatatat wham wham* of your inner critical voice “should-ing” all over your actions or inactions. Sharing time with my friends – old and new — make my own mental construction zone a little less noisy and obtrusive and then it’s possible to hear the musical tones of a delightful fountain in my future.

On Aunt Helen and Kingston, Iowa

On Aunt Helen and Kingston, Iowa

My Aunt Helen’s birthday falls on March 17th, St. Patricks’ Day. Being a teetotaler her whole life, shots of Jameson and copious amounts of Green Beer never factored into her celebrations.  Aunt Helen left this earth three years ago, at the age of 93. Most of her life was spent in Kingston, Iowa which is 15 miles past Burlington, but before you get to Mediapolis. Kingston is tiny, clustered around an unimposing intersection off State Highway 99.  There are a few houses and one general store which doubled as the post office. It also boasts a now-shuttered hall above it that held rousing dances in its heyday. A Methodist church that Helen’s husband, Willard helped to build stands just down the road from the general store. My parents were married there. Willard also built their snug home across the gravel road from the church.  Built as in — built it on his own from pouring the foundation to putting  on the roof, and all the plumbing in between. This home is about 5 miles away from the “Home Farm” where my Aunt Helen and my father and their brother Howard Lee (who died on the kitchen table at the age of 7 from a burst appendix) grew up. There are still 2nd and 3rd cousins who live out on that same land.  Most of it is used to grow corn now, corn is still a pretty good crop, better than hogs, and without the smell.

When you backtrack towards Burlington on 99, on the hill side of the road you’ll find a faded signpost that reads “Basil Cemetery”. If you have a 4-wheel drive, you can ascend the hill via a faint track to the cemetery, or park and walk up if you don’t.  There are fifteen or twenty markers scattered among the trees on that hill. They overlook the green cornfields, and not far off, you can see the glint of light that is the mighty Mississippi.  It’s a beautiful, restful spot, and several of my relatives are buried there.  It’s mostly forgotten now and hasn’t seen a burial in many years.  Helen chose to be buried up in Mediapolis next to Willard, who got a 21-gun salute at his funeral.  I suspect once I go, no one will know Basil Cemetery is there. Hard to get the caskets up the hill. My Aunt Helen and I would go up there on Memorial Day to clean the headstones and put fresh flowers out – early roses and giant-headed peonies just coming into pink bloom from her side yard.  And always sweet Lily of the Valley, which seem to bloom in every ditch there is in May and June in Iowa.

Aunt Helen taught in the one-room schoolhouse that served the kids in the area all the way up to the 1950’s, when the county decided to close the school and bus the kids to Burlington.  She started teaching at age 16, to avoid working in the local chocolate factory. She had tried the chocolate factory when she was 14, and hated it, so quick went and took the correspondence classes to become a teacher.  Helen was a fine teacher, wrote in perfect copperplate, and could teach you advanced math faster than you could learn how to spit. She’d ride her horse seven miles to the school early in the morning from the Home Farm so she could get the stove going to warm the place up.  She’d have the bigger boys go chop more wood when they needed it.  My father went to this school and suffered through being taught by his sister who was 12 years older than he for a few grades before my grandmother moved him to Burlington schools.  They remember seeing electricity finally making its way to that schoolhouse, and the wonder of an electric heater. Helen said the old wood stove worked better.

Aunt Helen married Willard just shy of her 19th birthday, as he was shipping out to active duty in WWII. He was stationed in the Pacific, fixing the planes, and getting shot at a lot. He never said much about it to me, or anyone else that I can tell.  Willard was a staunch pacifist in his later years. Always a man of few words, he’d take me back up in the hills when I would visit them for a few weeks each summer and showed me how to spring the traps left there by hunters.  He was also a whiz at finding Indian arrowheads.  Sometimes I wondered if he planted them before our walks.  He’d just point to the ground and say, “Well lookee there”, and give me the joy of discovery. 

Those were some fine, hot summer weeks that I spent with them.  I was put to work helping Helen “put up” the vegetables and fruits from her garden for days on end, the kitchen steaming from sterilizing the Mason jars in big pots, taking the finished projects down to the blessed dark cool of the cellar.  I am proud to say I could still put up vegetables if I needed to.  Summer nights were for sitting on the porch, hand cranking fresh peach ice cream, and watching a million fireflies light up the grass and trees like Christmas lights come early.  I loved getting my aunt to tell funny stories about my dad when he was little, it made him more emotionally accessible.  He would certainly never tell me about the time he jumped off the roof wearing a sheet pretending to be Superman, but Helen would.

Helen was never the same after Willard died.  She tried to stay active at the church, and made wedding dresses for the children and grandchildren of the kids she had taught at school until she went blind.  We’d send her books on tape, she liked those.  I took my boys to visit, and she gave them a few things from her house – knew right where they were, even though she couldn’t see them anymore. Those got burnt up in The Fire, as were all the photos we had of Helen and Willard, and my grandmother’s wedding silver Helen passed on to me. Helen finally had to move out of the home her husband built and where they had lived for over 65 years.  She hated being in the nursing home, got confused often, and demanded to be taken home.  When the doctors and nurses wouldn’t let her leave, I think she used her formidable willpower to pass over to be back Home with Willard.  Helen lived what many would deem a small life, but both she and Willard made a difference in their community and passed on things that were important to them; being kind, doing for your neighbor, the ability to fix, and mend, and cook. The joy of sitting on the porch in the evening savoring sweet peach ice cream made from peaches you had grown in your very own back yard.

On Wind Chimes and “Like Kissing Moonlight”

On Wind Chimes and “Like Kissing Moonlight”

A wind chime arrived unexpectedly in the mail yesterday. It has a smiling moon on the top, more on the significance of that later. Attached was a note that hoped this addition would make our apartment feel a little more like a home.  Now when the wind blows, I hear our friends’ cheery voices bouncing through the chimes. Lovely. 

As with many of the fortunate things in our lives in the past ten years, meeting these particular friends involved our rescue dog Keisha. This dog really is special.  She instinctively knows the good un’s from the bad un’s, as we used to say while living in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Tennessee.  Walking Keisha in the park one day on a mile-long loop, we were caught by Teri, who could probably win anyone’s ‘fastest walker’ award. She had her rescue dog Scout with her, and Keisha let us know they were good un’s with a wag of her tail.  Scout is not the brightest dog on the planet but is excellent at playing with others.  While the dogs ran and played together we chatted with Teri and got a lot of good cardio in as we tried to keep up with her. This developed over a few years into a lovely friendship, which expanded to Teri’s whole family.

Her daughter Mandy, has become a friend and theatre colleague as well. Mandy is on her way to becoming a famous film producer.  Watch and see, I’m dead right on this one.  She was my assistant director for an updated version of “The Glass Menagerie” I directed.  Teri and her husband did the props for that play.  It’s quite the prop-ridden play, and they did a fantastic job, even making authentic Wrigley’s gum wrappers for the pivotal moment when Jim shares his gum with Laura.  Prior to that involvement, Mandy and Teri ushered for a play I wrote and directed called “Like Kissing Moonlight”, multiple times.  That’s the significance of the moon on the wind chime they sent.

Mandy fell in love with the theatre through that show, and I believe it sent her on a trajectory that is going to be marvelous for both herself and the rest of us. I continue to be the great beneficiary of the friendship of the entire extended family that play created. Like our heroic dog Keisha, “Like Kissing Moonlight” is special.

As a writer for some 25 years now, I can tell you when a play or a screenplay is very good, it takes on a life of its own. “Like Kissing Moonlight” continues to be read and performed at theatres (it’s a crowd pleaser), and its monologues used with great success for college auditions. I am inordinately proud of this play. It’s a mashup of Chekov’s “Three Sisters” and the “Cherry Orchard”, set in modern day Appalachia.  Like any good story about family, it’s funny, and warm and emotional with a good dose of regret, anger and family secrets.  Like any good story about Appalachia it has ghosts and superstitions and everyone enters through the kitchen’s back screen door. It even contains a joke that works every performance. I decided to turn it into a screenplay last year, and by another happy circumstance, have met and become friends with a film producer here in Dallas.  She in turn handed it to a rather famous and talented film director who also liked it and they are moving forward with the project.  While the term “moving forward with the project” often can take years in Hollywoodspeak, I am hopeful that the fall of this year or next will mark a return to Appalachia and my friend Teri and her family when we film it.  Maybe Mandy will work on it, wouldn’t that be something?

This week, I am grateful to be reminded with every puff of wind in the chimes that friendship endures, and that rescue dogs and art continue to bring value and happiness into this troubled world.  They are Good Things, as Martha Stewart used to say, and goodness knows we need all of those we can get.

** selfie photo is of my incredible cast right before the Premier performances of “Like Kissing Moonlight” at the Johnson City Community Theatre.  Dear friends all, they are from top: Larry Bunton, Hunter Hall, Karen Mabe, Emily Nagy, Joy Nagy, Dave Hutton, Melanie Yodkins Headen, Matt Quick and Paige Mengel.  Not pictured is the amazing crew: Emily Barnes my epic stage manager, Britney Fox, Veronica Roberson, Steven Bracey, Carolee Mabe, JJ Jeffers, Frank Mengel, Richard Lura, and CJ Ferguson.  We created a family with this one, one that endures.  “It’s the people you miss.”

Below is our official production shot, thank you Kallie Gay of Catch the Wind photography.

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On Gratitude and Shoes

On Gratitude and Shoes

It’s been a year and a day since The Fire.  That’s a magical time frame in all those books I grew up reading. A year and a day to start over, learn who you are anew, to reflect, to choose to rise again, to feel defeated, to be sad, to find hope. 

A year ago today, stunned and still smelling of smoke, we went to Kohls. We were wearing what we walked away from the fire in — our sweats and sleeping shirts. We no longer owned any socks. At first the cashier didn’t want to give us a Kohls credit card (I don’t blame her in hindsight), but a kind-hearted manager intervened.  She also went in the back and got us coffee from the employee lounge.  Angels in disguise work in the oddest places.

We bought the basics; underwear, socks, a pair of shoes, some pants and shirts.  Things to get us through the next bewildering, overwhelming days and nights. I got some cute earrings too, because, hey I’m a girl and needed that bit of bling. I cried when I found a pair of my favorite shoes that had been burned up. Just stood in the shoe section clutching them and weeping. The bewildered clerk wandered over to ask if I was okay, and was happy when I nodded yes, and made good his escape. He couldn’t understand what it meant to me to find something that I had so profoundly lost.  It was my first glimmer of hope on a long road of recovery.

In the week that followed losing everything, we felt your prayers and good thoughts. They were visceral, like getting air hugs all the time. Our amazing friends and the family we have chosen stepped in and carried us.  Sarah and Ritchie started GoFundMe pages.  It was embarrassing, overwhelming, and turns out every dime contributed was completely needed.  

Now, a year and a day later, I am sitting in an apartment that has pots and pans and utensils.  I’m  wearing fuzzy socks and have more than one pair of shoes in the closet.  We have a vacuum cleaner and a few books (all donated, we have not been able to bring ourselves to buy more). Our little rescue dog who woke us that night and saved our lives lies curled at my feet. Her nose and feet are twitching as she chases squirrels in her sleep. I am drinking peach tea in a coffee mug that my son Steven got me as I write this, a year and a day later. It says, “Create Change”, and I am trying to be brave and worthy of those words on a daily basis.

 I am overcome with gratitude. Thank you, Barracuda and SHHS Swim Moms Amy, Cathy, Jenny, Fran, Lindsey, Stacey, Sheila, SueAnne, Karen, and more for being there with clothes, swim T-shirts, photos of our boys and the kid’s yearbooks. Thank you, Red Cross for wise words and a gift card that bought us our first necessaries.  Thank you to our children who wanted to fly to us and help. Who understood that staying put and thriving was the best thing they could do. Thank you, Sarah and Ritchie for ignoring our bleats of embarrassment and starting GoFundMe pages when we said oh-gosh-no-we-couldn’t-don’t. Thank you Peg and Gary for offering to take us in. Thank you, Mom and Dad for giving us a place to stay and a car to use. Thank you, David Keilson at Sewell for getting us into a car with ease and becoming a friend in the process. Thank you to the Questers book club for sending books and a replacement Kindle and notes of encouragement and love. Thank you, Laura and Ken for love and hugs and an amazing Quilt. Thank you, Deb for props and hats and love. Thank you to my amazing Theatre Peeps, to my Arbonne family, to our dear friends in Johnson City, Tennessee, California, and Boston.  Thank you to all who donated to us. I have a list of all of you. I take it out when I am low, and get to remember I am loved.

Finally, thank you to all the new friends we have made this year as we slowly felt our way back to “normal”. Like blind men, we have stumbled, been ungraceful, and terribly churlish at times.  We have always been met with compassion, love, and above all been given reason to Hope.  We love you, and are so very grateful for you in our lives today, a year and a day later.

Of Stoppers and Finding “Yet”

Of Stoppers and Finding “Yet”

It’s nearly the one-year anniversary of The Fire, when our lives got upended.  We’ve moved into a new apartment (never again will I live above the 2nd floor), gotten furniture and cars.  No art though. It’s too painful to consider. We work and workout, the kids are launched on their individual paths. Our wonderful rescue dog who rescued us is stiff in the joints, but still game for a walk.  On the outside, we look pretty good, pulled together you might say, except if a fire alarm goes off.

The inside job is taking longer. First it was dealing with the suddenness and shock, then it was anger and resentment, and in the last few months a bleak existing with occasional fun moments. It’s been friends and family or nature that have provided the healing touches. It hasn’t helped that the world is increasingly incomprehensible to me. Just not the way I thought things should go.  Living bereft of trust is a bitch.

I realized a big picture goal might pull me out of The Pit of Despair* which (this surprised me also) was getting deeper.  If anything, I’m a fighter.  If I’m going to go down, it will happen swinging at those inner demons.  I let Christmas pass and tried setting a new goal or two in January as usual. Didn’t happen.  I haven’t been inspired, I’ve been comparing my insides to other’s glorious and happy outsides and it’s been hellish.  It’s always the worst when you know what SHOULD happen, and it isn’t coming to you. Something always stopped me from formulating a good goal, let alone a great one.

This week that effing stopper revealed itself.  It wasn’t graceful, this revelation. I was yelling at myself in the car as I drove to go take Mom to church. At the top of my lungs, furious that yet another week had passed, and I was still stuck in mendacity.  Being a Sunday, I refrained from beating my head and hands on the dashboard, but if you were in the next car over, you heard me.  Berating myself for not being able to apply brainpower and willpower and find a way out, damn it!  Sometimes being overly dramatic works. My AHA moment appeared with bell-like clarity between one curse and the next, the core principle that had replaced hope and the ability to dream:  I now expect everything will be taken away from me in a conflagration of loss, so why try?

That’s been the stopper. The Fire’s legacy.  The thing shaping my inaction. Everything will be taken away anyway, so why try. Wow. I pulled over and cried and was late to get Mom.

I can’t tell you what the sermon was this week, nor what Mom and I chatted about on our drive to church and back.  I was in the process of “Uncover, Discover, and Discard”.  Now that I have discovered the crux of the issue, there is confidence to add a ‘yet’ to the sentence, “I don’t know what I really want”.  It’s now changed to “I don’t YET know what I really want”.  And that one word makes all the difference. Within the YET are hopes, and a sense of purpose. “Yet” means I believe that its going to get better.  It’s taken me longer than I thought it would to turn this corner, a year seems an awfully long time to get a revelation.  But maybe that too has purpose, allowing me in the future to truly hear other folks who are having a rough go, who haven’t quite gotten to their “yet” yet. I hope so. I hope

*you know, from “Princess Bride”.  What a great movie.

On Death and Bullets for Valentines Day

On Death and Bullets for Valentines Day

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness…”. Powerful opening lines for a novel written in 1859.  I wish it didn’t also depict America 2018.  Yesterday, on what is usually a happy fun day, Valentine’s Day, 17 children lost their lives at the hands of a kid using a semi-automatic assault rifle.  The bullets for assault rifles are meant to pierce helmets at 500 yards.  What they do to an unprotected child’s body at much closer range is rip them into little bits of body parts. This is the same rifle used at Sandy Hook on 2nd graders.  And on concert goers in Las Vegas.  And on people having fun in a nightclub.  I loathe and detest the disgusting politicians tweeting their asinine “thoughts and prayers” while continuing to pocket money from that bloated gun club the NRA to do nothing to change it.  It’s blood money.  Body parts of kids who were just going to school on Valentine’s day money, and those who take that money are flat-out cowards and sycophants of the worst variety.

In 1929, in Chicago, 7 men were gunned down in another Valentines Day Massacre. It was horrific back then, and now?  Now it seems like we are getting used to it.  This is the 18th mass shooting in American THIS YEAR.  We’ve only had 44 days so far this year. Thompson machine guns were used to murder in Chicago 89 years ago.  Same principle, slay as many people as possible in a short time with big bullets. 89 years later we’ve just upgraded the hardware and downgraded the ages of the victims. If you are inclined to drag out an antiquated portion of the Constitution to justify this barbaric, preventable behavior, I recommend you first perhaps do a bit of research into what happens to people shot with these things, and secondly go look at all the other countries who have managed to regulate the sale and use of these weapons and have NO school shootings or mass shootings of any kind. It’s only us — the great US of A.  There is an argument that our schools would be safer if weaponize our teachers and give them tactical training.  Really? Do you want your kids and grandkids growing up in an environment of fear layered on top of fear and gun on top of gun to the extent that the United States of American devolves into a Totalitarian state?  Numb them even further into thinking that the current deathly reality is “normal”.  This is not normal!

As I talked with people at the swim meet I was volunteering at yesterday about this, I was struck that many of them had the attitude of “Well, can’t do anything about it, those weapons are out there now”.  Yes they are.  But doesn’t it make sense to at least stop the flow?  At least for semi-automatic and automatic weapons.  You can’t convince me that anyone needs that kind of weapon for personal use  unless you are in a war or a police officer. That would be the first step.  Sorry rifle manufacturers, yep its true, your job will disappear, just like the folks’ job it was to make buggy whips.  Secondly, require mandatory refresher courses for all gun owners (just like we have for driving a car) so they can keep the weapon and license.  If people don’t comply or pass, they then need to take a class or surrender their weapon. It seems pretty straightforward.  It actually creates jobs.  Why is this too hard, too big to manage?  I refuse to sit down, shut up and pretend nothing is wrong with our current gun ‘policies’.  I truly have nothing against hunting, or guns in general.  I have lots of friends who are responsible gun owners.  My husband and my boys both love shooting, and have learned to do so safely and sanely.  

I’d recommend the 3rd leg of a gradual shift to making this better is to get Mental Health programs provided in more places at more ages with adequate funding and staffing (more job creation!).  There are a lot of people in this world barely holding it together. On some days I feel the same way. If we’re being honest, I think most of us can use a bit of help at times in our life, and gather tools to help us out when the world feels hopelessly black and our inner pain seems unbearable.  Do I think these steps would stop all the crazy?  No, but I do think better is better.  And we can certainly do and be better.  We can.

If you, like me, are done with sitting and not doing anything as screaming parents realize their child is one of the ones ripped to shreds by an arsenal driven forward from an agenda by a bloated gun club looking for profits, here are 3 organizations that fight gun violence: 

https://giffords.org

https://everytown.org

https://www.sandyhookpromise.org

Thank you to my friend Sally Nemeth for those links.  From my friend Jodi Jones who posted my featured image on her page:  you can text READY to 64433 which helps out the Moms/Everytown organization. 

Of Rocket Ships and Turkey Meatballs

Of Rocket Ships and Turkey Meatballs

I grew up believing Tang was better than orange juice.  After all it was what the astronauts drank.  I remember being 8 years old, sitting on the floor watching a black and white television set as Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon.  It was so exciting. I wanted to be an astronaut myself and bounce around on the moon in big leaps and collect rocks – lunar sampling sounded so exotic.  Later, learning you had to do serious math – correctly – to be an astronaut, I had to let that dream go. But at that moment on July 20th, 1969, I was riveted, and I’ve been a space geek ever since.  I’ve always regretted not going to space camp. I  tried to talk my boys into it so I could live vicariously through them but they didn’t fall for it.  *sigh*

This week’s launching of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy Rocket was really something. And out of Kennedy in Cape Canaveral too!  That place has a special meaning to a whole generation of us, I think.  There it was again — the countdown, the cheering of the crowd, the amazing blast of light and heat, then the slow, slow upward movement as fierce firepower won over gravity. I held my breath as the rocket escaped Earth’s atmosphere, and then even better to my mind — the booster rockets came back down and LANDED in one piece. Delicately and in synchronicity.  It made me misty. Something about it just gives me hope. That was a lot of correct-the-first time math, and I’m proud that human beings were able to do that.   The Tesla in space is kind of fun too, nice to see a sense of humor.

I may not be able to do the kind of math needed to be an astronaut — or lets be honest – pass the physical exam, did you see “The Right Stuff”?  Boy Howdy.  However, my darling boys who stymied my hopes that THEY would be astronauts tell me I make an exceptional turkey meatball.  We sent our youngest jetting away to the other side of the world this week, and this was one of the requested “last meals”.  Here you go, in both original and gluten free substitutions:

TURKEY MEATBALLS

2 packages ground turkey (about 2 lbs)

Garlic, chopped, 1 T

Soy sauce or coconut aminos ¼ cup or so

Progresso Italian style bread crumbs, 1 cup

Mix together the above.  Swirl 2 T of olive oil in a frying pan on medium. Make your meatballs about the size of a large marble (I told you, I grew up in the 60’s) okay, the size of half a golf ball then.  Brown on all sides.  The soy sauce will caramelize as they cook.  Once you get one side browned, flip them over and then lower the heat and cover the pan for about 6 minutes.  Then take the lid off and finish the browning process letting the steam evaporate. That will get the insides cooked through.  We like this with mashed potatoes, or of course with pasta and red sauce.

GF subs:  No bread crumbs – finely chop until you have about ½ cup of spinach and onions. Add various Italian herbs to taste and add a well-beaten egg to make it all stick together. Cook as described.