Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Hope Continues

I began this Christmas season on the first Sunday of Advent with an appeal to and for Hope. Although I have read Anne Perry’s “A Christmas Secret” over and over, this year I heard the words at the end of the story in a whole different way. It is the late 1800’s and Dominic, the priest, is preaching his Christmas sermon: 

“We are children of God, every one of us, and nearly nineteen hundred years ago He gave us the greatest of the gifts He has, greater even than life. He gave us hope: a way back from every mistake we have made, no matter how small or how large, how ugly or how incredibly stupid, or how shameful. There is no corner of hell secret enough or deep enough for there to be no path back, if we are willing to climb up. It may be hard, and steep, but there is light ahead, and freedom. . . . Do not deny the gift. Accept it for yourself, and for all others. That is what Christmas is: everlasting hope, a way forward to the best in ourselves and all that we can become.” 

I think the country has been incredibly stupid, and now we must make the slow hard climb back to light and freedom. ~ blessings, dear friends, as we continue this journey together

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Day at Our House

We woke to white winter wonderland. No need to dream of a white Christmas in Tahoe this year. We took our time, ate breakfast, opened presents, talked to family and then went snowshoeing.

Just like Christmas Eve, the snow was perfect. Oso ran and played. We walked enjoying the views, the blue sky and the day.

Dean decided Oso needed his picture taken wearing a Santa hat. 
No way, Dad! 

Dean finally held Oso's head and the hat on the head and I took a quick picture.
Off came the hat and Oso shook like he had just come out of the water. 

Candles on the table ready for dinner. 

Lamb chops, green beans with almonds, and my grandmother's corn cakes.
I made them for the first time in years for breakfast. Delicious. I had a little 
batter left over and decided if I made them just a little thicker they would be perfect
for bread or a carb with lunch. I was right. A really good Christmas dinner.

Our Advent wreath with the Christ candle lit. 
Blessings to you and yours on this special day. 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Birth of a Baby

I was born in 1943 in the middle of WWII. Sometime when I was in my late teens, my mother and I were going through an old scrapbook of hers and came across some V-mail. I had no idea what it was. They were letters written from the European front that had been reduced to tiny little pieces of paper to save space on the transports back to the states. Some of those letters were written to my parents at the time of my birth.

Those letters spoke of the hope that hearing of my birth had brought those men in the European trenches. Birth brings hope. Birth is Hope. Hope for the future. Hope beyond the muck and mire of the present moment. Hope and the Knowledge that Light does indeed overcome the darkness and Love does and will prevail.

My birth brought hope. Your birth brought hope. Hope arrives anew with every birth in every home, hospital or refuge camp where it occurs. And if ordinary births bring hope then tonight of all nights, we need to celebrate again the Hope ~ and the Light and Love that arrives in our hearts as in that stable long ago. Blessings to you all as you celebrate the arrival of Hope in your lives.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Cancel Christmas?

I read a flippant (I hope) remark on FB the other day: Maybe we should just cancel Christmas this year.  No, my friends. Now is when we need Christmas more than ever. This year perhaps more than any other lately, Madeleine L'Engle's poem needs to resonate in our hearts.

God did not wait till the world was ready,
till . . . nations were at peace.
God came when the Heavens were unsteady,
and prisoners cried out for release.

God did not wait for the perfect time.
God came when the need was deep and great.
God dined with sinners in all their grime,
turned water into wine.

God did not wait till hearts were pure.
In joy God came to a tarnished world of sin and doubt.
To a world like ours, of anguished shame God came,
and God's Light would not go out. 

God came to a world which did not mesh
to heal its tangles, shield its scorn.
In the mystery of the Word made Flesh
the Maker of the stars was born.

We cannot wait till the world is sane
to raise our songs with joyful voice,
for to share our grief, to touch our pain,
God came with Love: Rejoice! Rejoice!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

I Understood

There is a lot of talk again about whether to say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays or whatever. Frankly I don't care. If you wish me your holiday blessing, I will gladly accept it.

Today we went to our favorite Mexican restaurant for lunch. We are still working on the kitchen and it was nice to take a break and go out. We are well known at this restaurant and Maria knows what we usually order and that's all we have to say in answer to her question: The usual. Yes.

I realized today would be the last time we would be there before Christmas and so as we leaving I said, "Maria, Feliz Navidad". She looked at me, smiled and said something back - in Spanish - which I did not understand at all. But all I didn't understand were the actual words. Her meaning and blessing I understood perfectly. They showed in the smile in her eyes and the smile on her face. I left feeling blessed. That's what the greetings we offer each other at this time of year are for: blessings for our lives whether or not we understand all the meanings behind the word. ~ blessings, my friends

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Advent 4, 2016

Advent ~ a time of anticipation and waiting, a celebration of Joy. There are times, and this year is one of those, when I have to remind myself that Joy is not another word for happy. "Joy to the world, the Lord is come." I'm with the poet on this one. Nothing less than the coming of Light and Love, Hope and Peace into the world is worthy of the word and feeling of Joy. 
Whatever holiday we celebrate this time of year, the reason comes from a deep abiding sense of Joy. None of it comes from the gifts or the dinners or the parties. Remember the Grinch? Maybe, just maybe, it's a little bit more. And that more is Joy: the knowledge that we Love and are Loved; that the Light will overcome the darkness; that Hope abides in spite of the situation; that Peace has come even as people flee for their lives in war-torn parts of the world. 
Joy be yours this season, dear friends ~ blessings

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Advent 3

Advent ~ a time of Hope, Peace and yes, Love. Love within our families. But also Love shared with the wider world. Love when you tell a Muslim mother how beautiful her children are and she sighs in relief. Love when you share a dressing recipe with the stranger and the daughter tells you that her mother felt you were safe to ask. (Two stories from friends.) Love when you stand up and say this is not the way it is supposed to be. Love when with every grocery purchase you also purchase a toothbrush and toothpaste and donate them to a women's shelter. (My daughter) Love is being still and quiet and holding. Love is also an active verb, doing and being the world in the way you know is right. ~ blessings, my friends. 

Friday, December 9, 2016

Naive Expectations

About 18 months ago when the kitchen counter tops were all done, Dean started working on a plan to redo the cabinets. He thought long and hard about how he wanted to do them: sand them in place, take them off and to the shop for sanding, how much, what finish. He also knew he/we needed younger help. Neither of us do floor easily any more. Knees are functioning reasonably well but down on them on the floor just does not work. 

Last month our wonderful Brook came back to clean for us again. She is also very good with painting and crafting and has even served at big dinner parties for me. Dean asked if she might help him with the cabinets. Of course. How does next week, say December 6th, work? Perfect. And my immediate response was, "Oh, wow!! I will come home from New England to a fresh new kitchen!" Brook even told me, she had thought she would have an opportunity to clean again even though her regular time isn't for another week. Ha!! 

Here is what I came to:

I admit, it is an organized mess. Every time I asked, "Where is the . . .?", Dean pointed to the correct box. He assures me that we will get the drawers back soon and that will clear the clutter from the middle of the living room floor. That's a good thing because in a week, we are hosting a small holiday business party and I would really like to use my Christmas china and have people enjoy the decorations ~ and yes, have a place to prepare the food! If they can move around without tripping over boxes, I guess it is ok if they can see into the cabinets. 
Having said all of that, I need to rise from my chair and go to work.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Boston Pops

Before I get to the subject matter of this blog, let's get me to Boston first.

Here I am, right off the plane, just through security, and smiling from ear to ear. 
It is always so good to be with family!! It was just Meredith and me this time as David was in Tennessee fighting the fires there and then flying the Chinook to its home base in Billings, Montana. We missed you, David! And Meredith and I started talking as soon as this picture was taken and kept talking until I walked back through security on my way home. It was a great trip!

My last night was blessed with a visit to Symphony Hall and the Boston Pops Christmas concert. This event poster hung outside the Hall.

We had a little table in the house right corner. It was the almost perfect table. We missed seeing the theatrics during The Twelve Days of Christmas, but otherwise it was wonderful. Keith Lockhart, the conductor, was just "right there" and we could see his expressions and watch his style.
Several tables over from us a family had brought their three-year-old daughter. Age is a guess but she looked a lot like our Lettie who is three so I think it is a good guess. We were impressed that they had brought her to a concert and not a children's concert. And then the cellists entered and it became obvious why. Right in their line of sight was grandpa. And he had to be because the man of the couple in the audience looked so much like him. They pointed him out to the little girl, she waved at him, and when the orchestra stood for a bow, he smiled at her the smile that only a grandfather gives a beloved granddaughter. 

A large screen over the stage gave us a variety of Pops' information including when this year's Christmas concert would be broadcast. PBS airs a lot of WGBH shows so expect to enjoy the concert yourself at some point. 

Our table allowed us to order goodies. We had a fruit and cheese plate. Meredith had egg nog and I had hot apple cider. When Hansom first arrived though, I asked it was possible to have a glass of iced water. We had taken a cab from the hotel and the driver was a smoker. I needed water. Hansom understood and we quickly had iced water and then we took our time filling out our menu for the evening. Dinner is available and we had eaten before hand so we just needed a little something to fulfill the ambience. 

We were this close! This is a cellist's score. I love it that you can see the crease where she turns the pages night after night. 
It was a wonderful evening. I would love to go formal to opening night some time. This evening was a mid-week more casual time, and I was glad because of packing clothes and comfort of travel.
Santa came and helped lead us in the traditional sing-a-long at the end of the concert. The 3-year-old granddaughter waved at him too! 
As always, photos are not allowed during the performance and so these are what I have - plus a CD of Boston Pops Christmas music which Meredith bought for me. One special musical time: they segued from Bach's "Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light" right into Peter Yarrow's "Light One Candle". It was so smoothly done that you hardly realized you had been taken from the 1730s to the 1970s in three musical measures.

The next morning, I made my own segue from EST to PST, from Boston to Dallas to Reno to Tahoe City. The first part was as smooth as the musical segue. From Reno to Tahoe was driven in the snow. Dean made that time as easy as possible too. It was a wonderful Christmas interlude and I am also glad to be home! 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Advent 2

Advent ~ the Hope for Peace. Peace in time of war. Peace in time of turmoil.
Peace in a time when the streets are not safe for some people. 
Peace in time when some people are being shunned. 
Peace when bullies are rampant.
Light the candle of Peace, claiming the promise of Peace and
living in the Light of Love. ~ blessings

Friday, December 2, 2016

Words of Wisdom

My friend Sue Ellen Hall posted these words from Howard Thurman which are so appropriate for our lives today:

“Life Goes On”
During these turbulent times we must remind ourselves repeatedly that life goes on.
This we are apt to forget.
The wisdom of life transcends our wisdoms;
the purpose of life outlasts our purposes;
the process of life cushions our processes.
The mass attack of disillusion and despair,
distilled out of the collapse of hope,
has so invaded our thoughts that what we know to be true and valid seems unreal and ephemeral.
There seems to be little energy left for aught but futility.
This is the great deception.
By it whole peoples have gone down to oblivion
without the will to affirm the great and permanent strength of the clean and the commonplace.
Let us not be deceived.
It is just as important as ever to attend to the little graces
by which the dignity of our lives is maintained and sustained.
Birds still sing;
the stars continue to cast their gentle gleam over the desolation of the battlefields,
and the heart is still inspired by the kind word and the gracious deed.
There is no need to fear evil.
There is every need to understand what it does,
how it operates in the world,
what it draws upon to sustain itself.
We must not shrink from the knowledge of the evilness of evil.
Over and over we must know that the real target of evil is not destruction of the body,
the reduction to rubble of cities;
the real target of evil
is to corrupt the spirit of man and to give his soul the contagion of inner disintegration.
When this happens,
there is nothing left,
the very citadel of man is captured and laid waste.
Therefore the evil in the world around us must not be allowed to move from without to within.
This would be to be overcome by evil.
To drink in the beauty that is within reach,
to clothe one’s life with simple deeds of kindness,
to keep alive a sensitiveness to the movement of the spirit of God
in the quietness of the human heart and in the workings of the human mind—
this is as always the ultimate answer to the great deception.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Advent 1, 2016

Advent, a time of waiting. A time of anticipation. A time of Hope. This year more than any I have experienced in a long time, I am in need of Hope. Hope for Light in a time of darkness. Hope for Love in a time of hatred and bigotry. Hope for Laughter in a time of sadness and bewilderment. Hope for Peace in a time of threat. And so I light my first Advent candle knowing that even as I Hope, I must also live in the moment given me already claiming the promise of Hope for Light and Love, Laughter and Peace.
Blessings to you all ~  

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Non-traditional Thanksgiving Dinner

Almost three months ago I had a blood panel taken and my doctor called to say, "Your triglycerides are through the roof." He gave me a plan that included increasing some meds and I said to myself, no way. So I did some research and presented him with a plan that he agreed to, with another blood panel to be taken next month. Part of the plan was to cut out refined sugar and cut down on carbs. And so I did. 

Then along comes Thanksgiving. Two of my signature dishes are dressing and pecan pie. However, the couple coming to join us for this meal do not eat carbs or sugar. They have been doing this for a long time and are very good at staying with their plan. And I shouldn't be eating them at least not before my next blood panel. 

So what do we have? 

We started with June's colorful veggie plate with dip.

I made a Waldorf salad. And you will notice the table is in blue. When I went to the store on Saturday to pick up a few Thanksgiving decorations, everything was Christmas. So I opted for the blue I already had. 

I made a favorite zucchini, tomato and parmesan dish.
Michael brought wood grilled, balsamic Brussel sprouts with bacon and
cauliflower mashed potatoes. No potatoes - just cauliflower whipped with butter,
sour cream and a little parmesan. My goodness, they actually taste like mashed potatoes!
Dean smoked and roasted the turkey and made gravy.
June brought three bottles of wine.

It may have been non-traditional and it was a feast. I have promised Dean I will make a little batch of dressing to go with our leftover turkey. Meanwhile, I think we all four left the table full and happy and very thankful for a good meal with good friends. 
Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Witnessing Follow-up

This is an excellent article to help you decide whether or not to wear the safety pin. Having read it, I realize I was a little naive in thinking the pin was the equivalent of the ribbon.



The more I read, the more I hear, the more convinced I am that one way we push back the darkness is to live in Love and Light in our ordinary everyday lives. For my Christian friends, you may remember that most people met Jesus while going about their daily lives: the woman at the well, Mary and Martha preparing for guests, Lazarus collecting taxes, Peter fishing. Ordinary people doing ordinary things. 

There is a lot of talk these days about what we can do. One suggestion is to keep on doing what you always do: live your lives full of love for your family and friends, be respectful of all people, and whether you wear a safety pin or not, stand up for what you know to be right. And enjoy your life. If you don’t, then the darkness wins. 

As for the safety pin, let me tell you a story. Back in the ‘80s when apartheid was the law in South Africa, an organization I was a part of begin to wear small black ribbons as a statement against that evil oppression. We marched at the South African Embassy. Some women were even arrested. I was not arrested but I did march and I wore the ribbon. Day after day in my little southern town I wore the ribbon. I may have been the only one in town. And once in a while someone would ask about it. 

When they did, that gave me the opportunity to talk about apartheid, about divesting of stocks in companies that invested in South Africa, or keeping just enough stock to have a vote. Over the several years (yes years) that I wore the ribbon, I had a number of those conversations. It was a very tiny witness in my ordinary space. 

So I would say, if you want to wear the safety pin, wear it. Maybe someone will ask you why and you can witness in your own small way to the very real fright that Muslims, women, the LBGTQ community and others are experiencing right now. Maybe someone will see it on your lapel and know that in that store or on that bus in that moment, there is someone who will stand up for them. And if you don’t want to wear the pin, don’t. Just keep living your life in respect and kindness, in love and grace, teaching your children and friends to be respectful and kind as well.

The big events will happen. You will go to Washington and march. You will call your congress person. You will write letters. You will vote. Or you won’t. And you won’t let the darkness win. My favorite quote during all of this comes from The Hobbit:

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

Blessings on this journey, my friends ~ 

Saturday, November 5, 2016

A Slice of Americana

In the historic mining town of Randsburg, CA there is an old grocery store, restaurant. We stopped there for lunch on our way down 395 yesterday. Here's what we found.
Dirt bikers taking a lunch break. All of them long, lean, ageless and friendly as could be. Note that Dean is the only one in a clean blue T shirt.
The food was good plain American lunch food: burgers, sandwiches, and more kinds of dairy desserts than you can imagine. The shakes I saw looked great and if I ever go back to eating sugar, I'm stopping in here again for a shake or a sundae. 

Next to our table were shelves full of handmade replicas of buildings around the town.

Another wall was covered with a California flag and pictures of celebrities who had been there - think  old time cowboy movie stars. There is a even a little sign that was posted in several places asking the question you are probably asking yourself: Where the hell is Randsburg?

The outside of the building. We found out the owners were new, having taken over on July 1st with three aims in mind: 1) Be friendly to the customers (which she said hadn't been happening), 2) have really good food, and 3) get it out in a timely manner. They cut the menu to the basics and fed all the bikers, a family of 6 and us very quickly. Dean's hamburger was a good old fashioned '50's hamburger. My grilled cheese came with pickles and chips on traditional white bread (although I was offered options). We walked away rather regretting our decision to forego the shakes.

The building next door. 

While we were there a huge Coors beer truck unloaded cases of beer to the bar down the street and the food service truck unloaded dollies of food to the restaurant in preparation for a packed dirt-biking weekend when the "ghost town" of Randsburg will come alive with people having fun and enjoying good food. It is definitely worth the stop.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Halloween Pictures

Although I didn't get to see them in person, I too want to post costume pictures of at least 2 of my grands for Halloween.
This picture is to remind you of how they usually look.

Wolf Man

And Oh my goodness, she's a Blond!! 
"This is Lucy from the anime Fairy Tail. She has whip on her left hip and, on her right, keys to unlock the doors and command the beings of the Celestial Plane. Or something like that." Thanks, Michelle. I never would have known. 

Sitting behind Lucy is this ghostly figure, a creation of Michelle's crafty mind with some inspiration from a project the kids did at Science Works a couple of years ago. 

Monday, October 31, 2016


I was up early one morning while camping in Ashland. I walked to the crest over looking the lake and looked down on a flock of geese floating gently in the water. Suddenly something startled them.

The take off with the water following the strong beating of wings.

Rising into the V formation that would take them across the lake. 

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Saddened and Angry

I am saddened and angry at the rise of racism and sexism in this country. It is like somewhere along the line we have been given permission to be racist and sexist again - or to let out the feelings that have been there all along. Black men are being shot and killed for being black. Whites are given preferential treatment by juries while Native Americans are beaten and jailed for making a legitimate protest against the invasion of their sacred lands by industry. Women are verbally abused and threatened and harassed.  Nothing has changed. 

The horrors I saw growing up just went underground for a while. Now they have burst through the thin veil of civilization and are growing with startling rapidity. I pray for our country on the eve of this election. America really is better than this and somehow we must find our way forward. 

Friday, October 28, 2016

Camping Ashland

To finish up our Ashland trip, here are a few random pictures.

Our camp site

The view from our camp site

The tree at our camp site

Michelle made my Aunt Lalah's sour cream pound cake - yum!! 
It was as delicious as it was beautiful. Wonderful shades of my childhood.

Dean filets the fish he caught. 

Awesome hat.

And this is what they do at birthday parties these days. 

Mama Susan and her pride and joys. 

An interesting cloud on the way home.
Thanks for taking this fall journey with me.
Next up: we head for warmer climes to see another set of grands in SoCal.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Rocket Scientist as Fisherman

One of Dean's joys of visiting Ashland, besides grandchildren, is fishing the Rogue River. You hire a guide who knows the river and all you do is fish. Dean's guide also fished in a style that Dean has been learning, so he was glad to have extra expert instruction. 

The guide controls the boat and the fisherman casts ~ 

~ and casts,

~ and casts.

And then Success!!

This is Teresa, Dean's guide and expert fisher and teacher, showing off Dean's catch. 
This is a steelhead trout, a rainbow trout that has swum upstream from the Pacific creating a very salmon tasting meat. This particular one is also one that Dean was allowed to keep rather than catch and release which is his normal way to fish.
Due to life circumstances, we ended up giving the fish to son-in-law Marc who loves fish and who, I am sure, delighted in a fresh catch. 
There is always a tall tale to go along with a day of fishing. Dean also caught another, larger trout which jumped and released itself. "It was a beautiful fish." And of course he had a witness so the tale is probably not so tall after all.