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 ( 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!