Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Surprises

== My surprise Christmas present was Delightful - a new, high resolution, point and click camera. Same brand as I have just a really upgraded version. Dean said that as I had started making these books for the family and grandkids, I needed a really good camera to take really good pictures. It even takes movies. :D

Now there is an issue here: the person taking the pictures needs to take good pictures, frame them well, and have reasonably cooperative subjects. I discovered when I looked my pictures from Christmas day - I don’t take candids well. And when we tried to get a picture of the entire Mix clan, there is not one picture that is good of all of us. Oh the pictures are fine - the dinner guest who took them held the camera steady, framed the shot, got us all in. At least one of us in every picture was making a face, looking down, saying something so our mouths are weird. You know the kind of thing. I haven’t seen the ones off Dean’s camera yet. Maybe one of them worked. If not, I will use the one where I am the one talking so as not to embarrass anyone else ~ or maybe not. Heheheheheheh.

The house even received a surprise present: Dean bought us a convection toaster oven. It fits right under the microwave and I have a feeling that between it and the pressure cooker, we are set for our culinary lives. Of course I have to figure out all the supposedly simply settings, and I will. Already I can prepare wonderful toast!

In fairness and complete disclosure, Dean loved his Reed and Barton crystal old fashioned glasses. Christmas surprises were good this year and not a disappointment in the bunch. Maybe we have a new tradition. . .

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Little Bit of LIght

It is very subtle of course. Barely noticeable unless you are paying close attention. We left home at 5 last night and the sky was light for just a few minutes longer than the night before. This morning the sky was lighter just a little bit earlier than the morning before - just a tad earlier. Almost indiscernible. And it was there. Something new. Something different.

Sort of like the birth of a baby. Just a tiny new life in the great huge world of people ~ and yet, there is something different about the world. No one is sure quite what it is. Barely noticeable unless you are paying close attention like the shepherds and magi. Something new. Something different. Something just may have changed and whatever it is, it is Good.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Picture hangings

We received a generous gift from grandson, Kyle, our oldest, who is an artist. I had been complimenting his paintings that he had been posting on FB. One day we were talking and he said, you may have one if you would like. Wow. I went right to his FB postings and marked by comment the one I wanted. We brought it home in October.

Being us, however, it is only this week finally hanging on a wall big enough to hold it and allow it to be the impressive piece it is. Both moon and sun look down on us in blessing no matter what the sky outside is doing. We love it.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Fourth Sunday in Advent.

We are up very early because we slept really well. The fire and the Advent candles provide light in the room. The morning moon fades slowly against the on-coming dawn. The Advent candles reflect off Santa as well as the baby Jesus. A perfect blending of the special Joys of the season.

The pines are visible against a lightening sky. A day of blessings begins.

Reflecting on the colors of Advent. Some churches use purple candles, others blue. Sometimes pink is the color of one Sunday ~ I think for Mary’s love for the baby and I am really not sure. My own personal Advent wreath has always had red candles because I like the seasonal colors of red and green. The last two years because I have done minimalist decorating, the candle holders have been 2 red and 2 clear glass with some purple. Whatever the color, the center has been the nativity and a white candle lit on Christmas morning.

Energy follows intention and if the intention is to reflect, remember, anticipate and prepare for the birth of Light into the world, the colors reflect that energy as well. May your intention this season be Hope, Peace, Joy and Love so that your energy may be a blessing to the world.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Breathe, oh, Breathe

Dean was on lunch break from meeting and came upstairs. He wanders around and finally comes over to stand by my chair and look down at me with this silly grin on his face.

Me: What?

Dean: I bought you a Christmas present and it is a Surprise!

Me: - almost fainting and definitely hyperventilating - WOW!!

He told me a long time ago (it seems now) that he would buy me anything I wanted but he didn't buy Christmas presents because I would be disappointed. I assured him that in nearly 40 years of presents from my spouse, I had been disappointed a total of ONE time! Period.

Still - I never had a present under the tree for the past 10 years ~ and this year I don't have a tree and I have a Surprise for Christmas. :D :D :D I can hardly wait - don't know if he will wrap it and have it sitting around or just present it in its box Christmas morning. I think I brought it in from the PO this morning - and it is a medium sized box that is Very Heavy. And if that is my surprise, I am Very Curious. Heheheheheh - oh my, I didn't realize how much I had missed being surprised on Christmas morning. :D

I think I will spend my afternoon grinning!!! I feel like I am about 5.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

My Journey with the Eclipse

Speaking of moments under the moon. I got my times for the total lunar eclipse mixed up and I thought it was full at the time it was just beginning here. So I have been up and about and watching and going back to bed and up and about for what seems like Hours. Finally about 4:30 I checked my computer to discover it started here at 4:45. So I have seen the tiny beginning - come back in and made myself a cup of tea (resisting unloading the dishwasher at this most early hour) and will check on it off and on for the next hour or so. It is supposed to be full at about 6:10 ~ at which point I could be legitimately up.

Too cold to stay out for long even bundled up. So I go out about every 10 minutes or so and note the progress and am grateful I can still see it through the trees. It is beginning to set now so even as the shadow grows larger, so does the moon. I read where there is some optical illusion when the moon gets close to the horizon. It looks much larger. No matter what cameras or physics tell us, our eyes say, it is larger. And so I watch the moon and its shadow grow.

Oh boy - it’s 9 out there. Maybe I shouldn’t have looked. No wonder I can’t stay out long.

5:23: now the moon wears a red night cap or Santa hat tilted rakishly over it’s bright face. So far I am lucky. Even though I am having to view it through tree branches, I can still see it without going too far off the deck and the red color is definitely there even half way through the process. The trees do keep picture taking from being an option ~ although my camera is in my pocket.

6:00 OK!! And all I had to do was walk out on my deck. I wish I had really prepared for a hike up the hill. As it was I only had my old flashlight instead of my new really good camping headlight. Nor was I dressed for a hike. I looked rather comical actually: long johns, night shirt, 2 robes, Dean’s vest, ear muffs, gloves and hiking boots. Heheheheh. Even that prepared, the view from my deck was fine even through the tree branches. If Dean had been with me, I would have tried to get higher up the hill. We do live in a forest, however, and there are nocturnal animals heading home this time of morning and I did not want to encounter them alone. No one is hibernating yet.

Nonetheless, I saw it! Red with a sliver of white at the bottom that slowly disappeared as I leaned on my deck rail in chilly awe and amazement. Three years from now, if we are lucky enough to be in the viewing area again, I will remember to lay out hiking clothes and be prepared to venture into the forest and further up the hill. For now, I am very happy to have watched the autumn red moon.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Under the Midnight Moon

I couldn’t resist. The night was just too gorgeous. Closing the bedroom door so not to disturb Dean, I donned robe and fuzzy slippers and walked into the the magic of the midnight moon.

It rode high in the sky - not quite overhead, just a tilt to the west. The deck and land was flooded with light, “a luster of mid-day” seems seasonally appropriate. I stood with my head thrown back looking at the amazing star-studded, moon-washed sky. The stars were fewer of course and they were there. The air was quite chilly but not yet cold. I was able to breathe deeply and relish the moment of glory. Still it was a little chilly to spread my wings and dance. I will save that for a summer moon.

I know I will read and re-read these words remembering my magic moments under the mid-winter midnight moon.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Advent Blessing

As I light my Advent candles this morning, I want to share with you a quote from my blog friend Mike (http://csquaredthoughts.wordpress.com/) that he quoted from Rachel Barenblat, the Velveteen Rabbi, who had some profound and useful words for Rosh Hashanah. I told Mike I thought they would also fit for Advent and I believe they do.

"I’d like to invite each of us to cherish the memories which bring us joy, and to release the memories which bring us pain. To let go of the vision of what we imagined these holidays would be, and embrace instead whatever they actually are.

I want to bless you that you might find the connections, the insights, and the spiritual richness you need, in whatever your experience of [these days] may be."

Blessings, my friends, as you prepare ~ for Christmas, for Hanukah, for the Solstice, for Kwanza, or for whatever your holiday (holy day) of blessing and grace. May you be present in the experience of waiting and preparation.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Reflections on a Decade

Wow - the first of December. Not sure where time goes any more. It seems to be rushing by just like it did when I was 17.

Tomorrow will be Dean’s and my 10th anniversary. Amazing. Didn’t I just arrive in Tahoe? Isn’t this still a “new” relationship? I guess part of that has to do with an insight Dean shared last month.

He mentioned that this was our 50th year of marriage. I laughed and said, it may feel like that and we had really been married almost 10. No, he reminded me. We both married for the first time in 1961. Yes, there was a little break for both of us after more than 35 years of marriage after both spouses died. And then we married - ergo: we have been at this marriage business for 50 years. Amazing.

And have we gotten it “right” yet? :) I don’t know. With 50 years comes some wisdom and the one thing I do know is that trying to live with another person, even someone you love, is just plain hard. Some of us have it easier than others and really do enjoy our time with our spouse. I think we were both devastated when our first spouses died. I know I was. Then we found each other and as Dean puts it, “now we get to do it all over again.” I guess that means we had good marriages the first time around because the good ones are hard enough. To go through it again if it had been awful is just not the way to go.

Before I ever reconnected with Dean, I asked an older woman who had been a widow for a long time if she had ever considered marrying again. This lovely little old lady looked at me with fire in her eyes and said, “HA! Been there, done that.” And that closed that subject! I realized then that the first experience had a Lot to do with whether you wanted the second or not.

And so it has been ten years. You don’t just exchange one spouse for another so we have had our ups and downs learning lessons we thought we had learned before only to realize we learned them with someone else. I am not Nancy. Dean is not Rex. So we have learned to be Susan and Dean together. We’re doing fairly well at that. After ten years we deal with who we are now and have become rather than who we were in our first marriages.

Time continues to slip by. Days come and go. We grow, we change. Basically we are happy and content in a rather exciting way. Comfortable does not have to be dull, witness camping in Death Valley and celebrating life with eleven grand-children. So it is with joy that I celebrate with some amazement the passing of ten years and look forward to the future sharing life with my first-grade buddy.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Christmas Dilemma

So here’s the Christmas deal. Decorating was always a delightful time in the Mix family. We listened to carols, popped corn, had hot cider or cocoa and made a family night of it. Sometimes the daughters’ friends would come over when they knew that was happening. We had a good time and once the tree was done, we all braved the cold and went outside to see what people passing the house would see through the window. It was really nice.

When I married Dean, he told me he didn’t decorate. Oh, he will help with opening the window seat storage and with the lights but that’s it. No decorating for him. Well, that left me. And once I had adjusted to that change, it was ok. Then came last year. My hip surgery was too close to Christmas to allow me to do the tree decorating. I took out a few things: the dishes, a Santa placemat, red candles. My Advent wreath was a nativity I keep out all the time surrounded by four candles that I keep out all the time. It all worked.

And guess what? Christmas came anyway. :)

This year, the hip is back to normal, all is well, and . . . there was a great freedom in the lack of decorating last year. Hmmm - Interesting dilemma. I’m not sure if I want to expend all that energy this year. I love the season. I love all of it ~ the carols, the presents, the candles, the busy-ness and the silence. I love the gentle Advent preparation and the Christmas morning excitement. I love leaving decorations in place until Epiphany (although when the daughters were in school, I would take the tree down before they went back).

And . . . there was freedom in the very simple decorations last year.

I have my new red candles. I will do some basic decorating today ~ and I will give more thought to the tree and all that entails. And we will see. What I know to be true is that the Light of both the Solstice and the Savior will come into the world regardless of what I do. And there is great freedom in that knowledge.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Death Valley Camping

My one request: the sun sets at 5 so please, let’s get there before 5 and set up camp while there is still sun light and not in the dark. And the gods laughed. The blizzard winds (although not much snow) kept us from loading the truck Friday night. By the time we were away and made all our stops on Saturday, we drove into the park at exactly 5 o’clock, having watched a beautiful sunset as we drove in. We set up camp in the dark.

What is there about Dean bringing me to camp in wonderful fall-warm camping grounds and they having an unusual cool snap? Today it was just 57 and a strong wind at Scotty’s Castle and Ubehebe Crater. Scotty’s castle was inside of course. Amazing place about which much has been written. I think all stories are eclipsed by the building itself - which Scotty had nothing to do with building. The artisans who created the Spanish architecture were amazing. I’m not even sure such people exist any more.

We were going to tour and then have our lunch in a lovely little grove of trees with picnic tables just beside the parking lot. Instead, Dean (with his bare knees) sat in the truck and I hurriedly made the sandwiches with freezing hands and then hopped back in the truck where we ate lunch in relative warmth.

On the way back we drove into Ubehebe Crater. I could hardly open the door to the truck to get out - in my hat, earmuffs and gloves. No worries today about falling into the crater. The wind was coming across the crater. I could hardly make it there - and I am not a slender woman any more. And the gods laughed. Tens of thousands of people come to Death Valley every year and never see a drop of rain. This night just as we were about to prepare dinner, the rain came. Not much and enough to send me inside. And I had the chairs and stuff inside or put away before it came hard - and Dean had the steaks and asparagus grilled. We ate inside and would occasionally check on the rapidly dying fire. Dean took the breaks in the rain to finish rigging the tent and much of what he did was Very Helpful. Not as much blowing in the wind and firm so that we could hear the gentle rain.

The gods stop laughing and are smiling on us. A wonderful hike to and through Natural Bridge.

Two delightful swims in a beautiful, warm spring fed pool. Insight: if I had a private jet, I wouldn’t fly to Europe or the Caribbean. I would fly into Death Valley three times a week and go to the Furnace Creek pool.

~ and on the way out of the Valley, lunch inside a great big empty

The silence was truly profound ~

~ when we got on the 15 driving through the desert was suddenly boring. We never said “boring” about driving through Death Valley.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Being a Butterfly

Years ago as I went through a hard time in my emotional and spiritual life, the butterfly became a wonderful, healing symbol for me. It took other people pointing out to me that I was a butterfly. Tight in a cocoon of hurt and pain and confusion, I came forth as a stronger, happier, Present person. Butterflies represent new life, resurrection, and beauty. They have to beat their wings against the walls of their cocoon to give them strength to break out and fly. Butterflies also share from one flower to another. A person can move between persons, friends, sharing wisdom and love and insights. Butterflies bring blessings as they flutter by, gracing our eyes with color and life and then disappearing on the wings of air.

Today I read this: Every time Claire saw a butterfly she couldn’t help thinking of Carl Jung’s story of the butterfly beating its wings against the window, asking to be let in, bringing with it the divine hand of Fate, of -- what did Jung call it? --”synchronicity.” Because of this, she always thought of butterflies as messengers from the world beyond our knowledge; . . .” (Carole Bugge’)

I will add this image to my understanding of the butterfly experience. I am intuitive enough that I like the idea of on occasion being a messenger from the world beyond our knowledge.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Kindle Follow-up

So I have had a good time with my Kindle and my library. The Kindle app came with three books, one of which was Pride and Prejudice. Now of course I have P&P in my library. It is one of those I read at least once a year. So I started reading it on my Kindle. And then it came time to go to gym where I always read while riding the bike. This time I didn’t have to find another book to read. I picked up my hard copy of P&P, found the chapter and headed for the gym. When I was home and ready to read from my Kindle again, I found the chapter left off at the gym and continued to read. I know this switching between hard copy and Kindle won’t happen again because I won’t order for Kindle a book I already have on the shelves - probably. And it worked very nicely this week.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

In Honor of National Booksellers Day

== Let me make one thing perfectly clear. I Love books. And I am finding I love them regardless of the format in which I read them.

I have just put a Kindle app on my computer and I am amazed. I immediately downloaded my daughter’s 3rd novel. Then I decided to look for the next mystery in a series I am reading and there it was and here it was on my Kindle in seconds. At the same time, I have 6 used books coming with free shipping from my favorite on line book seller. My library shelves are loaded and I read and reread. I don’t listen to books on cds and yet I know plenty of people who do that as they commute.

I also believe in supporting my local bookstore so within the week I will go there and peruse possibilities for Christmas gifts for the grands. However they come and in whatever format, I love books. I believe in reading ~ books take us to imaginative places, to historical and future times in which we did not and cannot live. Books make us think. Introduce us to new ideas. Help us learn where old ideas came from and how they effect our lives today. Books ~ the writing down of ideas, stories, history ~ are a Wonderful concept. I believe we should be reading, reading, reading ~ and if that means downloads on my Kindle app and a stack of paper backs by my chair and shelves full of amazing titles, so be it. Here’s to reading!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Welcome Home

Dean’s father was a milliner. He not only made hats, he Created hats. Many of his hats were created to order: “Henry, I am going to thus and so event and wearing this particular color and I need a hat.” HIs was a specialty shop and all the hats were made by Henry. He lived and worked in Dallas and Dallas fashion wore Hats by Henry. Even though my mom was not a part of the fashion scene in Dallas, she did have one Henry hat of which she was very proud ~ and pleased to learn that his son was in her daughter’s first grade class. Henry rode the fashion in hats through to its end when in the early 60’s most of us stopped wearing hats.

Dean has often said that he couldn’t believe he didn’t have even One of his father’s hats. When we were making plans for our 50th high school reunion one of the women (who didn’t come unfortunately) said she and her sister both still had a Henry hat. Several people mentioned to Dean remembering his father and wearing his hats. One man said he even thought they might have one of his mother’s hats by Henry.

Sure enough they did and were generous enough to share the gift with Dean. (Thank you, Bob!!) The picture doesn’t do it justice as the black velvet is as rich and as lovely as the day he made it. As you can see, it still has the hat pin in it. The beads are also gleaming. If it were in style today, someone could put it on her head, wear it just as it is and look very stylish.

Dean will build a shadow box for it so it can be on display and the story told again and again. Maybe he will tell about working in the back room wrapping Christmas presents for Neiman’s across the street. Or even learning as an Eagle Scout to make his own Native American Fancy Dance costumes among all the beads and ribbons. Good memories came out of a box this morning. A Hat by Henry has come home.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Out of the Mouths . . .

The grands had been begging their mom to take them to Halloween City and so one day last week they went. They were met at the door by smoke blowing across the door out of the mouths of ghouls. Nope. Didn’t want to go in there. Being a good mom, she decided to help them face their fears, cross the smoke and discover a wonderful store on the other side. Except the store was more ghoulish and horrible than ever and pretty soon the 6-year old girl was sobbing. It took mom 20 minutes to talk her down - and lots of conversation about spooky scary and really frightening. Six-year old daughter looked right at her mom and said, “I told you I didn’t want to go in there. You should have listened to me.” Yes, even moms make mistakes sometimes.

Then came Halloween. At that point the Warrior Princess (disguised as a pink and fluffy Spider Woman) took over. She ran ahead of the rest of the family, would stand outside a house, hands on hips and look it over, make her decision and announce whether or not she could go to the door.

Then came the house with the smoke. Oh, dear - more smoke. Which of course blew as they stood there thinking about it. Finally deciding they could go to the door, they did. When the woman opened the door, “Harry Potter” - age 9 - big brother of the Warrior Princess - looks right at her and says, “Was the smoke really necessary?”

Monday, October 31, 2011

Reflections on Time with Grands

Some reflections of the trip to Temecula that aren’t reflected in the pictures:

Megan being very shy of me until I was holding Emily and she wanted to hold her. Suddenly she was up close to me and letting me help her hold Emily.

Less than 24 hours later, realizing she was calling and what she was saying was, “Susan. Susan. Susan.” She knows my name. Maybe the “Mama” part is a little difficult to grasp yet and that is ok. She knows my name.

When I went to dinner Thursday night, she ran to me for a welcome hug.

By Saturday, mine was the side she hid behind when she was feeling shy.

Feeling my arm hurting, wondering what I had done in gym, and then realizing it hurt because I had held Emily on that arm a Lot the day before.

Realizing diapering a baby is like riding a bike: once you get it, you get it and no matter how long it has been, you can still do it.

Spending time with Kyle, the oldest of our 11 grands. Having him drive me around. Visiting and talking about all sorts of things from his health to the dog we both loved. Sharing a lunch and deciding what we would both like to eat. Having him look across a table at me and share the family secret with our eyes while his sibs went on playing a game.

Playing Bananagrams and Apples to Apples. I really like Bananagrams - you compete only with yourself which when dealing with words, that is good. A whole family evening of Apples to Apples. I think Grandpa and Emily were the only two who didn’t play. Even Megan sat by her mom and asked about some words. We had fun.

Visiting with Rob as he grilled a lot of meat for dinner at their house.

Seeing Chen Lu for the first time and saying, “Hi, daughter-in-law” and her ducking her head and blushing. We do think she is more comfortable now that she is “official” - and of course in her case, it also means she is now in this country completely legally and permanently.

Helping Carly with her writing, spelling and reading. I think we made some progress which made me feel good. Having her ask if I would like to accompany her to her MRI. I had already planned to go with Megan to the party in the park and I was flattered Carly asked.

Helping Amanda make pecan pies at her request. Ending up making the pecan pies because of the need for daughters’ baths. That’s ok - she saw some of it and was glad to figure out some things. The pies were Delicious! I really set it on the top shelf. She loved the crust -- I am going to send her the hamburger pie recipe so not all her pies have to be sweet.

Making a picture book for Megan and Emily tonight. Thank you, Apple! I really enjoy them. Megan and I read and read the first one I made which was one for her. We named everyone in the pictures over and over. Mandy says it is a perfect size and easy for her to hold.

Lots of fun times and memories made.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Mmmmmm Good

There are many ways to eat my homemade apple sauce. Mostly I just eat it, straight up. That way I have matched it with dinner, with egg and toast for breakfast, beside a scone, and on a plate with cheese, crackers, and a bit of meat for a supper snack. I have put it on top of an ice cream sundae, as part of a smoothie and under Michelle’s good granola (www.mamabearskitchen.com). And that was all in the last five days.

Mixed with Michelle’s granola made me remember that my father used to put apple sauce on top of whatever cereal he was having for breakfast - from bran flakes to oatmeal. We are still talking homemade apple sauce of course.

I understand apple sauce goes well as the oil in cakes or bread recipes. I have put it in my muffin recipe and I think it would be lovely in banana or zucchini bread. I have mixed the granola with pancake batter so I am thinking we could have apple/granola pancakes with the addition of a little apple sauce.

Looks like I just may have to make some more as I only have two big bags in the freezer. Time for another visit to an apple market. I’ll see what I can find on the way back up the mountain next week. Meanwhile, I keep enjoying this batch!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Good Read

Recently I read 1776 by David McCullough, a Pulitzer Prize winning author, whose ability to spin a fascinating tale out of the facts of history has no parallel. He tells a Wonderful story, full of ordinary characters caught in an extraordinary time and living a history whose outcome they did not know.

McCullough begins his tale in London on October 26, 1775, the day King George III when before Parliament, declared the American colonies in rebellion and made clear his resolve to crush it. Extensive research into both American and British archives brings the following year into high focus through the writings of generals, military men, letters home from freezing, starving soldiers, and letters to those soldiers from wives and sweethearts battling the same war on the lanes and byways of the growing country.

HIstory has taught us mainly about George Washington, Father of our Country, General, astride his noble steed. The real records show him to be indecisive and leaning strongly on the opinions of Nathaniel Greene, a Quaker who was made a general at thirty-three, and Henry Knox, a twenty-five-year-old bookseller whose preposterous ideas actually worked even in the dead of winter.

Washington had never led an army into battle and it seemed to this reader that his greatest ability for a long time was his ability to retreat without the enemy, and sometimes even his troops, recognizing what was happening. He called it “repositioning” the troops.

The Declaration of Independence is dealt with only as a political statement that turned the war from rebellion to treason and set the bar of victory even higher. It did give new impetus to the war and spirit to the fighters.

McCullough delves deeply into the British story as well. British Commander, William Howe, led his highly disciplined red-coats into battle after battle with a valor that we rarely read about in American history books.

There is no final conclusion in 1776 as the war drones on for another six years. Washington has an idea, however, that changes the course of the war and of history. It is still a wonder things turned out the way they did.

I was reading a very good mystery at the same time I was reading 1776 and I found myself laughing because as I reached for a book, I discovered I needed to get Washington off that mountain, over that river, through that battle, more than I needed to discover “who done it”. This is a terrific, electrifying telling of an amazing, powerful story of all sorts of ordinary people who fought for an idea and thereby created a country.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fall Fresh

No, my family will find no pods in the basement. This really is The Mama being creative in the kitchen. I always cooked and was basically a good if not very creative cook. Then after about 30 years of marriage and cooking, I declared a halt to the cooking. I still did it of course but basically I had had it. When Dean and I began to think we might be a couple, I told him, “I don’t cook.” I’m still good when I do and once in a while I have creative splurges in the kitchen. This week is one of those.

The last of the Farmers’ Market tomatoes, chopped with fresh basil from the market and frozen as the basis for soups and sauces during the winter.

Apples from the market, ready to be cored, sliced and turned into Aunt Lalah’s apple sauce. Very simple. Cook, blend, add a dab of sugar, freeze. Yum!! I may even be adventurous and use this amazing pressure cooker that I have touted before.

Concord grapes are being eaten right off the stem. Although I may freeze them too for sweet snacks at other times in the year. The Concord grape season is Very short and no grape matches them according to my taste buds.

The growing season seemed short this year and in a couple of weeks we will drive south so maybe we can find some fresh veggies and fruit to bring home. There is no grocery store tomato that tastes like a one fresh off the vine.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Totally Missed Communication

Once in a while two people totally miss each other in conversation. Some times it is very serious. And some times it is just silly ~ as in:

Me: You and D could have chili for lunch here today and I have a massage and won’t be around to make rice so you had better go out.

Dean: I don’t want to eat lunch out after eating out for breakfast. If the pressure cooker is clean, we can have rice in three minutes.

Me: That’s true. OK - I’ll have everything ready for you.

Later that morning - shortly after 11:

Me: I have everything set for you. All you have to do is turn on the heat under the chili and make the rice.

Dean looks at me strangely and sort of nods.

I head for my massage saying : or you can wait for me if you want to.

Get massage. I have heard Dean come upstairs. Sounds like only one set of foot steps and no talking but I don’t think anything about it. Come upstairs myself. Look around.

Me: Has D gone?

Dean: Yes.

Me: Did he eat lunch?

Dean: No - he was here for breakfast. He left about 11.

Whoa! No wonder Dean looked at me strangely shortly after 11. He thought it nice though that I had set such a nice table and had everything ready for us to have lunch. He even saved a little rice for me and when I got my own chili mac out of the fridge, he finished up the rice. I thought D would be here all day - at least through lunch so I had set everything so they could eat at home and Dean could prepare it with ease.

All you can do is shake your head, laugh and be Very Grateful that the total miscommunication was only over who was going to be seated at the lunch table and not over something more serious.

Friday, October 7, 2011


When I posted my last blog about the multi-cultural clinic experience, I told my daughter a little more of the story. She said, mom, you should say that in the blog. We need to be aware of that.

So here is the rest of my thought process. Everything went along smoothly and easily until my x-rays were posted on the wall. Then everything stopped. We were waiting for the doctor to read them. And waiting . . . and waiting . . . and waiting. Finally I went to the desk and asked how long it would be. Not much longer. And we waited. I went to the desk again: Is the doctor even in the building? Yes, he is having a little lunch - said with embarrassment and uncertainty that she should have said that. I assured her that it was fine - that helped me. Good heavens, the doctor could surely take time for a little lunch at 3:30 in the afternoon. Then I saw the doctor. He was wandering around - no longer eating lunch - and just back there. I was the only one in the waiting room. There was one baby crying in the back, but he wasn’t with the baby.

Finally I get up again and say, is there any way he could just call me with the results?

Just a minute. And the receptionist when around the back, spoke with the nurse practitioner, I was called back, seen, given the results, told what to do and sent on my way.

And through it all I was aware that I had the ego strength and power that comes from being white, middle class and certain that I deserve good service. I was raised with it and expect it.

What does this have to do with the clinic? I still wonder if people of a different culture, different race, different class, have any sense of that yet? Would a young Hispanic mother feel confident in saying “What is happening? Why isn’t the doctor looking at my x-rays? Or seeing my baby? Or addressing whatever the issue?” Maybe she would. Maybe I am behind the times. And maybe, having listened to some friends and read blogs and seen the news, I am right on. The sense of privilege is still with us and those of us who carry it at least should be aware that we do.

Monday, October 3, 2011

A Multi-Cultural Experience

Friday night at midnight I took a fall, stubbing my little toe on the end of a staircase I had avoided for 4 days and nights. Slipped, fell forward and the rounded edges of two steps jammed into my thigh and my side just below my ribs. Sore. Painful. Scary. Tears. All those things ~ and it could have been so much worse that I am very grateful.

Still ~ the daughters both suggested (wise women that they are) that I have the ribs xrayed because on Sunday morning I had to fly home. So on Saturday afternoon I had my friend take me to an urgent care clinic. The one closest to her was neat, clean, and if you will pardon the expression, white. And they didn’t take medicare or xrays. Oops. So they recommended a Minor Emergency clinic which did both. There we went - into an entirely different neighborhood. The building was old, not too neat inside and we were the only Anglos present either in the waiting room or among the staff.

I was cared for, listened to, treated well and with deference shown a hurting person of any race by health care folks of any race. Once he had ascertained that my ribs were ok, the doctor did poke my side and thigh and toe a bit - ouch. That’s ok though - he learned what he needed to learn. My time with them went quickly, efficiently and smoothly. When the doctor had seen my xrays, the nurse practitioner saw to it that he looked at me, checked the other two sore spots and then she made sure I understood my instructions - ice, rest and no exercise for two weeks. I said ok. Today I am checking with my own Physical Therapist re: how long before gym routine again. And I know what she will say: if it hurts, don’t do it. :) I may be two weeks without exercise after all.

I am very grateful for those folks who were in that clinic, ready to be present and helpful to anyone who walked in in pain. The front desk folks were unable to verify my medicare so the accountant appeared and asked if I had been to a doctor this year. I said, well, I had hip surgery in November so in January I . . . and she said, “$25”. I think the deductible is gone and she knew it. And if I can be reimbursed the $25 fine - if not, it was a small price to pay for peace of mind and a safe flight home. Thank you, everyone, at the Minor Emergency Clinic!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Reunion Reflections

All these folks graduated from high school with me in January of 1961 ~ 50 years ago. Yesterday we gathered at our friend's house and celebrated us. We had a third of the class there - 52 graduates, 20 attendees, and several who had planned to come and for some reason didn't. We searched and searched to find all 52 and sometimes even these days of the internet, it just isn't possible. We are very grateful for all those who we found and who said yes to being with us.

We shared a lot about the past - remembering places we had hung out, telling stories from school, laughing a lot. And we also looked forward, talking about interesting things happening now ~ we are not all retired; sharing hopes and dreams for the future. Yes, we also talked about our health, hip and knee replacements and how we are managing. That was ok - we talked about such things and then moved on.

All in all, a delightful, perfect time. Had you been there, you might have been amazed at the vitality, energy and spunk in this group of 68, 69 year olds. "Old" age takes on a whole new meaning when we gather like this. It was a fun time.

Monday, September 19, 2011


Spent a lot of today shopping with Joshua. And mostly we had dorm life in a shopping cart. All those little things that mom has usually bought for you and put in your bathroom cabinet or under the kitchen sink to clean with. But in the midst of all that practicality was a little fun: a fedora and a sweater vest, jeans and tan slacks, and a fun coffee mug that caught his imagination and I said, oh why not. :D

Meanwhile, Dean was at home getting our new (bought off Craigslist) round dining room table up the back drive and into the house. I am very pleased. I was a little concerned that it was too dark for the space. I have several round center pieces and will choose which one I like best when I have time to do that. Meanwhile, I am excited about the new table. We will leave the glass one on the deck. It looks wonderful on the deck and the glass top comes off so it can be tucked next to the wall away from the snow during the winter.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Always Listen

Listening to my body. It has been my mantra since I was 13 and I see no reason to abandon it now. Last night I was in tears, sobbing ~ my feet and ankles felt weird and funny and my nerves were all on edge and as I lay there I realized there was more than a physical reason for my tears. I did not, do not want to go to this meeting in Reno today. Do Not want to be on anyone’s advisory board. Do Not want to become involved again. And the other thing I realized - duh! - is that no one was going to hog tie me and make me go. So in a few minutes I will call Norman, thank him for his kind offer and tell him I’m not coming. As I said to Dean, if as the old saying goes, I had had the sense I was born with, when he asked if I was interested in being on an advisory board, I should have said no. Then I wouldn’t have had all this gentle angst this week and tear last night at all.

There was a moment of “whoa” this morning when I told Dean. He said, “Oh, honey, you can’t do that.” “Of course I can.” And that was that. After a bit more information from me, he said, “well, of course if you don’t want to, you shouldn’t.” You got it, my friend. :) And I am sorry to be telling Norman this so late. I am sure I would have enjoyed meeting people today and had a good time although I was not looking forward to the drive to Reno by myself. That would have been immaterial had I really wanted to do the job. Just not my thing. After all, I quit the PSR board after a three-year term. Just not my thing no matter what others think might be good for me. Phew. Slept really well last night after that decision. Always listen. Bodies rarely steer us wrong.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


As if I had any real option. I was ready to go to gym this morning. Had my tote over my shoulder. Said good-bye to Dean and I would probably be back before he left. He said, “OK. I think I will take a little walk.” - Stop - Freeze - Rapid think

Choice: gym with casual friends, inside, usual routine. Walk through rain-soaked pine forest with Sweetheart. That decision didn’t take long.

The forest was Glorious. The trail beaten down by the rain. The greenery - green - greener than any September either of us remember. The creek is running - yes, in September there is Running water in the creek. And the aroma? Oh, my - sweet and heady and as always reminding me of my childhood summers in the pine forests of North Carolina.

We walked the loop which takes us down a small, one track trail through a very still and magical open forest. I am not sure what to call the mid space between forest and meadow. Anyway - that’s where this trail goes. Wonderful. All the while breathing deeply and feeling our bodies fill with clear, cool, clean mountain air. Delightful. Good choice. :D

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Reflections on 9/11

We all agree today ten years ago was horrific, horrible, indescribable and life-changing for the entire country, perhaps the world. Beyond that, where do we go? We go from the very general to the very personal. People died. Innocent people going about their jobs. Working people doing their jobs trying to save others. Good people. Ordinary people ~ some of whom became heroes. And all those people and their families deserve our remembrances.

Just like any of us deserve the memories of our loved ones who have died. My mom died when I was 16. At 68 I am still pleased when someone remembers her or something she did or my daughters ask me about her.

My concern today is of the overwhelming media coverage showing the pictures over and over again as if trying to bring it back so close that we relive the experience. None of us need to do that. Remember, yes! Absolutely! Idolize, no. There are indeed days that change lives and this is one of them. But to take us back emotionally to that day when we have moved forward for ten years is too much. We have moved forward. There are things happening today.

There is a memorial service and celebration of her life today for my friend from the book store who died last month. Dean is having a meeting in the office today and tomorrow and at 9 this morning I prepared a table of morning goodies and made the coffee and they are at work. Sunday is a work day for one son-in-law who is a helicopter pilot and right now he is fighting a fire. He is only one of many in that particular occupation today as land and homes across this country are on fire right now. Babies are being born. Grandfathers are dying. People are living their lives in hope and struggle, frustration and joy, fear and freedom just like we do every day of every year of our lives.

Do we need to stop a moment and remember those who died on this day? Yes. And then we need to take a breath, acknowledge that we are the ones who won even in the midst of destruction and move on. Live continues. Love continues. The human spirit soars beyond the moment into a life of possibilities.

Friday, September 9, 2011


== Good news! And a Huge sigh of relief. The results from my life-line screening came today and my arteries and blood flow are all OK - Phew. Oh yes, my BP is a little high; so is my cholesterol; and none of this is unexpected. This we knew. It was the odd feelings in my legs, ankles and feet that had me worried ~ and all is clear. Still don’t know why I feel this way and at least I know I am free flowing. Grateful beyond words for these results.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Old Bones

I am reading a book by Arron Elkins titled, Old Bones. Elkins writes about forensic anthropologist Gideon Oliver who is able to decipher all sorts of mysteries from the old bones he encounters. And the excellency of this series is the subject of another blog. Today I am thinking about old bones.

I heard an interview on Science Friday (NPR) by some scientists who had taken DNA from the teeth of skeletons buried in the 1400s in order to trace the origins of the plague.

And then there are our grandparents, parents and even ourselves who say the ache in our elbow or hip tells us that the weather is changing. We “know” things deep in our bones. Intuition tells us when something is right or wrong and yet, is it some magical flash, or a deep knowing that has come from years of experience that has settled in our bones?

And so I am contemplating old bones and the wisdom that accumulates in our bodies as we live.

We have a two month old granddaughter ~ new bones. She is learning fast and furiously, putting all sorts of new information into her bones. She is on one the fastest most rigorous learning curves of her whole life in these first two years. She will learn what hurts and what feels good; what makes her laugh and what makes her cry; what brings Mama and what Mama ignores; what makes Mama happy and what makes Mama frown. Her bones will literally learn how to carry her upright and how to move across the floor. Lots of learning for new bones.

I watched four young mountain jays flying around the yard this morning. They fly fine - just in shorter spurts than the older jays. They are less sure of their surroundings and they are very aware of us. The older jays - especially one big loud guy - almost ignore us and land on the deck, on chair backs, and chatter and tell us to feed them (we don’t) and to pay attention.

No conclusions. Just my own chatter regarding the wisdom we gather and accumulate through the years. If we could extract wisdom DNA, what would it show us about ancient shamans, priests and priestesses, grandparents and all those on whom we build our own bone knowledge? Next time someone tells me they just know it in their bones, I think I will listen very carefully. ~ blessings

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Food Insight

The PSOB back again. And this time without salt. That’s right. No salt. OK - of course I still eat salt. We all need sodium so as not to faint if nothing else. What we don’t need is huge amounts of salt ~ especially when we live at altitude, in a very low humidity climate where we have to make an effort to sweat.

We had friends visit for a week and he is on very low sodium and we plunged right in with him ~ no tapering off ~ just ate what she said he could have. We don’t add salt anyway, and for a week we were reading labels and checking out sodium content and avoiding having anything that had too much.

After a week of that, when they left I returned to the gym, and found myself with Loads of Energy. I even feel “lighter” ~ having nothing to do with weight. The scales show about the same and I had had ice cream and even creme brulee. What I hadn’t had is Salt. One way I am lowering my sodium is to measure my wonderful no cholesterol Greek salad dressing instead of just pouring it on. Amazing how far a tablespoon of dressing can go when the salad is tossed and tossed. Wow. The change in feeling is incredible.

My doctor will be very pleased. He has wanted me to decrease my blood pressure a little. If this works like folks say it will, my BP will go down nicely before I see him again in several months. I am much more likely to stay on low sodium because of this energetic light feeling than because of any test the doc does every 4 to 6 months. I’m stoked!!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Several Moments in Time

When Rex was faculty sponsor of the on campus radio station and taught one journalism class, he assigned his students interviews with members of the Pioneer Club who had returned for Homecoming. The Pioneer Club was made up of anyone who had been graduated 40 years or more. One delightful student decided she would interview the oldest woman there. The interview was going along very nicely when she asked: What did you do for fun back then? The octogenarian smiled, her eyes twinkled, and she replied: The same things you do today. We just didn’t talk about it so openly then.

I was in my late 30s, early 40s when I was on an ecumenical planning committee. They sent me a copy of the program and there I was, the only one without a list of initials after my name. There were degrees of course and even a few titles and the Catholic sisters seem to have the most letters which denoted their orders I suppose. My daughters said, “Mom, you need some letters after your name.” A friend who was visiting at the time suggested PSOB. What? “Pretty Sexy Old Broad”.

I was younger then of course. Forty was an interesting time as I began to get some delightful attention from younger men. I commented on this fact to a dear friend. Now this lady was amazing: tall, regal in bearing, ordained minister, married to a minister, wise, a mother in the faith to me and after my mom died, a surrogate mom for a while. I had no idea what she might say to this (I thought radical) statement of mine. She smiled, patted my arm and said, “Oh, my dear, just wait until you are 50.”

I spent year 67 in great pain. Pain took away my sense of being attractive in any way at all. I certainly didn’t feel sexy. I felt old, dowdy and pinched. I may have looked good. Dean even told me that he liked a particular outfit or that I looked very nice or even sexy. Didn’t matter what he or anyone else said. I didn’t Feel attractive or sexy. Then I had hip replacement surgery. No more pain. Slowly, gradually energy returned. I go to the gym. I am gaining muscle tone I had lost. I am active again. And I Feel Sexy. They say that 90% of sexiness is in our heads. I can attest to that. However I felt last year, this year I feel good, know when I look good, feel sexy and am more ready than ever to sign myself in as a PSOB!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Doing it Again

If Rex had lived August 24th would have been our 50th wedding anniversary and there would have been some sort of a party and celebration and all sorts of whoopla just because we had made it this long together. Rex didn’t make it. And neither did Nancy. Dean and Nancy were also married in 1961, December 26 to be exact. And so as Dean points out, this is our 50th anniversary year of being married. Oh yes, we both had a break after more than 35 years - spent some time alone, but not really enough to get out of the marriage mode.

Of course you don’t just switch one spouse for another ~ after we married each other, we adjusted, we changed, we worked through issues both of us thought had already been worked through years before only to remember that was with the other spouse.

I have recently been given some pictures from family archives of my grandparents’ fiftieth wedding anniversary. They had to have been about my age because I know my grandmother had her first daughter at 18. They are a very handsome couple. They had lived a strong and probably hard life. Papa Dear was a farmer. Mama Dear had run a boarding house. And yet there they are at their fiftieth anniversary looking soft and demure. Neither look like they have been to a gym a day in their lives nor like they had much energy about them. I think Dean and I must be a lot younger at 68 than they were at the same age.

I guess that is to say that although all fifty years of marriage have not been to the same person, we are glad to be living in an age when that may still be a milestone, and we don’t have to stop and stay here. We are able to continue the joys of marriage (“we get to do it again”, Dean says) as well as a healthy, strong, energetic aging process.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Intense Silence

== Intense Silence. I am not sure I have ever thought of silence as being intense before. This morning Dean was moving some furniture around to prepare the deck for more power-washing. I came inside for another cup of tea and sat down in my chair and realized there was No sound.

The silence began to press in on me in a very good way. It called me to attention. I put down my tea and settled in my chair, feet on the floor, hands in my lap, eyes closed. I reached out with my ears and there was No sound. No cars on the road. No moving around the deck noise. No bird or little critter noises. No house noise - not even the ice maker. I pulled my attention back into my body and let myself be supported by the silence. I simply sat and let it settle in and around me. I was grounded - centered - releasing.

There is a sense that the intensity will stay with me even though the power-washer will begin soon. Dean came in and spoke to me and it took a moment to return to our shared space in order to hear him. Now there is a little movement, some sound, and he is on the deck again. And still the silence seems to be protecting me from whatever sounds will come. I have had this experience before of course - learned a long time ago how to surround my body with silence so that the words I was hearing didn’t invade my space but simply entered my hearing without beating on me. This morning was different though. I was not the initiator of the silence. The silence itself was alive and intense and calling me to its center. Very nice. Very nice indeed.