Friday, April 26, 2013

Friends of the Movement: A Post for NIAW (Join the Movement)

Sometime in January, I got elected to the Friends of the Library board in my town.  I'm not entirely sure how it happened, except that I (still) have a hard time saying "no," and I (still) tend to collect commitments like some people collect bad boyfriends.

Except, of course, that the Friends group isn't a bad boyfriend.

I live in a small town, and we have a small town library, which--oddly enough--isn't really affiliated with the larger county system around us.  We are our own little island, with our own storytimes, our own programming, our own collection of historic Native American arrowheads in the conference room.  It's walkable from my house, too, which makes it a good destination for rainy days.  There's a children's corner full of worn, well-loved stuffed animals and puppets and puzzles.  I love our library because it's a secret: no one knows about it, and sometimes when I'm looking for a book that is out of the county library, my little library has it.  It's my secret resource.

On the other hand, it's not always a good idea to keep secrets secret.  Which is why we have a Friends group in the first place.

You see, if no one knows about my little library, no one will help it out.  No one will help to rebuild when its historic facade starts to crumble.  No one will make sure that we have some new furniture for the conversation nooks.  No one will attend its programs and become regular patrons.  And eventually, it will die, like the mom and pop stores that succumb to the economy created by big box stores on the highway.  It will cease to be a community hub, a place to hang our hats.


I am, by medical standards, infertile.  My two beautiful children do not negate my lost pregnancies (see my NIAW post "Bust a Myth: Infertility Isn't Bad for People with Children" in 2011), nor do they negate the diagnosis that my ob/gyn gave me when when, after those losses, we seemed unable event to concieve another child.  But my living children do make it a little bit more challenging to interact in the ALI blogging community, where most of the bloggers are undergoing treatments, or sorting out their options, or coming to terms with living a life that is very different from the one they imagined for themselves.

Which is, strangely enough, also exactly why I still feel like I belong here.  Because even if I'm not experiencing the same thing as everyone else is, the ALI community needs a Friends group.  Without Friends, people who can advocate and speak on its behalf, people who can support it in times of crisis and need and joy, people who have "made it" to the "other side" and can offer--if not a promise--hope, it will struggle.  National Infertility Awareness Week isn't just about the people who are currently childless and trying to conceive talking about infertility.  It's about creating a conversation about infertility, about making it a less taboo topic, about helping people to become more sensitive so they don't ask questions like "isn't it time you had a baby yet?" or "when are you going to have your second child?"  It's about remembering that people who experienced infertility are not done experiencing infertility just because they've been able to have a child, or because they have decided to end their quest for parenthood or for another child.  It's about cultivating a group of Friends, who aren't even necessarily members.

So here's my request for National Infertility Awareness Week: Join the Movement.  Because 1 in 8 is someone you know.
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Friday, April 19, 2013

My Grandmother, Choosing Family, and Yellow Split Pea Lentil Soup

My grandma left the world this past week.  She had moved into advanced stages of dementia, and suffered from COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and congestive heart failure, so in many ways her passing was a blessing; I know that she is now finally at peace.  I hadn't seen her for a while; she moved to Maine when I was still in middle school, and she had been deteriorating for some time, so my aunt had been busy trying to take care of her, and, I suspect, not really wanting people to see her as the person she'd become.  Which means that my memory of her is not clouded by memories of her illness ... good for me, I guess, not-so-good for my aunt.

Grandma was not my "real" grandma, in the sense that she wasn't blood-related.  She was my aunt's mother, someone who joined our family by marriage.  When my alcoholic uncle (my mother's brother) and my aunt divorced, my family, sadly, mostly abandoned my uncle, and kept my aunt and my cousin, and got Grandma, too.  She was the only grandmother I ever knew; both of my parents' parents died long before I was born.  And she played the role well: there were always banana breads and coconut breads and muffins and chocolate chip cookies in the kitchen, and pots of "gravy" (she was Italian) bubbling away on the stove, and presents that spoiled me.  She sent me scores of cookbooks, and was always offering, on the sly, to let me come stay with her.  I am sure that it was her intent to "fatten me up," not that I needed fattening in my formative years.  I very clearly remember my first New Year's Eve apart from my parents, when I stayed at Grandma's house and she let me watch the ball drop.  We had split pea soup for dinner, and mini hot dogs at midnight, with a tiny glass sip-full of champagne.  I thought I would die of happiness, living it up like a real "grown up," my folding TV tray perched next to hers as we sat together on the couch watching Dick Clark.

In many respects, you don't get to choose your family.  You're stuck with the people who raise you, at least for the early years.  But for me, my grandma was the first example of someone we chose to make part of our family.  My first daytime babysitter was another person we "adopted," for lack of a better term: Aunt Kitty, as we called her, was not just someone who watched me when my parents were at work, but someone who was there at my high school graduation, marveling at the young woman I'd become.

Over the years, I've done my share of this "annexing."  My best friend's parents in high school, who smothered me in hugs.  My high school English teachers, who fed me large shopping bags full of mystery novels, and who hosted me for weekends of quiet reading, good food, and cat-petting during difficult adolescent years.  My college boyfriend's parents, who often welcomed me to their Shabbat table, who fed me chicken soup when I was sick and challah when I wasn't, even if they probably did feel a little sorry that I wasn't Jewish.  My friend in California, who became a big sister, looking out for me when I wasn't looking out very well for myself.

I was talking with a friend from church recently about the giving and receiving sermon from the other day, about why we build our community and try to make sure that everyone is taken care of, and it's precisely for this reason: that most families come imperfect, incomplete, some assembly required.  Which is not to say that everyone needs the heteronormative family with four grandparents and 1.5 siblings and a dog, but that relationships are complicated, and that I feel grateful for the people who have become my chosen family over the years, who help me define what family really means.

My grandmother never would have imagined split pea soup like this.  But I know that she is with me now in the kitchen, nodding approvingly at my efforts to keep the oven hot and the pots bubbling on a regular basis.

How do you define your family?  Who have you chosen to add to your family over the years?

Yellow Split Pea Lentil Soup
adapted from 101 Cookbooks
I added a little more water and vegetables than Heidi did to this soup, and less raisins, because I don't like my soup quite as sweet.  I also tossed all of the scallions in during the cooking stage, instead of saving some for the end as she does, partly by mistake, but I liked the result.  And I added a bit of garam masala for a deeper of flavor.

1 c. yellow split peas
1 c. red lentils
8 c. water
2 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 T. fresh peeled and minced ginger, divided
2 T. curry powder
2 T. coconut oil
8 scallions thinly sliced
1/4 c. golden raisins
1/3 c. tomato paste
1/2 t. garam masala
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
2 t. salt
one small handful cilantro, chopped

Rinse the split peas and lentils very well and place them in 3+ quart soup pot.  Cover the beans with water, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer.  Add the carrot and 1 1/2 t. of the ginger. Cover and simmer for about 35 minutes, or until the split peas are soft but not mushy.  You should test them every few minutes towards the end of cooking time to make sure you don't get split pea soup the way my grandma used to make it (which was great for people with no teeth).

In the meantime, in a small skillet over low heat, toast the curry powder, stirring constantly until fragrant. This should only take about a minute or two; if it starts smoking you're gone too far! Set aside.

Melt the coconut oil in a saute pan over medium heat, add the green onions, the remaining ginger, and raisins. Saute for two minutes stirring constantly, then add the tomato paste and garam masala and saute for another minute or two more.

Add the toasted curry powder to the tomato paste mixture, mix well, and then add this to the simmering soup along with the coconut milk and salt. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or so.

You can add rice or farro if you'd like a heartier soup; I preferred mine as is, sprinkled with lots of cilantro.
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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Love, for Boston, and for All of Us.

I was walking home from downtown with my daughter to meet my son on the bus.  Despite the chill in the wind, the sun felt warm, and we had been admiring the spring flowers.  The daffodils, the tulips, the grape hyacinths.  I have been naming these for N., wanting her to learn them, to learn names for the signs of renewal.  We had stopped to talk with a mother and her daughter down the street, who were out gardening, weeding, preparing beds for new planting.  We were all just soaking in the sun.

Across the street, a neighbor came out, shouted to us, asking if we'd heard.  It's all over the news, she said.

My heart sank.  What now?  Though I knew, without knowing.  More destruction.  She told us what had happened, and selfishly, my mind went immediately to the two people I knew running the race this year, knowing that I had to get home to find them.

We picked up my son, and no one said anything about it at the bus stop.  I got home, and said nothing to my son, who sat doing his homework in the kitchen.   I checked the internet, discovered that my two friends had checked in with other friends.  I felt relieved.  But then also sad, outraged, heartsick.

I have not grown immune to tragedy.  I still ask why, because I can't help but wonder what makes people act in such destructive ways.  I keep hoping that I'll be proven right sometime, that human nature really is better than this.

Much as it is supposed to offer comfort, especially to children who feel unsafe when their fragile world is shattered, I confess, sometimes I tire of the Mr. Rogers quote.  Maybe because "looking" feels passive.  And I need to do something when tragedy strikes.  I hate feeling like my hands are tied.

And yet, my hands are not tied.  Because first, as my friend Noah often reminds me, "love WINS."  Every time.  We counter hate, or misunderstanding, or emptiness, with relentless, aggressive love, and eventually love wins, because even if it can't change the world in an instant, it can change us.

And second, I feel that I am charged with tikkun olam.  I first learned the phrase from a Marge Piercy novel; it put into words something that had been in my heart for a long time: that we can work towards the manifestation of divinity in every corner of the world, that we can restore our fragmented social system to wholeness and order, that we can preserve the physical world.  The fact that there is a name for this kind of work, and that its roots in history and mysticism offer support for individual actions, gives me hope, in a strange way, that it can be done.

Tonight, I am sending thoughts of healing, and comfort, and peace.  Tomorrow I will go back to this work.  And it is difficult work.  I'm not always good at it.  Love is not always easy.  But I can't think of anything we need more.
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Sunday, April 14, 2013

"She Likes to Let Them Go"

She couldn't have been more than 5, dressed in a white t-shirt and short ruffled pink skirt, shiny black hair pulled back into a pink hair ribbon.  Her round, brown face smiled broadly, clutching her yellow balloon, which bobbed and weaved in the wind like a kickboxer.

As I waited for her mother to load her plastic bags full of groceries into the trunk and passenger seat of the car, which was driven by an older white man,  I wondered idly if this was an unmarked taxi service, whether such a thing existed in our town.  I felt a little sorry for them, I guess, making bold assumptions about where they lived, about why they didn't have a car to get to the grocery store.  I might have wondered whether the little girl was going to get the balloon into the car by herself, why her mother didn't jump to help her.

By Andrei Niemimäki from Turku, Finland (Balloon)
[CC-BY-SA-2.0 (],
via Wikimedia Commons

They were about to climb into the back seat, leaving an opening for me to get into my own car, when suddenly: whoosh! off it went.

"Oh," I said in sympathy.  I'd seen this before, readied myself to offer some words of comfort, to support the mother as she tried to calm her child. I fully expected the little girl to cry.  Or at least to make a startled, unhappy sound, or to frown.  But she gazed up at the balloon, now careening dizzily off into the atmosphere, her round face smiling, shining, white teeth showing.  She waved to the sky, jumped a little, enough to bounce the skirt, and said, "bye BYE!"

The driver and I must have looked surprised, looking at the balloon, now easily a half mile away, and then back at the girl, because her mother confided, strangely apologetic, "she likes to let them go."

"Well, that's unusual," said the driver, putting the last bag into the passenger seat.

"Wow, look at it go," I said, impressed at the speed of the balloon in the wind.

"Where is it?" asked the mother.  I pointed to the yellow speck in the sky.  She shook her head, smiling, and closed the door behind her as she ducked into the back seat.

The little girl pressed her face to the car window now, still smiling, as it pulled away.

She likes to let them go, I thought.  What a useful thing to learn as a five year old, isn't it?  To know how to let go of the beautiful things, the things you love, and let them fly free, wherever the wind will take them.  To let go of the difficult things, the things that want to go somewhere else, the things that are really just a burden, or that will tie you down if you have to hold onto them.  The things that don't last.  The yellow balloons of the world.

My children got balloons at the ice cream parlor tonight.  I looped one around my daughter's wrist, advising her to "be careful with it, now, hang on tight."  I watched her play with it, wiggling it around with delight -- "look! the balloon is dancing!" she told us -- and knew that I shouldn't have said anything at all.  That maybe the balloon would fly away, or pop, and she'd be upset.  Maybe more upset because I told her to be careful with it.  Environmental and emotional considerations of flown balloons aside, maybe it's not too early to help her learn, too, to let go sometimes, or at least to not fear the letting go, to know that almost everything is ephemeral, except the beautiful things we can't touch anyway.  That there are some things we simply can't -- or shouldn't -- hold onto.  Maybe we know this as children, and it's only as adults that we begin to fear the separation.  Maybe we know too much.

Or maybe we forget.

Do you have a hard time letting go?  How tightly do you hold on to your yellow balloon?

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Monday, April 8, 2013

On (Not) Giving Enough, and Yukon Gold Potato Soup

Today was Commitment Sunday at our fellowship.  Like many religious organizations, my church collects pledges from its members in order to fund the church's operation for the coming year, and in the past few years, we've taken one of our Sunday services to celebrate the gifts we give and receive from the community and to commit ourselves to supporting the church for the coming year.

I don't generally get emotional at Sunday services, but I was a teary mess by the end of the sermon, which was given by a friend of mine.  She described her grandparents as people who were "master givers," people who actively looked for ways to make a difference, who always knew exactly how to intervene or contribute, who were beyond generous.  They were the people who would show up your door to do the laundry and feed your cats and cook meals when you were sick, the people who would shower you with leftovers and the fresh produce from their gardens, the people who would take care of people they never even met.

She described herself as a "practicing giver," someone who was more able to give when it was easy, but harder when giftees were not exactly good, or patient, receivers.  She also described herself as a "practicing receiver," someone who is getting better at appreciating the gifts, even when they don't really fit, or when they don't exactly seem like gifts at all (the unexpected honest criticism, the cast-offs), both because she recognizes that people need to give in order to feel in control of the uncontrollable, and because sometimes those gifts really do end up being useful in the end.

It so happens that I see my friend, as I do many of the other people in my fellowship, closer to a "master" giver than a "practicing" one, unless we're talking about "practice" in the yoga sense of the word.  She's the kind of person who wouldn't think twice about offering to watch my children if I suddenly found myself in need of help.  She's the kind of person who would drop by with a casserole without being asked, who asks after the things you think everyone's forgotten about, who looks after other people, listening carefully and fully, sometimes between the lines of what's actually being said.  She radiates beauty, inside and out.  As she spoke, I thought about the gifts she's given me over the years, and felt, as I've often felt, humbled.  I've often said that when I want to grow up, I want to be more like her; it's completely true.

The truth is, the fellowship is full of people who give, and who love, with abandon.  They give selflessly of their time, their talents, their money.  They commit hours to the nonprofit that works to reduce poverty in our area, donating food and outreach time and mentoring time.  They commit hours to the nonprofit that shelters homeless families in church congregations.  They commit hours to Habitat for Humanity, or countless other social justice programs and initiatives.  They teach our religious education program, run church committees, bake every Sunday for coffee hour, do major construction and renovation on the church and grounds, tend to the spiritual needs of the membership.  They listen and act seemingly without boundaries.  I have more role models for giving than I've ever wanted, all sitting in one building every Sunday morning.

As I sat there and took stock of my own contributions, I was feeling like I just don't give enough.  And not in financial terms; actually, I was completely fine with our pledge.  That's the easy part.  But I was feeling like I could never measure up to givers (and gracious receivers) who were gathered around me.  It's true, I give time on the school board now.  I give time to my library board.  I give time to the church, on the committee that looks out for short-term concrete needs of our members, but I can count those hours on one hand, and even often on one finger, each week.   And on the other hand, I was feeling like I've been so focused on me these past almost-two years; it's not exactly, as my friend suggested in the "receiving" part of her sermon, that I feel I don't deserve gifts (of time, of people's attention and concern), but more that I feel others need and deserve more than I do.

Of course, this begs the question: would I ever be able to give "enough" by my own definition?  Do I feel this way because my standards for myself are too impossibly perfect?  Or because we can all always give more (As Dorothy Day put it: "No one has the right to sit down and feel hopeless. There's too much work to be done.")?  Do I just need more practice at being a good receiver?  Or is the problem that I'm measuring any of this at all, and the solution to simply stop measuring, to both give and receive to the depths of my ability, without reservation or self-judgement?

Who are the givers in your life?  How do you give?  Do you consider yourself a "practicing reciever"?

Yukon Gold Potato Soup
This is the sort of soup you can make on a moment's notice to bring to a friend who needs a meal, or to serve for a weeknight dinner.  It's simple, unfussy.  Enough in its uncomplicatedness.

8-12 cloves garlic, peeled
2 t. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled, 1/2" slices
1 rib celery, 1/2" slices
3 1/2 c. vegetable or chicken stock
1 1/2 lbs.Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and rinsed, not peeled, cut into 1/2" cubes
1/2 t. thyme
1/2 t. rosemary
1/8 t. dried lavender
5 oz. container evaporated milk
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375.  Toss cloves of garlic with 2 t. olive oil, place in the center of a 12" square of foil, wrap and seal.  Roast about 1 hour or until tender.

Heat remaining olive oil in a medium stockpot on medium heat.  Add onion, carrots, and celery.  Cover, reduce heat to medium low, and cook 8-10 minutes or until soft but not brown.

Add stock,  potatoes, thyme, rosemary, lavender, and roasted garlic and partially cover; bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low and simmer until potatotes are tender, about 20 minutes.  Blend soup together until smooth, add milk, and blend again.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Add more water for a thinner soup, or boil a bit more for thicker soup.

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Saturday, April 6, 2013

On Healing

Last Tuesday I rolled my ankle at the Y.  It was spring break for my son, the week when parents are supposed to do all sorts of entertaining things with their school-aged kids to make them remember just what awesomely fabulous parents they have.  It was about ten minutes into class, and I was walking between exercises, when suddenly POP! out it went.

At first, I was confused.  Did it hurt?  No, I was fine.  Was I fine?  Not really.  Maybe if I just walk on it?  Or not.

My instructor commanded me to sit and put my leg up, instructed me not--under any circumstances--to take off my sneaker if I wanted to be able to drive home with it on, tossed me an ice pack and an ace bandage, and told me to sit tight.  I sat tight, watching my class go on without me.  I did some ab exercises, thinking that maybe I could get up in a few minutes.  I picked up weights and did some more shoulder and ab work.  And I started to feel the pain creeping into my ankle.

I felt completely defeated.  This was my out.  My healthy place.  One of the things I was doing right.  How could I have done this?  Walking.  Stupid.  I finally got up, and said I guessed I would just go home.

My instructor hung her microphone on another member's head and came with me; I picked up my kids from Child Watch, and we filed an incident report.  It was the last thing I wanted to do, to become an "incident."  I bawled in the car on the way home, telling my kids, with whom I'd already lost my temper that morning, that I'd ruined spring break, that I was sorry, that I was such a terrible parent.  N. offered to sing to me and make me feel better.  I. crossed his arms and seemed nonplussed, though also marginally concerned that his mother might be losing her mind.

I hobbled around and made lunch, and that afternoon took my kids on an exciting field trip to the orthopedist, where they confirmed that my ankle wasn't broken, just sprained.  And gave me an air cast, telling me to stay off it.  I may have laughed.  "Are you on crack?" I said, gesturing at my two children, who were behaving like angels, given the circumstances.  One of them was happily wielding a rubber glove that had been turned into a chicken balloon, and the other had collected two lollipops and a handful of stickers.

I may have gone running in the air cast on Saturday.  By Monday, I had started to figure out how I needed to modify exercise; I knew I could go to kickboxing class, but that I would be turning jumps into squats and lunges.  On Tuesday, I lifted weights, trying to give myself a different physical challenge.  On Wednesday, I left my step class,  realizing that side-to-side movement of my ankle was causing me too much pain.

A week and a half after my sprain, I'm still hobbling around.  I am healing, but not healed.  People tell me I'll feel it for weeks, or even months.

Apparently, healing takes time.  And you have to pay attention to the wound, instead of ignoring it and hope that it will stop hurting.

I'm not so good with this idea.  I rarely go to the doctor or take prescription medication or even pain medication, and I expect to leap back into the fray pretty quickly after I've stumbled.  And when I'm not able to do so, I falter.  When I've found myself wounded in other ways, I've put the hurt aside, telling myself that it was over.  That I was done: done grieving, done being angry, done with pain.  That I was fine.

Except that I wasn't.

After multiple pregnancy losses, after walking away from a job where I felt harassed and belittled (and seeing other people--not my former boss--be held accountable for that kind of harassment), after surviving a childhood with less than ideal parents, after surviving assault, I think I'm finally beginning to redefine what it means to be strong.  Being strong doesn't mean getting up and walking on the sprained ankle.  It doesn't mean, necessarily, holding it together when everything around you is falling apart.  Being strong means allowing myself to feel the pain, and realizing when it's too much to handle alone, when I need to modify my workout, when I need to be vulnerable.  Because that kind of strength, I think, creates healing.

How do you approach the process of healing?  And how do you define strength?
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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

On My Own Terms: Yellow Split Pea Pesto

I've posted multiple times before about my beef with my family's holiday dinners.  In a word, I hate them.  Too many unnecessary appetizers.  Too much starch.  Too much animal protein.  Too many desserts.  Too much food in general.  And definitely too much indigestion-promoting conversation and family conflict.

I have hosted said holiday dinners for the past few years, mostly for kid-related reasons: easier to put babies and toddlers down for a nap in their own rooms; easier to let little people roam here than letting them loose in my mother's extremely non-child-proofed house; easier not to truck a carload of diapers, food, toys and other child accoutrements for a mere two hour visit when we could have two adults drive here instead.  But hosting holiday dinners also means that I do so on everyone else's terms. No one, for example, wants quinoa-stuffed acorn squash for Thanksgiving.  And while it's true that I could simply make people bring the foods they want to eat, I also feel strangely violated by those foods invading my table.  I neither want to have my mashed potatoes, nor eat them.  (Cake is another story.  But that's for another day.)  On a deeper level, I suspect that my discomfort is also about the politics that people bring to my house, and the words they bring that are not always kind, and the way that being with them makes me feel about myself.  It's like my own terms don't matter.

What's particularly odd about this is that I've done lots of big, scary things in my life on my terms.  I left my first graduate school program.  I left my position at my last job.  What was the difference, I wondered, as I agonized over another year's menu.  Was it because I felt like these things involved other people, and that the other people's desires superseded my own?  Was I really doing anyone any favors by doing something I didn't want to be doing, and then being grumpy about it?

I decided to try a small experiment.  Easter dinner is pretty low-stakes, after all.  No one really expects potatoes, for example.  So I didn't make any starch.  While ham is the Easter protein staple in my family, I refused to glaze it or do anything to it besides heat it. I made a simple steamed asparagus, and drizzled it with fig-infused balsalmic vinegar.  I put my husband in charge of making bread for people who needed to eat it.  I bought a single wedge of cheese to serve to people who absolutely could not survive without eating something in the half hour we had to be together before the meal.  And I made a split pea salad side dish adapted from my food guru Heidi Swanson, which served as the vegetarian entree ... for me.

It made a remarkable difference.

My husband tells me that I often act as if there is one way to do things in the world, and that's my way.  Which is completely true ... sometimes.  Even if it's a small thing, sometimes the small things matter.  Is that selfish?

When is doing things on our own terms selfish, and when does it count as self-preservation?

Are there small--or even big--things that you need to do on your own terms?  Do they involve other people, or just you?

Yellow Split Pea Salad with Pepitas and Pesto
adapted from 101 cookbooks
Have I mentioned how much I love Heidi Swanson?  I've been cooking my way through Super Natural Every Day and have not disappointed yet.  This salad was my"vegetarian option," and even the meat-lovers enjoyed it.  I made a few adjustments which I've reflected below: arugula instead of mixed lettuces (which was a nice spicy complement), more of the greens, less oil, less cheese, more lemon, more salt.  Vegan option below.

1 1/2 c. yellow split peas, rinsed and picked over
5 c. water
1 cup pepitas
1 cup cilantro leaves and stems, well washed and lightly packed
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (you can also use some large flake nutritional yeast and a bit more pepitas)
3 medium cloves garlic, peeled
2 T. lemon juice
1/2 t. salt
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 c. baby arugula

Toast the pepitas in a toaster oven or a regular oven at 350 (or even a dry skillet) for about 3-4 minutes, or until you hear the pepitas start to pop.  Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Bring water to boil in  large saucepan.  Add the peas and cook until tender, about 25 minutes.  Rinse, drain, and set aside.  (Heidi says you can also use canned white beans, but I appreciated the slight crunch of the peas.)

Blend 1/3 cup of the toasted pepitas, cilantro, Parmesan, garlic, lemon juice, until the mixture has reached a smooth, paste-like consistency.  You can add a bit of the olive oil to make this happen if the mixture appears to be too stubbornly chunky.  Continue to blend the mixture as you add the olive oil

Toss everything but the agurula together in a large bowl until it is thoroughly mixed. Taste and season here with additional salt and pepper if necessary.  Add the arugula and gently toss again.
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