Salad, Secretariat, & a Dash of Sad

Steve's Spinach Salad

You might be asking, “What’s she writing about now?”

Well, I don’t blame you. I wasn’t sure myself until last night. I had some ideas, but nothing was coming together and hadn’t for the past several days. So I slept on it. That’s one of my sure-fire methods to get to the heart of what’s bothering me whether it’s a personal problem, a memory problem, or a writing problem.

And this morning, I knew what to do. Of course it helped that the sun was trying valiantly to peak through the ever present cloud blanket that’s been hanging over our area for most of February. 🙂

So first the salad. You’ve glanced at the photo. I snapped the photo. My oldest son made the salad. It will always be a memorable one: obviously the fresh spinach was a base—never would I have believed he’d be using fresh spinach based upon his childhood eating habits where green wasn’t something that thrilled him. Then hard boiled egg whites, a few bits of crisp-fried bacon, a mustard-sour cream-egg yolk dressing, all were carefully placed to look appetizing.

It didn’t disappoint.

The occasion was a family dinner we decided to have the evening after my other son, Jimbo’s funeral. The main course was his favorite meal, steak au poivre.  Jimbo never missed a meal if he knew that was on the menu. If for some reason he couldn’t be here, he made sure to stop by the next day for his leftovers. Despite the sadness of that reason for gathering, we had a great evening and a fantastic meal. Jimbo would have loved it, including the spinach salad.

I will treasure this photo always because it will remind me of that evening.

How does Secretariat, or Big Red, as he was often referred to come into this?

From the movie

Well, last night my husband and I finally got around to watching the movie.  Secretariat was a special kind of horse. His records still remain. His owner and others believed in him when most of horse racing didn’t. The movie had some sadness in it since the deaths of Penny Chenery Tweedy’s parents caused her to become more involved in the family business. Death is sad. But it doesn’t have to stop others from living. In Mrs. Tweedy’s case as for others around her, those deaths and the birth of the red foal provided new meaning and directions in their lives. There’s a powerful message there for me and others.

No, the movie wasn’t great by awards standards. But it was heart-warming and had a message. I got it. I’m not sorry I watched it.

And that comes to the third element of my blog title—a dash of sad.  SAD is a disorder that affect many people in low-light, dreary climates during the winter. Sad is an emotion that all of us have at one time or another.  It is not a disorder. In fact if we are truly living our lives, we must expect to encounter sadness and deal with it. I realized over this past week that sadness is like the spices I have in my kitchen, the ones I cook and bake with. If I didn’t have them, I’d have no chance of being adequate at either. Sadness is like the pepper that makes Jimbo’s favorite meal the great dish it is. Or the bacon and spinach flavors melding together to form the great salad. It’s the salt on fresh popcorn, the nutmeg in my pumpkin bread.  We need sadness. It can be the motivator that helps us move on or create something worthwhile. It can be negative if we let it overpower us or control us so others avoid us. Think garlic here.

Lake Michigan Break;up

So I’ve had another dash of sad in my life. But I’ll not dishonor my son by letting it turn bad. I’ll use the sadness to make me stronger and better. Sure I’ll be sad sometimes, but in a good, positive way. After all, winter is leaving us. I can see it do so on our lake.  Like winter, the mourning part of sadness is drifting away; the good memories remain. And spring will come again soon.

What do you think?

Explore posts in the same categories: emotions, Light bulb moments, Memories

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14 Comments on “Salad, Secretariat, & a Dash of Sad”

  1. Edie Ramer Says:

    MJ, this post evokes so many emotions. I admire you so much. You are a very wise woman.

  2. caseyclifford Says:

    Edie, it’s mutual then as I admire how much you get done in a week. A human energizer bunny with a writing talent. 🙂

  3. I think this is another wonderful post. It gives me a smile. So true, Sad is needed to make the happy stand out that much more. But if treated like you have, it fades, leaving the good memories behind.

    Love you, Casey…have a good week.

  4. Deb Maher Says:

    I love your comparison of emotions to seasonings. So true. The salad and steak sound like a delicious meal and I’m sure Jimbo was there in spirit enjoying it with you, all of it, the blending of flavors and the companionship.

    I so enjoy your posts, MJ. I’m glad that you are working through this time with your writing. Take care my wise friend.

  5. I think that Sundays have become ‘Read an inspiring post from a dear friend’ day. 🙂

    You know, yesterday I had such a taste for a salad. I know this may not be front-page news (LOL), but I rarely eat salad; my husband even raised an eyebrow as I put my salad together. To top it off I even made homemade dressing. Also, I’ve also been reading this series that takes place on a horse breeding ranch, so when I read your blog subject today it was like, “Huh, that’s weird.” LOL Aren’t you glad I shared that?

  6. Elle J Rossi Says:

    I really like this post and all the flavors that come with it. I’ve wanted to see that movie and now I think I will. Not only am I a fan of horses, I’m a fan of a heart warming tale.

    Winter blues are something I will always deal with (except when I lived in Florida). I crave sunshine. I really crave warmth, but sunshine can go a long way in making me feel…well feel better. Clouds are oppressive when sitting in a gray sky. Not so much when a brillian blue is the backdrop. But yes, we need sadness, or happiness would be pretty darn blah!

  7. caseyclifford Says:


    I’m so glad my post gave you a smile–it’s such a beautiful one. You are so right about the sad helping us enjoy the happy even more.

    Right now I’m very happy as I’m reading about Colton and Kendra and loving it. Thank you for helping me live in the world of horses in a different way.

    Love you too!

  8. caseyclifford Says:


    I tell you, the seasonings and emotions came to me in sleep. It’s the very best way to get my muse to solve an issue.

    I’m glad you enjoyed the post. As I was reading it, I thought I’d never approach your ability with language and emotions in your recent blog on Hylda.

  9. caseyclifford Says:

    Donna, sweetie,

    You know how to pull the heart strings with the phrase, Sundays, “read an inspiring post from a friend.” What a gift. Especially what a gift on that day I called you the first time to tell you you’d finaled in the FAB 5. How lucky I was to get to meet you.

    And you should have been here to taste Steve’s salad. Scrumptious!!!!

  10. caseyclifford Says:


    If you love horses and family, and I know you do, you’ll love this movie. I was brought back to those days and remembered seeing Secretariat run a race. He was phenomenal but I’d never bet on him because he was a red horse. I didn’t want to bring him bad luck and whenever I’d bet on a red horse, they’d have a bad day.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  11. Anne Parent Says:

    Once again, you’ve touched me. I’ve been sad this past week, and now I understand the bigger picture. I know I will have a much better week simply because of your blog. Thank you for inspiring me.

  12. caseyclifford Says:


    I hope the sun today brightens your sad feelings and helps you to move on. Besides, March arrives tomorrow and this eternal winter will ease away.

    Thanks for stopping in. 🙂

  13. Mair Says:

    Very nice MJ. The salad looks beautiful. The hands and shirt OK. XXXXOOOO’s

  14. caseyclifford Says:


    I figure the salad presentation comes from a direct line to Steve’s Aunt Mair. 🙂

    XOXO back at you!

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