It’s been a bit of a crazy week since I flew home from Alabama, and while I’ve been settling back into somewhat of a routine, some major changes have taken place. Reading Jessy’s post about getting unstuck and looking for the good side of life was really inspiring as I started off the week because, honestly, I didn’t have much to be thankful or grateful for.

When I went to Alabama, I left a rather sick cat behind. Sheba, the oldest cat of the bunch (13 going on 14), has been in my life since I was 9. She was my cat, the one my mother let me pick out and name and carry from the breeder to the car, the cat who, when I start reading poetry aloud, curls up in my lap and purrs. While she never had the loudest personality, she was a cat who was always there, always loving, and always glaring at the camera. But her mouth had been deteriorating over the last few months, and with no money to spend on expensive surgeries, I just let it go as long as possible. When I got home, however, she’d lost at least two pounds (which is a lot for a small cat) and was in major pain. I hand fed her wet food, read her poetry, and spent as much time as I could with her before taking her to the vet. At the vet I learned she had a massive tumor under her tongue and there were no options. So, cradling her in my arms, I had to let her go. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve had to do, and, to be honest, I’ve never wanted someone to be with me more than then.

It’s been quiet here lately, and a bit empty. But Mistoffelees and Dorian definitely pick up the slack–even though M. still looks a little confused with Sheba gone. It’s one of those times I wish we could really communicate with each other. But, on the good side, Sheba lived a good, full life and I truly believe we made each others’ lives a bit more wonderful. I miss the old girl, but I’m not sad to know she is no longer in pain. As good of a face as she put on, I know it couldn’t have been easy with a mouth tumor and I only wish I’d known about it sooner.

On the other good sides of things, I am in the hiring process for the city of Roanoke public schools. Come February I’m going to be a substitute teacher! While it might not seem like the best job (I’m sure it’s going to be hell)–I mean, didn’t we all try to make our substitute teachers’ lives awful???–I’m excited to see how teaching is with middle school and high school students, especially as I try to decide what direction I’m going to take with further grad school or trying to find a job.

Given the hecticness, I haven’t been cooking too much, just eating a lot of salads and frozen soup and chili, but yesterday I did manage to cook up a big pot of clean-out-the-pantry soup. It didn’t exactly clean out my pantry (that’d be impossible), but it is composed of ingredients found only in my pantry/fridge/freezer. And the fun part is, I normally don’t like lentil soup–but I love this soup! It’s so simple, but so flavorful, and the green lentils give it a nice texture. Perfect for the wintry weather we’re all experiencing, I’d recommend a pantry soup like this–especially paired with cornbread or biscuits!

Simple Lentil Soup

1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
2 c green lentils, rinsed and picked over for stones/debris
2 c mild greens, chopped (I used Chinese cabbage, but kale, spinach, or chard would be great)
6 c vegetable broth (I used a mix of veg, “beef,” and “chicken”)
salt & pepper to taste
2 tbsp olive oil

In a large pot, saute the onions and carrots in the olive oil until tender. Add the garlic and sweet potato, and cook for 2 minutes more.

Add the lentils, vegetable broth, and a dash of salt and pepper, and bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer.

Cook for 1 hour, or until the lentils and vegetables are tender.

Add salt and pepper as needed (I used about 2 tsp of salt total).

Add the greens and cook for 3-5 minutes until tender. Serve with bread.