The Channel Surfers…

•December 11, 2014 • 6 Comments

Rico-Chico

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He was caught cat-napping.  I guess the hundreds of channels offered little entertainment for this sweet soul.  He chose to slumber the morning away.

Let me check in on Hannah…

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I didn’t bother checking in on Bridget-Renee or Gilbert Grape.  Why bother?  Bridget enjoy’s the serendipity of serenity.  Let the girl have some alone time.

As for Gilbert, why invite mayhem when peacefulness dances in the vacuum of silence?

Was that my cell phone alerting me to a message in the midst of this photog session?  Yes, yes it was!   (My daughter in California.) I MUST el pronto go and enter cyberspace.  She’d sent me a video.  How sweet!  Or at least I thought as such until I let it roll.  (I had hoped to post both the first, and the second video she’d sent, but I’m not a premium user and neither am I adept at converting files into a format that can be posted.)

Both video’s represent an angry, raging creek that runs at the back of their home.  When we visited in March we witnessed a beautiful, slow moving stream, the loveliness of Mallards and one or two other variety of duck.  The creek empties into Clear Lake, famous for it’s bass fishing and claims to be the largest natural lake in all of California.  The lake itself sits right around a bend, close to the kids home.   A picturesque and peaceful place where solitude is not a grievance, but a gift to savor.

All schools were closed as was the winery that employs my daughter.  Too much water, too many concerns; folks were simply encouraged to stay close to media reports and be prepared in the event of evacuations.

I did that irritating, motherly thing and called her or texted her throughout the day.  I ran thru a safety drill, questioned her about where or when she would go.  I made her make promises to me as if she was a five year old.  And through it all, she calmly repeated a constant reassurance, “Mom don’t worry, I’ll be fine.”  “You don’t need to worry, you know I’ll do what’s right, I know friends down the street and they have a large truck.” …

And right about then I thought about the mountain, the one right out the front door.  Then another motherly barrage came spewing forth:  “There hasn’t been a fire on the moutain, has there?”  “Brush and trees are still heavy and thick, right?”  “In spite of no rain, right?”

I got myself so worked up, I rubbed off on her.  She had told me earlier in the day that they weren’t putting a Christmas tree up; my son (in-law) is off on a training mission.  By mid afternoon she messaged a picture of a beautifully decorated Christmas scene.  Live and direct from home.  There may be no tree, but the spirit of the season has come calling. Out of boredom and missing her hubby, she went all rogue and cast her decorating spell about the house.

I wonder if I can measure my relief and cyberspace it to her?  It felt wonderful to know her mind was off those angry waters.  I breathed a little bit…

Welcome to Megan and Jake’s place.  Please leave your muddy shoes on the front stoop.  👼

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Samson’s Sales Pitch

•December 9, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Who needs stocking stuffer ideas? More importantly, are you a cat lover? ‘Tis the season of giving. Please take a moment to read Samson’s plea. In the spirit of Christmas, it is important that we remember other’s in need. That goes for the animal kingdom, and to the humans behind this rescue mission who so desperately wish to give a second chance to a cat or kitten in need of a home. This is a “No Kill” shelter hoping to make this season brighter for those in desperate need.

eyeTunes: Celebrity Sunday

•December 7, 2014 • 2 Comments

Another zinger, a real bell-ringer. Happy tunes for these merry days. Yes, all is good, Buffalo Tom. Deja Vu from a time long ago. Memories last a lifetime. :)

And I really do believe the devil made you do this.👹

Poetry Wars, December 2014

•December 5, 2014 • 19 Comments

Zubie questions life

Zulu Hoberg
Zulu Hoberg

Grandma soothes her soul

“I haven’t a clue

neither for me

nor for you.”

(Zubie’s not so sure)

“Grandma, are you?”

“Yes, my fur.

Tis a story, true

written in love,

me plus you.

You, my grand-daughter

extra special

by charter.

I decree it be!

That the world know,

and shall see.

Zubie, you’re dear

our love is true

know no fear.

I’ll always believe this

Is meant to be

you for me

And me just for you

living a life

God blessed, true.”

Christmas Life Coach

•November 30, 2014 • 17 Comments

We are saved! Thanksgiving is behind us, Black Friday, and as sure as I awake tomorrow, Cyber Monday will come and go. Let us not fret. LOOK, we have a Christmas Life Coach, actually we have two, Buffalo Tom Peabody (buffalotompeabodyblog.wordpress.com)
and his adorable sidekick, Gunther Tootie. They are here to help us through: the mad dash of shopping until we drop, hangovers, the fifteen pound weight gain, and the frenzy of cheer and antics that can only be produced at the annual Christmas office party.

After yet one less shopping day until Christmas, a bank account shivering from bare nakedness, sit back in your cozy recliners. Sip your cup of hot cider as you wile away the hours relaxing in the comfort of knowing all is well. It sure is. Just like those burning and crackling logs in the fireplace, Buffalo Tom and Gunther have arrived to help us, as God only knows they can, for we are gifted with Life Coaches. We are blest. Humor to help us meet the challenges.

Thank you Tom and Gunther.

Freedom’s Song: Veteran’s Day, 2014

•November 11, 2014 • 4 Comments

Duty Called

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Walking wounded now

Scars left to find a mending

Our flag now flys free

Beauty.  Red, White, Blue

Stars, to light a path anew

Remembering all

The fighting warriors

Born, so all may know the song

“Freedom Hails!” ’tis true

 Sing loudly, stand tall!

Glorious is our journey

Till this journey ends

Shout its pledge aloud

Triumph wins where love abounds

For Gods love is true

Believe in freedom

Not for one, but every soul

Peace is ours to build.

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 CoffeeGrounded

November 11, 2014

August 2014

•November 8, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I found this on the WordPress Freshly Pressed site, while not an easy read, it does cause one to pause and think. And think, we should, about the possibilities for uniting and working toward peace in this world. It takes effort, grounded in hope and absent of fear, to build and bridge our Nations.

(Please note that you will need to click into the blog to fully access the author’s opinion.)

PLEASE do not resort to derogatory or inflammatory/flaming diatribes, as they will be deleted/reported through my monitoring of the CG site.

Thank you,
CoffeeGrounded

This and That Continued

This was written in August to be translated for my column in the Swedish Goteborgs-Posten.

Some things are best met with silence. If I were to proceed with this month’s column in an honest way, it would be a blank page, without words. The imaginary blankness of the page represents the other blanknesses I have already created in my life, these past few weeks. A friend just phoned to talk to me about a mutual friend who sadly is very ill. We talk about how she will manage, what we can do, how although we know her and she is our friend, there are thousands, millions of others, also struck down with severe illness. We must bear them in mind, but our friend is our friend and her experience concerns us directly. When that conversation is done, my friend on the phone says, ‘I’m sure we don’t have to talk…

View original post 982 more words

August 2014

•November 8, 2014 • Leave a Comment

August 2014.

One Lovely Blog Award….

•November 1, 2014 • 7 Comments

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The rules for the nominees:

1. Thank the person who nominated you for the award.

Thank you, floridaborne, for nominating me. This lovely lady is a talented writer, poet, doggie lover, and feline snuggler. She has a beautiful gift of putting into words those absurdities we encounter on a daily basis, and yet wonder, “Am I alone in this?” She confirms that we are NOT crazy, but that we do mix and mingle between a world of nonsense and BullChit. She has her way of reminding us, “A life well lived, is a life worth fighting for…” Not her words, nor mine, but definitely the creed by which she lives. (Just yesterday she reminded me to increase my Vitamin See.)

2. Add the, “One Lovely Blog Award” logo to your post.

3. Share seven facts/or things about yourself.

I’ve been hither-to-and-fro. She nominated me over two weeks ago, but life got in the way. Actually it hijacked me into two other dimensions. A local wedding and another in Chicago. Two days after returning from a five day visit to Chicago, my sweet, dear Father-in-Law was whisked away by ambulance for a six day hospital stay, and within this same time period my dear friend and neighbor (lives directly across from me), was admitted to a Dallas hospital for brain surgery.

Dad is back home, and although nothing is promised, we are blessed to enjoy every minute we have. “Neighbor-Lady,” sweet and precious one, is resting and recuperating, finally out of ICU this afternoon, she is hopefully fast asleep in her hospital room. (We neighbors are planning to spoil her rotten once she is fully mended.)

The weddings? Amazingly beautiful. The local wedding bride was once-upon-a-time entrusted to me as her carpool mom. Two-and-a-half to three years, I learned much and never let on like I knew a thing. The second bride? My very best friend’s one and only daughter. I can’t even begin to explain what it felt like to be there on her wedding day, especially when I look back 29 years and realize I was there at her birth and one of the first to hold her.

Life, beautiful, mysterious and never to be taken for granted. We forget to cherish the small things, but one day we come to realize they are the greatest of all things.

(How about we count the weddings and the hospital stays as two items? … Thank you!)

I have double vision and a large nevus in my left eye. I’ve been through three eye surgeries and there is a possibility I’ll be sporting a glass eye.

I do not let my depression define me.

I have two wonderful daughters and a very special son-in-law that I refer to as my son.

I’ve recipe tested for two of Peter Reinhart’s baking books.

I’m blessed with four sisters and one brother. There is also a guarded family secret … We have two half-brothers.

4. Nominate fifteen bloggers you admire and inform them on their blogs.

“First of all, this task is not easy. I live to read other’s blogs. I’d rather read, than write these days. For several years I followed, and mainly wrote, all about foodie experiences. Now I am gravitating toward a vast array of interesting experiences. Here’s hoping that the folks I nominate will share their world(s) with us. Let our journey begin:”

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

userealbutter.com

Jen does food like she does photography. Everything is breathtaking! She lives in Northern Colorado, is an avid skier and outdoor enthusiast. Her blog is one of the most spectacular works of art I’ve yet to encounter. She lives life to the fullest and constantly amazes me. A few years back she learned how to forage for all sorts of lovely edibles. A CalTech graduate that understands the true meaning of sharing her life while appreciating the lives of others. (Check out her photoblog…OMG!)

wildyeastblog.com

Susan not only masters the art of any pastry or bread she wraps her hands around, but each week she features, Yeastspotting.com featuring International submissions of pastries and breads baked from all corners of the globe!
Try your hand at her take on Norwich Sourdough bread. You must, you simply must!! Also, watch a few of her hands-on videos. She works in the medical field and is also a graduate of the San Francisco Culinary Arts Program.

Xawaash.com

A husband and a wife team bring us the heavenly and divine dishes of their native land, Somalia. If Smell-O-Vision were a reality, each of us would be enchanted beyond our wildest senses, “Scent Traveling” would be our first excursion!
Many videos are offered, along with step-by-step instructions. Delve into this fantastic array of culinary delights and find yourself in the midst of a treasure trove of yummy delights. Simply beautiful!

PinchMySalt.com

Nicole (along with Susan), are responsible for getting flour all over my clothes. They soured me…as in, sourdough bread making. Nicole began a foray into one of Mr, Reinhart’s books, and invited others to join her, baking our way all through the book. And while this journey still has a few items on my “to-do” list, I’m not far from completion. Bread making changed my life. It brought me back to my roots and came to me during the time of a deep loss. I count it among my greatest achievements. Nothing had taught me more about death and renewal. My journey has been spiritual; bread making truly is a journey within itself.

powerplantmen.wordpress.com

I am ashamed to say that I do not know the author of this spellbinding blog. You’d think I’d have learned it, but truth is, this is a recent find I discovered one afternoon sitting right there in my blogfeed.
How, or why would a 62-year-old lady drift off into the land of mechanical wizardry? If I were younger the answer would be most obvious, but trust me, I’m no Cougar. The ‘happening ‘ occurred when I saw a post connected to the Fire Protection Program at OSU (Oklahoma State University). I gasped! I jumped for joy! My son (in-law), is a 2006 graduate of this very program.
My brother and grandfather are, and were (Grandpa lives in pure Light), mechanical wizards. Hand them a broken piece of equipment and Voila! All will be well in no time flat!

buffalotompeabodyblog.wordpress.com

Sheer joy. Buffalo Tom corrals all the cornball jovial craziness and tosses it at us with his gang of fireballs. I’d like to say I found Tom’s blog all by myself, but I just can’t steal the thunder from another goofball (and just as precious), soulmeister, Chris Hinton. Get yourselves ready to Hee-Haw; their ain’t no way around it.
What will dumbfound you ever so more, this gentleman is losing his vision and works tirelessly to provoke our funny bones into overtime. Be warned, once you are under his spell, there is no turning back. (There should be a disclaimer warning us about his infectious spirit.)

thedimwitdiary.com

“Chris Hinton, where are you? Both your mama and I iz looking fer ya! Call home, soon! Supper was dun and it’s now burnt.”
I can’t describe this genius mindset. I have never read anything more thought-provoking, enchanting, hilarious, or heartbreaking. Chris is one of those people I dream about meeting one day. Not in hopes of getting his autograph or even his handshake. I simply want to wrap my arms around him and thank him for sharing his gifts. I want to bake him homemade chocolate chip cookies. Oh, and I want him to call home and tell his mama he’s visiting DFW.
He hides out from time to time, as true literary giants must sometimes do, taking a breather and time to ponder his universe. This quiet time is most essential, a reprieve from the madness of brilliance that blazes across his universe. This young man holds an awesome talent. I hope he is corralled and allowed to fully work his magic.
I love everything about you Chris. Even your dark secrets. Without them you would have lived an easier life, but God brought them to you so that you could “Light” others worlds in magical splendor. We are gifted by your presence.

Joythebaker.com

Joy! She’s full of it. Her mom and dad surely witnessed it before they signed off on that birth certificate. She’s food-crazed, loaded with cheerfulness. If she’s not baking, podcasting or hosting a get together, she’s probably writing another cookbook. Smile, you’re going to love this young lady!

SharonBoninPratt.wordpress.com

The writer, the one that captures me as did the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Faulkner and Kafka. Words spill out upon her page, dusted by gilt and fire. She plays with metaphor and simile as a dance. Her work weaves in and out and through, beyond to beginning thus versus an ending. Where you were is where you are, and yet you have been elsewhere. Suddenly you find yourself standing in the ‘now’. Try as I might, I cannot do justice to her prose. Spellbindinding enchantress!

rantingalong.wordpress.com

Vickie Kuyuk and Floridaborne are in cahoots. Literally. I found one and went quickly in search for the other. Let’s just suffice it to say that these two are working the playgrounds in tandem. One without the other is like eating half of a Popsicle and just as you get ready to chomp that second half, WHOOPS! You feel the gravity of the situation and realize, you need that other half. Go for it! Who gives a flip if they see you licking off the playgrounds dirt? Certainly none of this crowd!

Catsatthebar.org

Yes, I know you’ve already been nominated, but learn to live with being felicious. (Yes, I made that word up.)
I found this blog on a fluke. Maybe I was jamming to Neil Young or Pink Floyd. Perhaps I was ‘pretending’ to house chores. Maybe I was in the garden and my doggie brought me my iPad?
Matters not how I fell into the realm of the Master with 15 cats and counting. All I know is I overcame that fear of becoming known as ‘the old lady with all the cats.’ Suddenly I felt at home, smitten by kittens and their parental unit.
I must admit to being a tad bit jealous. 15 cats! I only have three. But then I remember the dog, the precious doggie, and once again I am grounded. :)

Mallorycanteven.com

Well, actually she can. Write. Think outside the box. Create magic without so much as thinking about it. This girl has some serious talent. Once upon a time she wanted to become a writer for SNL. Tina and Amy are her BFF’s. She doesn’t stalk them or anything. But up there in her grey matter I’m pretty sure she’s having three-way conversations with them, and contributing her two cents worth.
I have no idea what Mal can’t even ‘do’…unless this blog was written with her mother in mind. I can’t help but wonder, did she find out I discovered it and she titled it to get a point across to her mother?
Haven’t a clue. Never read her FaceBook, nor her MySpace. Carpool chatter was enough to do me in. I knew she needed her space. There was a world of literary funnyboneitis brewing and she required space.

zuplustwo.com

A team of three, but only the human female writes the dialog. In another place and time she was known as, Cinderella. She has multiple tiaras’ to prove it. Her glass slippers were actually ‘jellies’ (remember how sweaty your feet were ladies after wearing them for all of five seconds?). This girl never had a stepmother, but upon certain days and times of the month I’m sure she wished for one. Once, around age five, she packed a small hobo-style bundle with a juice box and snacks and an item or two of clothing. Coming into the kitchen, she announced to her father and mother that she was moving away. (Funny, we hadn’t been arguing…) we both wished her safe travels and told her to keep in touch. She promptly opened the door, managed a step forward onto the porch. Realizing she’d had no one following her, she turned, reopened the door and shouted, “Aren’t you going to stop me?”

BakeinParis.blogspot.com

Kris stumbled into my blogosphere several years ago. We were two of hundreds from around the world that tried our hand at creating a specialty item each month as part of The Daring Bakers.
I recall the first time I visited Kris’s personal blog. I immediately wondered what on earth he was doing as part of the monthly challenge over at the Daring Bakers. He’s a top-level pastry specialist. One look at his blog and his professional cakes will have you wondering whether he’s baked the Queen of England her Anniversary cake, or was it the cake Warren Buffet presented to his staff for Koffee Klatch Friday? Mojo! This kids got so much talent it makes one wonder if there’s any left over for the rest of us. Want a nice handbag for your beloved? How about a two-in-one? Run over there and take a peek. Then come back and tell me what time your flight leaves. I’m going with you. I LOVE everything he creates. A Master in his own time!

DavidLeibovitz.com

He’s busy. He’s going to roll his eyes when he sees one more accolade, one more request. Worse yet, he’s going to scream when he discovers “Coffee” is back and she’s still calling him, Honey-Bunches. I’m hopeless. I’ve had a grandmother’s crush on him since day one. I want him to come over for coffee and cocoa, but he needs to bring the tarts, cookies, and his sweetheart.
I know you can’t respond to this award. I know you can’t, but I have to ask just one question: what do you need from TJ Maxx? Granny aims to please. (No, I did not knit another sweater. I promise.) XO!

Kidnapped!

•October 27, 2014 • 4 Comments

She’d had enough of my absence. Mid-morning found me in the driver’s seat, cruising the hot spots that highlight her life. We shared an ice cream cone, went shopping for her baby sister’s birthday gift, and then to her favorite place of all, the beautiful nature park.

She’s missed me. I’ve missed her. We are making up for lost time.

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“Stop and smell the roses!” … Or rather, the pentas’ and catch sight of the Monarch butterflies feeding upon their nectar.

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She hid the car keys. No telling what tomorrow brings, but I’m already looking forward to her request(s). I love being “hi-jacked” by my best friend.
:)

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Sunday Funnies with Chub-Chub

•October 12, 2014 • 4 Comments

It’s Sunday, again I MUST share; 2SweetNot2!

Chub-Chub, the cat is up to another adventure. Such a character we have here. Please enjoy. Thanks goes out to Elayne Griffith and to the the talents of the 15 and counting over at catsatthebar.org .

Sometimes we simply MUST retreat to the world of the feline. Their independence and revelry allow us a reprieve from the dark. Come and bask in the sunlight. Give a dose of this to your friends.

(Please remember to give credit to those that allow us this treat. Thank you!)

Lights on, night out!

•October 7, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Thank you!

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 To the Grapevine Police Department for bringing the community together this evening.

Sunday Funnies – Starring Chub-Chub!

•October 5, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I was surfing along the interwebs one day and arrived at the site, catsatthebar.org

Being a cat lover, I immediately became addicted to the antics of this household.

Today is, Sunday Funnies, written by the extremely talented cartoonist, Elayne Griffith. We are bestowed the many gifts of Chub-Chub, a feline in residence over at, Cats at the Bar.

What a treat! Enjoy…

Beyond measure

•October 3, 2014 • 4 Comments

The vastness of wonder


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Sipping the splendor

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My years are showing

 

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The element of grace

 

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She ran smack dab

into my heart

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Everlasting love …

•September 9, 2014 • 12 Comments

 

 

 Friends and family will come and go,

but love never dies.

 

 

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Whippie-Nippy

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Ace Ventura Pet Purrfect

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Sydney Hoberg

Kay’s Fudge

•August 28, 2014 • Leave a Comment

For Mickey, because she knows I need to smile.

Her day of reckoning looms

•August 27, 2014 • 2 Comments

within the garden

 

it’s time for Fall planting.  The time of year where a Southerner asks, “Do I dare bother?” With a drought and triple digit temps, we gardeners tease ourselves.  Seed packets are scattered before us as we attempt to recall the hope of lushness yet to be realized. Suddenly a hot breeze blows, the sun beats us back into reality.  We retreat, back into the air conditioned confines of our human habitat to take refuge, and with given time, we’ll get around to doing what it is that needs doing.  And just as we are prepared, word comes that mosquitos carrying the West Nile virus have been discovered down at the local fire station, just four blocks from the house.

Bug spray has been my perfume of choice this summer.  A necessity, these days.  I’ve personally known two people that have caught this horrible virus.  Both were hospitalized for months, and suffered debilitating consequences.  Each worked tirelessly to resume their normal lifestyle.

Today is “Debbie Downer Day.”  I traveled out into the backyard to snap a few photo’s, and thus remembered that it’s been weeks since I promised we’d revisit the ‘contest’… and I promise we will. Let me give you a glimpse of what it will be based upon:

 

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Just as I was thinking this item had finally “bit the dust,” with it’s curling brown and yellow leaves, I discovered that this sucker is actually regenerating new leaves.  Remember when I discovered that she is an invasive species and can wreak havoc upon cotton crops? Thankfully I can report that my neighbors cotton crop is handsomely doing well.  Thriving in fact, but I’m afraid that won’t be the case if these pods burst forth with their numerous seeds, become scattered by wind and take up residency on the other side of the stockade fence.

Here’s my game plan:  After I write this, I’m going outside and place a large plastic bag over it’s head.  Maybe, better yet, I’ll place a large trash receptacle over her head, anchor it down and suffer this girl to the heat of Hades for a week or so.  I’ll place heavy rocks atop the barrel to insure that item stays in place!

Normally I’m tame.  But today is no normal day.  I decided that when I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.  I tried coffee, music, and watering the beautiful flowers that still bring hope that Hades hasn’t won this round.  West Nile virus, a drought and water restrictions just think they have me beat!  As I type, I am suddenly feeling better. I’m banishing the blues to that trash can.  Talking always helps me feel better. Thanks for listening.  I am no longer, “Debbie”… I’m back to being Grounded.  ;)  Here, let me leave you with a treat.  I think everyone deserves a bit of loveliness in their day.

 

This is for you

 

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And so is this

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Life is a journey, not a destination…

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Happy Birthday, Mips!

•August 23, 2014 • Leave a Comment

 

 

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Today is M2’s birthday.

 

I can’t believe it was 24 years ago that I was welcoming our miracle baby into the world. And a true miracle she was!  In the midst of being treated for a brain tumor I was warned that my chances of giving birth to a second child was slim, to none.  This news was beyond devastating.  Each time a friend and neighbor announced an upcoming birth, I wavered back and forth between extreme happiness for their family, while suffering deep sadness for ours.

When I learned I was pregnant, it was a time of wonder, surprise, but also one of great trepidation.  Medications I was taking to suppress tumor growth were stopped, but worry entered into the picture.  Not for myself, but for the health of my unborn.  Test after test were administered, genetic counseling was one of them, after an amniocentesis was performed.

I threw myself into planning her nursery, refusing to accept that there might be complications and health concerns for either of us.  My oldest daughter brought me peace of mind.  I would look at her and think to myself, “What a beautiful gift!”  I concentrated on the awesomeness of her specialness and refused to go into a negative mode.  Together we recreated “her nursery” in blue and white gingham.  (I knew M1 was a boy from the day I learned I was pregnant.  No one could sway me into thinking of pink gingham, or any other alternative color scheme.)  With M2, we were informed of the baby’s gender during the genetic testing and counseling period.  The doctor’s wanted to prepare us for any possible challenges, and even though that was twenty-four years ago, I was amazed at what was known and how little public information was available without the access of the medical community.  Our family never lost hope.

So, today when I think of a 24th birthday, and I celebrate with M2’s favorite sweets, I give thanks.  Our family is truly blessed.  Miracles do happen.  Never give up on Hope.  :)

 

Happy Birthday, Mallory!

 

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Flaming Candles, 2BuckChuck!

•August 15, 2014 • 2 Comments
The above lovely ladies are his favorite people.  He won't tell you that, but 
leave it to a group of sisters to embarrass a single male in the midst of raging
female hormones.  He's not sure how he survived the shame of being the only boy
in a group of five women, but we are thankful he hung in there with us.  He's our
hero.      


(WARNING: this post contains content not appropriate for anyone under age
21 or anyone that can read.  I'm guilty of pranking my beloved brother.  
Join with me, but don't stand too close to the cake.  This fella's turning 
65.  I'd like to have my upper lip waxed, but these eyebrows are already 
a bit sparse.  If he goes hurricane force on blowing out the candles we're
all in trouble!)

.....

Burp!

 

‘cuse me, I’m typing a birthday wish to my brother, formerly referred to as, Bubba Joe-Fred.

He recently informed me that he’d like a nickname change.  Awe shucks, why not oblige

him?   I’m blessed with four sister’s and just this single bub, so what the heck!  Let’s go rogue

on him and give him the gift that pleases.  He wants to be renamed 2BuckChuck.  Thinks it fits

A bit better than that Bubba Joe item.  Must be something to do with his Wyoming birth roots.

Or perhaps those early days of manhood where ‘wining and dining’ the ladies meant a burger

from the hamburger joint, and a bottle of cheaply, and pungently ‘perfumed’ vino, confiscated

or ‘conveniently’ delivered at said location by a rendezvous resource(s).  Memories either fade or

take on a whole new dimension of “reality” when we are in the speed-cycle of life.  Let’s help

build this tall tale into high fashion by high noon!

So join in this festive celebration and grab a brewsky.  Help Hannah and I sing a few bars of

what has now become his favored song, cuz let’s face it, if this is the SIXTY-FIFTH time he’s

heard it, it becomes sweeter each year you return to hear it!  ;)

 

(Please note that Hannah is ready for a sea rescue.   I’m over here saluting, Congratulaions Mr. C.R.W., Retired USN Master Chief, “2BuckChuck”.)

 

 

Happy Birthday 2BuckChuck!

 

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A reason for all things…

•June 22, 2014 • 15 Comments

P1170326   When you have fourteen separate personalities* you are allowed to follow any fork in the road you wish. I’ve chosen to do that today.  Some of  ‘us’ may take a road of solidarity, others, while holding hands, will chorus in unison.  And still, there will be one or two of us that simply decides we’d prefer to remain anonymous, hidden and unobtrusive. Allow us, if you will, to invite you along.  We’re harmless, but intentional.  We’d like you to enjoy our journey and consider it a part of yours, as well.

CONTEST  (rules to follow)*

What is this? Be the first one to correctly identify this plant and you will receive a box of chocolate chip cookies, homemade  (if you’ve brave enough, and if not, a $25.00 gift certificate to enjoy…I get to surprise you, and yes, I promise it will be legitimate and will contain a receipt of authenticity…legit value, fully redeemable).  Okay kids, put those thinking caps on and let’s rip open this mystery.  It has intrigued me since it’s birth in my garden a few weeks ago.  This week it decided to ramp its energy and mystify me even more.  The plant produces both flowers and seed pods, and since I’m a rocket scientist and not a biologist, does it do so: once by bloom and followed by pod, or as an asexual derivative?  (Yeah, like I really know what I’m talking about.  I really, truthfully, only understand dark matter.)  Forgive me for pretending I understand, Botany. Growth began in what I thought was the sunflower patch.  Fair enough.  There’s room.  Besides, over to the left, a few feet away, a climbing squash? cucumber? cantaloupe? took up residency. That’s fine.  No worries.  Sunflowers?  I think they took journey upon the breeze and are nicely adjusting to the trade winds.  Hopefully they are enjoying Tahiti, Bali, Bora Bora and the likes of beauty they deserve.  My only concern:  Why was I left behind?  I own 14 suitcases! You’d sure like to see some pictures now, wouldn’t you?  Settle down or I’ll eat half of the cookies, or reduce your gift certificate to a whopping $12.50.

Now, let us go bravely into the land of my ignorance

shall we?

Yes, yes we shall.

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I don’t sleep walk with my flashlight, and that’s a dog-gone shame!  I might have discovered the nightly habits of this sweet, mysterious lady/gent.  I have pulled three of the dark pods off to examine them, but must admit that I do not know if they have a function beyond offering seeds, and hopefully said seeds are non-poisonous to my sweet friends that might dine upon them.  Might I also note.  I planted these within that sunflower patch I had hoped to establish, using a packet of seeds purchased while visiting Northern California.  (AND NO, I DID NOT PURCHASE MARIJUANA SEEDS!  I have fourteen personalities.  I’m not trying for a world record of the unknown magnitude.  Geez!  Anyone thinking that should automatically withdraw from the contest immediately.  YOU ARE OFFICIALLY DISQUALIFIED.  My birth-state is Colorado, BUT I reside in Texas!)  My seed pack purchase was for something labeled, Organic Skyscraper Sunflowers.  Growth habit of up to 15 feet.  That height factor REALLY caught my attention!  I knew Jack lived in that beanstalk, and I was hoping Jill resided in the sunflower, and that the two of them would become lovers, thus choosing to marry.  I could hold their wedding, or at least beg them to allow me the honor of their reception.

So there you have it.

And here are my rules.

Everyone shall abide by them:

Never assume you know something that you don’t.  Be proud to ask for assistance.  Ignore your shame and realize that you are actually allowing others to gift you.  It’s like when the teacher asked for a show of hands and you sunk into your seat for fear of not knowing the answer.  You tried to appear inconspicuous.  God only help you if you proved you were stupid.  Got news for you kids, “I’ve never met a stupid person and neither have you!” All of us have found ourselves among the ignorant, and that’s a blessing.  For each and everyone of us has also been, and will be, from time-to-time, ignorant.  We are blessed, not cursed.  Now give yourself a pat on the back for being human.  Also, I refer to having 14 separate personalities, actually that is a misnomer.  *I have a mental illness, but it’s always been defined under, “Clinical Depression” and was done so, I suspect, because of how medical insurance was once limited by it’s coverages for specific forms of such conditions.

Absolutely NO SPAMMING IS ALLOWED!  I won’t track you down and ‘get cha’, but I know who will and they can, and will, legally do so!  Rules of the Internet, obey them and abide by them, or suffer the consequence(s).

One winner only.  I’m far from wealthy.  Heck, aren’t we all!  At least 99 per cent of us are, anyway.  And, if you’re in that top one percent.  I congratulate you, and encourage you to play along with us.  If you win, would you mind accepting the gift certificate and offering it to someone in need?  Maybe match it, tenfold?  Thank you.  All 99% of us, “Thank you” and I’m sure the majority of us really do hope that YOU win.  :)

Cookies, if you chose to have cookies as your prize, I will mail them to you within the week of your winning.  They will be shipped, Priority Mail, United States Postal Service.  Let me know if you are allergic to any nut product.  My kitchen is NOT a NUT FREE ZONE, and no! It has nothing to do with my friends dancing in my head.  Can I offer, Kosher?  I’m sorry, I cannot.  I eat meat, especially beef, pork, and would not and will not lie to you.

Unfortunately, I will be unable to offer this contest to participates outside of the United States due to the prohibitive nature of shipping expenses and my ignorance on restrictions on mail codes outside of the U.S., HOWEVER, there is one exception:  All United States ARMED FORCES ARE ELIGIBLE FOR ENTRY if they can submit, privately, a military address.

Does this read like a book?  Of course it does.  If I condensed anything the other thirteen girls would be offended.  We all have things to say.  Now you have places to go.  Shoo-fly, shoo!

Please allow me to introduce our winner

…I erroneously named Mrs. Hoberg, until I was ‘reminded’ that the real winner was, in fact, her daughter.

 Meet Miss Zulu Hoberg

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Yes, I understand that a few of you may question the validity of this contest and that my family may have had an unfair advantage.  That just ain’t fair!  No way, no how, AND, we have to make this fair, or I won’t be able to sleep with myself.  Yes, the other thirteen girls will steal my covers and ban me into the spare bedroom.  I am frightened by things that go bump-in-the-night and am needy for the comfort of my others.  So…tomorrow, after the dental appointment and a prior commitment, I will work on a new contest.  Sorry, none of my relatives will be allowed to participate, including all 14 of me, and the others listed within four sisters’ and my brother’s known genealogy,   I promise I didn’t rig this thing today, but then I got to thinking (a rare thing, I know), and decided there was no difference between a grocery store contest give-away (where employees are not allowed to participate, nor their family members).  How was it proper for me to ‘create’ a set of rules that could not be governed openly and honestly?  Oh dang, here I go again, writing a book and loosing you to the t.v. set, the smartphone, etc.  Stay tuned and keep contemplating: Cookies?  Gift Certificate?

(In fairness to the dog, she DOES receive cookies.  Organic, dog-friendly, and made by me.)

I win twice. :)

Memorial Day, 2014

•May 26, 2014 • 2 Comments

 

Red, White and Blue

 

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Stars and Stripes, too

 

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They fly freely

 

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Because of you

 

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Dedicated to all that have given their lives for our freedom.

Gone, but never forgotten.

*The above photo’s were taken from a Southlake, Texas, business.  These flags are dedicated to each person lost on September 11, 2001, in the World Trade Center bombings.  Each Memorial Day, without fail, there  is a flag placed and flown to honor them.  They too, are fallen soldiers, and will never be forgotten.

Thank you, Mr. Claffey.

The down and dirty…

•May 17, 2014 • 3 Comments

 

This is a story about love.

 

True, pure, and sincere.  Nothing rivals this for me.  It’s a gift.  All of it.  It doesn’t belong to me, but to Him.  It began years ago, digging in the rich red sand soil of Northern Oklahoma.  No children, hubby and I would come from work and toss work clothes aside for yard attire.  We’d work, but it never felt like work.  It felt like a release, a way to put the day behind us and to see the progress of seed packets, rainfall, good dirt, a sprinkling of hose water now and then.

FIrst it was chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, as we strived to create our wonderland.  And somewhere, along the way, we learned about organic gardening.  We threw ourselves into reading all we could.  The journey had begun.  We would find some summers a true battle, plucking tomato worms and tossing them to their death by drowning within water buckets we carried as we scoured the plants.  Squash bugs gave us quite a run for our money, too.  Once they hit one plant, I’d pull up the entire plant and discard it into the trash bin in hopes of keeping ahead of their onslaught.  I recall losing all my zucchini and crooked neck squash one year, only to be blessed with a massive amount of Peter Pan’s and Blue Hubbard’s squash.

We taught ourselves, over time, to develop our beloved compost pile.  We treasured it and treated it as a poster child for all things, wonderful.  I’ll never forget the early frosty morning I looked out the kitchen bay window and announced to hubby, “Look, is that steam coming off of the compost?”

We jumped from our seats and ran wildly into the garden.  I rather doubt we even thought about a major fire fight damaging our house and the rest of the neighborhood.  We had read about this!  We were witnessing smoke and fire with overwhelming joy.   A compost pile so active it was producing gases that would give promise to a wonderful free fertilizer and soil conditioner come Spring planting.  We also took to turning the pile, fully, each day, being sure to get the most out of our goodies, and to insure the pile didn’t ignite into a fully flaming inferno.

…..

We live in North Texas these days.

 

We still compost, but we are not fortunate to have a free space sitting openly that can benefit from full sun for the better part of the day.  We’ve had to shift our strategies, but that has not hindered nor discouraged our ongoing obsession.  Have a look at a few of our options:

Old wood log storage, used for wood burning fireplaces.

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Notice the green trash cans?  Those are used during the winter when there is an over abundance of waste from trees shedding leaves.  The bit of red you see leaning inside the frame?  My beloved pitch fork used to turn my pile.

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Here’s my new invention.  I read about it last year.  Wish I could recall where, because I would love to compliment and give credit where credit is due:

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I came across a group of men installing a new landscape bed.  They had a massive amount of these black plant pots they were just tossing into the back of their truck.  I asked if I could purchase a few.  They refused my offer and told me to help myself.

These particular ones are heavy-duty, have large drainage slits and work beautifully for composting ‘on-site’ and with the added bonus, acting two-fold.  Instead of using a drip system, or making the mistake of watering the whole plant, these allow me to water and feed, gradually.  Sincerely kids, I have not fed my chard, and tomorrow will be my third harvest!

…..

Do you see the large leafed plant at the bottom of this photo?  That’s comfrey.  A plant that any serious organic gardener MUST locate and plant!  Be prepared to water this thirsty little girl a lot the first and second year, but once fully established it will send a rather large taproot to a moisture source.  Where ever you plant her/him, give it room to grow, to spread, to overtake.  And never look back in despair.  By cutting the leaves and the flowers and cramming them into a container that can be sealed, you are onto making one of natures most amazing fertilizers.  (I have three rescued cats and go through large buckets of litter.)  I will pack a container fully, snap on the lid and set it aside until I need to give an item a boost.  Eventually, this mass of leaves will turn into a stinky dark liquid that you can dilute and use at your convenience.

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Look what the week ahead holds promise of…day lilies.  Multitudes!  I do have a concern, and I guess this is where I best express it so maybe others can learn from it.  I was gifted the native orange ‘ditch lily’ or as some call it, ‘tiger lily.’  I gleefully brought them home two years ago and placed them among my prized other day lilies, some of heirloom and prize-winning standards.  I will be ill if I discover cross-breeding has affected my special specimens.  If you hear a loud shout and wail coming from the south, you’ll know it’s that lady from Texas that has been wounded by her greed.

…..

Josie’s Yucca

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I’m growing this for a very special niece, well, actually, all of my nieces are special, but this one holds a place in my heart as if she were my third daughter.  As many of you may know, I don’t have grandchildren, but Josie is mom to two beautiful children that treat their ‘Auntie M’ as if she is as important as a grandmother.  What’s really nice, the other two grandma’s tolerate this and only add to the specialness.  Well…on to the story.  Josie’s hubby, my nephew, is a women’s collegiate basketball coach.  An amazing young man, dedicated to his family, his team and his faith.  At one point Josie and Aaron moved to Texas.  I had a small yucca sitting off in an area of the yard that I didn’t know what to do with.  Then along came the kids.  They were excited to get some transplants for their new home, it was in need of some outside fashion accessories.  I obliged.  Along with other items, Josie asked if she could have that Yucca.  Thank goodness, the orphan found a home!    What’s even more amazing, it bloomed for her, prolifically.  Warp into the future and another yucca sprouts.  This time I dug it up and named it, Josie’s plant.  That sucker is going wild!  Currently the family resides in the N.E. region of Arkansas.  I’d like to transport it to them, but at this point we need a truck.  And we’ll need a forklift if it spends another summer at ‘Auntie M’s.

…..

This was today.

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I should see an abundance of butterflies soon.  Each day I encounter more bee’s; different types, too.  This makes my heart sing.  We need our bee’s.  Their decline will bring our decline.  Plant just one plant that they can feed upon.  And don’t worry, they are not there to sting you.  Don’t swat at them, nor bother the area they are working.  Let’s give bee’s a chance.  Please, and thank-you.  :)

Amaryllis in bloom

•May 14, 2014 • 2 Comments

 

 

A Christmas gift from my son-in-laws family,

received a few years ago.

 

 

 Each year the bed grows larger and more beautiful.

 

 

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Volunteers of the compost pile

climbing a borrowed trellis

 

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(Tomorrow I hope to plant a red yarrow and an oak leaf hydrangea.)

Checking on Mr. Snips

•May 12, 2014 • 6 Comments

 

Munching along the Guara Road.

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This fuzzy-wuzzy character is hiding this morning, but rain is about to fall, so surely he has headed for safer territory.

The mighty feast of the guara has its bloomings bare, and it’s branches scrawny looking, but noting his size, all will rebound once his feast frenzy has ended.  Which should be soon.  This picture was taken at the end of last week; I glimpsed him yesterday and he is one chubby camper.

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 Centering a universe

 

Candy-Cane Amaryllis

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She’s preparing to unfold and capture the world with her beauty

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Milkweed, Bottlebush & Euphorbia;

Milkweed is the orange/red/yellow, Bottlebush is the purple.

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Field of Cilantro Flowers, a haven for the bees and butterflies.

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Color is a magnet, as is scent,

Pink Penta, butterfly magnet extrordinaire!

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Bougainvillea vine

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Flowering Knifophia (Lime-colored) also known as poker plant.

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Native Nandina, prepping for berries.

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Swiss Chard*

Lovely to look at, more lovely to eat.  A beautiful plant in the garden.  Kissed by dew and raindrops.

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This item is so versatile it will make your head swim!  ;)

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Little Porters, Cherries and Plum Tomatoes are making themselves known!

(I believe these are porters.)

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Home.  Sweet.  Home.  :)

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The spinach and kohlrabi crops have been harvested.  Georgia collards and Siberian kale are taking up shop in their place and should soon make an appearance.

The compost area is reworked and is boasting a boatload of “unknowns.”  Something is in need of a trellis, but I’m not into wood shop adventures.  It will be interesting to see what kind of rig shows up to aid and assist.  I’m known for my free-styling, what-cha-ma-call-it’s.

;)

*I erroneously reported the Swiss Chard as Red Kale earlier today.  For shame, for shame.  I know better.

Extra-special delivery!

•May 2, 2014 • Leave a Comment

 

 

Happy 30th birthday, M1

 

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This is an extra-special birthday.  Megan and Jake arrived home late yesterday afternoon.  Today we headed North to visit with Grandpa and Grandma.  We enjoyed our day along with Aunt B., M2 and J2.  Hannah, the doggie, came along and spent the best part of her day swimming in Grandpa’s stock pond.  Labs love their water!

(P.S. M3 needs to remember to recharge her battery on her camera.  I have one photo to prove a birthday happened.  Oops!  I’ve been promised copies of others though, thank goodness.)

Nana B and Auntie M are in a contest…

•April 27, 2014 • 2 Comments

 

competing for a piece of the shovel

 

Two sisters, two gardens. What could go wrong?   Nana B had the nerve to send me a photo of her new greenhouse a week or so ago.  And then yesterday she mailed me a picture of her 90 foot by 15 foot newly planted garden plot.

and this is the prize!

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c

I was going to offer my heart

 

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but it belongs to, Hannah

 

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Okay, I’m don’t have a chance in Hades of becoming close in production, especially when you see the plot of land I refer to as my garden.

Oh, did I mention she has a pond she uses as a watering source, and a very skilled hubby that has built an irrigation system?

Do I sound peeved?  Actually I’m not.  I’m only green.  My thumb infection spread throughout my body.  It’s not a jealousy infection, or anything to do with fake chemicals.  I grow organically, the green was caused by harvesting.

…..

Scroll down and I’ll show you my lunch garden.  It can also help us though dinner if we don’t gorge ourselves.  Forget about getting a breakfast feast from it.  Just nibble on herbs and dig for grub worms for protein.

 

Welcome!

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I planted her last summer.  She was growing in a store.  I chose to put her into a place where she would be appreciated.  Hawaii and Texas want to “Welcome” everyone!

Even those holding a ‘chewfest’ over at the lone cabbage plant.

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I didn’t care for those fast moving weather changes this winter.  This onion agreed.  He said to heck with bulbing, He’s chosen to expose  himself as a seedy character.

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Drink plenty of water and tea before you arrive for lunch.  Spinach is going to bulk us up (if we don’t steam it). That red chard is going to have to have an extra week before we tap into her.  Drink water and eat bugs for a few days.  Share with your neighbors and leave my caterpillars, butterflies and earthworms alone.  Oh, and don’t come hollering if a hummingbird or honeybee awakes or fans you.  They own this place more than we do.  This food camp wouldn’t be if it weren’t for them.  Come early. Some caterpillars are onto us.  Our harvest dates are colliding.  (Go left and you can chew on cilantro, go right and chomp on an onion.)

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If you’ve never eaten Swiss chard you are depriving yourself of a delicious treat.  Eat it hot, eat it cold, but eat it.  It’s one of the most amazing items discovered.

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  Herbs.  They’re versatile, enjoy being ridiculed as ‘minor’ and don’t mind being ignored.  Some critters use them to nest.  Dill weed nests the caterpillar that later become the beautiful Swallowtail Butterfly.

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 Oh look!  I failed to tell you about the kale.  Ain’t she pretty?  Look up, she’s frilly and sits between the comfrey and the abundant sage.  Check out that basil!  My third planting this season.  Weather frost kicked butt on the earlier plantings.

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It’s obvious that sister over in Texarkana has earned that beloved Shovel Trophy.  Let us not fret, stew, worry. or blow bad Karma her direction.

I’ve got some consolation surprises for my cheer section.  Sit back and just enjoy.

It’s been a rough ride, but as long as we’re still in the game, we ain’t lost.  We’re just over here looking for our dignity.

 

:)

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 petunia!

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 impatien!

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 marigold!

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This, a Native of Texas…and I have forgotten her name.

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I will post her name tomorrow.  I grow two varieties of these.  They appear like dancing butterflies and form a swirling pattern during heavy bloom. Guara!!! That’s our Beauty Queen. Just a few hours of sleep and several cups of coffee, but that’s the pretty flowers name. Enjoy!

:)

P.S.  We all win, don’t ‘cha think?  We all love nature and if you don’t, how on earth did you wander over here?

Sharing times two, these are new…

•April 17, 2014 • 14 Comments

 

the corner of the garden

 

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There is splendor in the quietest of places

Behold, my first bloom…

•April 8, 2014 • 2 Comments

Nelly Moser Clematis

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There were daffodils, aplenty, but I missed their splendor.  I was in quarantine with a bad cold at the back of the house.  My neighbors enjoyed them, though.  And, if we can’t, aren’t they the other real reason we plant?

Yep.  I knew you’d agree.

:)

M2 is a Rock n’ Roller…Half-Marathoner!

•March 23, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Dallas-style…

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Stretchhhhhhhhhh

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And the number is…

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To the gate

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Pony-up express

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This filly is chilly, brrrrrr

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And we’re off!

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This girl’s a winner.  :)

M2, we are so proud of you!

Congratulations

Thank you, Joe

•January 24, 2014 • Leave a Comment

For standing!

I’m standing with you.

And, thank you to all the American Veterans that made it possible for me to fly my beautiful flag.

http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/24/justice/arizona-inmates-bread-water/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

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‘Hair of the dog…’

•January 21, 2014 • 2 Comments

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Oh my!

Do you feel as if I have mislead you?

My apologies, but seriously, don’t you know by now that I can pull a prank every now and then?

Okay.  Such is not a prank, but how else could I get you to read this post?

I was vacuuming.

Actually.  My daughter was vacuuming.  I arrived home.  I looked at the floor and found trash bits scattered about and wondered, “Did that girl plug that thing in before she ran it across the carpet?”

Yes.  This story is about debris.  The field(s) of which it arises, rather, arose and the feeble attempt to make something out of nothing.  Because, well, dead grass really is, nothing.  Unless of course you compost, and then it becomes a bit of dirt.  In which case, things are really turning ugly, rather, dirty.  And, by now you simply want me to ‘go find myself’ and stop wasting your time.  To which, I respond:  “Thank you for stopping by to see my mess.”

Seriously,

let’s get back to the hair of the dog, shall we?  Yes.  Yes, we shall.  ;)

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Help! I’ve broken out

•January 5, 2014 • 3 Comments

In Chives

I’m going to need a machete to navigate the kitchen.  This dude is prepping for Tarzan!

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Genovese Basil is looking to make a strong statement and a very happy cook  ;)

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This guy’s all “steamed-up” about his lack of progress.  Meet Parsley, shy and a bit reserved.  (I think there’s action happening, though…)

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I love this little garden, gifted to me by my brother at Christmas.

Thank-you, ‘Bubba Joe-Fred’.  Thank-you so much!  I plan on gifting you some pesto, a garnish and a spud dressed with pizzaz!  (Got to go plant the eyes for that spud.  Check back later to see how I’ve weed-whacked my kitchen during the harvest season.)

;)

‘Twas two days before Christmas

•December 23, 2013 • 2 Comments

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and all through this house…When what to my wondering eyes should appear?

 (my little adaptation of the famous, Clement Clarke Moore, Christmas poem.)

note, a blessed little note, tucked into my sugarplum dreams.  It came from Sharon, and along it she brings,

A nomination for, The Sisterhood of the World  Bloggers Award.

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I stumbled upon Sharon’s WordPress blog, Sharon Bonin-Pratt’s Ink Flare, and the rest is history.  Her use of metaphor and simile are delightful; she can tangle you into a web of intrigue from the get-go with such a simple twisting of dialog.  You’ll suddenly find yourself amidst a whirlwind of different emotions.  Try as I might to articulate her mighty world of words, I will fall short.  You simply must indulge yourself.  Give yourself the gift of her prose.

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Here are the guidelines for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award to follow:

  1. All recipients need to thank the giver.
  2. Post 7 things about yourself.
  3. Pass the award on to 7 other bloggers of your choice and let them know that they have been nominated.
  4. Include the logo of the award in a post or on your blog.

…..

Allow me to ‘operate’ as I go, thus we can be sure I cover all the bases:

Thank you, Sharon!

  1. I’m blessed to be the mom to two daughters, blessed beyond measure.
  2. I love dogs and cats.  I have a yellow Lab and three cats.  All of my best-friends are rescues.
  3. I’m an organic gardener.
  4. Learning how to make/bake sourdough bread has taught me about Life, it’s abundance and it’s grace.
  5. My sisters and my brother are my best friends.
  6. Laughter really is the best medicine.
  7. Mental illness has altered my life, but not defined it.

Seven (my list can only be seven?) bloggers that rock my world.

Now, onto the particulars of what this nomination brings with it.  Allow me to take you into the realm of my world and some of the fancies that mix within it.

These folks bring joy.  Pure and simple.  They make my heart sing!

Jen of, userealbutter.com .  OMGosh, loving food is one thing, photography is another, but loving a dog as much as I love a dog?  Well, this girls a winner.  She’s a winner in so many ways.  I admire this woman and appreciate her for all that she does and continues to do.  She serves up food porn like no one else, but it’s her loving spirit that will motivate you.  Kudos to this very special person.

Susan, wildyeastblog.com .  Sue me, but the truth is out and I’m proclaiming it.  This girl can attempt to throw pizza dough or she can go outside and build an oven, oh, and while she’s at it, she can write a set of instructions for a bread recipe that actually convinces you that you have a game plan.  Guess what?  You really do!  Simply follow her along and be ready to be amazed.  The journey is bountiful, the woman, phenomenal!

M1, zuplustwo.com .  If I nominate her, do you think I can get her to post?   It’s been a while.  I miss my daughter.  Yes!  This is my daughter.  I love everything about this girl, and reading her blog is a kick-in-the-pants.  A mother’s joy.  But this girl has been absent, not from my life, but from her blog.  Let’s nudge her, shall we?  Yes.  Yes, we shall!  ;)

Deeba, PassionateAboutBaking.com .  In the beginning of time…food blogging time, I found Deeba.  Or rather, Deeba found me.  I seriously don’t remember.  I’m confused because of all the sugar.  It’s easy to do when you become so impassioned…or rather, passionate about food.  Deeba’s works are beautiful, as is her photography.   Welcome to India, to Deeba’s world and to her amazing pursuits!

Abdullahi Kassim & Leila Adde, the authors behind the gorgeous blog, Xawaash.com .  Allow me to beckon you into the world of Somali food.  Oh my goodness, can you smell the deliciousness?  See the beauty?  Oh, and there is such beauty.  Photographs and scents, how can one lose?  You can’t.  Go get a dose of beautiful.  Grab a side dish for me while you are there.  Enjoy, and welcome into a journey of exotic delights.

Nicole, www.pinchmysalt.com .  This girl is guilty of kneading my soul.  Yep!  Sure is. She made me join her on a bread baking pursuit.  Okay, okay.  She didn’t make me do it, but how could I refuse the offer to bake through one of my all time favorite baking books?  I couldn’t.  I shouldn’t, and I still haven’t.  I haven’t completed my foray, but, “Hey! That’s okay.  We are both still on our journey.”  We are winners, dusted in flour and thankful that Peter Reinhart wrote the book that sent us on our way.

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

sisterhood-of-world-blogger

“Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good-night!”

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Into the night

•December 8, 2013 • 7 Comments


Alas, the runway

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a beacon

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upon a frozen path

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May there be Light

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to guide you safely

Frozen digits…

•December 6, 2013 • 6 Comments

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Strip it!

•November 18, 2013 • Leave a Comment

And she did.

Congratulations, M1

 

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I am so proud of you!

:)

Love,

Mom

The Nincompoop Coupe!

•November 10, 2013 • 1 Comment

Monster Mash…

•November 1, 2013 • 4 Comments

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Remember the giant mushroom(s)?  Well, Halloween witches had their way with her. Along with the rain that pushed its way through here on the 30th.  All that is left is a rather, sticky, slick, pile of YUCK:

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I did find a few more surprises, much prettier and more worth posting:

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After crawling from under the stinky cabana, I did a walk through of items clinging to Fall.  Weather is still beautiful, highs in the upper seventies and lows in the sixties to upper fifties.  For now, that is.  Texas weather changes on a dime.

Let’s enjoy the last of this year’s beauty’s, shall we?  Yes, yes we will…

Georgia Collards

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Glass pearls, included  ;)

‘Into the Center of the Collard Universe’

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Insect included

 Berggarden Sage

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Misted by morning dawn’s dewdrops

Yellow Canna

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Hanging around, simply because, I can!

Texas Nandina

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Invasive species, but beautiful if controlled.

 Cherry Tomatoes

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hundreds of them…

 

Enjoy November!

‘Under cover’

•October 29, 2013 • 4 Comments

I glanced up under the deck to find this staring back at me.

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Quess what’s for dinner?

Congress called…

•October 7, 2013 • 8 Comments

They want their Season back…

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Therapeutically talking out loud

•October 2, 2013 • 4 Comments

While schoolyard bullies are running amuck in Washington D.C., holding the American citizen hostage, a myriad of questions arise.  It matters not what side you are on, if in fact you are upon anyone’s side, what concerns us is the way their actions (or lack, thereof), affect us, and not them.  Their insurance and paychecks will be available, uninterrupted, while we, the American citizen and taxpayer have no other option than to wait out their freak show.

This current state of affairs will do one of two things:  1.) Divide America, further, or,  2.) Unite us to initiate what Congress and the President couldn’t, Term Limits.

We do not need a law to remove an incumbent.  We have our vote.  Don’t discount it. Use it.  Tell a story with it.  Give it as a gift to the future.

Do these elected officials believe we will concede due to fatigue?  Where in the heck have these people been holed up for the past several years?   Oh, that’s right, they’ve been in the taxpayer-funded cafeteria,  barbershop and beauty salons, on junkets and other reprieves while the American taxpayer has been steadily holding up the core.

A handout is always a handout.  It doesn’t matter if you’re an elected official or an illegal.  As I sit here and ramble I can’t help but think of all the American Veterans I know that put their lives on the line so that I could enjoy the freedom to type a note like this.  I’m angry that Washington D.C. is holding me hostage, but I laugh heartily as I ponder, “Do they think the taxpaying public will eventually succumb to Stockholm Syndrome“?  Do they sincerely believe that we are not able to think without leadership? And whose leadership are we discussing?  I see millions of people using their leadership skills day in and day out.  They go to work, send their children off to school, make their mortgage payments, car payments, assist their elderly parents, and send their children off to college to prepare them for a better future.

So, while you folks in Washington D.C. are busy with your schoolyard antics, do the rest of us a favor.  The next time you walk by a mirror, take a look at yourself.  Now you know the standards most of us use to define the word, bully.

…..

Tomorrow we will discuss, laziness.

To my main squeeze…

•September 24, 2013 • 5 Comments

Happy First Birthday, Caylix Ace

This is for you,

I didn’t bake this one.  I wish I had, but the week ran away with my time.  I punted, or as your daddy would say, “She dribbled down the court….”

I wish I could celebrate this special day with you, but alas, an eight-hour drive keeps me bound to the south.  I’ll make it up to you one of these days.

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Kiss your sweet big sister for me

 Oh, and don’t forget to blow out your candle!  Be sure to make a great big wish first, though.  ;)

Love,

Auntie ‘M’

‘My family’s a bit wild’

•September 14, 2013 • 6 Comments

 

“I’m looking for a friend,

 can you come over and play?”

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“No, mom said it’s nap time.”

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“Leave me alone, kid, I’m grazing in the grass.”

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“It’s lunch time; have you eaten?”

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“Yes, mama took me for a veggie burger.”

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“You want to borrow my stick for stick ball?”

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“Okay!  Let’s gather a group.”

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“I want to play, too!”

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“Be careful crossing that fenced area!”

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“Who you talking about?”

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“I’ll keep an eye on ’em, Mr. Elk.”

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“If I suspect trouble, I’ll stomp on it.”

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“Wait for me!”

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“Hey, you kids want to toss rings?

One of these horns ain’t broke, yet.”

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“He’s coming, he’s hurrying…”

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“Nap times over…

here I come!”

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“Where are we going to play?”

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“Hey, you kids wait for

Grandpa and Grandma.”

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“Grandpa, go grab a hankie.

  Seriously!!!”

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“Look, there’s Bubba Joe-Fred,

let’s see if he wants to join us.”

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“Whose making all this noise?”

Squaw Bread (adaptation to earlier posted recipe link)

•September 9, 2013 • 2 Comments

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Buffalo Tom Peabody

where are you?  I need to give you, and my other bread baker friends the low-down on the bread recipe link that I had posted a few posts back for the Squaw Bread.

In the midst of my bread baking, and measuring, I had a couple of phone calls, and an unexpected, but lovely visit with a good friend.  Can I just jump right in and tell you that I was not myself?  Admit that I had not followed the baker’s rule of all rules, Mise en place?  Me, the baker, the one who knows how important being organized is when in pursuit of the perfect bake?  Aww-shucks, I was wide-eyed and bushy-tailed, and the only excuse I had for not being fully prepared was due to, The New York Times, post I’d read and responded to along with the ‘fifty-thousand’ (exaggeration), others that are giving their two cents on President Obama’s threat to intervene in Syria (against the will of many American citizens).  Well, sure enough, now that I think about it, that is the true reason my attempt went askew, but because I refuse negativity to throw me down and beat the heck out of me.  I stood up, shouldered my responsibility for being less than focused and set forth to adjust and amend my mistakes.

Here’s how it all went down

I pulled my rogue self from the pasture and set about messing with the fruit mix, first. The original recipe requested 1/4 cup of raisins.  Oh, well that just won’t do for me.  I’m as addicted to fruit as I am to coffee.  Instead of just raisins I dabbled with some of this:

  • 1 ounce of chopped dried figs, organic
  • 1 ounce of golden raisins
  • 1 ounce of Jumbo Flame raisins
  • 1 ounce of currants
  • 1 ounce of dried cranberries

Those babies went swimming and simmering in 2 cups of filtered water.  Cooled and then pulverized along with Canola oil, Organic Palm Sugar, Organic honey, with my trusty immersion blender (gifted to me by my favorite son).

Proofing my yeast was a blast

Literally.  I forgot about it while visiting my girlfriend.  So, by the time I got back to the bench to continue culmination of all ingredients I noted that Mount Vesuvius was alive, again, and spilling into the streets with a vengeance.  Who knew that a quarter cup of warm water, a tablespoon of molasses, along with three teaspoons of baker’s yeast, could foam and amass such greatness in such short time?  (NOTE:  I’ll never use sugar or honey to activate a feed to baker’s yeast again.  Mr. Molasses, you are the new trick up my sleeve.  :)

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At some point

I measured my flours, opting for Imperial measurements (ounces versus cups).  Organic Rye, Organic Wheat and All-Purpose white flour.  This is where the mayhem ensued.  In the fog of too much caffeine, I must have over-calculated my ounces, the bowl of flour, while heaping, should have been my hint, but it wasn’t until I added the powered milk, salt, and the liquid mixtures of fruits and Mount Vesuvius foaming yeasties that misfortune threw itself into my face..

That KitchenAid mixer tried to tell me that I was asking a favor that she simply couldn’t offer.  She tried to toss things back at me, I yelled at her, pushed things back into her. The fight continued until I just couldn’t shame either one of us for another moment.  I lifted her arm and grabbed the bowl off the lock, dumped the mass onto the counter and began hand kneading.  Kneading.  Kneading, until I NEEDED more caffeine and a diversion.  My diversion came via the water spigot on the fridge door.  I threw copious amounts of water atop the dry mass, the very dry mass…and crumpling dough.  I pushed, I pulled, I cursed, I begged.  I grabbed more water.  Finally, I divided the mass and threw half of it back into the KitchenAid, tossing the other into the composting bucket. I turned that mixer on, full speed ahead,  and challenged that dough to fight for its life. I tossed more water into the glob of goo and messed with it further.  AND THEN I REMEMBERED!  Rye flour does NOT like over-mixing.  It becomes gummy, unfriendly and unforgiving.  I was too far in to pull myself out of the mayhem.  My OCD was fully activated, the caffeine was pushing me into a stress-induced panic attack.  I shut K.A. off for a break and tried a window-pane test.  FAILURE.  Turned Miss K.A. back on and pushed her into her own panic mode.

Eventually I grew more weary.  The coffee pot was empty and I fell into a heap on the couch.  Reading and re-reading the recipe.  Factoring how much extra water I ‘must-have’ added, and finally accepting that in the wild torrent of my caffeine stupor the calculations could have been anywhere from 12 to 15 ounces.  Oh yeah.  When I go down big.  I go down.  Far.

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Well, heck

we all know that self-pity isn’t worth two dimes and a nickel.  I’ll see what comes out of this whole thing and write a report, if for no other reason than to let my friends know that I wasn’t lying when I said I’d be baking, and hoping they would too, a request that came via my bud, Buffalo Tom Peabody, on his quest to find a bread he enjoyed through traveling the Sioux Falls, South Dakota area.

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Squaw Bread recipes are welcome

Please feel free to post them in the comments section.

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An open letter on Syria to Western narcissists

•September 4, 2013 • Leave a Comment

This piece was presented via Freshly Pressed, a selection posted by editors of WordPress.

It is lengthy, provocative, and offers a reflective analogy of perspectives from several different viewpoints when read in its entirety, i.e., article+responses.

Join Buffalo Tom Peabody’s and my request

•September 3, 2013 • 12 Comments

Intellectual Property Laws 

prohibit me from posting the recipe that is linked to in this post.  Please click the link listed, given at the end of this page, to pull up the recipe we will be baking.  If for some reason you have any questions concerning the link provided or the recipe, itself, I’ll do my best to answer them.  Simply write in the comments section. 

…..

Here’s our request:

We is on our way to wrangle ourselves into some sorts of trouble.  Bread trouble.  We’re on a mission to bake us up some American Indian bread.  Want to join us?  We’d love to have you.  I’m posting a recipe from the Food.com website that offers up what must be one mighty, tasty loaf, or two, or three.  You divide her into as many loaves as you’d like, but don’t forget to go adjusting your baking times according to the size of them thar pans you use.  K?  Okay!

Buffalo Tom Peabody came mosey-ing into my life via another Blog Phenome, Mr. Chris Hinton, author of, The Dimwit Diaries.  Seems the two of ’em had been communicating and laughing their sides off before I waded into their cyber pool of mischievousness.  Let me correct myself, just a tad, Chris invited his readers over to take a look at Buffalo Tom Peabody’s antics and the rest is history, in my book.  Now, before ya’ll get yourselves gussied up to bake this here bread recipe I’m about to reveal, I want ya’ll to wander on over and take a look at these two clowns, and enjoy a few of their performances.  Actually, they ain’t real clowns, but rather, comedic geniuses.  Warning, if you wear them adult diapers be sure to have a few extra’s stashed close.  (Don’t say I did warn ya’s all ahead a time.  You just never know what I’m gonna be throwing at cha’s, and this here’s some mighty good stuff.  Bread will be too, but first you gotta get some sand in your cowboy boots and ya got’s to wrestle with the brave Buffalo Tom Peabody.  We are in cahoots to get you out of that there sand box you’ve been hiding in, and get yourselves into the kitchen for duty.)  By the way, this ain’t no contest, nobodies gonna win a prize, cept for the joy of being in our good company.  And we are good company, and if you’re reading this, well, consider that you’ve been adopted into our family of mayhem, and we are in your good company.

First things first.  We ain’t got no time limit on our bread baking, ‘cept for what that Fareheit rule is once you shove them thar loaves into your oven.  Then you is on your own at listening for the buzzer, or the shout-out when mama screams:  “Dang, you gonna burn this barn down if you don’t get in here and get this out of the oven!  Things is getting smokey in here!”  (Which of coarse means you have over baked your Squaw Bread and you gots to go back to the start of the line.  Reorganize your life a little bit better, for #2 of your bread baking initiative…as in, turn off that danged t.v. set, and give mama a ticket to the beauty shop.  You set up NASA Countdown to bread-ready and clean up while you is in there waiting for timer #2.)

…..

Pardon me

while I get professional for a moment.  I want to express how I arrived at this quest for Indian Squaw bread.  Lines may be blurry by all the riff-raff I’ve shellacked up to this point.  Let’s begin with formal introductions of my prize winning blog friends, Mr. Chris Hinton and Buffalo Tom Peabody.

Chris Hinton

author of,  The Dimwit Diaries, this page gives us a bit of an idea of who Chris is, but just a tad bit.  He is a well-rounded, enigma that I proudly claim as, The Cowboy.  (No one else can use that name but me.  I trademarked it especially for ‘Dimmie.’)

Buffalo Tom Peabody

author of the blog by the same name, Buffalo Tom Peabody, this link explains who he is. I call this guy, Mr. Inspiration, and I also have his given name, trademarked.  (You’re right, you CAN’T use that name for him, either.  Copywrite laws are especially heinous when ignored.  Remember, I live in Texas.  We have the death penalty and some pretty strong gun laws!) … Okay, I pranked you on that one.  I am not legally allowed to carry a gun, and no, I am not on parole.  ;)

…..

Well, you say, I thought this post was suppose to be about bread?  Well, “Heck, fire and gee-whiz.”  You’d be right, but have you ever known me to write a simple sentence much less an abbreviated outline?  I rest my case.  ;)

…..

This here is how Buffalo Tom Peabody and I got to talking about this particular bread.  He commented on one of my former bakes for the BBA work that I’ve been blogging.  One particular bread reminded him of Squaw bread.  Here is one of his comments:

“Someone once offered me the recipe for Squaw bread… And then they would never ever give it to me. I really like it. :-)”  …a direct quote from Buffalo Tom Peabody, hisself.

…..

Well, that did it

Set my sail.  Sparked my sparkler.  Lit my candle.  Fired up my Dodge.  You name it, it did it.  After all, it’s BREAD!  If “You don’t know me by now, you will never, never, know me…”  (Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes.)  The bread baker in me could not allow a walk by and ignoring of justice.  I challenged myself and my twelve other personalities to locate a recipe and then considered inviting a few folks into the fold to have a friendly bake.  Let’s get this party ‘shakin and a bakin’, shall we?  I is gonna try my hand sometime later this week.  Now, I got’s to go and water the burnt-up garden vegetation. Ya’ll check me on the flip side.  Send them thar comments and photo’s if ya like.  Or, if yo got them summer time blues, you can vicariously live through Buffalo Tom and me, but ya best think about what you is havin for dinner.  We ain’t likely gonna share bread breakin via cyberspace.  Ain’t bought our transporter yet.

…..

Squaw Bread Recipe:

http://www.food.com/recipe/squaw-bread-152552

(Attention:  Buffalo Tom Peabody, if you are unable to link to the site via TTS, send me a note.)

The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, Sourdough (Pumpkin) Seed Rye (an adaptation of Sunflower Seed Bread)

•August 31, 2013 • 17 Comments

Notation from Peter Reinhart for the original recipe of the Sourdough Sunflower Seed Bread recipe that he adapted for his book (page 249, first paragraph), “This is a variation of a formula developed by Craig Ponsford and the Coupe du Monde team in 1995.”  PR, then continues to unfold the mystery of how he developed his version.  I urge you to find this book, buy it and journey your way into the land of all things, floured.  And if I can’t convince you, do me one special favor, give yourself the treat of clicking on Peter Reinhart’s name in my fourth paragraph.  Watch the TED presentation he gives, and then ask yourself;  “Is this what I’ve been missing?”  It may very well be your answer.  :)

I’m digging back into my favorite baking book, not in any particular order, but working with ingredients that are at hand, or easy to acquire.  I had every intention of doing a Pumpernickel Rye, but the organic and coarse cut rye meal is not available through any of my local sources (catalog ordering is in the process).

Again, I let the rogue out-to-roam and she insisted upon using pumpkin seeds over sunflower, so they are in that stash of this ‘mix-up’ adaptation, along with some added cranberries and currants.  The outcome is a fun one; offering a bit of sweetness into the dough.

Peter Reinhart, offers this recipe on pages 249 through 251, within his book, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, and the challenge presented by, Nicole, lovely blog writer of, Pinch My Salt.  Our original intent was to bake our way through this lovely text, but some of us ran directly into those orange cones, C A U T I O N signs and warnings that would abrupt us in the midst of our dough relationships.  (Dang, it’s one thing to be sidetracked, but to be held against our baking will, well, that is quite another.  I’m going to imprison a few of the offenders if ever I find them.  NO!  They will not receive bread.  Only water, local tap water, at that!)

Let’s go look at this bread, shall we?  Grab a plate and I’ll grab the butter and jams.  I’ll bring tea cups for our coffee.  ;)

Pumpkin Seed Rye/Cranberries & Currants

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The recipe makes two, one pound loaves….a few ounces over once you consider adding the ounce (each), of cranberries and currants.  Peter asks for 1/2 cup of sunflower seeds, roasted.  I used a 1/2 of freshly roasted pumpkin seeds.

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Once you are ready to bake your loaves you will pre-heat your oven and prep it for steaming.  I always use an old roasting pan and a cheap plastic bottle to mist the sides and walls of my oven.  I will tell you that the baking time varied greatly from what Peter posted.  He suggested placing the loaves into the oven (preheated to 500 degrees), then pour one cup of water into your steaming vessel.  Leave the temperature at 500 degrees and at 30 second intervals, open the door and spray the walls with water, doing this twice.  At this point, turn the oven setting to 450 degrees for a 10 minute bake. Once the ten minute mark hits, turn your oven to 425 degrees, also turn your bread at 180 degrees to ensure even baking.  You are then prompted to continue baking at 425 degrees for 15 to 25 minutes, or at which time the loaves register 200 degrees (internally).  I found that by the time I passed the first 10 minute mark, my loaves were as golden brown as I wished, therefore I loosely tented foil over them, on both bakes. Also, the first loaf took, 10 + 15 mins. to bake, the second, 10 + 20 mins.  In fairness to PR, I need to acknowledge that my oven baked a dozen cupcakes prior to the bread. Also, the second time around, I did not fully register 500 degrees before the 2nd bake, opting for 450 degrees and the ten minute turn and lowering to 425 degrees.  (Are you overloaded on Fahrenheit changes?  Yeah, I thought so.  Therefore, lets just opt-out of any adverse recourse over Peter’s directions.  I told you earlier that the rogue-in-me came out to play today.  ;)

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I think this lovely loaf is a game-changer to a boring toasted bread.  I’m tempted to streusel coat it with cinnamon sugar on my next bake.  And while I love pumpkin seeds, something simply told me to toss fruit into the mayhem.  Those berries and currants were perfect additions.

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She’s dusted with semolina (pasta flour) in today’s showcase.  That adds a nice little touch, but then when does semolina not scream, YUMMY?  I know!  There’s just nothing like that lady.   She be classy.  :)

The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, Potato, Cheddar, and Chive Torpedoes (adaptation)

•August 14, 2013 • 9 Comments

The Bread Baker’s Challenge, is based upon the book written by, Peter Reinhart, and published by, Ten Speed Press, created by Nicole of the blog, Pinch My Salt.  We began our foray through this lovely book in 2010.  I’m lagging in my completion of the project, but determined to complete it within my lifetime.  I’ve jumped around a bit, as those of you that have completed this project will note, but at this point and stage of the game all that matters is my journey.  After all, is that what bread is, a journey, defined by time, energy and space?  I’d like to think so.  I’ve never enjoyed anything more than baking…well, maybe a few things, but you understand.  Any baker, understands!  ;)

I was running against raindrops as I attempted to photograph the bake.  But, I’m really NOT complaining.  As much rain as many areas of the United States have seen these past few weeks, just the mere thought of mentioning rain hastens my anxiety.  We have suffered, as many have, by a horrendous drought.  With this is mind, I hope those that read this post know that you, while perhaps envied at times, are at others, concerned for and by those of us that read and see the horrendous damage done.  Well wishes are found among these bread crumbs.  Sincerely, and most dearly.

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I tend to live in my own little Kodachrome world over here, so when Nicole, the lovely soul that brought us all together on this challenge, posted a note to a latest bread bake, saying she was attempting to get back to the challenge to finish the project, herself, #1, I felt gloriously happy to hear from her,and, #2, she herself was attempting to get back to the journey in hopes of fulfilling the pursuit of baking her way through, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, written by Peter Reinhart, Ten Speed Press.

As life will toss us all a curve ball from time-to-time, she has been side-tracked.  If others of you were also, I do hope you’ll journey back into the fold (pardon the pun), and we’ll encourage one another forward.  Now, here is my latest bake, fully out-of-order, as were earlier ones, but none-the-less, a rendition created between the span of two days. First I had to refresh my barm and the following day I pursued the breadmaking. I am fortunate that I had all I needed on hand to assemble and do the baking.  My organic garden has garden chives in abundance and this house hordes cheese of several types to satisfy the women under its roof.  I did opt for a Monterrey Jack/Cheddar combo and in one loaf I added some Italian Salame.

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Peter warns us to wrap our torpedoes tightly, “To squeeze out all trapped air pockets to avoid separation of the layers.” (Page 280.) I attempted to do just that, but my technique needs a bit of tweaking as you will see by the opened layers.  The crumb is tighter too, but I suspect that occurs due to the degassing that happens when the dough is divided and each piece pressed into a rectangle before adding the cheese slices. However, the crumb is quite delectable because this recipe calls for boiled potatoes and the use of the rendered starch water as part of it’s list of ingredients.

You will start baking at 500 degrees, but after steaming, the oven temp goes to 450 degrees.  And, although Peter says this bake takes, 35 to 40 minutes, my first loaf baked for 30 minutes, and the second took 35 minutes.  My loaves baked upon a heated baking stone.   The steaming process, rather primitive in my limited kitchen, is where I use an old roasting pan, and a 50 cent plastic bottle of water to spritz the oven walls.  It isn’t the best of situations to work within.  (I’m one of the walking wounded that once cracked the glass on my oven door while trying to steam a bake.)

Would I bake this bread again?  Definitely!  I’m wanting to try this as a dinner roll.  (I would leave the Salame out of it though as I wouldn’t want that to conflict with any given meal.)  I must work on  my technique of torpedo shaping and definitely roll the items tighter on future loaf baking, thus hoping to remove those large area’s of openings.  ;)

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The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge, Swedish Rye, (Limpa) … adaptation

•August 8, 2013 • 7 Comments

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What is it that you say?  Yes.  I am behind three years in my progression of baking my way through, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge, sponsored by the lovely, Nicole, author of the beautiful blog, Pinch my Salt.

Remember, former challengers, when we baked steadily among all things, heady and yeasted?  One can never forget the awesome smells and tastes that intoxicated our world.  (Normally, I’m good at sticking to a baking challenge, with an exception, The Daring Baker’s.  A failing hard drive on a PC and a log-in issue were my demise on that affair, but who knows, perhaps I’ll venture back one fine day.)   The BBA project sat on hold as our household navigated illnesses and losses.  Happily, I’m now able to resume this venture, and although it’s a very distant memory to those that took to it, I’m reporting back in hopes of finishing my tour.  The Bread Baker’s Apprentice , written by Peter Reinhart,  is my absolute favorite book!  (Published by Ten Speed Press in 2001, first edition.)

Some years back I had the great pleasure of meeting Peter Reinhart.   He visited the Southlake, TX., Central Market test kitchens and gave a workshop on his latest book, Artisan Breads Every Day.  (Published on October 27, 2009 by Ten Speed Press.)  Earlier I had worked as one of many recipe testers for that specific book.  (It’s amazing; check it out when you can.)

…..

The Limpa

is not to be confused with a dark rye, Jewish rye or seeded rye, that one normally finds at your grocery store.  While it does contain seeds, they are ground (anise, cardamom and fennel) and added along with a bit of orange oil or dried orange peel.  My adaptation kept steady with the seeds, but dried lemon peel is substituted for the orange flavoring/peel.  (I’ve made this bread before, and my preference is orange over lemon. The licorice flavorings of anise and fennel associate better, in my opinion.  Which is not to say that the lemon created a mis-match.  Simply my preference.)  Another adaptation came with the use of palm sugar over regular brown sugar, and light olive oil, not melted shortening.  (Use a light olive over an extra-virgin.  There are many flavors intermingling.)   

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crust and crumb were spot-on!

 An egg wash was used right before the loaves went into the oven, and, unlike many sourdough breads, this item baked at 350 degrees, lower than other naturally leavened breads. Perhaps the sugars would have turned the caramelization to carbonization if the heat were any higher?  Most likely equalling, burnt-baby-burnt!

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Toasted or slathered

with butter, or used as a lovely alternative to the everyday sandwich bread.  This one is a sure winner!  Peanut or almond butter would play well with this, too.  Someday I hope to make dinner rolls with this recipe.  Extra-special surprise to the unsuspecting at the Holidays. :)

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Buzzed!

•August 6, 2013 • 2 Comments

They’re all over the garden,

hanging among the Rudbekia, the last of the surviving petunia’s and mingling within the layers of the Senna bush.  They favor the wild sunflower, but it’s blooms are fading as are the flowers of the basil and marjoram.  Fret not, little and big bee’s, more flowers are upon the horizon.  All we need is rainfall.  Copiously falling, and with it, hopefully a rest from these 100 degree days.  For the past week it has become relentless, and living within the concrete island that is DFW and the major freeway arteries that flank this enclave, we can but hope and offer up our rain dances to the gods as offerings.

Time to meet my friends.  Well, kind of…seems they have up and moved or are out sucking the nectar for all it’s worth.  I hope that is the case, for this year I’ve seen an abundance of them along with the dramselflies and dragonflies.  Good signs, very, very, good signs!  Organically grown food is offered 24/7.  I think the word is getting out.  ;)

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While we’re viewing the mysteries

of my wonderland, allow me to show you my brickwork.  (No comment needed from the peanut gallery.)  I know that it is not perfect, but to the eye of the trainee, well, heck, this thing is beautiful!  It required 500 lbs. of sand.  Yes.  500.  No.  I did not haul it.  I did spread it.  And spread it.  And …. well, I worked on it for three weeks.  (Yes, I am slow, but I’m meticulous.)  I dug out the area, leveled it with inches of sand, raked it, wet it, smashed it, dried it.  Three times, total.  I leveled it and I swung the rubber mallet to place them evenly.  I checked, double-checked and continued.  I spread sand, swept sand, packed sand and packed more sand.  In the end, I thought it would be like making sugar cookies.  I thought there would be a manner in which I could stabilize everything, evenly and perfectly.  I went to bed.  It rained one evening.  Checked on it in the morning.  Added more sand and swept it into areas.  Don’t tell anyone.  It is sinking.  It has shifted.  It is still mine to claim though; a lesson in learning a new trade. No? You’re right.  I just can’t lift 50 lb. bags of sand.  I just can’t do it. Nope. Nada. Zip. I’ll build in the comfort of the kitchen from now on.

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It’s over 100 degrees outside.

Do you think I care?

Back to the garden.

I harvested a huge bucket of greens (collard greens) for my friends pot-bellied pigs.  She gifted me with some chicken chit.  I’m saving it for the grass clipping composting area. Sweet smells of success!  I also harvested a large amount of comfrey.  Next week I am reworking an area for fall planting.  More kale is going in so it can feed me through winter.  Here is my kale tree.  She’s given me two salads this week.

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“Lean in” … to scream!

•August 1, 2013 • Leave a Comment

 

 

Do so in a foreign language

It doesn’t matter which one you choose, all are effective.

Grab some heavy-duty cardboard

a pair of scissors and a stiff shot of whiskey, or as in my case, a tall iced-tea.

Tune in to watch the beautiful

and brilliant, Kim Komando on her YouTube channel(s).  

You’ll save your sanity

and your money.

I promise.

…..

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*****My new lenses were not used in the filming of these shots and my iPhone is not SD card compatible, either.   ;)  I was, however, blasted with high-octane iced-tea.  The latter may be most obvious by this last shot.  What time of day is it, anyway?

The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, New York Deli Rye Sourdough (adaptation)

•July 23, 2013 • Leave a Comment

 

This recipe comes from page 236 of, Peter Reinhart’s, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice,  (Ten Speed Press, 2001 edition), and requires a rye sponge.  You’ll prepare this item a day before the actual bake.  P.R. suggests using sautéed onions (an addition added into the sponge before fermentation), but in a household where a daughter  abhors such an item, I omitted them.  (I’ve had this bread, with or without, and it’s delicious no matter how you choose to make it!)  Also, you’re offered the choice of buttermilk versus milk. Go with buttermilk for that extra bit of tang.  Using caraway seeds are also optional.  If you leave them out,  ‘shame on you.’ ;)  And last, but not least, there’s the choice of using shortening or vegetable oil.  For this bake I opted for a heady, extra-virgin, olive oil.

 Large-sized sandwich loaf

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Two Petite Loaves

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Crust & Crumb

Sandwich Loaf

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On the verge of over-proofing

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Organically friendly nibbles and nibblers…

•July 19, 2013 • 2 Comments

Female Anole

Female Anole, making eye contact.

Female Anole, making eye contact.

Bumble Bee, or one very large, Honey Bee

Sipping the nectar

Sipping the nectar

‘Lady Bug’…may be a male, not sure

Taking a stroll

Taking a stroll

ZuPlusTwo, Fit Friday…a guest post by Mom

•July 11, 2013 • Leave a Comment

(Meg hopes to be back with us next week for her regularly scheduled postings; this week has her assisting on a wine judging event.) 

…..

 

It’s not about the distance; it’s all about the

pace

…..

Well, it is obvious Megan is in great shape.  She’s been a workout enthusiast for as long as I can remember.  Oh, she’ll joke and say otherwise, but I know better.  She’ll discount everything because she always felt a bit lagging behind the rest of the pack no matter what sport she attempted.

But try, she did.  Beginning with sidewalk races on a big wheel, to cartwheels and tumbling in a  Pre-K gymnastics class.  As the years progressed she became a bit more dedicated.  Volleyball struck her fancy in middle school, and while she will try to convince you that she was the most awkward, worst player on the B-squad, she will forget to impart upon you that at least she played.

High school arrived, along with the infamous Coach Carter.  A notorious soul that demanded early workouts and completed ones, to boot.  (Can I tell about the morning you ran home in the middle of the run to return to your room, to your bed and hiding your head under your pillow, crying copious amounts of tears? … Oh, that’s right.  I’m not allowed to mention that because you tell me that it never happened.  Is this where I remind you to get yourself out of bed and showered, back up to the schoolhouse and begin your study day?  No?  Okay.  I guess I don’t get to talk about meeting with Mrs. Carter to discuss Mr. Carter.  Somehow I think this post will NOT be posted, and you will dismiss me from being your mother.  Surely, I do not recall things, correctly.  ;)

Well, obviously before high school, and cross-country, there were track meets at middle school.  (I purposely jumped ahead of my storytelling for a second so that I could set a stage for you, the reader.  There is a valuable message in my words going forward.)

One evening, there was a track meet, middle school, and Megan was part of a team running a relay.  Sorry, I can’t remember the length of the relay, but I can recall the most important aspect of the challenge.  I stood among a group of parents cheering the teams on, and screaming at the top of our lungs as the kids crossed their finish line(s). As all races are known to do, there will be those that flash through to victory in no time flat, then another wave of go-getters cross the finish line, and still then, there are those that are giving it their all, bringing up the middle of the pack.  We parents cheer faithfully for all, because of course, we know the feeling of victory is not in the winning, but the completing.  That dash, the one we can recall from our own pasts.  Cheering continues, but the roar is lessening as those that have completed their run move toward other venues or road trips homeward.  Those of us on the sideline note that not many runners are still in pursuit of the finish line, but little do we care as long as we note that our child is still out there giving it their all.  Parents begin communicating with pack like mentalities, “Which child is yours?”  We shout feverishly as those keep their paces and realize their goal.  Soon I find myself on the sideline along with one other parent, actually, a teacher/friend.  There’s only one child still pacing herself, just one.  Trying feverishly to complete the race, not so much to say that she has ‘done it’, but more likely to say, ‘she survived it.’  Two mothers are shouting, hoarse by now, but thoroughly dedicated to the victor, my daughter.  Last one home, but first place trophy winner in the heart of two moms who knew the value of the completed effort. (No one ever loses when they keep trying, that is a mama’s motto written in stone and over two thousand years old.)

Okay, let’s head back to high school, Coach Carter, early morning runs.  Cross country meets, and then some.  Let’s talk about the trophy*.  The one she earned in high school.

“**Actually, if I recall correctly, that trophy is for a race I did at the Trinity River one summer during college.  I won my age division, but I might have been the only one my age running the race ;) **”

(Amended statement by Megan…thank you, honey.  I told you my memory is fuzzy.) ;)

The one that still sits in my daughter’s room.  She received it for competing on a team. I want to bronze it and set it up on my mantle like a baby’s first pair of walking shoes. My daughter wonders why I even have it.  Little does she know how proud I am knowing that she refused to give up, oh sure, there was that one time when she ran home, covered herself up and hid her face and tears within her pillow.  It takes a mom to understand that too.  I did.  I do.  And I am still waiting for Coach Carter to call me instead of directly me to his wife’s office.

A winner, defined.

A winner, defined.

Yes, Coach Carter.  I still have something to say to you.  Oh, the words have changed a bit, I’ve aged and Megan has matured into a fine young woman.  While M1 may have been a tad bit slow with her mojo, she never failed to show her resilience.  She blossomed later and continues to amaze. Oh, now Coach, don’t go and get the wrong idea about this griping old lady, her mother. The morning I asked if I could speak with you, I simply wanted to tell you that this academic child spent HOURS studying.   This abbreviated her sleep hours, but was to guarantee her the grade point average necessary to be accepted into the Honors College at Oklahoma State University.  Now she’s working towards her second marathon.

Thanks for coaching Megan.  I wish you and the Mrs. the very best!  :)

Blest by the best

•July 10, 2013 • 2 Comments

Proceeds from my sister’s garden,

Texarkana, TX.

Texarkana Jalapeño

Texarkana Jalapeño

Texarkana Cayenne

Texarkana Cayenne

Texarkana Habanero's

Texarkana Habanero’s

The peppers are some that my sister gifted me when I visited her a couple weeks ago. She sent me home with a bag containing these, along with some beautiful banana peppers and fresh new potatoes.  I spoke with her last night and have discovered that her hubs has been busy pickling and making salsa.  A wild dash back to the stash is upcoming; I just don’t know when, nor should I divulge that information.  Thievery is best done under the light of a full moon, in the very wee hours of the morning. :)

…..

Friends connected by a fence

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Can you see the wink, the smile, the nose and possibilities?

My neighbor spent three weeks cutting, hauling and man-handling two very large elm trees that had seen their better days.  His wife and I are best of friends.  One afternoon she called me over to see the culmination of all his efforts.  Before I could appreciate ANYTHING (yes, I AM clueless), I spotted this beautiful piece of wood that seemed the perfect height for something I might choose to make of it.  As I am so apt to do, I blurted out words before thinking.  “Oh, Carol, can I have that?  That is a beautiful piece of wood!”

(Yes, it never occurred to me that it might be a treasure that she or he had already suspected held great charm.)

I own this.  My words and the wood.  Someone get some super-glue before I go on my next, “CLAIM”!

Yes!  I do have spectacular neighbors, and, “No, my house is NOT for sale.  Therefore you CANNOT have my neighbors!”

…..

Some things from my garden

Dinosaur Kale Tree

Dinosaur Kale Tree

Greatest Kale for Stir-Fry

Greatest Kale for Stir-Fry

Collard Green Tree's

Collard Green Tree’s

Volunteer Cantaloupe :)

Volunteer Cantaloupe :)

Onions in a bassinet :)

Onions curing in a cheesecloth hammock :)

The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, Sourdough with Smoked Gouda (adaptation)

•July 4, 2013 • 15 Comments

Peter Reinhart’s, Basic Sourdough Bread Recipe, with an adaptation using 2.3 ounces of Smoked Gouda in a final kneading before the fermentation at 3.5 hours.  Once divided, the boules were given a 2.5 hour proofing before baking.  Complete instructions and time variables are noted in, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, by, Peter Reinhart, publisher, Ten Speed Press, 2001.


(Does the tea towel make you dizzy?)

Ye be not confused by all the dots, nor drunken by the consumption of thus exotic tea

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For I am not ruined by the sour bite, nor swayed by the smokiness, but renewed, alas this bake is joy, defined

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For it is not the destination, but the journey that soothes ones soul

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and rekindles fires and brings one hope

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Let there be bread!

Wine Wednesday: My Favorite Wine Magazines

•July 3, 2013 • 1 Comment

 

Please click the following to read Megan’s latest post:

Wine Wednesday: My Favorite Wine Magazines.

 

How to hang onto your child’s words, literally

•June 28, 2013 • Leave a Comment

I’m stealing candy from my babes. Trust me, they’re more thrilling to read, anyway.

When I’m perusing the 800+pages of my new WordPress text I nod off often, and it’s not due to boredom, but rather as a defense mechanism. I hope no one expects miracles when I fall graciously into The season of fall and my edits are still in rewrite. Now I fully understand why folks outsource their re formulating. I guess I can go incognito and adopt a new tag line and name. But enough about my procrastinations.

I’m simply going to keep you updated on what truly rocks my world. My marathon and 5k runners, M1 and M2. And, if I can teach the dog to post, or one of the three felines we may have a real three-ring circus to focus upon. One never knows around here.

However, I do promise a real life bread bake soon. Come heck or high water I should have a photo post by next weekend. All I need do is find instructions on how to fire up the oven. (Please don’t laugh…it has been months, literally.)

Enjoy a wonderful weekend. ;)

M1, Reposted from her blog:  ZuPlusTwo

 

ZU PLUS TWO

A child free couple and their dog, Zulu

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FIT FRIDAY: FINISH TIME GOAL(S)

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When I ran my first marathon I didn’t really have a finish time goal in mind.  My main objective was to finish and not die.  I ran the entire marathon and only stopped to give friends and family a quick hug or high five along the course and to fuel up at several of the water and food stations.  I almost stopped to walk somewhere between mile 20 and 26, but a runner came up right behind me as I was about to stop and encouraged me to keep going.  So I did.

Ever since I signed up for the LV marathon I’ve had a finish goal in mind.  I finished my first marathon in 4:27 and I wanted to beat that time.  Shortly after my training began I decided that I was feeling stronger and somewhat speedier than I ever had so I amended the goal to a solid 4:15 (that’s about a 9:40 pace if you’re keeping track).

And then last weekend happened…The weather was unseasonably cool and overcast (ideal running condition by my standards) and  I ran faster than I’ve ever run before for a long distance run.  My average time per mile was 8:42 for 12 miles.  It felt fantastic.  I was elated as the miles ticked away and my pace remained steady.  I really try not to do math in my head while running (or in everyday life) so I really didn’t know what my finish time would be if I were running 26.2 miles at the same pace.  Yeah, I know it’s simple math, don’t judge me.

As soon as I got home I went straight to Google and looked up a marathon running pace chart.  I even avoid calculators when I can.  In case you’re wondering, an 8:40 pace calculates to 3:47 for a marathon finish time.  ”HOLY COW” was my first thought.  It never occurred to me that I’d be able to manage a sub 4 hour pace for a marathon, but instantly-that became my new goal.

It might be a crazy goal.  It might be unobtainable.  But it’s my goal.  It’s a terrifying goal for me, but I’m ecstatic to give it a shot.  Tomorrow it is supposed to be unseasonably warm and I haven’t run all week because it’s my “rest” week and I’ve been doing recovery workout videos, so I might be singing another tune by tomorrow afternoon, but let’s all cross our fingers and hope that last week wasn’t a fluke.

Fit Friday: Finish Time Goal(s)

•June 28, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Fit Friday: Finish Time Goal(s).

Wine Wednesday: Guest post from my sister!

•June 27, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Mallory is the author of the blog:  http://www.mallorycanteven.wordpress.com 

Zu Plus Two

Thanks to my sister for filling in for me.  It’s been a busy week and I was too tired to think about wine today (well besides the 9 hours I spent at work today thinking about wine). My sister is hilarious and has recently started her own blog.  Check it out!  She’s going to be famous one day so you might as well start enjoying her comedic sense before the rest of the world.  

Hello there, I’m Mallory, sister to Megan, the writer of the post you hoped to see here for your regularly scheduled ‘Wine Wednesday’. Megan asked me to guest blog for her today seeing as how she is too busy (forgot) to write a Wine Wednesday today, but herein lies the problem. I don’t know anything about wine. Do I drink it? There isn’t a font size large enough to accompany the “YES” that answer deserves, but I…

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Happy Birthday, to my ‘twin’ sister!

•June 26, 2013 • Leave a Comment

(She’s ten and a half months younger, but she is my ‘older sister’ … because she is taller than me.  It’s our inside joke, and a favorite one of mine.)

Happy Birthday, Bernadette!

What were we thinking when we visited on Sunday?  Why didn’t we snatch us a Kodak moment?  Why didn’t I bake a treat and bring it to you?

Can I count my two sweet friends as chocolate cake and flowers?  :)

Thank you for understanding.  And thanks for all the laughter.  It’s been too long.  How could we have spent two years apart when car travel takes less than 3.5 hrs., to arrive, and 3.5 to return, unless of course I’m driving.  I need 5 hours front and back, and my friends require alcohol or Valium to brave my skills.   I’ve never seen two people so concerned over detours, wrong-way driving or a sunset in a strange part of town. CHICKENS!

Oh, and just to give you an update, Sandy is suffering white-knuckle syndrome and is currently hospitalized, Erin, on the other hand has taken to visiting Jim Beam every half hour.  They vow the only way they will travel with me in the future is via a Trailways bus or a yellow cab.  Funny.  I’ve never had a car wreck unless you count that one I had three weeks ago.  ;)  I’m perfectly fine behind the wheel of a car as long as I don’t care how long it takes to figure out where it is I am, or where it is I am going.  Sight seeing is a joy all within itself.

I’m thankful you’re my sister, and more thankful that you are one of my dearest friends. I am blest.  You just keep remembering that you are older than me because you are taller.  Okay?  ;)

I’ll share old photo’s and we can pretend they are new.  Place them in an imaginary frame and carry them, vicariously, to your office in the morning.  Celebrate all week.  At our age, we’ve earned extra party time.  :)  Explaining that to a younger boss may be a bit shaky though, just ask him if he’d like to take a road trip to ease his concerns.  I’ll be there in about six hours, give or take.

….

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Wine Wednesday: I have a theory

•June 19, 2013 • 1 Comment

Zu Plus Two

chard

I have a theory that it is extremely beneficial to drink wine after a long run.  Not just any wine though, it must be a wine that has gone through malolactic fermentation (most red wines, and a few whites like chardonnay).

Malolactic fermentation is a secondary fermentation that involves converting malic acid (tart, like a green apple) to lactic acid (like in milk and other dairy foods).  For wine tasting purposes it basically just smoothes everything out and creates a softer taste.  But for running recovery purposes, I’ve found that it can greatly reduce muscle soreness.

This makes perfect sense, right?  I know a lot of runners drink milk after running so this is kind of the same thing.  And for a non milk drinker, this is a perfect alternative.  I happened to stumble upon this phenomenon by accident.  A year or two ago I was training for a half…

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Reprieve with a Sand Pail

•June 10, 2013 • 5 Comments

(Editing and Indexing are slow-going processes for me.  Can you tell?  Awe shucks, give me a break! Dream big, or go home.  Oh wait, I am at home.  Hmm….)

…..

I don’t own a bucket list.  I do, however, claim to be the owner of a shiny yellow, plastic sand pail with a little white scoop for shoveling and casting said contents.  And, since I have never put together a list of, “What I want to do when I grow up, and before I cash in my chips,” I thought it might be a fun little diversion.  Play along.  I’d love to hear your dreams.  We can always come back and edit, adding and subtracting, multiplying or dividing.  This is our time to burn before that Timex quits ticking or Big Ben precariously falls from his perch, or that one-way phone call grabs our attention. ;)

…..

  • Jump out of an airplane (hopefully with a working parachute)
  • Learn how to swim (not the Seven Seas, just the local aquatic center will be fine)
  • Hike the wilderness with a partner not afraid of danger, cuz I’m sure I’ll be creating some just for fun
  • Visit Antarctica for five minutes (okay, I know this is NOT possible, flights don’t work that way.  Conditions shift, etc., but if I could, I would…)
  • Overcome my fear of snakes by learning how to wrangle one with my own bare hands

…..

I have many more, but I’m saving them.  Actually, I am trying to think them up as I go along.  ;)

Good-night!

A bit of housekeeping

•June 7, 2013 • 2 Comments

It’s time to shake the rugs and air out this place…

•2013/06/04 •4 Comments (Edit)

I’ve neglected housekeeping chores on this blog for far too long.  I am taking a hiatus for a bit, just so I can sink my teeth into the WordPress forums to capture the mojo of those than can ‘remind’ me of some of the finer details that I have forgotten.

The site will come down from time to time, uncompleted, but as a reprieve.  This arduous task will take me weeks, if not months.  I have something up my sleeve, but I’m one to flit from here to there, so gosh only knows what the result will be.  Thank you for your patience.   If you need to reach me you can do so at the following address.

JavaNoted@gmail(dot)com

(Spam is not tolerated and will be reported!)

Thank you for the patience.  My housekeeping duties will take a while, but I’ll still be checking with my buds on their postings and creative ventures.  And during certain times I will bring the site back on-line, unfinished, just to give myself a mini-break from the challenges before me.

after all,

Look for me to build as slowly and as surely as our friends that built the Great Pyramids, the Colosseum of Rome, and the likes of Venice upon the water.

Yeah, I’m about that fast.

;)

Happy Summer to all!

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To Camden & Caylix

With love,

Auntie “M”

www.pactforthecure.com … Offering Hope to the Helpless of PPD

•May 31, 2013 • 28 Comments

This original post was submitted in May 31st of 2013.

This past week I noticed a story of an upcoming app that was to be released.  I am submitting links to the CNN article, the app, and the email that I received today giving me permission to submit my article to the organization responsible for this International study of women suffering/or having suffered from Post Partum Depression, and/or, Psychosis.  It is my sincere hope that you will spread this information in an effort to draw attention to this program.  They are looking to collect thousands of participants for this study.

I literally had tears running down my face when I read that this initiative was taking place.  In 1984, at the time of my episode, there was not much information readily available to women suffering from PPD.  This study will no doubt change that, and with it, the lives of thousands upon thousands of women.  It is my understanding that one in five women will experience some sort of the so called, ‘baby blues’ and some will not be as fortunate as those of us who have survived the mayhem of insanity that swallowed our souls.  Thankfully, we have returned to tell a story, using genetic markers they may one day find the answer to helping others from being driven into the abyss.

Thank you for forwarding hope onward.

 

Story of My Life Challenge…Etched upon my heart…

 

Jenni, It’s Day 31, and a Friday.  Somehow I managed to write for all 31 days of your May Challenge (although, somehow a post of mine is time-stamped for the last day of April?…we’ll count it anyway, okay girlfriend?  Thanks, I knew you would understand).

Today’s post, our last one, is writing about:

“A Vivid Memory”

This may take me all of today and well into the night.  I had written in an earlier post that I would revisit something.  I made a special promise to my oldest daughter.  And today is the day I fulfill that promise.  It began the day that she was born.

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She arrived three weeks early.  And, just like any new child’s arrival she came without a warranty clause, a type-written instruction manual and no return address label.

I’d practiced the natural birthing process, The Bradley method.  The 8.25 months of pregnancy went without a hitch, except for mom catching the flu at five months of pregnancy.

Birthing went almost according to plan.  No pain meds, no spinal block, but after several hours of having the water break, the doctor(s) where concerned that infection or stress of labor may cause concerns to the unborn baby.  They prescribed Pitocin*.  Continuing, and with the use of the knowledge I’d gained in birthing class, I clung to my hope of having a natural child-birth, but was also warned that the induction could produce rather strong contractions,  and it did not offer a buffering from any pain that I would incur by its introduction.  I kept with Plan A.  Let me bear this baby, naturally.  (The following link provides further details on Pitocin via Yahoo)

*http://pregnancy.about.com/od/induction/a/pitocindiffers.htm

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Now, I have to give my doctors and St. Francis hospital in Tulsa, kudos for the way they helped my delivery.  My labor had begun at work, around 8:30 in the morning, and by 10:00 a.m., I was strapped to a gurney, and plugged into all the machinery a labor and delivery room can offer for the monitoring of baby and mama.  Noon came, but no lunch, who cares though, laboring the birthing of a baby you really have hunger on the last of your lists of wants.

Hubby and I logged miles around the nurses desk and lobby.  Too many to count, and at one point a nurse beckoned me back to my appointed room for a vitals check and centimeter observation.  I tried resting, but I was too anxious.  I was on top of the world and could not wait to see my, Megan Kathleen.  I had dreamt of this moment for so long.  The afternoon rolled on, more walking, more monitoring, and finally at six p.m., my doctor arrives and tells me that he thinks it’s time we get this baby something to speed up her arrival.  It’s that drug, Pitocin.  I agree, but only after he can confirm that I can still birth her naturally, no pain meds, spinal taps, nada, zip and zero.  He assures me he will follow my directive, but warns me that the drug used to induce labor can also cause severe labor pains, and if the time came that he felt it was too much for baby and me he would medically do what he needed.  I couldn’t fight with him there.  He’s the educated soul. He graduated medical school, a certificate that required 12 years of laborious studies. Let’s rock and roll!  You carry the knowledge and I’ll try marathon walking until this unborn baby charges to the finish line.  Deal?

Shortly after six my husband’s family arrived from Texas.  Someone mentioned they were hungry.  The folks had spent four hours en route, and I know that Cliff hasn’t eaten since breakfast. I knew that I couldn’t, but more importantly, as the Pitocin’s effects began to work on my body, and labor earnestly began, eating was the furthest thing from my mind.  I asked them to go, give me a breather, grab some food, enjoy themselves.  Linger if they wished.  Why hell, I’ve been here all day and it looks as if I’ll be here all night trying to birth this baby.

8:30 p.m., and where in the heck were those fools?  Did they not have any clue about what I was going through?  I’m not a screamer, but I do enjoy a hair-pulling now and then.  The R.N. assisting me was becoming less than jovial as I started practicing my Bradley method of breathing.  Every now and then she would ask, “Are you sure you don’t want something for your pain?”

“Sister, where were you when I gave my directive?  Is my clipboard of info missing from the foot of this bed?  Has the doctor given YOU the board certification to overtake his assigned SEAT at my party?”

I tried to deliver it humorously.  I tried to cajole her into seeing my side of it.  She tried to get me to see her side.  We both failed, Communication Skills 101.

WHERE IN HELL IS THAT FAMILY OF MINE?  ARE THEY EATING PRIME RIB AND CELEBRATING?  I’LL BET THEY ARE.  THEY HAVE THE EASY PART IN ALL OF THIS.  THEIR THEATER TICKET OFFERS A FREE DRINK AND REFRESHMENTS…while I stroll through hell…

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The little girl dances into my world after midnight.  Drug free from day one, but moms chucking her insides out and there are four nurses pummeling me, explaining something about blood flow, placenta, oh hell, I don’t know the jest of it all!  I was too busy loosing my insides, suffering a notorious headache and begging for water.

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Now, the vivid memory.

I am not sure how to write about it, other than to say that it belongs to my Megan.  It belongs to her and I.  Beginning early in the days before we even left the hospital, something was amiss.  Sadly, I felt no maternal bliss, and I feared that I knew nothing.  All those books I’d read on childbirth, the before and after.  None of those had prepared me for the roller-coaster ride , the journey in to hell and the fear that would one day it would descend into thoughts of infanticide.

I warn you.  This is not an easy read, and although Megan is almost two thousand miles from me today, I would give anything to sit beside her and hold her hand as I attempt to answer her questions and to allay her fears.  But I can’t, and since I have promised that I would find a way to communicate something to her within the 31 days of May’s Challenge, today is our day.

I could not sleep.  For three days in the hospital, and for days, off and on, once we were home.  Irrational fears would enter my head and I would quickly try to change my thinking.  I cuddled my angel.  I played with her.  I fed her and I connected with her as best I could, but I was afraid that those so-called baby blues would consume me.  I tried talking to my husband about them, but he didn’t get it, and how could he, had anyone in the male species been through this birthing thing?

Days dragged, literally.  I became consumed with schedules.  I laboriously centered my life around a list of ‘to-do’s’ to fill my time, to keep me busy.  But, I still was not sleeping.  And then one day I could not eat.  Literally.  I could not swallow.  I choked each time I tried.  But I had to eat and drink, I had to sleep.  I had a little one that relied upon me and I was breastfeeding, so it was more important than ever that I find a way to get ahold of myself.

Then I found myself dwelling on a pair of scissors.  I’d been in the baby’s room wrapping a gift.  I saw the scissors, and I remember thinking, “These could kill the baby.”

The thought became obsessive.  It overwhelmed me with grief and shame.  And try as I might, I could not shake the image, nor the auditory, “These could kill the baby.”

I tried hiding the scissors, but I couldn’t find a place to put them, somewhere that was ‘safe’ … someplace where they couldn’t talk to me.

I forced myself to put them back in the spot where I always kept them.  If they could talk to me.  I could talk to them.  I could tell them, “NO!”

For days I fought this battle, until I realized it was beyond me.  I attempted to express my concern for the baby to my husband, but I did not tell him about the scissors, or the voices.

I became so exhausted.  And then the hallucinatory began its foray.  I was fighting an army, and I was ill-equipped for its challenge.

I no longer felt connected to anyone except for my baby.  I felt as if I could protect her I could win the inner war, but I was losing.

The phone would ring.  I wouldn’t answer it.  I had nothing I could communicate.

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Postpartum depression accompanied by psychosis

This is not a war to win.  It cages a soul and will not allow reason of any kind.  I prayed, I begged and I pleaded.  You can have me, but you cannot have my daughter.

On this particular morning I thought I’d heard a knock at my front door, or was that coming from the back door?  I trusted nothing.  I sat in the nursery until the pounding stopped, and the sound of what I thought was my name being called, ended.  Rocking my angel. I sobbed so violently.  I wanted the voices and the visions to go away.  I wanted nothing more than to save my baby from myself.

Something made me pause.  Was that the front lock-set being opened, the door flinging open, where those real voices?

They found me.  Jo and Prescilla.  They found me, and they did not let go of me.  One took the baby, the other took the phone directory.

And every chance I get, I tell them, “Thank you.”

I spent the following three and a half months in a locked Psych ward.

…..

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Each one of us has a story that shames us, it can trap us in a sort of hell, but sometimes to escape hell, we must find words to express its grievance.   I used to think this would be one that I could not share for fear of losing someone whom I love(d).  Now I fear that if I don’t share it, someone may lose their way, they may find themselves lost, alone, aberrant, and of course, crazy.  I would rather lose every friend I have for the sacrifice of gaining that one that reached out to me in need.  The one that discovered hope, when they felt there was none left.  But, if you can find clarity, if you can trust that there are people in this world that care first for others, and second for themselves, than you, and they, will walk with you through hell.  When we have true friends, they don’t leave us when the going gets rough.  They stop at nothing to see that we realize how important we are, in their life.  They don’t call you, Pyscho, MisFit, Crazy.  They call you, Friend.   That having us is a joy, a blessing, a God-send.  A true friend does not judge, does not keep a score card and knows that we are them, should they ever need us and not out of guilt or because a favor needs returning.  No, a true friend stands by knowing that without our connection we are only half of ourselves.

When others walked out, you walked in.  You asked for nothing in return.  You never used my illness to shame me, to discount me, to write me off.  You stood beside me, carried me through my darkest hours. Prescilla Senn, Jo McCormack, thank you for seeing me when I could not see myself.  But more than anything, thank you for saving my Megan from the psychotic lunatic that I had become.  We have fought hard to win, and without each of you, I would have lost.  It took three and a half months, out-of-state, in a mental institution, numbers of medications and therapy sessions, but I came home, loving and vowing that one day I would share this story.

Never give up hope.  When you are at your weakest, grasp for straws.  Dial for help. Swallow your pride.  Do not fear that you will be labeled, CRAZY, for the rest of your life, even by those you thought would stand behind you through thick and thin.  One of the best pieces of advice given to me were these words:

“They already think you’re crazy. Nothing you do, or say, will change their opinion. Absolutely nothing, therefore, be yourself.  Only you know the journey and the victory.”

To Megan,

I promised you I would finish a tale that I had begun earlier in one of my posts.  I think I even noted Day 16 as the day that I would write it.  Day 16, arrived, but the time didn’t feel ‘just right’.  Today it does.  I believe you will recall the post, original, and if not, I’ll help you retrieve it.

BlogEverday

Acceptance

•May 30, 2013 • 5 Comments

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Today our assignment for this Thursday, May 30th, given by Jenni, author of, StoryofMyLifetheBlog.blogspot.com, is to write about:  “Letting Go”.

BlogEverday

With May almost over (one more day), some of us will awake tomorrow with mixed emotions, I’m sure.  Some of us may ask ourselves, why did I divulge so much, other’s may find a bit of remorse on their doorstep.  After all, this venue has been, while difficult at times, eye-opening at others, but most importantly, a connection.  For me, personally, it has confirmed my faith in how important it is to ‘listen’, listen openly, honestly and without judgement to the stories that other’s share.  For each of us has something we want, and we need to say.  Oh, surely, there are some things we wished we had not initially learned, but in summation we have found that culminating the story we are participants in a world we probably would not have shared without the aid of your forum. Our gratitude to you, Jenni.  I’m sure I speak for many.  Yes, there were days of dread, that like those of school days gone past.  You know, where the assignment loomed, the hours eaten by other concerns or procrastination.  Personally, I’ve been blogging for several years, but CoffeeGrounded is the first blog that I named and attempted to keep going.  The past year it almost faded into oblivion.  Like most lives, things occur beyond our control (as if we ever had any control in the first place), and there were times I thought about abandoning this venture.  I had almost put this pony to the pasture when I realized it meant a great deal to someone who mentioned what a joy she had found in reading it.  Heartbreaking, our family lost this person in a tragic accident.  And then several other deaths followed, all within the span of five months. At my age I know it is just the beginning of saying, “Good-byes”.  Life does not go on forever.  We don’t get a warning, a phone call from above telling us to get our affairs in order.  We have no way of sheltering those we love from the impending.  All that we can do is live this day.  The one right before us.  Live it, accept what it offers and hope that we leave a smile, a bit of hope to those that are journeying along on this freeway with us, letting them know that they are not alone, even if they feel as if they are.  For truth be told, none of us are alone.  We are here, part of this universe, this commitment to life, to living and to giving hope.  Your May Challenge has reminded us that our history is important. Today Jenni asks what it means to:

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Letting Go:

Sometimes letting go is unnecessary.  It’s actually unhealthy. In letting go, there is a misconception that we are ‘accepting’ and  ‘forgiving’ of situations we have no control over. This is my example: The incest my father committed upon me.  I do not have to let go of that.  I do not have to forgive it.  I can keep it at the forefront of my mind, using it to give voice to those that can not muster the courage to put their pain into words.  I do not love this man, and I will never.  He took the love I had for him and he chopped it into a million bits of anguish.  I chew on the aftermath daily.  I do not have to forgive him.  I do not have to listen to people who tell me that it would be better if I would.  As spoken earlier, some times forgiving is unhealthy.  It diminishes the survivor and gives the criminal a free pass. ….. I have fought hard to understand what the term, letting go, means.  I have found it impossible to forgive injustices.  Sometimes out of fear that what I forgive is an excuse awaiting a repeat offense.  That a betrayal forgiven, is one that is most likely an offense, repeated. …. I do believe in Acceptance, though.  I like that term far better than those two words:  “Letting Go.”  Acceptance,  I can wrap my arms around it.  I can see through it, around it, grasp it if I need to, carry it if I want, and it is something that I can share, openly and honestly.  It offers hope, guidance, and freedom. I’m going with Acceptance.  All it takes is, Courage.  I can move around in Acceptance.  I can dance, if I want.

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But I have so many that I love…

•May 29, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Wednesday, the 29th day of the month of May.  Somehow the days raced, almost ahead of me at times, and sometimes they simply stared me in the face, begging acknowledgement as if they were a stone waiting a chisel.

Jenni, StoryofMyLifetheBlog, gave us a challenge to write for this month.  Write each day.  Before I accepted the challenge I asked myself, “Do I really want to open myself up, throw caution to the wind, tell my darkest secrets?”  The answer was a flat-out, “No!”  But then I sat down with someone and asked for their advice.  Someone I respected.  Someone who knew that putting words to paper, or as in this case, typing them into cyberspace, could prove cathartic.  And so began my journey, therapy upon a white space. A drawing board, an organizational chart, a way to find oneself back home. Valuing the experience and celebrating the victories of the re-build.

BlogEverday

Today’s assignment is:

“Five songs or pieces of music that speak to you or bring back memories.  Use Grooveshark or YouTube to include them in your post.”

(Please note, some songs will only play after a commercial interlude, watch the lower corner of the media for the countdown, you will be able to exclude listening to the full commercial and be able to freely listen to the full song.  I’m sure there is away around this bit of nuisance, but I am not yet educated on that part of editing.)

…………………………

Junior Walker and the All Stars –

What does it take (to win your love for me)

http://youtu.be/ub72eylahJg

 

Ben E. King

 

http://youtu.be/Vbg7YoXiKn0

 

Neil Young

 

http://youtu.be/n2MtEsrcTTs

 

Marvin Gaye

 

http://youtu.be/U9BA6fFGMjI

 

Taylor Dayne

 

http://youtu.be/ozHfOmaE6f0

 

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Please do not steal copy written material(s).   The songs I have presented are a part of my iTunes library purchases.  They can be verified through Apple.  I have used the YouTube website to capture video and links.  I give full credit, and appreciation for their display and links to works by the artists I have chosen.

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Because a joke lightens the weight of a sad day…

•May 28, 2013 • Leave a Comment

I needed some levity after my photo shoot.  I wasn’t sure where I’d find it.  I tried the grocery store. The pet store.  I threw the vacuum around the house, but that only created more havoc when I noticed the neglect of the long weekend had welcomed itself into Tuesday.  I took to the yard thinking I’d toss the 12 cubic feet of cedar mulch under the hedge out front.  Heck.  That seemed like work.  I’m searching for fun.

I gave up on chores all together, well, except for that one load of laundry I managed to corral in and out of the Maytag.

T.V. bores me.  Radio?  I love radio, but I hate the commercials and I’m too cheap to invest in a shortwave, besides, that means I have to climb up on the roof and install one sucker of an antenna.  And then there’s that Morse Code thing.  I’m pretty sure I’m dyslexic or at least, lazy.  How do you cheat on a test of that nature?  Although, I have to admit.  I’d get a kick out of driving around with one of those license plates that shows I know something.

Well darn, just about the time I was getting ready to throw in the towel I scanned back through some photo’s and found myself a bit of magic.  I’m going to share it with you. These three gals have been best buds for years.  They’re real lushes, especially when it comes to wine.  I can give away one’s identity, my daughter’s.  She’s such a lush she took a job working in a winery.  Fools around with wine tasting all day long.  The tall red-head, I think she works for an undercover operation.  Well, maybe it’s not undercover, but it’s best I don’t toss it out here for the world to see.  Some parents may become a bit ‘concerned’, if you know what I mean.  Oh, and Miss Chug-O-Lug, she’s a graphic artist.  Well, maybe she is actually something else.  All I know is that she got ahold of this picture from a wedding and she went to town with it!  (Notice how she tries to make us think she has consumed that bottle as if it was baby formula, or something…Girl, get yourself some mercy, will you?  What if your mama tunes in and see’s the likes of you wasting your education on a cheap bottle of vino?)

Are you ready?  Prepare yourselves.  I peed my pants when I saw this pic.  And to think, all of these gals are educated.  (They earned their GED’s at the Federal Pen.)

Winos and their jugs

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Flight Memorial, Grapevine, Texas

•May 28, 2013 • 2 Comments

Jenni, writer of StoryofMyLifetheBlog.blogspot.com, gives Day 28th, Tuesday, this assignment:

“Only pictures”

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A “Christmas Letter’ to my readers

•May 27, 2013 • Leave a Comment

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Happy Memorial Day to my readers.  I understand this day is not easy to face, due to our losses, but if you can look upon the bright side, if only for a moment and remember what it stands for:

FREEDOM

Given to us by the sacrifices of those we love, and will always love.  Thank you for laying down your life so that I could live in freedom.

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StoryofMyLifetheBlog.blogspot.com, writer, Jenni has given us this Monday this assignment:

“A letter to your readers.”

…..

Dear readers,

I have wanted to write a Christmas letter for years, but gift wrapping, baking and traipsing those decked out halls of the mall-o-rama’s have always kept me from my personal promise.  So why don’t I just write that sucker today.  I’ll plaster it with details I’ve left out of the earlier 25 days of writing that Jenni has thrust upon us. (Once upon a time my oldest daughter got the hankering, but in the end I think she chickened out.  Her point was to write one, poking fun at all of our mishaps, missed opportunities and what she called, “telling the truth of our sorry, less-than-spot like perfectness, wishing to send it to those whose lives showed far greater promise and happiness than what had occurred within the walls of ‘her’ prison.)  Now, I’m not one to hinder my children from expressing themselves, I rather encourage it, but I refuse to follow it on Facebook for fear that I will unravel at the seams and throw myself in front of the nearest passing vehicle.  (It’s okay to ridicule mama, just remember, one day you may find yourselves wearing these same pair of shoes.  Tread carefully, what goes around, comes around….and that snake? he’s there to bite.)
I promise not to embellish the hell out of this idea I’ve got going on here inside my brain.  Truth be told, I’m a sucker for a Christmas letter.  I enjoy hearing from friends, and they know me well enough, hopefully, to know that it is not how great their life is, it is that they exist and are still part of my world.  (I love you, chums!  I love those letters, and after you read this one, well, consider that you now are a proud owner of a first edition.  Hold onto it, one day I may sign it and you can sell it on ebay to the foreign prince of the country currently seeking money from your distant relative.)
…..
I’ m going for the truth or consequences approach:
 
In my preteen years I had visions of becoming a beauty queen.  My hopes were dashed when I fell off of my bike (age 10) while trying to keep up with my brother as he careened around the curve at Folsom Field, heading toward the ‘home plate’ of home over off of Fuller Court.  Bubba Joe-Fred ‘lied’ to my mother about my screams for help.  Seems I ran into a rock on the side of the curb and then the curb, itself. Two broken teeth, one being a front tooth.  (“Smile pretty, the camera will now take your picture!”)
Moving into my twenties I secured a position with a telecom company and for some unknown reason they invested time and talent into my career.  I wound up being promoted into management.
A few months later my husband was promoted to a new position within an insurance company.  It was then that he was asked to transfer from Texas to Little Rock, Arkansas.  One of us was making more income, but that was decided to become a moot point.  Only one of us had a college educate.  Period. End of chapter.
Somehow I awoke and found myself in my thirties.  I danced around working for a few insurance companies, because with that management position behind me, and no college degree, it seemed like it might pan out to be the panacea I was in search of. I awoke one morning while walking down the hallway of the skyscraper of one of those insurance companies.  A neighboring office worker, employed by a division of a defense company, asked if I enjoyed working across the hall from her. ? . (Was it that obvious in my sleepwalking that the insurance company left me less than thrilled/thrilling?)  At some point we decided to coördinate our lunch hour.  Two weeks later I am working at a desk, right across from her, managing an account, maintaining inventories, billings and installs of computer systems.  Nine months later and the particular division of Raytheon dissolved the contract.  Down the road, around the corner, and very few of us can even recall a company that was once known as Eastern Airlines, (that contract item).  Well, I’ d been enjoying this computer inventory stuff, so much so, that I started selling myself to the few remaining Raytheon employees who had yet to clear their desks and head to whatever came next for them.  I cornered one of the managers and asked for five minutes of his time.  Pleading, and explaining that computers excited me, and I wanted to continue learning all that I could.   Did he know, where, or with whom I might talk to that could/would listen to my ‘sell’?  He excused himself for a few minutes and returned, asking me to get myself, el-pronto over to the RCA field offices at the Tulsa airport.  (I was headed somewhere, little did I know I would encounter the Mechanical Pencil Maniacal Man, but that was, and is okay.  Learning about computers in 1980 when you are not college educated is a rather NICE thing to have happen to you.)  ;)
Forty.  Built our dream home.  Hubby was phased out of two jobs in four years.  Four years in, and we now decide its time to sell our dream house.  We move south, taking up residency in my husbands native state of Texas.  Job opportunities and career advancement appeared more hopeful.  That did become a reality, for him,  although a difficult one for me to adjust to, especially when Texas was about the last place I wanted to relocate to.  It’s too hot, too humid, and does not get cooler as I age.  (I plan to move to Flagstaff, Arizona, soon.)
Somehow I turned 50.  Saw my oldest and my youngest girls graduate college.  Joy of joy.  The greatest of joys!
Last summer I turned 60.  I’m not as spunky as I once was, but I am so much smarter than I ever thought I could, or would be.  None of it comes from reading those books, Bonnie, advised me to dive into.  Well, wait a minute, I have to retract that.  I’m more than positive that it impacted me with wisdom, although the truest form of wisdom comes from living through a life that unravels and gets knitted back together, forcefully, and in due time, and then falls apart all over again.  Sometimes we salvage what we think is important and sometimes we grow up and know when to let go.  I’m at that letting go stage.  
I am on the threshold of something yet to be culminated.  I can feel it within my bones, as arthritic as they are.  I know that my best days are before me.  I will be challenged and I will be tested, but I know one thing:  I will not be defeated. I have learned to appreciate the small things in life.  I’ve come to realize who my real friends are, and who and when I need to call upon them.  I no longer fear darkness, nor do I fear abandonment.  And I no longer care if the Christmas tree lights burn out, the ornaments break and I fail to get all the baking done and delivered. 
Thank you for reading along on this challenge, Jenni, has offered.  I want to apologize to those I have yet to discover, but I never took the speed reading coarse that Evelyn offered.  Chances are it is not high on my list of priorities, either.  I came into this foray having been a food blogger, from here I can’t really say where I will go, but I’ll still be around from time to time.  Grounded by coffee, encouraged by friendships.
May you live a happy life, and when it is not so happy, may you find peace in knowing that every day is a new day and with it, there is hope.
…..
Margie, aka, CoffeeGrounded.

Discovering a dimwit

•May 26, 2013 • Leave a Comment

I do most of my surfing at night.  By the light of the silvery moon.  And once upon a night, not too long ago, I discovered a genius lurking behind the blog written by Chris Hinton.

Today is Sunday, and I don’t know how many of you spend your Sunday’s, but mine are generally written on the “fly. I hate, more than anything to awake to a list of ‘must’s’.  I think that comes from years of commitments that came within raising M1 & M2, when the hours of sleep were precious, and sometimes few, and, or, the work contracts that would not afford flexibility.

Then along came, Jenni (TheStoryofMyLifetheBlog.blogspot.com), who has offered us the May Challenge of writing about all 31 days, assigning us a topic per day.  There are four Sunday’s to this month, and here is the fourth one, May 26th.  Our assignment, this day:

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“Something you read online.

 Leave a link and discuss if you’d like”

Meet Chris Hinton, author behind The Dimwit Diary.  The very first post I read happened to be one written as a commemorative piece dedicated to a war vet.  As I read this piece I was a bit shell-shocked, pissed-off and mesmerized.  It took me reading through it twice before I could zip him a comment, and one that he felt compelled to respond to almost immediately.

As I tend to be, a little ‘slow’ around the edges, and not always able to convey the words that are tumbling around in my gray matter, I none-the-less, tried.

Let’s go look at Chris Hinton exploring the world of a wounded soldier.  If you need to re-read the article to grasp the gravity, then do so, but if you are a sharp-stick and find its beauty while read once, than move to the front of the class.  Whatever you do, share this link.  It is a valuable lesson, delivered sharply humored.  Perhaps to hide the pain of the two participants, “Bruce” and Chris.

http://thedimwitdiary.com/2013/05/20/photoshop-lessons-how-to-make-a-purple-heart-vietnam-war-veteran-commemorative-poster/

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“You’re boring”

•May 25, 2013 • Leave a Comment

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Ring my chimes!  It’s Saturday, May 25th.  Only seven more days before I complete Jenni’s (StoryofMyLifetheBlog.blogspot.com), challenge for blogging our way through the month of May.  I have to admit that this has been more gut-wrenching than I thought it would be.  I’m not a Facebook person, I have a Twitter account, yet to use, because I have nothing to say that I can condense into 140 characters (did I remember that fact right).  Therefore, I don’t, Tweet.  I did join Instagram.  I wanted to follow my daughter’s photo essay’s, but I believe I’ve posted all of one photo offering for them. But back to that thing about finding this difficult.  The writing not so much, but the putting of myself ‘out there’ for all the world to see.  Now that’s the part that has been my challenge. Yes, I understand I had options, I could have written about other things within the confines of this space I call, life.  But I finally had summoned the courage (aided by the forum) allowing myself to move forward, as suggested by two folks that know something about this stuff.  I simply didn’t know how, or where to begin it.  So, here it is, and there it was, and now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of today’s assignment:

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“Something someone told you about yourself

that you’ll never forget (good or bad).”

For Bonnie, wherever you are; “Thank-you!” your observation, astute and correct, delivered as only a best friend can.  I owe it all to you.  To the rest of you, here is her advice:

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“You are so boring!  Read a book every once in a while, and while you’re at it, be sure it’s a classic.  Stop wasting your time on that crap at the grocery store check-out line.” …. (as close as I can recall, these were the words).

Well, I had to respect Bonnie, after all, she was my best friend when I was 21; three years older than me.  I was a telephone operator, and she was finishing up her Master’s work at the University of North Texas.  Her major(s):  English & French.  She could read and write them both.  She always had her head in a book, a tome, she read several at once.  Well, not all at once, separately, but daily.  That always amazed me.  How on earth could she keep the dialogs separated, follow the story lines, engage in the theories?

…..

A few days pass before I can face her for shaming me and calling me out on my obvious stupidity.  It wasn’t until then that she had a real heart-to-heart with me.

She defined stupidity and then ignorance.  Gave examples, even used me as one of them.

I learned a great deal from, Bonnie.  I swallowed my pride and asked her if she could list a few books that might help me muddle my way through my ignorance, toward becoming an equal in our circle of chums.

She did one better than that.  She didn’t write a few titles and authors names out for me, she brought me an actual list of required reading that she had been assigned. Pages, and pages, and pages in length. Classics. Behemoths. Tomes.

I think this is when I first developed the problem I have with these crossed-eyes.

…..

I felt small, especially after reading my first of many assignments.  I had a growth spurt somewhere between the next five reads.  And then I stopped for a bit, until I could get Bonnie alone to ask her another bit of advice.  I wanted to know if I had to read these books in order, or would it be okay if I jumped around this list?  She assured me that I could do as I wished, and even encouraged me.  I think it was also at this juncture where she asked me, “What do you do when you come across a word you don’t understand?”

“I ignore it.”

“Don’t ignore too many of them, they are building your vocabulary.”

Now I realized how really boring I must have been.  Grocery-store thrillers, and a limited vocabulary.  Jeez, how did she put up with this ignorance, and why had she for three years?

It became habitual.  The dictionary searches, the scrapes of paper to scribble words for definitions of.  I admitted to myself that I could not read as Bonnie did.  I could not devote myself to the juggling of many at once.  One day was dictionary day.  One day for reading and writing.

…..

Somewhere around this house I still have that list.  And even though Bonnie and I have lost track of one another over the multitude of years that have since passed, I will always remember her advice as the best that I have ever received from anyone.

Books open our lives to worlds beyond our wildest dreams.  They prove that we are not stupid, we are ignorant, and that ignorance is bliss.  The more that I learn, the less it is that I know, but today, I know so much more and I owe it to you, Bonnie.

Thank you.

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God help me if she stumbles across this.  Maybe I should just go and sharpen that red pencil now.  Oh, wait, she probably carries one with her.  I’m sure she edits better than this iMac, anyway.

;)

Unpleasant inventories

•May 24, 2013 • Leave a Comment

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For Camden, with love from Auntie ‘M’

Lord have mercy!  This morning, Jenni, StoryofMyLifetheBlog.blogspot.com, want’s us to air some dirty laundry.  She has asked us to list:  “Your top 3 worst traits.”  I understand this can be quite controversial, especially when those close to us have their own particular ideas on the subject.  They have a list of our inventory that they would most likely care to ‘insert’ for us, but, today is my day ;) … :

“I”

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…too trusting…

(especially in affairs of the heart)

 

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…vulnerable…

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…procrastinating…

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When the school bell silences

•May 23, 2013 • Leave a Comment

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If you’ve followed along, you know that Jenni, (StoryofMyLifetheBlog.blogspot.com), challenges us with an assignment, daily.  Todays is:

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“Things you’ve learned that school won’t teach you.”

(Somehow I thought this would be an easy task, but it proved a difficult one as I sat down to type it.)

Mistakes are the cornerstones to success.

Apron strings:  When to tie them and when to release them.  It’s a balancing act.  Never look back.  Allow your child to fly.  Yes, they will crash a few times, but more importantly, they will soar.

You can have more than one best friend, but it is the one that holds you tightly, during your darkest hour(s), that becomes your newest family member.

A father’s incestuous relationship can attempt to shipwreck a daughter’s life.

Never say, “Never!”

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First point of contact

•May 22, 2013 • 3 Comments

Jenni,(StoryofMyLifetheBlog.blogspot.com) you do realize that half of us will run for our blood pressure med(s), or take up drinking alcohol before our posts are written.  You know that, don’t you?

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Sidebar:  May 22, a day that will live notoriously for me.  My firstborn daughter was to be born upon this day in 1984; she opted for May 2nd.  But as moms expecting their first-born, the day the doc says, “Your babies due date is…”.  Well, we take it as gospel.  We arrange the universe, aligning it,  ‘just so’, cuz we women are nesters. Somehow we think we can control God’s plan.  Silly little people that we are.  ;)

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Okay, but the year is 2013,

and Jenni has assigned us the task of writing about this subject:  “Rant about something. Get up on your soapbox and tell us how you really feel.  (a pet peeve, a current event, a controversial topic, something your husband or roommate or neighbor or boss does that really ticks you off.”)

…..

Customer Service…

(or rather, the lack of, or sorry excuse for…)

The bank (Has a stagecoach emblem representing it)

The cellphone company (Starts with a V, ends with an N)

Internet/Phone/T.V. provider (I ‘love’ abuse, their name begins with V, ends in an N and are part of the same umbilical cord system used in item #2)

Big Box Store, ‘Wally’s World’

Car dealership(s).  Specifically TWO that are local to the DFW area (I no longer ‘recall’ (cough, cough, cough…) what your names are, but the make of cars begin with the letter, A, and the second, VW)

Maker’s of my new kitchen appliances, G.E., (french-door, 25 cubic), G.E. (oven), G.E. (ceramic cooktop)

…..Please allow me a moment.  I need my high-blood pressure med.  I’ll be right back. Oh, anyone want some coffee?  I’ll bring the pot back with me.  Sugar and creamers?  I’ll dig those out while I’m in there.  Please be drawn to a Zen moment:

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Obama Care (When can I expect those that are in charge of the mandates to figure out what it is that they are mandating, and when can my poor doctors be freed from the multitude of your ‘beloved-greatest ever-fantastic’ dream?  (Seriously, do you have any kind of thoughts on this?  Many of us are DESPERATE for you to get your CHIT together).

Public Schools (We speak several languages in this country, but if it is my tax dollar supporting your education, guess what?  I expect you to learn English and use it as LANGUAGE #1)

Fire Arms (Yes, background checks may be necessary, but before you go changing the United States Constitution why don’t you go round-up all those ‘illegal’ guns you dumped into the hands of those that have no right to carry our, tax-dollar-paid-for, weaponry? They are now using what we gave them, against us, and you are asking us to give up our right(s)?  WHAT PART OF THIS PICTURE DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND?)

Mary-Jane.  I didn’t like her when I met her.  Can’t give her my time of day, but I’ll tell you something that makes some sense about the old gal.  She’s been around for YEARS and she isn’t going anywhere.  Pack them smokes up and tax the heck out of ’em. In Texas (I always roll my eyes on this bit of knowledge), we fund our public education in part with money from cig sales and lottery tickets.  Let’s get Mary in here and have her do her part.  I’m pretty sure most states now have PUBLIC FREE SMOKING areas.

Our politicians.  Every. Last. One. Of. Them.  Here’s some bits of advice, “Stand for something or you will fall for anything.”  “Grow a backbone.”  “Remember, earn your money wisely, and justly.”  “What goes around, can come back around and bite you.”  (… This is especially true when dealing with snakes.)

Business men and women who cannot be ‘bothered’ by those less (you assume?), as educated as yourself. I have one question, “Who moved you to the front of the class and pinned you with a gold star?”  Yeah.  Think about it.  Nothing shames me more than to see you having a business lunch or dinner and witness your “Holier than thou” attitudes. We all started somewhere.  Who knows, perhaps one day you will be asking your server for a job.?.?.?

As you can tell.  I could go on forever, but I’m going to wrap this baby up and put her online.  This customer service thing, I want all the Indians, Mexican’s and other nationalities that have assisted me to know that I am not singling you out as the reason for any lack of satisfaction that I feel.  If anything, I think you do a wonderful job with the resources you have at your disposal.  What I absolutely despise is the hierarchy that managers and corporate leaders (throughout this world) assign to those responsible for delivering their customer service as if it were a ‘headache’ or a ‘burden’, or less than important function toward their corporate success(es). It’s high time these folk’s in suits and casuals take a look around at what really affects their bottom line:

“The customer is always right!”

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Party of five

•May 21, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Dedicating this post to the State of Oklahoma.  It has a special place in my heart.  M1 & M2 were born in Tulsa.  We are quite familiar with areas affected by the latest storms. As you look at the flowers and the wind chime, please remember the people.  Give thanks.  We are blessed.  Let us send them Hope.

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Day 21, Tuesday.  Jenni,  StoryofMyLifetheBlog.blogspot.com , asks us to do an architectural dive, of sorts:

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“A list of links to your favorite posts in your archives.”

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…..

Daring Baker’s Challenge*

https://coffeegrounded.wordpress.com/2009/04/27/daring-bakers-abbeys-infamous-cheesecake/

https://coffeegrounded.wordpress.com/2009/06/27/daring-bakers-challenge-bakewell-tart/

*( an international challenge, http://daringbakersblogroll.blogspot.com/2007/07/welcome.html)

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Signed, Sealed and Delivered

https://coffeegrounded.wordpress.com/2011/02/14/signed-sealed-delivered/

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The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge*

https://coffeegrounded.wordpress.com/2009/06/09/bread-bakers-apprentice-brioche/

https://coffeegrounded.wordpress.com/2009/06/29/the-bread-bakers-apprentice-challah/

*(hosted by Nicole, www.PinchMySalt.com, working our way through Peter Reinhart’s (TED), The Bread Baker’s Apprentice)

Getting real…

•May 20, 2013 • 2 Comments

Today, Jenni, StoryofMyLifetheBlog.blogspot, asks us to, “Get real.  Share something you’re struggling with right now.”

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I have a list, but in the scheme of all things, the reality of today and what occurred around noon, is my greatest struggle.  M1, boarded a flight back to northern California. And before I get too soggy on you, let me just admit, it is not that she left me to go to hubs, it is that she left.  I LOVE, J., and am so thankful that these two are united.

My struggle comes, just as any mother’s (and daddy’s, too), does, when having to say, “Good-bye” to a loved one, especially when distance(s) get in the way.  The further they are, the harder it is.  It’s something about that distance factor.  In my heart and soul I know that she is loved and well cared for by J., and ALL of his family.  That is the blessing in all of this, but today I am simply being a mama.

She asked me not to cry, and so I didn’t…I don’t think I did while she was looking, but once she boarded the area for the TSA, barefoot region, and loaded that plastic bin, I felt salty water rise in my throat and nostrils.  Once I could no longer throw kisses and wave, once I turned and headed toward the exit of her gate area, well…

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She doesn’t need to know.  Okay?  Just between you and me.  I had my pity party.  I even rode in the backseat of the car so that I didn’t have to put up with the driver giving me grief.  Because, we know that the male species operates on a whole other set of batteries.  That Venus vs Mars thing.  Perfect example:

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And then there is this photo of M1 & M2 saying their goodbyes.  Proof positive that sibling rivalry is alive and well at this residence:

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Oh, and then there were the poor animals.  Two hid, two appeared.  And it was the dog that took the news of M1’s departure the hardest.  When we left to go to the airport she knew the hard part was coming:

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By the time we returned home from DFW, she had refused to come sniff the garden, eat a cookie, and when I finally did get her outside she woefully responded with this look:

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As if to say, “Where did you take my mama?”  This is when I decided I needed to take action.  With temperatures rounding towards ninety, a walk was out of the question (we have that humidity thing that happens.  Temp says, 90, factor in humidity, and then just admit, “I ain’t going outside for nothing”)!

I grabbed her gear and put her in the car.  We wound up at the Grapevine Arboretum first.  Take a look:

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The temperatures were still climbing as we made our way back to the little BLACK car. (Who in their right mind buys a black car in the Land of Hades? … oh, now I remember.) Windows down, air conditioner on Level 4 (That’s as fast and as furious as this 13-year-old can do/will do/does.)  I had a bright idea as she panted and I sweated through the light. Here is proof positive that this little girl, my Hannah, was going to muddle through and make it a day to reflect upon, not sadly, but joyfully.  The photo says it all, and for those of you who think she is ‘crying’…well, she isn’t.  She’s about to slumber.  She’s worn out after her mighty swim at Grapevine Lake:

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(Yes, Betsy the car, smells like fish, wet fur-baby, and there’s five pounds of sand in the seat.  Do I give a flip? … My babes are happy, the wet one, and the one headed home to her #1, as is that one dealing with the sibling rivalry issue(s).  Life really is a bag of lemons.  Make some lemonade.  ;)

Blog Love

•May 19, 2013 • 2 Comments

Sunday, the start to a new week and Day 19 of Jenni’s, TheStoryofMyLifetheBlog.blogspot.com, challenge of getting us to write for each day through May.  Today’s quest?  “Five of your favorite blogs and what you love about them.”

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I have a list of favorites that make my head spin.  Counting down to five is like a torturous assignment, I mean really, I began as a food blogger and how on earth do you expect me to contain myself to only five, Jenni?

“Jenni, can I have a private moment with you?  I’ll bring food, recipes, and this list of foodies that come bearing gifts with every post they write.”  ;)

Okay…in no particular order I will pick five, because I am a law-biding citizen.  Four I will post simply because I got a hat out and wrote names on paper, held the top hat above eye level and plucked.  There was, however, one that stood out above the crowd; no hat shake needed.  She is the grand-prize winner, above and beyond all others.  Welcome to my world, I hope you enjoy your visit:

www.ZuPlusTwo.com The writer of this blog is M1, my daughter.  (She also authored two other blogs, but this is her latest).  M1 is an artist.  (One of her accomplishments was a piece that was showcased at the Texas State Capitol building in Austin, TX.,when she was in high school.)  She is also a photo enthusiast, and from time to time I’ll read the newsletter (she contributes articles and compiles it every other month), for the winery she works for in the Lake County, California region.  Okay, but honestly, how do you put love in a box and then attempt to define it?  Yeah.  I knew you would understand.  :)  “THANK YOU”, Megan, for all the joy you bring into my world!

www.userealbutter.com.  OMG!  Do you enjoy food?  Love photography?  Enjoy learning, I mean, being educated?  SERIOUSLY.  One look and you will see how easy it is to become smitten with/by  Jennifer Yu.  I was amazed when I first discovered her blog and I thought I’d write to her, personally, just to let her know how significant I found her…all of her, food included.  When I opened my email box and found a lengthy reply, thanking me, but also sharing a bit of her personal world, I was beside myself.  Oh, and she resides in Colorado, photographs beyond there from time to time, but it’s those Colorado photo’s I hang my heart on, especially the ones from Boulder Canyon.  (I LOVE YOU, Jenn!)

www.wildyeastblog.com.  OMG, times 2!  Meet Susan, she can do anything she wants with flour and water.  ANYTHING.  The girl won my heart when she built her own backyard oven.  Can you spell t a l e n t e d?  Multiply it by a thousand times!  She is responsible for featuring bread/pastry bakers the world over with her weekly feature: YeastSpotting. How on earth this woman does what she does, is truly amazing.  The amount of time it must take in the compilation alone, is beyond me, but to do this week-in, and week-out? Oh girl, you be amazing, one very amazing, chick!  ;)  (LOVE YOU, TOO!)

DavidLebovitz.com, Okay, I’m in love with David, too.  It’s a serious connection, silent, but serious.  Besides, I don’t want to make waves with his Number 1.  R., I just be joshing.  It’s only the food I care about.  SERIOUS, Babe, don’t get so wound.  He really doesn’t know me, other than by my alias.  Seriously.  We’ve never even met.  He lives in France, I live in Texas.  Okay, you just have to trust me on this.  ;)  Why do I ‘like’ you David?  Well, just give me one reason why I wouldn’t?  The brownies are good, the ice cream AMAZING and writing about CHOCOLATE is ILLEGAL, but you went for it, ANYWAY.  ;) (You already know that I love you.  Tell R. to get over it.  We’ll never meet.  What are the chances of me being dusted in flour, caked in chocolate and dripping from ice creams?  Besides, I’m not a COUGAR.  ;)

TheFreshLoaf.com Floyd Mann is….  How on earth can I describe what it is that makes him (and his precious wife, Dorota), extra-special?  I’ll try, but I know I’m going to come up short:  Code Man. Bread Man. Family Man. Educator.  Dedicated to helping this world become a better place by having us share our bread-breaking and baking.  His website is a plethora of information for any baker.  This is a bread forum that unites the world. Visit!  You will not believe the number of resources available to you because this person (Floyd), felt compelled to make the world a better place by teaching that the knowledge we share, mends a broken world, reunites countries, divided, and gives all of us, HOPE.  (MY LOVE TO YOU AND THE FAMILY!  May blessings continue to flow.)

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Digging deep…

•May 18, 2013 • Leave a Comment

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Saturday, Day #18:

“Tell a story from your childhood.  Dig deep and try to be descriptive about what you remember and how you felt.”

Jenni, StoryofMyLifetheBlog.blogspot.com, sets a great challenge for us today.  Especially if you have legally passed the posted speed limit out on the roadway.  Remembering is one thing, but trying to recall, accurate and descriptive details, may become the real challenge(s).  (I’m sure I can get Bubba and Big Sis to clarify things if this goes legal.) ;)

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It’s a game of warfare out in the backyard.  Setting:  San Benito, Texas.  Heat hotter than Hades.  Three, maybe four (sorry, Bernie, I don’t know if you were with us or inside napping), but Bubba Joe-Fred (a name I have affectionately since given to my brother), and ‘Big Sis’ the nickname we all had for our oldest sister, and myself, are out in the backyard trying to figure out how to shuck the heck out of some boredom, or maybe we weren’t bored and we were just acting, ‘normal’, destructive and full of mischief.

Back to the setting, the backyard, blazing heat balls of humidity, but we are blessed in that our property has two navel orange trees, heavily laden with fruit (Joy #1).  One of our neighbors has a lemon tree, or two (Joy#2), and ONE MASSIVE grapefruit bush (Joy #3).  I say, bush, because this is where I settled in for the battle.  It’s not as tall, has heavy coverage and my cannon balls are HUGE!

Bubba Joe-Fred, had to be the instigator, he was always in charge of mayhem.  It was his duty.  Outnumbered by a house of female siblings, it was up to him to defend all that he felt due to claim.  He took shelter under one of those navels, as did, ‘Big Sis’, I think she flanked the second, either that, or she was in charge of keeping him ready with his next juicy sidewinder.

Fruit started flying, now and then we would hit one another. My grapefruits gave me challenge, by size alone, but I knew I had secured the most massive of missiles.  The bulb in my attic failed to flicker, brightly, and eventually, I was taken over by enemy forces.  I had no reinforcements which meant that retreat was my only option(s).  I wound up in the lemon tree forest.

Efforts were diligent by all forces.  Refreshment never felt so good, nor tasted so sweet, or sour.  (I think they cheated and reused my artillery.)

Oops!  Eventually all three of us ‘pretend’ warriors were spotted by a set of TRUE enemy forces.  A mother (our own), and the owner of the lemons and grapefruit weaponry.  One called screamingly, and most threatening, the other gave chuckle and encouraged us to continue, much to the dismay of our mother.

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Have a hankering for mischief?

Got fruit?

Want to play?

Meet me out back in five!

P.S.  I have thousands of rotting acorns, gravel, and heavy stones.  At sixty, you never know what I’ll be throwing.

(My photo and my header are related.  I think.?.  A few weeks back, I began photographing a swallowtail pupa.  While checking my garden this afternoon, this beautiful and massive creature came to thank me for the dill I’d planted.)

Prized!

•May 17, 2013 • 6 Comments

Day 17, Friday, and as we round the corner and head down the stretch, Jenni,(StoryofMyLifetheBlog.blogspot.com), requests, “A favorite photo of yourself and why.”

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This became an easier assignment than I thought.  I actually don’t enjoy being photographed, it’s a challenge, the older that I get. But I think that’s a fairly normal thing for those of us that live in our heads, holding onto ‘yesterday’ and those days and times when our clothes fit a bit better, and the hair color/texture played by a different set of ‘rules.’ ;)

This is an extra-special photo.  My oldest daughter (M1), arrived from northern California last night.  She’s in town for a quick trip to Austin for a best friend’s wedding, tomorrow. I’ll see her again Sunday evening, and then she leaves for home on Monday.

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I would have loved to have included M2 in our photo shoot, but she had long departed for work, two cities over.

(Next time, Mips!  Mom promises we’ll have our act together and we’ll include you.)

I own this

•May 16, 2013 • 1 Comment

Thursday, Day 16th of our writing challenge that, Jenni, hosts: StoryofMyLifetheBlog.Blogspot.com .  Our goal, “Something difficult about your “lot in life” and how you are working to overcome it.”

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…..

Depression.  I work on it daily.  Take meds.  Keep in touch with friends (okay, I admit, sometimes I ‘hide’ from them too, especially if I am feeling overwhelmed).  I exercise. And I try, daily, to accept that there are people who are uncomfortable with ‘my lot in life,’ because it carry’s a stigma so caustic, to some, that they cannot, and will not allow themselves to be involved with any part of it.

Allow me to allay some fears for you.  Not all of us with a mental illness wish to do harm. Actually, statistically speaking we are some of the ‘safest’ people to be around.  It is the hell we live, inside of ourselves, not the one that other’s fear we may wish to create, outside our person.

I am on a mission for the rest of my life.  As embarrassed and ashamed as some of my loved ones are, I no longer wish to hide the ugly secret that I have a mental illness.  I will not fear that you will hold this over my head, claim me as, ‘unfit’ any longer.  There is dignity within this soul of mine.  Do not cast a stone toward a glass building, you may find yourself injured by the shards of glass that blast your way:  Others may judge you for judging me.

Stigma can stab deeper and hurt longer than anything I’ve ever encountered.  Please do yourselves a favor and move forward.  My goal is to educate those that live in fear that they will be discovered, the ones that live in shame because of the mark upon their forehead, reflected from within by the wounds written across their heart.  The shame of who they are, because they can never again be who they were.  It will never happen. To you, I say, “Go forward.  Live this new life and do it knowing that you can, and will, survive.”

A person struggling with depression does not want sympathy, pity or an assigned seat at the back of the bus. We’d like respect.  I know it is difficult for you to trust us, because far too often we are reminded that we cannot be trusted.  Sadly, it is our families that fear us most.  They hate their burden.

My greatest fear is not my illness, it is the loss of faith by the ones I love(d).  Or perhaps, they too, are simply looking for a way to exit.  And to this, I would simply ask:

“Go.  Be free.”

Living the sweet life…

•May 15, 2013 • 8 Comments

Okay, sweet Jenni, author of TheStoryofMyLifetheBlog.blogspot.com, has asked us to give you , “A Day in the life (include photos from throughout our typical day – this could be “a photo of an hour” if you’d like).

Can I start by saying that I don’t have a normal day, ever?  I’d like to, but haranguing four animals and two other grown adults that occupy the 1800 square foot of our existence simply does not allow it.  I’m going to go with option B.  This would be the details of what appeared as of this Wednesday, May 15th, 2013.

Coffee cup #1 that included a serenade

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(I wanted to stay for the encore, but company is arriving tomorrow.)

A mission awaits

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(She’s thirteen, clean as a whistle and gets me where I am going.  I love you, Betsy!)

Southlake, Texas, Central Market

Some folks love the mall.  I love the grocery store, especially this one.  :)

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Guess where my favorite spot is?

 

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And when I am thirsty for tea?

I drive down the street to this place.  :)

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Detours and road construction can do this to $236.82 worth of groceries:


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Game Plan:  A walk with my best friend

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“But, Mama, you promised!”

“I know, sweet puppy, but rain beckons, and there’s a storm advisory!”

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Surrounded by angel(s)

(Today’s disclaimer reads like this:  That header?  Yeah, the one at the top of this page, far left, and a feline trying to hide from me?  He escaped in the midst of the mayhem.  Rain is falling.  He’s late for dinner, but he’s afraid of the locked cubby that awaits him when he finally decides to ‘come begging’ for rescue.  T-minus 90 minutes, and those nasty storms are going to be his awakening.  Of course, he’s an animal.  He’ll arrive 15 minutes before the straight-lined winds, hail, or whatever comes hither.)

Momma is not happy.  At age 60, it’s a bit of a challenge to bend down to the bottom of the cabana and flash bulbs in his eyes.

Fret not.  I am only as bad as the decibel level of my screams.

He is clueless.  I warned you yesterday, remember?)

P.S. Jack, thank you for my haircut.  Stay well, or else!

A bucket full of ‘happy’

•May 14, 2013 • Leave a Comment


Jenni, StoryofMyLifetheBlog.blogspot.com, spreads sunshine all over the Internet today.  This is her request for our writing today, Tuesday, May 14, 2013.

“Ten things that make you really happy.”

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Children, M1 & M2

Holding and hugging them, smacking them with kisses.  One enjoys it, the other cringes and pulls away.  I fault neither for their actions and respect the space that allows them the freedom to feel that they can be who they want in front of me.  (Sometime’s I believe only a mother can understand this enigma.)  I know that they both love me in their own way and my heart sings because of them.

M2’s proudest honor

Graduated, August 2012

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Pets

Hannah, my priceless Lab.  No greater hero, hath I.  J and M1 rescued her while living and going to school in Stillwater, Oklahoma (Go Pokes!), but when J went to Egypt for the summer and M1 went off to intern in the west, I was asked if I could keep her until they reunited with her.  (hehehehehehe.) I stole the dog!  Changed the locks on the doors of this house.  I did.  Changed my phone number and officially secured an alias.  My neighbors helped me devise and implement my plan.

Hannah Princess of Grace Hoberg (age 7)

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Eventually, I spilled the beans.  Gave in and let ’em have the low-down on what really happened.  Six words.  They sound so simple, but they truly were/are complex:  “I fell in love with her.” The rest is history.  :)

M1’s, & J’s Proudest Honor

Graduations, December 2006

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..

Bridget-Renee Jones.  Prissy.  Fussy.  Rescued from the backyard when her former owners drove away to Laredo and left her to forage for a new life. Brown and gray tabby, wears eyeliner better than any chick I know.

Bridget-Renee (age estimated between 9 to 11)

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Rico-Chico, ‘The Man’, I am jealous of him.  He also has crossed eyes, but his do him justice.  Butterscotch tabby, white/orange and wears tail rings that are more stunning than any sight seen at a Paris runway show

Rico, (age 8)

Rico

Rico

Gilbert Grape.  Black and white, tuxedo. Oh heavens, how can I put into words what this cat is to this household?  I really can’t, each day is a new day for this fella.  He rides the short bus and never fails to surprise us.  I paid a $150.00 for him at the shelter.  Now generally those folks don’t charge nearly that price, but they needed some reimbursement assistance.  This little guy came with baggage.  He’d had a broken leg, a nasty ear mite infection and must have bedded down at the flea-bag haven.  He had also been in their care for about three months.  Seems dragging a cast around can be a bit challenging. Yes, this guy needs a home, he appeared a bit clueless, but he also had a charm about him that REQUIRED that I have him.  I needed to love him.  I needed to be his mama.  I needed him more than he needed me.  Okay, I was in love.  Smitten.  First sight.  Absolutely grabbed and gravitated.  No turning back. No excuses.  I LOVE YOU!. We do have to keep a close eye upon him.  Burning candles are his fancy.  (I’ve notified Dept. #3, five blocks from here, that he has this problem, so be ready.)  One afternoon, while baking in the kitchen, I thought I smelled something peculiar.  I checked the oven, the stove-top and then it hit me!  Somethings burning outside this room.  It reminded me of that smell of burning hair, back in my high school days, before hair straighteners were invented, where we resulted to using the iron, and ironing board to straighten (and sometimes scorch the dickens out of our tresses.)  I rounded the corner to see Gilbert Grape investigating my burning Christmas candle.  Well, how in the world a cat thinks he can warm his backside, SAFELY, while leveraging it above a burning flame is beyond me. Did this not hurt?  Does he not have a sense of smell, much less a sense of pain?  I went swiftly toward the t.v. console, grabbed the cat, patted the singe and blew out what remained of the pine scented votive.  The underside of his tail had a frizz perm that lasted through the holiday season, and a bit beyond.  (THANK YOU, GOD, for he was not injured.  However, it took me days to recover, emotionally.)

Gilbert Grape (age 3)

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We no longer light candles and leave them unattended.  Fire Station #3, and hundreds of media outlets have tried to get this point across, but it took Gilbert Grape to set it aflame for us.

Magie Noire

oh my goodness, I do believe that heaven must smell like this.  I do.  I really, really, do.  I am in love with every note.  Every beautiful detail.  

Coffee

That first cup of coffee in the morning, and the three additional cups, consecutively consumed.

My garden

It is screaming at me as I type, something like, “Hurry it up!  We’re waiting.”  … I’m replying back, “I’m coming, I’m coming AND, if you don’t hush, I’m sending in the British!”

The mockingbird family

that lives outside of my kitchen window, year after year.  They come again, and again, to birth those babies and sing those tunes.  This year they are not getting a wink of sleep. The squirrel population has exploded, due in part to the age of my oaks and their fruiting season(s).  Hannah and the three cats have actually become friends with the birds. They guard the bay window area right outside of where the holly bush bassinet sits. Mother or father birdie sit upon the OSU flag pole and with reinforcements, there’s a steady bit of whooping, hollering, screeching and mayhem that ensues each time one of those squirrels scampers a bit too closely to the nursery.

Best Friends

old and new.  Lost, and then found.  You bring me joy that is boundless.  Thank you.  I love you.  Even if I am unable to express it, it’s there and it has your name on it.

Siblings

and all the history that we share.  Yes, all was not pretty.  I’m sure that most of it was downright, ugly, but we had each other.  We had each others backs.  We’d go to bat for one another, even if it meant something painful would be our reward.  Sure, we bitch and scream, yank and bite.  But we never stop loving one another.  I’ll bet if you put all six of us in a room together (even without a cold beverage to soften the edges), well, I’ll bet we’d all stand there and crack jokes about each other, tease one another, we’d all try to get back into sync with one another.  And, before we knew what had happened, we would be back to page one of our existence as a whole.

We don’t even have to talk to one another, separately or collectively, to understand any of this.  It is written in blood and true for Life.  It will never leave us, oh yeah, I’m sure that sad day will come when one of us departs this crazy world we have carved our way through, but even then, we will always still count the one gone as if he/she is still beside us. Nothing will wipe our slate clean.  We own it.  Have earned it.  It is ours to claim.  We will lay our lives down for it, just as we would lay ourselves down for one another.  It is pure and it is promised. No love runs deeper, for this I am sure.

Admitting that I can be wrong

I am happy that it is okay to make mistakes, because without the error of my ways, I will not grow, prosper, or love as deeply as I can.

J, my son

He dares to go where others fear to tread, Mount Shasta, and another vista that has escaped this aging brain for the moment.  Both bitterly cold and haunting.  I once asked him if he would attempt a third challenge of the sort.  He replied something like, “Don’t ask me that today.  I am still thawing myself out.” … Oh, and then there was the night he slept hanging from the side of one of those massive rocks in Yosemite, tethered by ropes, dangling in a hammock.  And least of all, let me not forget the joy of having him pilot me to Kelseyville, California, out of Sacramento, navigating a single-engine airplane that lost its audio transmission as we flew above the mountains and headed north. (Our mission, his wedding to my daughter.)  He plays the guitar, writes music, and also plays the harmonica and piano.  He’s an artist when it comes to wood-working, too.  I love all of his accomplishments, but I have to admit that my greatest love is that he loves my daughter, openly and honestly.  I pray that their journey through life keeps an even keel and if not, that the two of them can repair the wreckage, united in their love and respect for one another.  I love them, they compliment each other in such sweet ways.

(DISCLAIMER:

My header is a photo of my granddaughter

She is Miss Zulu.  Adorable,and I am currently working on a plan to kidnap her.  (Please keep this between you and me, okay?  My neighbors are preparing for their part in the heist.)

…..

P.S.  The British have arrived, that garden simply did not know when to hush!  (Surprise of all surprises!  The Queen has GARDEN GLOVES!) :)

This thing is anonymous

•May 13, 2013 • 4 Comments

For obvious reasons as we get closer, and deeper into my subject matter.

Day 13, Monday.  Jenni StoryofMyLifetheBlog.blogspot.com, asks that we write a public apology today.  She doesn’t care if we use wit, seriousness or go dirt-deep into our creative side.  She just asks us to apologize.

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I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ve got an inventory and a laundry list that could fill Hades, if you know what I mean.  Okay, I do have to admit though, deep-down, I don’t consider myself vindictive or malicious, although, as we all know, it is not so much how we see ourselves that matter, but how others receive us.  We all come with history packages, the demons that carved us into the reality that stand before the world each day, part and parcel.  I said I was going to be anonymous, that I wasn’t vindictive and I tried my best not to be malicious, but when a certain boss I once worked for held expectations that were beyond any humans reach of conquering, well, I did what I am want to do, I tried anyway.

Example:

M, be sure you lock your desk, remove all incidentals from the desktop before doing so. Place your mechanical pencil in THIS tray.  Not the one behind it, or elsewhere within the drawer of your desk.  (I should note, I tend to be quite meticulous, hell, I’m downright compulsive/obsessive on the clean-freak thing._

No. I was not working a secret mission for the CIA, FBI, the Farm Bureau or any other government agency, although I did have security clearances (in an early employment and had also been cleared to work with this agency, i.e., background checks, etc.).  So, to make this short and as snappy as I can, because I am windy and repetitive, let me just quickly glaze over the facts that were required of the other five people that worked within the same department:

“Oh hell ya, that picture looks nice on your desk!  Do you collect those?  Wow! Where’d you find that?  Did the kids make that for you?  I like the assortment of pens and pencils you have.!  (His endless list of platitudes…i cannot roll my eyes, further, they are now stuck in the back of my head!)

So, here is my apology to Mr. R.D., where ever you reside, and whomever became your future employer, because, yes, I heard they phased your position, OUT.  (Remember, I quit.  Gave notice.  Left a spot-less desk, and even-handed over that mechanical pencil you took a fancy to.).

I hope you are doing well.  I just want you to know that I will always enjoy my memories of winning the trophy that the American Airlines Plane Talkers Toastmasters presented to me (upon many occasions, if you recall), and that box of Kleenex.  The two items that I kept atop the clean desk each evening, as I locked it, but not initially.  (Remember, Ron, no one else had to lock their desk, much less clean it, and I’m not sure how many mechanical pencils they had, but I fear it may have been more than one.)  Awe to heck with it.  Let’s face this and get over it, you and me.  Let’s bury my hatchet.  I’ll dig the hole and throw that danged thing in, but you have to sit here and listen to me spew my ugliness.

Do you recall the day one of the big-wig managers (A/A), came by to congratulate me on winning one of those speeches?  Ahh, I didn’t think so, but I’ll never forget the look on your face when Mr. Big-Wig asked me where my trophy was and I blurted out:

“Oh, Ron does not allow items upon my desk, during, or after work.”  Those words fell so fast that I didn’t have time to think about how vile and ill-willed they must have sounded to you.  But I do remember the aftermath.  When the gentleman looked at you, smiling and said,

“You don’t let her enjoy her awards?”

Now, I’ve got to admit, this is where I get a little brain-fogged.  But knowing how important that desk was to you, I’m sure I bent my head forward and began slave-driving toward ninety.  I seriously do not recall what occurred next between the two of you, other than you both disappeared from my doorway.  Time would follow and I would/recall visitors from time to time.  They came to view my Kleenex box, smile at that cheap trophy, and say something along the lines of:

“Job well done!”

And finally, I get to the apology part.  This is where I say, from that day forward I could give a CHIT about what you thought about the two things that I allowed going forward.  The Kleenex and the trophy.

Seriously,

I hope you are well. All I ask is this:  Can I send you a mechanical pencil?  Brand-new, any brand you want.  Any color, any lead size.  I will award it to you as ceremoniously as that gold  pen and pencil set that your superior awarded me.  One of the leaders of “XYZ”.

Your Obsessive/Compulsive former employee. (On site, contract.)

Miss M.

P.S.  I did not feel it necessary to edit and precisely articulate this message.  I somehow understand no matter how I wipe this thing, it’s still not going to be as clean or sufficient enough to meet your standards.  It does meet mine, though.

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I miss you, Prescilla

•May 12, 2013 • 4 Comments

Jenni (StoryofMyLifetheBlog.blogspot.com), and Day #12, asks us to write about, “What do you miss?  (A person, a thing, a place, a time of your life…”)  She gives us an open door, one where we can spill the goods.  One that happens to fall upon Mother’s Day…and by the way,

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Happy Mother’s Day!

Now, there are MANY things that I miss, but with this being a mama’s day, I want to applaud everyone  (female and male), that step-in each day and fill the world of those who make our worlds rock:  our children, whether we have birthed them from our own canal, or captured them as they floated the sea of ‘unknown’.

I digress, but then I needed to, I think we should thank ourselves for our attempts to do our very best, even when we fall.  We try.  What more can one ask of oneself?

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A gift for ‘Silla’

Prescilla, I miss the pool parties, the Oreo cookies dunked in the kiddie-pool, lips licked with deliciousness (Megan Kathleen!).  I miss folding my laundry at your house while we tuned in to the soap opera’s.  I miss our children playing together, the bitch sessions we had over the various and sundry things that cratered our world.  I miss the yelling of, “Stella” from outside our doorsteps. ( ;) ) I miss Christopher calling my name from his bedroom window and Boo-Boo (sorry, Amanda), the way she cocked her head and asked, “Why?”  when we asked her not to do something.  (Eye-roll, wink, kiss!)  I miss Randy, and seeing the respect and love he never failed to display, openly, towards you.

And I thank you, for all those things that only you and I know about, the ones where you picked me up, dusted me off, held me close and promised me that you would find help if it meant dialing every phone number in the book.  I love that you never gave up on me, when it felt as if everyone else had.

I love you, hold you precious and dear, and know in my heart-of-hearts you love me, equally.

Thank you for everything, and for all!

 Have a wonderful, Mother’s Day!

Hard sell, grab this while you can!

•May 11, 2013 • Leave a Comment

For Jenni, (StoryofMyLifetheBlog.blogspot.com) and those of you that are still following along (and oh, I am so impressed!  I look at Jenni’s blog each day and am so taken-back by the sheer volume of folks that are writing on a daily basis).  Kudo’s to this lovely lady. She wills us to get ourselves in gear, and bluntly go where we may have thought we would never travel.  The gal’s an inspiration.  Thank you, Miss Jenni!

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It’s Day #11, and we must sell ourselves in 10 words or less.  Did anyone find this task reminiscent of a job application?  Yeah.  Definitely.

When I began the task I scribbled feverishly a bunch of gibberish along the sides of scrap paper, old envelopes, the newspaper.  I kept searching.  And you know it’s bad when you have to reach for the dictionary, not only to see if your words are spelled correctly, but more specifically, is the word you’re searching for, actually a truth, or are you bending that line to a curvature?

Again, as always, I digress.  I tried not to spy upon what others said about themselves. That felt like cheating, and besides, how difficult can it be to conger up ten words about myself?  I’m a windbag.

Actually, it can be painstaking.  Personal inventories are not easy.

Hopefully, I have been truthful with myself.  There were many words I wanted to use, but they weren’t selling me, they were putting me in the group of:  File this resume in file 13. So, I took the more appropriate route.  The hard sell:

  1. Empathetic

  2. Loyal

  3. Team player (Let’s count this as one, shall we?…t.y.)

  4. Hard-working (One word, discount the hyphenation ;)

  5. Organized

  6. Grateful

  7. Loving

  8. Trustworthy

  9. Responsible

  10. Honest

 …

Personal disclaimer

The following is a paid advertisement and for sole use of promoting myself.  Please send all employment opportunities through my email account.  My starting salary is six figures, and none of them contain a decimal point.  Six weeks paid vacation a year, stock options and a friendly work environment.  This offering must also include all existing and new hires.  On site child care and pet care, complimentary breakfast and lunches to all. Thirty minute exercise (mandatory for all employee’s), once in the morning, and again in the afternoon.  (Folks, we will be exercising for 60 minutes a day.  AND, you get to count this as part of your workday; pay included).  Telecommuting is permitted, but must be approved by one’s manager.  Weekly evaluations are required by the two teamwork players.  Raises are by merit, only.  Stock options are earned and appropriated at each calendar year of employment.  Reviews are conducted on a team basis, roundtable format.  Managers must be in attendance and willing to accept all discourse between their team(s), and likewise to the employees.  (We are not going anywhere if we don’t face our faults, learn to teamwork through them, and set standards that our industry requires in order to set our goal of being #1.)

This flow chart adhere’s to the structure that it will be evaluated, reviewed and discussed by 100% of the workforce.

We are all leaders, and we are all team players.  No one person shall be valued less than those who govern, and those that govern, must follow, and lead.

Respect each other.  We can’t win if we don’t succeed, and we can’t succeed by working alone.  Our learning curve begins, now!

;)

I will not accept your criticism of this as an Ideology.   This is a game-plan.  Please devise yours and forward it.  Let’s use teamwork!  :)  Times a burning, let’s get folks back to work.  Inspiration comes from a soul repaired, not destroyed.

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Shades of reddish pink, to purple

•May 10, 2013 • 6 Comments

Friday, Day #10.  Jenni’s request (Blog everyday in May, challenge), asks that we write about our

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most embarrassing moments(s).

Spill

I had to consult with a dictionary,  Google and Yahoo search engines before I could clarify what was embarrassing, versus what is humiliating.  There’s a fine line floating around in here, for me, that is.

(“Stage props, please.  Thank-you!”)

Elementary school, First Grade

Reading table (further description is necessary, allow me to expound.  The table is one of those picnic style, benches on either side, weathered a bit, but if I recall, correctly, it was painted.  Blue?  Yellow?  No, I think it was blue).  Teacher, Miss Peak, who later became known as, Mrs. Horn (married her flame, I guess.  Who knows, maybe it was an alias.  She schooled quite a few of us government brats (Navy, in my case), wore horn-rimmed glasses, a dark bee-hive (or was it a bun?) and never took, “NO!” for an answer.

Reading groups were called, according to skill(sets) and we would clamor up to sit at our assigned seat, readers in hand, as Miss/Mrs., would take turns calling upon us to individually read out-loud.  Thinking about it now, this was not a picnic table, it was a gathering spot that I will henceforth record as,

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Table of Shame.

Evidently some children studied from Evelyn Woods in their spare time, or perhaps they actually did their daily home reading assignments.  Can you see where I am going with this?  Or is it necessary that I paint the full picture?

I thought so!

You weren’t close behind me, where you?  Didn’t study much?  Left your reader in your desk, just as I did when that bell announced,” FREEDOM!” on afternoons at 3:00.  Okay, I don’t claim to know your excuse, but I’m going to honestly tell you mine.  There were five kids at home, a father who was absent, much of the time, and a world that beckoned, “Come play!”  Besides, anyone can learn to read, if they want to, it’s just that now I really don’t want to, and it was quite evident that upon this specific day, at school, I couldn’t be bothered.

My attention span is measured in close proximity to that of your average house fly.  I’m here one moment, gone the next.

I digress…

My name was called for me to read.  I wasn’t even on the correct page (funny how you can recall specifics), actually, I believe it was turned sideways or upside down.  Either way, it took both readers on either side of me to set my sails, manage my coördinates.  I was squirming.  I’d been caught, and now I’m going to have to read to everyone while I’m shaking and on the verge of tears.  “Is there no Mercy?”

Miss/Mrs., voice sternly rose, she vomited forth words, but I sure as heck can’t repeat them here!  (I’m sure she wasn’t cussing, although I can’t put my hand on the Bible and confess to that at 100%)  Her words clamoured about me so, and before I could begin the attempt at reading from my reader, I realized I needed to go to the bathroom.  In the commotion and contortion of the moment, I found a way to raise my hand, and beg, “May I go to the bathroom?”

SILENCE.  Drop a pin…  Listen…  Carefully…  Get ready for it…

“No, you may not!”

Now I had to pee and read!  In First Grade this required skills that did not match my skill set.

Okay, the book is upright and my comrades have directed me to my assignment.  But I still have to pee.  I squirmed and sputtered, tried sitting still, when asked (repeatedly), and went forward with teacher’s request.

The bell rang for lunch!

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The blood finally drained from my face, as did the urine from where ever it comes from when you are that age.

I thought I was free, but teacher told me to sit, she needed to discuss something with me.  (I’m pretty sure she was unaware of how slippery this slope was becoming, but soon she would discover.)

Forget squirming.  I’m now drenched on my bottom parts and the walls of the room are closing in on me.  My friends are filing up at the doorway, eagerly awaiting to fill their hungry tummies, but first, M3, needs a few added minutes of incarceration.

She scolded me about something.  And through my tears, I’m sure I gave her my full attention.  I had no choice.  The hunkering jury was salivating all over themselves by this time, and the judge, well, she was dishing out the warrant and the arrest.  If you know what I mean.

Class was dismissed for lunch and recess.  I stayed behind and helped teacher wipe up the floor with towels from the bathroom.  Excused, I eventually made my way to the end of the cafeteria line.  Pants wet, but drying.  Shame washed over my body.  There was a scarlet letter atop my forehead.  Not only had I managed to pee upon myself, I had also managed to rip a large hole in the seat of my britches.  (All that squirming!)

I don’t know how I made it through the lunch, surely I sat there until everyone else was out on the playground.  Knowing me, the lunch ladies most likely asked me to leave.  It was THAT kind of day.  Somehow I found myself outside, and eyes sweeping feverishly across the playground, I spied my best friend, Nancy.  At this point I knew no shame.  I ran quickly, tears flowing as I pulled her away from her play.

“Look, Nancy!  I have a big hole in my pants.”  I cried.  “You’re got to help me, PLEASE?”

 And this is where I bribe Nancy to be my bodyguard.

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I begged her to walk right behind me for the rest of the day, right behind me.  Directly, behind me.

“Nancy, don’t let anyone see this hole in my pants!”

Nancy, where are you?  I owe you, BIG TIME!

A moment from my day…

•May 9, 2013 • 8 Comments

Miss Jenni, writer of StoryofMyLifetheBlog.blogspot.com, requests that we offer up a photo (and words, should we care to add them), from a moment out of our day, today.

BlogEverday

I stole the cheat sheet from her desk while she was away, and all though she asks for a simple photo, it will take three for me to make up my diorama. (Pretend you are viewing this in 3D.)

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 NOTE:  Please do not include the insect gall I used it my header as part of my diorama.  ;)

‘Dear Ann Landers’

•May 8, 2013 • 4 Comments

StoryofMyLifetheBlog.blogspot.com and this is Day 8, Jenni assigns us the task of writing:

BlogEverday

“A piece of advice you have for others.

 

  Anything at all.”

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Flowering Kniphofia (‘Torch Lily”)

Dare to be yourself

This past year I recall purchasing a birthday card for my brother.  I ventured into my favorite retailer and read about 30 to 50 cards, managing to run through the four card kiosks this establishment has.  I was just about set to leave the store when I saw a new section of cards I’d not recalled from earlier visits.  I hashed my way to them and began devouring every single one of them that had a birthday message attached to it.  (By now I must have read an inventory of over 75 cards.)

I am one of those folk that talk out loud, within earshot, or near-miss of others.  I also laugh, loudly and copiously, if something hits my chimes.  (That is one of the purest beauties of getting older, you really don’t give a damn what folks are thinking, and chances are, they are curious and would like to be ‘in’ on the joke. Often, I’ll put myself out there and encourage them to take a look, read for themselves, or I’ll simply explain, “I’m having a field day over here.  Care to join me?”  This day I had a circle of friends joining in, well, actually, a party of three. ;)

Oh, and the funny written upon that card?…

Be yourself, everyone else is already taken  

I apologize if I have slightly misquoted this charming bit of wisdom, and I am sorry that I can’t direct you to which card company carry’s this particular card.  (I’m about 3.5 miles from that store, haven’t had a shower, the dog needs walked, and I still have three cups of coffee left to consume.  Spot me on this one, will you?  I’ll be back with a delivery at some point, all though it won’t be today.  I have bricks out back with my name on them, and a shovel holding sentry.)

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“Be YOU, no matter, what!”

My greatest fear, realized

•May 7, 2013 • 2 Comments

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I’ve often heard it said that if we face that of which we are fearful, we are half-way through conquering it.

I’d give everything I own to realize this as a truth.  If it were so, then I would find hope, if only measured by 50 per cent.

BlogEverday

Today, Day 7, this very day of Tuesday, Jenni  www.StoryofMyLifetheBlog.blogspot.com has asked us to discuss the thing(s) that we are most afraid of.

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Stigma attached itself boldly to where I go, it  rang loudly and added its weight to an already bottomless chasm.

Take a seat, and if you find yourself a bit uneasy, lean those loungers back, or go grab a cold one.  And, if you are the sort that would prefer not to ponder the realm I am about to enter.  Please leave.  No questions asked.  I will not hold you captive, nor would I want to.  Escape while you can.  I can accept your loss, if even you don’t think I can.  I am stronger than you realize.

  • Clinical Depression.

  • Three hospitalizations.  Locked wards.

  • Medications, many, and the re-evaluations of them.

  • Trauma.

  • Environmental footprints.

  • Genetic markers

The fear began early, but it wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I found myself skewed and debilitated.  Late in my twenties I became agoraphobic, and then began the periods of mania and depressive cycling.  In my early thirties, life took a turn toward sunshine and promise.  At thirty-two, it nose-dived, this time into a darkness so vast and all-encompassing I would realize my life was forever changed:

  • Marked.

  • Damaged.

  • Twisted.

  • Encumbered.

  • Disemboweled.

‘What do I do?’

•May 6, 2013 • 4 Comments

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Jenni, “Did you have to go here?”  I don’t like what I see in the mirror this morning and I sure as heck don’t want to discuss it!.

I forgive you, if for no other reason than I want to read about the lives of others, and there are many.  Your challenge for May was for us to write about ourselves and our lives.  And, every day you share your story, www.StoryofMyLifetheBlog.blogspot.com,beautifully.  Thank you for the opportunity to peek into the lives of those willing to venture inside their souls.

BlogEverday

This is day six, and I’m still zipping, so her goes:

Okay, I must admit, upfront and personally, this question always creates a bit of havoc for me, when asked.  Perhaps it is due to those days of tedium and boredom I mentioned in an earlier post?  (The one where I talked about something I knew a lot about.)  Or, maybe it has to do with that gut-wrenching feeling I face each morning as I arise and take one look around the house.  THOSE CHORES, those gaud-awful, CHORES.

I am a housewife.

No.  I don’t like that definition.

I am a homemaker.

No.  I don’t haul in the cash around here.

I am a house mistress.

Nope, that ain’t it either.

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I am a slave.

There we go!  That’s it.  That’s what I do.

I am a slave to a compulsive/obsessiveness that chains me to the dregs of the tedious. These are less than fulfilling goals, none of those as in days gone by, and there were goals, academic and professional, achieved, and recognized.  Yet,  I am reminded, “That was years ago!” (a little too often, sometimes, I might add).

None of this sounds fun, does it?

Well, I try to think on the bright side, about that glass that is half full.  The rose in bloom, and even if not mighty, she exists.  The days ahead, the forks in the road, the chances still to be taken and the challenges that ring eternal.

I strive for those, and I still believe in them.  I am simply chugging along working through the clutter until I get to where I am going.

;)

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I keep GREAT company!

Blog Love

•May 5, 2013 • 6 Comments

Jenni, spells it out, clearly, as always.  TheStoryofMyLifetheBlog.blogspot.com . Today is Day #5, and our goal, should we accept, is to profess our love and devotion for one of our blogger friends.

BlogEverday

I am blest.

My oldest daughter, M1, has authored three blogs, but her latest captures my heart most specifically:  ZuPlusTwo.com

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This young lady doesn’t live close to home anymore, no, she and hubs are miles to the west of me, but with the help of cellphones, pics and this blog-baby, I always feel connected.  Oh sure, I’d give anything to wrap my arms around her on a daily basis, smother her in smooches, but let me not wax nostalgic; would she really want that? AND, wouldn’t I get a bit tired, especially on the days I had to deal with my less-than-happy moments (and hers)?

So.  You have the jest of why I love this blogger.  I have to, she’s my daughter (insert wink and follow with an eye-roll).  She feels free to express what it is she needs to say. No longer encumbered by the apron string that binds, this young woman can be honest with not only me, but more importantly, herself.  I feel blest, extremely so.  And this is where I refer you to a post she wrote that hit it out of the ballpark for me http://zuplustwo.com/2013/03/ I admit, it stunned and saddened.  I was taken aback with her honesty, but after the hours and days passed, I came to realize just how much I respected, and loved (yes, LOVED), her’s and J’s decision.

There was no need to congregate the masses (family members), to take a vote, check us to see how we felt about this decision.  They consulted each other.

Now, I have to admit.  I had a bit of a heads-up on the details.  I did that mother-thing one day, not too many months ago.  I got my nose where it didn’t belong.  I asked:

“Do you and J think you’ll have kids one day?”

I got an answer, a bit descriptive,

“No, we will not, because…”

“Oh, I see.” I mumbled, and then half-heartedly spoke, “Well, I am happy that you and J could decide this without feeling you needed others to agree or approve”…or something along those lines.  I meant it, too, deep down inside.  I did.

When the phone call ended, I cried copious amounts of tears.  They fell off and on for days.  I eventually called in my posse (best friends), and had myself a major, Cry Fest.

Then, one day while washing dishes, a thought struck me. “Who were these tears for, really?”

BINGO!

Something heinous, way back when, brought me to a round-about, and when that thought struck it hit as brilliantly as any lightening bolt.  The understanding, of which, will follow in a later post.

So, my vote is for Miss M1.  I love her fortitude, character, flaws and faults.  I love everything about this beautiful young woman.  I even love her blog and the freedom she feels to bluntly go where no mother dares.

I love that more than anything!

‘Quote’ me…

•May 4, 2013 • 4 Comments

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It’s Saturday, Day #4 of Jenni’s, May challenge, www.StoryofMyLifetheBlog.blogspot.com and she encourages us to share a favorite quote.  This request had me wrestling through several, and in the end, seeking a new one.  It fell right into my lap, describing perfectly, how I feel, day-in, day-out.

Attributed to the late comedian, Phyllis Diller.  Here we go:

Housework can’t kill you, but why take a chance?

It spoke volumes and  echoed back and forth through the brain cells of this old woman. I know of nothing more tedious, time-consuming and brain numbing in all this world! Once completed (if ever), it’s time to start again.  There is no break.  It’s 24-7, and the only escape is with the journey to the grocery store, cleaners, pharmacy, or other errand, and even then, once back home there’s more work:

The unload, unwrap, organize, the shift-dance in the fridge.  The drone of boredom. The nagging echo, “Clock’s running, better get started.  Better get ‘er dun.”

It’s a thank-less job.  No Kudos, slaps-on-the-back, or acknowledgement for a job well done.  (Okay, I am a bit dramatic, and I am dreaming, a bit.  After all, who cares?  Right? … Yeah, I thought so.  It really is mundane along with mind-numbing.)

Thank God for nature.  I step out side and let the sunshine rain therapeutic about my soul.

By picking up a hoe, shovel, hose, or other garden tool, I escape.  Mayhem cannot journey where butterflies flit.

I can play in my garden from sun-up to sunset, never wanting to run away from any of its chores, but the ones inside this house?  They’re killing me!

Phyllis is right,

“Why chance it?”

BlogEverday

 

The ‘un’ of comfortable…

•May 3, 2013 • 4 Comments

May Challenge, presented by Jenni, writer of the blog:  Storyofmylifetheblog.blogspot.com

BlogEverday

Day 3:  “Things that make you uncomfortable.”

Disrespect for our American soldiers, veterans, and the American flag

The sound of emergency sirens

Depression

Having to say, “Goodbye” to a loved one:

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(Jacob telling Hannah, “Good-bye”)

Man-made disasters

Finding myself in deep water

Failure of customer service after the sale

Hackers (Of the ill-willed kind)

Difficult relatives

Arthritis

The months of June, July, August & September, in Texas (It be quite steamy in these parts, folks.)

Folks driving their vehicle while engaging in a cellphone conversation(s).

Cyclists who disrespect dog walkers

Dog walkers who disrespect the rest of us by not cleaning up after their doggie’s poop

Ill fitting shoes

Clothes that shrunk while ‘over-wintering’ in my closet

Mustache waxes

The ‘cha-ching’ of the cash register at grocery stores and gas stations.

A bare food pantry

Colonoscopies

Breast exams

Black ice

Burning crosses

Public bathrooms

Cow-herding, sardine-packing airline flights and baggage fees

Those who prey upon the less fortunate

Needing dental floss and not having any

Starting a day without four cups of coffee

Not remembering my best friends birthday.  (Who does this, anyway? … Well, me. Each. And. Every. Year.  I have to ask, Silla, “Now when is your birthday, exactly?”  You think I’m kidding, don’t you?  Nope.  There is something Freudian about this, but I am afraid to look at it closely.)

 

Education in dirt, Part 1

•May 2, 2013 • 4 Comments

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It’s day 2 of the May blogging challenge presented by, Jenni, writer of the lovely blog, Storyofmylifetheblog.blogspot.com .

BlogEverday

Today we are challenged to write about something that we know about, or are good at.

Hmm, I consider myself a, “Jack of all trades, master of none.”  Sure, I have my moments of clarity and pure perfection, but nothing stands out so significantly that I want to profess it loudly before my audience.  So let me talk to you about something really, dirty.

Once upon a time, while living in the state of Arkansas, I heard a phrase that has stuck with me for years.  Unkind, perhaps, but an observation that defined a specific moment. In a conversation, with friends, the subject took a dive into the ugly.  Someone referenced a certain someone by saying, “Why, she’s as ugly as a box of dirt!” …

“Say, what?”

Okay, eventually I left that group of friends and headed over to Oklahoma.  (No, I was not doing it to escape their heinous behavior, hubby’s new job meant the move.)

Talking one day with a bunch of Oklahoma friends, a similar, oddly reminiscent remark was made.  This time I heard the statement, “She’s about as lovely as a box of rocks!”

“Say, what?”

Well, I should have moved again, I guess.  Maybe I’d come to hear about someone being blessed with niceness when their looks were referenced within the confines of a box.

Thirteen years later, I finally did move.  Relocation:  Texas (there is something about Texas that I am unable to remove from my ‘history’…hmm…?)

No such luck, now I hear the likes of, “His elevator doesn’t travel to all floors!” or, “He’s shy a few loads of bricks!” or, “His canoe is missing a paddle!”

The only thing that has changed among these friends I keep gathering, is the gender they attack.

I can’t really put my finger on it, other than to say that my friends, and now, myself, can be a bit unkind at times.  Hopefully, we are out of earshot and not part of a gossip-chain when we speak so crudely.

It would serve us right to have ourselves described, openly, should we be caught.   (And I do promise, I do not speak like this in age groups younger than my peers.)

I’m cross-eyed, wrinkled and own bridgework (not the kind that gets you to where you are going), the kind that allows mastication of copious amounts of food.  I have big thighs, graying hair and joints bent hither and to.

(Let’s leave this surliness behind us and get down to the real nitty-gritty.)

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I compost.  Make dirt.  Reshuffle life’s discards.  Table scraps, spoilt food that hid itself behind the real goodies in the fridge, that cake or pie, the one I devoured, and then replaced.  Coffee grounds, eggshells, shrimp tails, you name it, as long as it is not beefy, or porky, or oily, it gets tossed into my backyard for a makeover.  I’ve collected fallen leaves, pinecones and pine needles and just recently was the recipient of some cow and horse ‘chit’ that made its way from Durango, Colorado via a neighbor.

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Earthworms, and even the precious honeybee’s, love to frolic out back.  My organic garden is my pride and joy, and although it’s only been five years since I began an all organic lifestyle I can honestly admit to a dramatic change that presents itself with each passing year.  It has taken me 20 years to become an organic gardener, small steps lead to giant leaps, and with them, benefits that I couldn’t have imagined.  I don’t fret when I see a bug chomping down on the lovely leaves of a prized specimen.  It reminds me that he/she is eating to recycle a bit themselves.  For every nasty bug in that garden, I have ten-fold the beneficial insect.  Each critter adds his own to this universe, and every bit of dirt that I can produce, organically, is reason alone to admit,

“Life is a box of dirt.”

;)

The Story of my life in 250 words … )

•April 30, 2013 • 1 Comment

Is a writing challenge presented by, Jenni, author of the blog, StoryofMyLifeTheBlog.blogspot.com. She wills us to write about our life in the next 31 days. Our task, should we decide to accept it, is to write about specific items each day. Her outline, found in this post, http://storyofmylifetheblog.blogspot.com/2013/04/blog-every-day-in-may-challenge.html, defines the specifics.

It was my daughter, M1, author of the blog, ZuPlusTwo.com, who inspired me. M1 is taking on this challenge. I thought I’d try, too. I’ve been listed as AWOL for several months now, occupied by several life changes, but never forgetting how much I miss my friends, their words, their lives, and their inspirations. Come along as Jenni (and all who offer themselves up on this quest). Take the plunge. Come dive into the water, deep, someone will be here to grab you if you begin to sink (me), cuz…well, I’m good at sinking, and my friends and family are great at helping me reset my sails. I promise to prop you up if the tide gets heavy. My snorkel vest is right here. It’s yellow.

Day one offers the challenge of writing about one’s life in 250 words or less. Something in this request reminds me of my earlier ToastMaster days, where a public speaking course http://www.toastmasters.org, directed us to our first assignment; The Ice Breaker. Knees shaking, voice quaking, I stood before a group of AA (American Airlines, Plane Talkers), and delivered my story. Those words, written and delivered at age 31, came from all those life experiences I felt had shaped me, or at least had brought me to where I was at that time.

At age 60, this little story is titled, The Ice Cube. It takes shape from where I thought I was, to a place, uncharted. That fork in the road, the one less taken, but only because it’s the one cast upon oneself, and not the one we had dreamed we’d travel. But, alas, I digress. Let’s get to that ‘ice cube’ before it melts. Shall we? Come along with me, and while you’re traveling in the seat beside me, at an altitude of mercy, please understand the value of your own story, and the need to tell it. The month of May is a gift to my children, M1 and M2. They may learn a few things I had hoped to share, but never did, or they may learn things they wish they had not been privy to, but in the end, discovered. I value the chance to tell it, even if it causes me to cringe, blush, cry, or toss marshmallows against the glass wall. I promise to dialog with M1 and M2 should they seek clarity or understanding. Therapy may become part of their request. (Good Lord, please let me be joking.)


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(Swallowtail Pupa)

It began in the elevator of the hospital.

Far northern Colorado, beef region. Three weeks, later, I crossed the ocean in an airliner, making the Hawaiian Islands (Hawaii, Oahu and Maui), home for the next six and a half years of my life.

As a Navy brat, we relocated to the farthest southern tip of the state of Texas upon my father’s retirement. I’m now seven.

Colorado beckoned to those parents of mine, native to those parts, they felt home calling them. My dad played sheriff for a while, in a town even further north of beef country. Heck, let’s just say we were breathing Wyoming air. Then a more progressive employment opportunity arose. We moved to Boulder and lived around the county until another prospect led my father to move us to Texarkana, TX. I can’t begin to tell you how broken-hearted I was. I had my first boyfriend and I was a cheerleader in high school. Did this man not understand I couldn’t move? I sulked all through the two-day car ride. Refused to eat for a week. I was having a protest with a party of one.

After Texarkana, high school, and a broken heart by flame #2, I headed back to Colorado, living with my sister and her family. I thought I was back, home, for good, but at nineteen you have about as much sense as a garden snail. That old flame in Texas wouldn’t give up, and in a vulnerable moment I decided I wouldn’t either. I headed back to Texas, married him and settled in until the flames ignited an inferno that burnt our whole world down, scorching both of us in less than two full years.

I worked, I struggled, I read, rode my bike, walked the soles of my shoes off, but I found myself forward, eventually.

A couple of years would pass and I would remarry. Ten years later I’d have my first daughter, M1, and seven years later, M2.

This is my universe.

BlogEverday

(I’m over the 250 word count. There are other details, but you get the drift.)

Aunt Virginia’s echo

•April 8, 2013 • 5 Comments

Reverberated deep within the well. Silence ended and just as words reflected, light appeared.

Not one motion came racing; each marked its entry cautiously fearing that courage would dash before its arrival.

Sometimes when a world topples off its axis there’s no way of knowing if what’s lost can ever be regained.

It’s that ‘closing of one door’ that leads us to wonder,  ”Is there a new door I should be opening?”…

A fork in this road, the leading distance felt, but not, as yet, traversed. What about this untraveled landscape?”

I have come to believe that it is less about choice and more about unexpected discoveries, an absolute by which the current has been ever-present, but the ability to perceive its justice, lacking.

We all face an unexpected detour(s) from time to time. It’s within that nature of ‘believing’ that we consider we are the sole proprietor of our destiny. (My ignorance, not yours.) This is what I thought I had understood to be true for me.

And then, sometimes, suddenly the road that was once before us is never more. And in later review we come to realize that what we thought was there, in the first place, was a mere folly of a thought to begin with.

Let’s call it growth. I’m a slow learner, a dedicated, died in the wool believer that good deeds always win over the negative bugaboo’s in life.   Allow me to consider that I can cast them far from my existence;  If I try hard enough I can convince myself that I can get past that fortress. Give me time. Solitude, and this persistence. Just give me.  Me.

So, back to that well, the one that bellowed forth that echo, awakening me from my complacency. Had I tried to understand that I was deserving of only my sense of existence and its place within my world? What a shameful and arrogant assumption. I am greedy, ignorant and shameful within my conceit.

I awoke one morning to find I’d aged into antiquity. Knowledge rained down in sheets upon my doorstep. What had once seemed so valuable was now so inconsequential. Items more precious than gold, or even more exquisite in value, had been cast into life’s composting heap. Realization of what I valued most sat before me, divulged within its bare nakedness, there for my taking if I could accept that they were important simply because they were now part of what had been, my life. The one where the foot journey had me believing that I’d made all the decisions, and all of them were correct, as well as, absolute.

And so it is, this echo, the one I discovered while attempting to retreat from the pain and sorrow of my emptiness. It had called to me and directed me to a place I’d forgotten.  I ventured to the center of the universe, to arrive at home. The one where others exist, in spite of trivial pursuits and self indulgences.

I ripped off the vacancy sign. Tore
open the shutters. And I allowed my self a view to, and through, the mirror.

I arrived to a sea of loss, multiplied by a number greater than one, or two. Three, and still greater than four. I stepped away at the count of seven. And, when all my counting was done, I found myself overly fascinated by the number two. To which I admit was my greatest loss. But she was also my greatest gain.

Some people enter into our lives by what we think are random chances, others we don’t give much thought to how they arrived, they simply occupy a space beside us, thus traveling along for a bit of our journey.

This well of mine has me convinced that none of these meetings were happenstance. All hold a value far greater than any I could have possibly known, or imagined. One of greatness, and of grace. Individually, as well as collectively.

It was that special number two that turned the light on for me. The one that gathered the other six and said, “let’s go give a shout-out. I know she’s listening.”

That posse game looking for me, wrangled me and set me upright. I toddled a wee bit, now and then, lost in my sadness for those that no longer occupy my physical space within their time.  And then I remember those truths that I hold steadfast to, that cannot be shaken from any foundation.  Those that comfort.   They are born from the knowledge that a life well lived, is one that is also, deeply loved.

Things in life will come and go, but loving someone deeply, truly, and sincerely, we get to keep that for life.  No questions asked.  No postage due.

Happy ‘JakesGiving’ to all…

•November 22, 2012 • 2 Comments

especially, my dad!

Love,

Hannah

I can levitate

•September 24, 2012 • 1 Comment

above furniture, pull a ‘fast-one’ with my mother’s shirt, and redecorate my space in three snaps of a paw.

…..

And I can lay upon my couch, fully aware that this nonsense is taking place, without so much as lifting a paw.

 

Legally old …

•August 1, 2012 • 2 Comments

enough to get the senior discount at the movie show, a cut on the cost of my auto repairs and a discount on my eyeglasses.  Dang.  Life over here is lovely!  You should come and join me.  In the meantime, enjoy these lovely flowers.  These were a gift from J and M1.  M2 gave me her day, arriving after classes.  We had a full day of adventures planned, but Mr. Water Heater decided he wasn’t up to the celebration.  He tried to rain on our party, but we tore him out and planted his cousin, or rather, the plumber did.  … then we were on the road to mischief and mayhem.

This is my story and I’m sticking to it.

;)