Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving is Here

Thanksgiving week is upon us, let the good times roll!
    The spice shop is under full steam now and doing very well. Love the 4th quarter (thank God). The newlyweds are pulling in double harness beautifully and Kari is in the shop, working, any time she has a day off from her own job. Oh to have the energy of youth again.  I am in there some of the time but can't do the all day, day after day thing. Something happens to my energy plug. It's okay.
    We all went to the Thanksgiving Feast as St. John's the other day, guests of the five year young class.  Able wore his top hat and a no collar white shirt, buttoned up to the top, and was the perfect pilgrim. (Why had I never connected pilgrims and top hats before?)
     Made pies with the Korenak boys on Saturday. It was the first time they helped in the squishing the butter in the flour part and it was hysterical. Ro wore the Gingerbread Man apron and routinely patted himself all over with flour and then rubbed some into his hair.  All of that done with an extremely serious face. So glad Audra is free spirited enough to let him experiment and enjoy the moment, even it was more than a little messy.

    Yesterday my sis was staying the night with me, a guest from Pennsylvania. She helped me clean my entire house, both of us working like we were killing snakes (her usual speed, my 'kicked into high' speed).  I managed to "simplify" quite a bit more. Now everything looks nice for Thanksgiving. We had lunch with Dad at Hennessey at the  Eat It Up, along with fifty of our closest oil field friends. Yeehaw! Man, was that little cafe jumping, and the food was great. Mine was, at least.
      That night I hosted the 'end of the book' pot luck dinner with my Tuesday Night Book study. There were five of us here and a great time was had by all. We had winter squash and carrot soup, Big Sky pumpkin/walnut bread, mini tacos and three desserts, including pumpkin pie with homemade whipped cream.  Eat your hearts out, Pilgrims and Indians. We followed the meal with a terrific discussion of our book, Seven Thousand Ways To Listen, by Mark Nepo.  Those of us in retail have successfully begged  off for December, since we have zero time to read anything at all this month. My other book club is also taking this month off, so I'm free to work myself to a frazzle at the store and then crash on someone's couch. (I have to find another apartment.)
     The cats are missing me but the birds are here in flocks, so they probably can grab a bite for lunch now and then…literally. They look perfectly healthy. I am hoping my friend Christy P. stops by to give them pats. Hope your holiday plans are filled with loving family and delicious homemade food. Talk to you later. Cheers!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Poem: Weary

Twists and turns,
blind alleys and dead ends,
sharp corners into
moving, unknown waters,
sleeping, working, resting.

I am always coming from
or going to someplace,
dragging a suitcase,
driving, sitting, thinking.

I crave a fireplace
and a good book on
a snowy afternoon,
with someone else
in the room,

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Catching Up

       Hello again, I hope you hadn't completely given up on my blog. Able and I own a small business that lives or dies in the fourth quarter. Add that fact to a couple of other things, 1) a freak ice/snow storm  2) flu season making the rounds, and you get an idea of why I seem to have fallen down a rabbit hole for the past week.  During this time I have made some observations:
    $: People think about money in a completely different light during holiday shopping. (I like it).
   %: To quote the old children's song, "The more we get together, together, together, the more
        we get together the happier we'll be". Tis true. It happened that I was iced in with the Richards family in OKC and so enjoyed getting to spend lots of time with everyone.  Everett is warming up to me again and I am loving getting some extra time with Miss Maggie on her off days.  We are becoming so fond.  She is lovely. B even played Kirby (one of the few video games I enjoy) with Mags and I. It was hysterical and I loved it. Abbey eventually had to throw all three of us off the electronics. Hee Heee.  On Sundays, when Audra is working at the horse pistol, all the Korenak boys come by the shop to say hi to grandma and hang out for a little bit.  They do the usual: rearrange all the extract bottles, move taster bottles to blends they don't  match, hide tasters in the back stock boxes underneath the cabinet, hide in the wooden storage crates and play hide and seek behind the salt and pepper shelves.  You know, usual spice shop stuff.  Making memories indeed.
     &: Even though Able and Kari have been together for months, they seem different now that they are married.  I love watching them taking care of each other, being sensitive to moods and helping out here and there, anticipating where they are needed.  They are all safe now…I know, that sounds ridiculous because I obviously wasn't taking care of Able at all, but he was alone and now he is not.
     *: Jarring spices (twisting lids and scooping spice) is so repetitious that is it an irritant to my already broken shoulder. I've made myself become left handed. I feel so, so sorry for people who work in factories and do millions of repetitions of the same movements, however small or large. It tears your body up. I have a choice and can stop if I need to but lots of people do not have that luxury.
     #: I am loving the Feeder Watch. I have up lots of bird feeders and lots of different species of birds have arrived (yes, the goldfinches are in in great numbers) and my darling little Chickadees are here this year. For some reason they have not been around for a couple of years. Hmmm….The oddest sighting so far is the Loggerhead Shrike. He was probably here before but I didn't take the time to identify him before yesterday. I haven't yet seen the Cedar Waxwings but they are here most winters. (The L. Shrike also wears a big black mask like these guys). I haven't seen the bluebird couples since the ice storm; guess they headed a little farther south. Drat.
       :(  Went to the creek for a wander this morning. The beavers are hard at it again and have actually had the audacity to begin nibbling on the great grandfather cottonwoods. Overachievers! This calls for another trek to the creek armed with chicken wire and wire cutters.  I did the entirety of Maggie's Wood earlier in the Fall. There are plenty of smaller trees down by the water but they seem to have set their eyes on the big dogs. No way, Jose. That gauntlet will be met with stronger defenses and perhaps a call to the game wardens.
       %: I thought I had completely won the war on the mice until last night.  I was watching the tube  and saw one little guy stick his neat grey head out and trippity trot his dainty feet around the corner into the laundry room. WHAT? Is there no winning against these fellas? Is there not a mercy rule or something in place? I'm pulling out the big guns tonight so stay tuned for the results.
     What, you may be asking, is with the symbols this evening? I get tired of numbering things or A,B, Cing things.
      &: As a final note, I did a little simple origami with B and M at Abbey's the other day. They seemed to like it, so I brushed up on a few more easy folds and am looking forward to passing on that particular skill to the Grands.  I love doing origami. It focuses the mind and sharpens attention.  I used to use it in the music classroom when I thought the students were getting mushy brains. It always works.
     Hope all is well with you and yours. Onward and upward!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Ready, Set, Go

    It is two weeks before Thanksgiving and a polar freeze has come 'sweeping down the plains' along with that wind you hear so much about.  I turned my little blue car into that chilly wind yesterday and headed back to the farm to make sure everything was ready for some serious winter weather. On the way through Crescent, a little town that straddles highway 74 north of OKC, I stopped into a hometown grocery that I like to support when I can.  Thought I'd pick up a few supplies for the upcoming holiday cooking and winter in general.
    Here are some of my staples: New baking soda and baking powder (just to be safe); pie stuffs for cherry and pumpkin, some Savory blends for soups, Sage and Savory and Bouquet Garni, plus the secret sauce ingredient..tomato powder; baking spice and cinnamon (the favorite child); new yeast for homemade bread; chipped beef for the biscuits and gravy some cold morning; chicken stock (until I get my own made); mulling spices for ambiance; winter squash; vanilla (cookies!); Jiffy cornbread mix (tonight I added some Capital Hill to the cornbread and YUM!); Y2K products (let the reader understand); and…..Do you see it there at the back right, staying out of the limelight, quiet and unassuming?  Candied Orange Wedges, also known as "a Dotter family tradition".
      I buy these orange taste treats only from Thanksgiving until Christmas. That's it.  I buy them because they were my Mom's favorites and we had them during the holidays every year.  They are a bright burst of sweet, intensely orange flavor in your mouth and they carry with them the equally sweet memory of my Mom and all our happy holidays together as a big noisy extended family. Everyone came: aunts and uncles, grandmas (there were no grandpas, sadly, after I was born), cousins, kids and grandkids. Those days the standard fare was quail, biscuits and gravy with all the sides and a relish plate. The decades have rolled past, the feast has undergone some changes, but still we gather together to count our blessings and remember everyone who is missing at the table.
      Let the games begin.  In my mind the holidays still and always will belong to my Mom because she was the heart of our family, the loving, laughing presence that held us all together.  It is a tremendous sadness to me that she has missed meeting all of my grandchildren and now Able's beautiful Kari.  Maybe she has met them, who knows? Maybe there is more of a connection between this life and the next than we can begin to understand.  I'm going to believe there is.  Exactly what that connection looks like remains a mystery, but I have to believe it exists. Why wouldn't it, when love is what connects us and love is stronger than death. Trust me on this one, love is stronger than death.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Ten On Tuesday: 11/11/14

1.  I spent the lion's share of last week wandering the Autumn tapestried hills of North Carolina while attending a spiritual retreat in Asheville.  Many kindred souls, mostly Boomers, met to listen to Barbara Brown Taylor and John Phillip Newell speak on the interconnectedness of all living creatures and the spiritual/mental/emotional struggles associated with the rebirthing of our understanding of the life force that connects us, below the level of our many differences.  When I got back, Able asked me if this was a "tree retreat" or a "god retreat". The answer was yes. Here is a pic of Pat and I smiling at our good/new friend Lisa.

2.  The weather was warm in the afternoons and slightly cool in the mornings all last week and up until last night. I went out to eat with Kari and Able after our "build" for holiday gift sets and when we came out of the restaurant the temperatures had dropped twenty degrees. No, I had not worn a jacket, of course, because it was sixty some degrees when we left the shop. Ye gads! Today the temp has been about 35 with a stout wind out of the north which made it feel like 23. I have managed to misplace my fleece somehow so I walked around in my flannel shirt this afternoon, acting like I didn't care. It was a mite 'brisk' as they say.

3.  Stump speech for Southwest Airlines:
    If you can, fly Southwest. I had to fly…another airline…on this trip and was soooo uncomfortable.
    1.On Southwest you get to sit anywhere you want to and, if you can remember to check in right at the twenty-four hours ahead spot, you can be among the first ones to board.  
    2. On SW the seats are a little larger and farther apart so your knees are not smashed into the seat in front of you; AND (*a bonus) you don't have to do the silent negotiation about whether your arms are behind the arms of the people on both sides of you or crossed in front of you for the entire trip.  I hate those non-verbal conversations.  Awkward~~~ Oh well. I sat by nice people each time, actually, and managed to finish the mystery I was reading…despite having my arms crossed in front of me.

4.  The garden is black and wilted from the cold, which was to be expected.

5.  I have filled and hung all the bird feeders (if you have some feeders, now's the time.) Remember to have water out in some kind of container for the birds as well.  They need food, shelter and water…and happy thoughts, if you have those to give too.

I am participating in the Cornell University Feeder Watch this year and am loving it so far. When I left for N.C. I had two pair of these lovely Bluebirds around the joint. I haven't seen them since I returned but am keeping my fingers crossed that they are still here.

6.  We have all been building spice Gift Sets at the shop like worker bees. If you have a Christmas list that has people on it for whom you are at a loss as to what they might like, come along to the spice store and we will help you find the perfect thing to bring a smile to their faces.

7.  My chickens have been gifted to some friends of mine for the winter, for various reasons.  If I want to begin again next spring, I will start at the beginning…again.  I will probably let my grandkids decide that one for me. It is nice to have fresh eggs all the time but….It might be time.

8.  Doctor Who is over for the season and I managed to miss the finale. Hmmm….There will be a Christmas Special I suppose. I must admit, I haven't liked this Doctor so far.  Can't seem to connect to him for some reason. He strikes me as too cold and is rarely if ever funny, which is something I liked with the others.  Oh well. I know, it's a television show and they aren't real people. I got it. Thanks.

9.  The newlyweds still seem to like each other, so that's a good thing.  I'm getting used to using the phrase "my son's wife". It feels so nice to say those words. I am tickled pink to have Kari in our family and love sharing the "Mrs. Blakley" title with her.

10.   This is a picture of Zane and our new Savory Spice Shop cookbook.  It features ten different spice blends, three recipes for each one, and you can get the book and all the spices together in a nice little gift combo if you want to.  What a nice present that would make for someone special who loves to cook and also likes to try new flavors.  If you haven't yet made it down to the shop, or if you have, drop by and take a gander at all the new things we have for the holidays.  We would love to visit with you and show you around.  We are located at 43rd and N. Western Avenue in OKC, right across the street, north, from Will's Lobby Bar (the old Will Rogers movie theatre). You can also order from us online if that is easier. If your order is more than $50 we pay the shipping. Hmmm….click over to the website and see what's available, if you think you might be interested. We would greatly appreciate it. Thank you.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Poem: Old and New

Autumn in the Smokey Mountains
where mist fills the gray valleys at sunrise.
My steps bring murmurs from dry leaves,
an ankle deep chorus of whispered blessings.

Many kindred souls met together in these
red and gold hills seeking the deeper heart
of everything holy, hungry for more,
sharing, singing, listening, reflecting.

Time spent outside, alone;
time spent inside, together,

Time spent challenging each other
to risk more, wonder more, be more
connected to all that lives and sings life.

New friends we may never see again
but whom we will remember
and hold in our hearts.

New growth, breaking through walls,
reaching earthward, seeking life,
beginning again in a new way.

There are deep wells everywhere,
drawing water from the great river
which flows beneath all things.

I am thrilled to be alive now,
to be part of the struggle which will,
in due time, bring forth the a change.