"We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike." ~Maya Angelou

Saturday, December 16, 2017

All the News

     Jingleboy is off on another trip around the world (poor baby). He is traveling with Jess and she is a great companion for our little guy. The last two stops were Malaysia and South Korea.

He had a great time, so I hear; had a fish pedicure, saw lots of beautiful buildings and art, and probably made himself sick on the delicious food.
        I really do need to get that map on cork-board put up so I can pin all his various trips.  Abbey, did he go to Alaska with you when you went? I can't remember.  I need to get him over to Germany somehow, but I am afraid to send him through the mail for some reason. I could send him to Jen Blom. I'm sure her little girl would love him to pieces. Okay, enough of that.


  I got to spend a little time with Miss Alice this week and am looking forward to seeing all the grands in the Christmas story soon, garbed and singing. Lights! Camera! Action! ...."And there were, in that country, shepherds abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night." etc..
    Our little Alice is an outdoors girl and cold weather kind of cramps her style, which is out and about.  She and I practiced taking selfies for a while after her nap.
      Oh yeah, I did finally get my real glasses back, after the two surgeries, and am much happier. The reading glasses are a royal pain.

       I have had to take a break from the news again.  There is only so much I can take these days.  Instead, I have been admiring the sunsets, brought about by our extremely dry conditions, smoke, and dust in the air. We were supposed to have had a big meteor show the other night but, wouldn't you know it, it was overcast and we saw none of it. Not one little falling star. Grrrrrr.....
     I've found my keyboard again and am writing. The reading glasses gave me such a headache when I tried to write that I just gave up and took a break.
     My bell choir is playing several times this month and it is great fun for all of us.  I love bells.  Speaking of which, have you seen that blue crystal bell Able and Kari have in their window???? Fantastic. I want one.

    The other day, when M and I were heading to town, we noticed this amazing cloud formation. It was feathered around the edges and had rainbows showing through the edges. The colors grew and grew, all along the length of the cloud. I tried to get a picture for you and this is the best I could do, but it was way better, because the colors moved and traveled along the edge.

     Abbey, Mags and I pulled on our sparkly Christmas outfits and headed down to the Civic Center for The Nutcracker last weekend.  Abbey's friend, T, always makes the best seats in the house available to us and each year there is a slightly different group that meets up, there on the first couple of rows, to enjoy the show. This year S, her mom, Crys and C, T's mom and and T's niece, and K all joined the group. What fun! It's always better if you go to that show with a little girl, or two or three in tow. We bought new nutcrackers for the girls and the show was followed by their annual dancing in the lobby, afterward. (C wasn't sure about that, but I'm sure she'll be willing to dance next year.)
   Here we are before the show. (Note: the sunglasses look a little out of place. They are because I still hadn't gotten my own glasses back yet and could.not.take. the sunlight at all.


Friday, December 15, 2017

Poem: Winter Pictures

A winter's morning
with all its ribbons flying;
birdsong in sparkling air
and small bells, painting
bright colors on this wind
spinning out of the north.

The cat comes trotting
from the pasture, something
dangling from his mouth,
a small grey mouse with
seeds in its mouth and curled
pink paws: he is no more.

The garden is in deep slumber,
earth's powers gathered safely
underground in stored silence,
guarding all that is to come,
bud, stem and flower held safe
in breathing, dark miraculum.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Poem: Time, You Thief

Time surreptitiously begins stealing our beauty
from us, once we have rounded a certain corner:
through sorrow, wear and tear, deprivation, disease,
genetics, separation, despair, abuse and neglect.

We watch the faces of friends soften into sag,
strong necks and shoulders thin, waistlines blur.
Pulling one's self together calls for more time,
and creativity, in front of an lighted mirror.

Joints and backs complain and beg repair,
bitterness and frustration etch our upper lips,
old injuries exact their delayed payments, so
we accommodate for pain, in altered gait and stance.

The skin of my own hands appears foreign to me,
paler, and bearing new spots among the scars;
my dark hair and firm skin have both disappeared,
and the roses' thorns draw blood with every touch.

Twenty years for each phase, the wise ones say:
Growing 20, blooming 20, standing 20
and fading 20. I am in the fade phase now.
I embrace this place, that brings its own gifts.

Yet Love sees into the heart of who we are,
thank goodness; past drooping lid and jowl,
past bony shoulders, hairy chins and softened bellies.
Only Love holds us perfect in the heart forever.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Thanksgiving At Last

     Tomorrow morning I go under the knife again, the second eye getting its new lens, so, hopefully, my poor eyes can once again 'work together for good', as the scripture says. Lord love a duck!  This past month, my eyes being at war with each other, has been exhausting.  So that is why they usually schedule the eyes two weeks apart. Yep, they had already figured that out and I messed it up by trying to hold harmless another doctor's appointment in the middle. As it turned out, I missed that appointment anyway due to family issues that needed me to be somewhere else holding a baby.  (see left) smile! Much better than going to see a doctor about anything; I think you'll agree.
  This is baby T, who is happily 8 months old now. He thinks he is 3 yo and should be walking, like baby A is. It frustrates him. He has fierce workouts in his bouncy-chair and usually bounces until he falls asleep like this.  (Yes, he is then picked up and placed lovingly in his little crib, where he sleeps like a champ.)

  In newsy-news, things are in full swing at the shop. Yes, the tiger is running and we are limping along trying to keep him in sight.  We had a bit of an employee kerfuffle in the middle of November and the new team is still getting used to 'pulling in harness' together. It's a dance, an elaborate dance, that takes practice, a setting aside of personal egos, and seriously wanting it to work. All things being equal, the holidays are not the best time to be learning new dance steps.  Able and Kari are doing an amazing job and putting in long hours at the shop because this is the month you roll your small business books into the black, as we all know.  (We were in the black already, which is nice.) Baby spice toddles around here and there, pulling spice packets out of the cubbies, smiling, and being adorable. Everyone loves her.
    I have worked at the shop a few times since my first surgery, but there is so much switching of reading distances there now,  pulling off and putting on of glasses, that it isn't a lot of fun.  I hope I have helped a little. With this surgery tomorrow I'll be out for another bit, so I feel like I'm not really in the race this time. That's sad for me, as I love the swirl that is December at the spice shop. It can make you crazy-tired but it also can bond people together, and it makes for good stories for later.  There is one spice shop in Bend, Oregon, that does this much business all year round. I can't imagine what their December is like.
     Audie's family came down one week-end and helped me decorate, so the village is up and glowing and I have two trees and a couple of golden herald angels. Speaking of angels, Zach hung my new wicker porch swing while we decorated inside. I love it. I know, I already had one porch swing, but....but it's wicker....and I love porch swings.

The fam finally had a chance to come together for our Thanksgiving meal on Sunday.  It was fabulous and a good time was had by all (as the small town papers used to say).  While they were waiting for yours truly to show up, after shutting the spice shop down, the kids created a nativity in the back yard. If you suspect that the baby Jesus is, in fact, a football, you are correct.

    After dinner, there Zane and Maggie set up a school room in the boy's bedroom. Everyone had to go to school except Brendan and Grandma. We were charged with watching the two babies as they played in the 'babydome' (a.k.a the living room).
 Sadly, little T crawled up onto the couch and, just as the parents came back into the room, he fell off, ass-over-teacup (I was going to say A over T, but that would have been confusing with the two babies involved.)  To his credit, he did a perfect front somersault. He was also scared to death of course (cue the sympathetic crying from A) and, when B and I were asked what in the heck we had been doing when it happened, we both said, at the same time: reading. Wouldn't you know. T was fine.
    To the right is a picture of our vegetable turkey that Audra and the boys put together.  Cool, huh?

L. Here are E and Ro, trying to pull the turkey wish-bone apart. (Yep, Ro wanted his hair spiked that day, for some reason.)

Below: Brent and Baby T, both being very serious and with the evening sun in their eyes.

Monday, November 27, 2017

#4 Cream of Carrot Soup

     I haven't made this one, but I love carrot soup and the sage would add a nice flavor (the sage isn't pureed into the soup, it is only in the grease and then used as a garnish, so it is only hinted at). Sage is so strong, it would be easy to overdo it. This is a gentle soup and your toppings at the end will add the extra zests if you need some.

1.  Cook 6 slices of bacon. Drain and chop.
2. Add 1/4 c. fresh sage leaves to bacon fat, simmer until crisp. Remove.
3.  Remove all but 1 T. bacon fat.
4.  Add 2 lb chopped carrots, 2 cups sliced onions, 6 gloves minced garlic, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 t. nutmeg.
     Cook and stir for 10 minutes.
5.  Add 1 large chopped potato and 6 cups chicken broth.
6.  Bring to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 40 minutes.
7.  Puree soup in the pan with an immersion blender until very smooth.
8.  Swirl 1/3 cup heavy cream into soup; heat through.
9.  Top with bacon, sage, blue cheese or havarti cheese, cracked black pepper, or sumac once you have ladled it into serving bowls. This is good with croutons tumbled in at the table, if you like those crusty, crunchy, herby little darlings. (Yes, I do.)

Sunday, November 26, 2017

#3 Golden Cheese Soup

   The first time I was treated to cheese soup was one night after the St. Francis Folk Group had sung at the Goltry Catholic Church in the middle of winter.  The congregation seemed to like having us out there now and then, to sing the Mass, (or maybe it was just Fr. Denis who like having us there...either way).  That particular evening they were having a pot luck dinner, in the hall after Mass, and we were invited.  I brought Challah bread, as usual, and Judy (the pianist) brought a crock-pot full of delicious Cheese Soup.
      I almost wept, it was so delicious. I wondered how in the world I had managed to live to be nearly forty and not had such creamy goodness.  From that night on, it became a staple in our food rotation.


1/4 cup butter
1/2 c. chopped celery
1/2 c. shredded carrot
1/3 c. flour
3 T. minced onion
1/2 can broth
1/4 t. hot sauce
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. dry mustard
1/4 t. curry
1/8th t. pepper
3 c. milk
2 c. shredded cheese (your mix)
2 or 3 c. chopped and boiled potatoes (optional, but delicious!)

1. Melt butter in saucepan, saute carrot and onion until tender.
2. Add flour and cook until golden...stirring.
3.  Add broth, spices, hot sauce, then slowly add milk till thickened.
4.  Add cheese and cook, stirring frequently, until cheese is melted and soup is smooth.
5.  Add cooked potatoes at the end.
6. Garnish with beautiful sliced green chives and bacon.

      Those ingredients that are in bold are the ones that make this recipe unique. However, soup is the most forgiving of anything you can cook. This isn't chemistry, like baking, this is soup. Add what you want to or leave out what you don't like. That being said: It is important to make the roux and let that flour cook to golden before moving on to adding the broth/stock or it will taste like raw flour and no one likes that.