Sunday, November 29, 2015

The First Sunday of Advent

My candles are in place, the Bible is open to a prophecy, and I have no idea what theme my Advent journey will take this year. Maybe I just let it be and see what happens. Pastor friend Kim Webster mentioned how crazy it is for Christians to anticipate and pray for peace and love and light in a world that is full of war, hate and darkness. And yet we do. That is what this Advent journey is all about, anticipating the birth of Light into a world of Darkness. I have never thought of it being a crazy journey but it is. Spiritually we travel these next four weeks with no assurances that there will be a place to stay when we get to the end. And certainly no palaces or cool hotel suites await us ~ only a back yard stable and the pain of birth. Never the less, we make the journey, somehow confident that at the end, Light will arrive and if necessary, we will make the journey all over again. Crazy? Yes. Amazing? Yes as well. Blessings on our way. 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving at Home

There were the three of us, Dean, me and our oldest grandson, Kyle, who is living with us for a while.  Three or 30, I am still very traditional about the Thanksgiving meal. Here are some pictures with a few things I learned this year.

A convection oven cooks much faster than a regular one. The 3 to 4 hour turkey took 2 1/2. Brunch anyone?

The oven bakes really well, the pie and the dressing were perfect. And a new oven (2014 model) keeps all the heat inside and doesn't heat the kitchen like the 35 year old oven we were using. 

The McKay men - grandson Kyle and Grandpa Dean. 
We ate early because Kyle had to go to south shore and work a party at the restaurant where he is employed. That left the buffet full of food which Dean and I enjoyed nibbling on all afternoon and into the early evening. It's in fridge now of course for feasting again tomorrow and/or Saturday. Leftovers are part of the tradition too, right?

It has been a lovely, gentle, easy day full of gratitude and giving thanks. Blessings to you all. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving Blessings

I come to this Thanksgiving very concerned about my country and our loss of caring, compassion and respect for each other. Surely if we look closely enough, we can see Lady Liberty crying over our refusal to open our arms in welcome to the “huddled masses” of the world. 

And yet, I still come to this table giving grateful thanks for so much Light in spite of all the darkness that surrounds us. There are people and states who have laid out the welcome mat and said come in. Families of all faiths and cultures have gathered to share a meal and speak of love to one another. Volunteers have given time to staff tables and kitchens in homeless shelters and food pantries. Military personnel and their families have endured separation in a time when “harm’s way” can be anywhere. 

Churches and mosques and synagogues turn out whole congregations to support and protect and pray with each other when another is attacked or stricken or in peril. Hospital personnel are present, day after day, night after night, helping, healing, comforting. Parents hug their children, children hug their parents and eyes sparkle as bright lights and decorations begin to be displayed on lawns and trees. 

Why do we have to walk through this particularly dark valley right now? I have no idea. What I do know, and for which I am grateful today, is that we do not walk alone. We have each other. We have our faith, whatever that is. And, we do not stop and set up housekeeping in this place. The Light shall overcome this darkness. Terrorism shall fail. Fear will be dissipated and hope shall overcome. Random acts of kindness and very intentional acts of Love shall continue to spread through this world until one day we recognize that what holds us together is stronger than that which tries to separate us. In blessing and hope that we all grow in love ~ Happy Thanksgiving. 

The Saga of the Pie

Several insights while baking this year's pecan pie for Thanksgiving. 
First, I think this may be the best pie I've baked for a while and as I have mentioned before, I think it is the upgraded technology in the kitchen. The oven is new and it just functions better than the 35 year old oven we had been using. Duh - I know. But wow - this pie is gorgeous and perfect. Some of the perfection started early though when the pie crust went together easily and rolled out well. So - a perfect Thanksgiving pecan pie. 

Secondly, we had a piece tonight. Several years ago I made pies on Wednesday before Thanksgiving and refused Dean a piece as the pies were for the next day. He became really upset and told me that was cruel and unusual punishment. So this year, because there are only three of us, we got a piece tonight and more tomorrow.

And thirdly, he made chicken pot pie filling for individual pies which we had for supper. Yum!!

Run Home to Mama 2

As I was preparing to write, I saw that my last blog had been about being the mother of an adult daughter. This is about being the grandmother of an adult grandson. "Run home to mama" is often the phrase my family uses when we revert to any skill or behavior we learned in the theatre. This week it became literal for me as I found myself back in time of life I thought was gone.

Grandson Kyle, who is almost 25, is living with us for a while. He is fun, capable, talented and to the point of this blog, a good driver. That trait allowed me to offer my 4-wheel drive car to him when the snow came and he had to go to class and work on the south shore. His car is big and heavy and 2-wheel drive. He has chains but 4-wheel drive is better.

And . . . most importantly, Kyle was raised in southern California. What does he know about driving in snow?

The storm came. Hard. Blowing snow limited visibility. Oh golly.

I had no concerns about my car. My concern was for Kyle and his facing all those others who may not know a lot more about driving in snow than he does. All I could do was ask him to please, please, text me when he got to class.

He did. Phew. And then let me know he was told not to come in to work because of the snow. I was very grateful to have him walk in the door about 7:15.

I'm fine now. He made it. He can do it. My cellular memory can return to its dormant state and I can go back to being Mama Susan who just happens to have a grandson living with her. For a while there though, I ran home to my earlier experience of being a mom when my daughters would drive around the country. Glad to back in the present.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Thoughts When an Adult Daughter is Sick

Michelle is in the hospital. Her family has their own routine. I am recovering from the stomach flu so even if they needed me, I wouldn’t be with them. It is good to be able to let them go as it were and turn them over the care and keeping of the hospital staff and each other. 

What I realize though, as I wait for word of how she is doing “now”, is that a mother can just sit. Were I there, I would sit ~ over in a corner of the room with a book or crossword puzzle and just sit. If I was needed, I would be there. If Michelle wanted to talk, I would be there. If not, I would be there, just sitting. And that way I would know how she was doing and what was happening with every temperature or BP check. 

I guess I would tire of that eventually, and for now, from here, while I wait for word, I wish I was able to sit in a corner and do my waiting there. 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Mindful Eating

Those of you who read this from FaceBook know that I have just gone through a bout of the stomach flu. I spent about 48 hours when my only food intake was water. Then I decided to try some beef broth. The taste of that simple broth was amazing. It’s warmth infused my body. There was a salty tang and a richness that under normal conditions I would not have noticed. That got me to thinking about noticing our food. 

Many of you post pictures of delicious meals you have prepared or ordered and so I know you enjoy your food. We all have those moments though when we grab a bite and keep running. And yet, even running bites deserve  to be tasted, even savored. We have taste buds for a reason: so we can and will enjoy our food. Given that this train of thought started with broth, I am thinking of simple tastes as well as elaborate gourmet meals:
~ the sweetness of morning cereal or danish contrasted with the crisp saltiness of the bacon
~ the way all the flavors in a salad stand out when tossed with just a touch of dressing
~ the coolness of ice cream as it melts across a warm piece of pie

The Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh speaks of the mindfulness of eating and enjoying the taste of his milk and bread at breakfast. I enjoy my food. I eat slowly and with that enjoyment. Whether I continue to be as mindful of the tastiness of it all as I am today remains to be seen. For now, I am grateful for clean water and for the flavors that followed as I moved back into my normal eating patterns. Be mindful at your next meal. You may be delighted at what you discover.