Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Well-played Grief

 Like a good third or more of the country, I am a fan of Downton Abbey. I tape it on Sunday night and watch it later in the week. This week none of my FB friends who usually comment on the show said one word. I was totally unprepared for Sybil’s death. Oh, you see it coming of course: the early delivery, the arguments about treatment between the old family doctor and the specialist from London, the decision that you just know will be the wrong one. And still, the death itself was painful. 

I have been through several very sudden and unexpected family deaths. While joining in the grief of the story, I was also aware of how perfectly the actors portrayed their grief. There was loud weeping; stoic silence that allows for no utterance; tears that reddened eyes and slipped down cheeks; the helpless anguish of the doctors who knew they should be able to do something and couldn’t. Finally there was the brilliant stumble as Lady Grantham (Maggie Smith) went to join the family, so subtle it was hardly noticeable except that some brilliant director shot it from behind so that we saw the shoulders bow, the hand reach out, the back stiffen again and the step that moved her forward. And every single one of them brought to the show the grief that was their character’s. A director can only do so much. Then it is up to the actor to take the emotion of the scene and portray it authentically so that even though we know it is a story, we are able to participate ourselves. Really, really well done. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Things to Share

A friend who came to my birthday lunch brought cupcakes ~ and they even had the butterflies on them when she bought them. :)

I have started using a new piece of exercise equipment at the gym This is evidently all the rage in gyms and PT gyms now. There are all sorts of exercises you can do with it. For now, I am doing this very basic one. Balance leaning back . . . 

. . . and pull yourself up. The neat thing: before I started lifting even small weights, I never could have done this. Right now I am still edgy about how far back I go. I'll get better. Meanwhile, I'm pleased. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday Morning Pleasantries

Sunday morning pleasantries: I always miss Dean when he is out of town. One of things he does at home that I particularly miss is our morning fire. From early fall until summer, he builds a fire almost every morning. So when he is out of town, I miss that. This morning I built the fire. 

It is a grey, snowy day and I knew how I wanted to spend it: in my most comfy clothes, snuggled in my comfy chair under my comfy blanket ~ and in front of my comfy fire. So I built it. I have often built fires but this was Dean’s routine so I have just left it to him. And this morning I Really wanted a fire. So nice. I will keep it going most of the day. 

I am indeed snuggled down in front of it in all that comfort I mentioned and I am very happy. ~ may your day be as happy whether on the ski slope, the beach or in front of your fire

Saturday, January 26, 2013

What's a Heroine To Do?

I have been reading and watching some 1940's mysteries lately. And so I ask, what is today's heroine supposed to do without a hair pin?

How is she supposed to open the old wooden box that contains the purloined love letters?
~ or pry forth the hidden drawer in her uncle's desk where the lost will has been hidden all this time?
   ~ or open the locked door behind which lies freedom or the secret to the entire mystery?

Without a hair pin to secure her locks in their complicated coil, and therefore available to her cleverness and wisdom thereby allowing her to solve the mystery, what is a heroine to do?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Birthdays Past and Present

I have been scanning some old pictures and here they are: birthdays from the past until today. 

 Susan at three weeks old with her mom.

Susan at one year with her new teddy bear ~ "Old Ted" by name.

Susan at 3 years old with her new trike.

Susan (on far right) at her 5th birthday party. We dressed up then ~ and even at 5 I had a corsage. 

Susan at 8th birthday ~ it was a square dance theme. 

Susan at 40th party after play "Forty Carats". Bob Gardner brought me a "cake" with 40 carrots.

Today ~ 70 ~ restaurant brought banana bread with candle. We shared it around the table. Hmm - the hair may be lighter but by golly the smile and the dimples are still the same. 

Friends joined me for lots of fun conversation and good eating. Delightful day. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

On Approaching 70, 3

Decade birthdays have been big deals for me. Forty ~ I had the lead in Forty Carats, where the 20 year old man falls in love with the 40 year old woman. The Sunday matinee was on my 40th birthday. We hired the theatre hall and invited everybody we knew ~ almost literally. Folks came from miles away to party. Fifty ~ we had a buffet in a hotel ball room, hired a band, and danced the night away. Sixty ~ not quite so elaborate as I had only recently moved to Tahoe and a dear friend helped Dean put together a nice dinner here at the house followed by a lovely ritual of blessing. Seventy ~ ah there’s the rub. Plans are for a family party which we will have and it depends on some work schedules so it will happen when it happens. Dean leaves town today and will not be back until late tomorrow. I am having lunch with some women friends so that will be lovely. Still I was feeling just a little down ~ until:

I have a friend whose birthday is today. She posted on FB that people should give her the gift of their random acts of kindness today. How Delightful!!! To be celebrated all over the country - even world - by random acts of kindness in your name. So - I am stealing her idea. Wherever you are, do something unexpected tomorrow (the 23rd), something delightful, something that brings a smile to another’s face. If you want to, you may tell me about it in a comment here or on Facebook. You may keep it totally anonymous. Doesn’t matter. I will “know” that you read about it here, it made you smile, and you did something kind. I’m even going to assume there are 70 of them! ~ love and butterflies, my friends, from a very happy lady who is rapidly approaching 70 ~ 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

On Approaching 70, 2

My 70th birthday celebration is being spread out over several days. These days will have a lot of family and friends and eating ~ after all, it is a celebration. 
The first meal was with Dean who in a surprise move Saturday at noon suggested going out to lunch for Mexican food at my favorite place, Las Panchitas. I didn't think to bring a camera. Dean had just come off the snow mobile and I was dressed for hanging around the house on a Saturday. Still the impromptu lunch and the delightful afternoon that followed was the start of the week. 

Tonight part of my family came up the hill and we met half way at La Fondue ~ guess what their specialty is? It has almost become a tradition to have my birthday dinner here. So here we are. 

Dean is really having more fun than he looks like. 

First course: cheese fondue. Notice the heart in the center.

Main course: "oil" fondue with lots of goodies to cook in it. This was the grands first time with fondue and they had the Best time. Ate a lot. Told us with great joy about every bite and how good it was. 

Dessert: chocolate fondue and ice cream fondue. This is the ice cream ~ with blazing sauces around the edge.

Dig in, family! 

I told Dean, this was the best birthday present in the world, being able to bring such fun and joy and good eating to my grandchildren. They had Such a good time ~ meaning I did too. Birthday week is under way!

On Approaching 70

We have all seen lists of wise sayings that both women and men have compiled of things they have learned over the course of a long life time. I can’t think of a thing. Oh, I suppose I could be clever and say something like, don’t touch a hot stove, don’t talk with my mouth full, don’t interrupt. The thing is: I can remember several times in the last few months that I have done all of these things at least once. I have certainly learned enough to have spent years living in a civilized society and being at home there and not being ostracized because of some weird behavior. 

I look in the mirror and see . . . me. Oh sure, I’d like to be a little thinner ~ back to those days. But on the whole it is a good body that has come along with me for these 70 years without giving me too much trouble. It is with much gratitude that I celebrate the medical advances that have given me good teeth (floride) and a new hip so I can move with ease and free from pain. It’s my body. She’s in reasonably good shape and functions well. 

My brain still functions. I do crossword and other puzzles. I read a wide range of books and news articles and watch a wide range of tv shows and movies. I have kept up with technology some -- no twitter yet, but I am on Facebook, have been using email for years, and am mostly comfortable with my computer. I read on my Kindle app as well as holding a “real” book in my hands. I can hold reasonably intelligent conversations about life and faith and other topics. Not very good with politics, but then I never have been nor do I care to start now. 

I know that through the years I have influenced people. I have taught, directed, preached and lived out a life of a woman. I have been mother, lover, wife (for the traditionalists reading this), dancer, Aquarian butterfly and pilgrim on the journey that is home. My life is whole cloth. In the Zodiac I am an Aquarius and on the Native American wheel of life, my tribe is the butterfly. When I was 5, I saw a vision of my origin and knew myself to be 5 and 45 and 85 all at once. I still feel that continuity of being who I am in the moment that I am. 

And for all of this, I have no wisdom to offer unless of course I am asked. Then maybe we can have a conversation. For pithy sayings, go to someone else. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Healthy is as Healthy Eats

Dean has decided to try gluten free. It seems to be helping his knees a lot. Good for him! It isn’t too hard for us to do because there is no allergy involved, certainly nothing life threatening. So I decided I would support him eating gluten free as well. When I was looking through the frozen gluten free breads at the grocery store, I discovered they had gluten free bagels so I bought a bag. Healthy, right? Except the other morning I decided to check the label ~ unfortunately having already bought them. Each bagel has 320 calories. I can have an entire breakfast for that many calories. I also try to watch my salt intake. One bagel ~ 520 mg of sodium in One Bagel!!! I have never looked at the labels on regular bagels because we usually buy them fresh. So I checked on line, discovered a calorie counter and nutritional list for almost any food you can name, and learned that bagels indeed are high in calories and sodium. And here I though 1/2 a bagel with a little low fat cream cheese or jam was, if not good for me, at least ok.  So much for bagels I guess ~ not so much because of calories but because of sodium. I don’t have them often anyway. Now I will have them only for special occasions and definitely stay with a half. You really have to be careful when you think you are being healthy. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Brrrr ~ anyway you look at it

Yesterday I posted our forecast on facebook: low of 5 with wind chill of -13. Now the wind didn't come so it is only 9 this morning with a real feel of 6. However, it did get me to thinking about the coldest temperature I have ever encountered.

It used to be that when airplane captains welcomed you to a city they would say something like, "Welcome to Dallas where the temperature is 93." "Welcome to Portland where the temperature is 67." They always said it very casually ~ after all they were airplane captains and their real job right then was to land us safely. So they said their line and went back to work. No one ever reacted to these remarks unless flying into Texas in the summer from somewhere with ordinary summer temperatures. Then you might hear a moan or two if the temperature in Dallas that day was 103 and it was already 8 o'clock at night.

So ~ I am flying into Indianapolis, landing about 9 pm. It is January so cold is expected. And just like he has so many times before our captain rattles off his routine: "Welcome to Indianapolis where the temperature is minus 21." As one the cabin full of folks moaned, groaned and shivered. Then the captain came back on. "That's really cold, folks. Bundle up, be safe and stay warm."

That was it. The coldest weather I have ever experienced. Nothing dramatic happened to me. I rode in a heated cab to my hotel, walked in very cold weather to my meeting the next morning, and by the time we left the meeting for dinner, although still very cold, the temperature was above 0 and we all went on about our business. But it is that announcement, so ordinary and casual, and then his personal addendum,  that I remember about that time.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sketches from a Brain with a Cold

My car is in the shop probably until Thursday. Given the way the mechanic talked yesterday I think I may have been lucky to have made it down the hill. Time to step up and take care of my car even if I have to go to Carson to do it. 

The cold was Horrible last night and I may be over the hump. We will see. 

Dean made gluten free biscuits last night and will again for breakfast this morning ~ yum. He may have given himself away. I knew he could make biscuits and these were so easy and So Good! More biscuits!

I am thinking it is time to quit using the cholesterol diary because it doesn’t seem to be helping this time around. I am back to just eating - well maybe not quite as much. I do watch dairy, especially cheese, but not with the intent that I did before. I am back to eating salads for lunch. Of course right now the cold meds have my appetite down to nothing. 

I am having So Much Fun watching West Wing again. There is something in almost every episode that I remember and love. It is so good to be watching those characters interact with each other again. I think this one is going to be like M*A*S*H. I will watch it over and over. I admit I also realize how long ago it was taped and wonder about the actors now ~ how have they changed, what are they doing? Mostly though I enjoy the story. Aaron Sorkin was and is a brilliant writer. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Life Goes On

I do not like to decorate for Christmas by myself. My tradition is a tree trimming party with popcorn, cider, hot chocolate, other goodies and lots of people choosing where the ornaments should go and how the candles should be placed and what other decorations should be out and about. 

Un-decorating is another matter entirely. I grumble about it a little and I want to do it By My Self! I turn on the lights for the last time. I turn on the carols for probably the last time. And then I go to it. Sometimes I cry when a special carol comes on or a special memory is awakened by some ornament I am storing away. I can take my time or push right through. No one disturbs my thoughts nor do I feel a need to talk to anyone. And in a short while - this year an hour and a half - the window seat where the decorations are kept is closed down tight for another 11 months. 

And then I clean. This year that will wait until tomorrow when I have help because I have a cold and don’t feel good and so am going to sit. Some where on the edges of my memory is a tradition of sweeping out the house at the new year, symbolic of sweeping away the old and giving the new a clean place to arrive. Our ancestors had wisdom about the ways of the world. And so the house will be cleaned, swept, vacuumed; sheets and towels, both ours and company’s, will be washed and returned to the beds or the closet. Some trinkets will be returned to their places. Others will be placed somewhere new. The New Year will be underway and the house will be ready for all the excitement, visits, changes, and blessings that will come with it. We are ready. ~ may the reality of your year match your dreams

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

2013 is off to a good start. But first let's return to the end of 2012. Christmas day we had a brief weather window in which to travel to Carson City - about an hour away - for sharing of presents, visiting and a Delicious dinner with daughter Michelle and her family. Snow brought us home much sooner than we would have liked and the time with family was perfect.

Boxing Day brought daughter Amanda and her family to the mountain. Their 4 hour drive took 8 and they did it although exhausted when they arrived. The following morning 4-year old Megan was up and dressed for snow and took off up the snowshoe trail like lightning. Light as a feather she also carved her own trail where I could not follow without snowshoes so I walked a parallel track and hoped she didn't disappear. 18 month old Emily was a delight although snow was not her thing - yet.

Thursday brought son Rob and three of his kids to the mountain to ski. Skiing went well until a snow- boarder clipped the end of Carter's ski and took the teenager out for the rest of the trip and another month or so at home. Braces on knee and ankle with crutches for a week put a crimp in ski plans.

Friday brought Michelle's family to the mountain to play in the snow, visit with cousins and have a huge family dinner. That dinner included Mandy's baking a chocolate cake from her mom's recipe; pecan and pumpkin pies from Michelle; cheese grits, ham, and two kinds of green beans ~ and Mandy's surprise appetizer: mushrooms with bacon and cheese. We ate that night - and visited - and played Buzz Words - and had a great time. It is not often the cousins from both sides of the clan get together and it is fun when they do. Unfortunately - or maybe it is just fine - I was too busy being with the family to remember to take many pictures.

Saturday morning Mandy and her family left; Carter was hurt on the ski slope. Sunday a friend of Carly's came to play for the day, Carter lay on the window seat, Kaitlyn read, I watched Netflix, Rob and Jeff skied and Dean went to Reno to pick up a new gas fireplace for the den. Dean made chili for dinner.

Monday took Rob and family to Reno for the day. I did laundry. Dean skied and grilled a pork loin for dinner. Dinner was delightful. We sat at the table and talked about 2013 family travel schedule. At midnight Eastern Standard Time - 9 ours - we all said good-night, wished each other a Happy New Year and went to bed. The last three left us this morning. The dishwasher is running again. So is the washing machine. The kitchen is clean. Dean has gone skiing. I am going to watch a new show I have discovered on Netflix. Oso is asleep by the fire. A good ending - a good beginning ~ family in the center of it all. We are blessed.