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Seasons

September, visits and Anthony Bourdain

September brings many changes, not the least of which is the arrival of Fall colors.  But even more exciting, here in my neck of the woods, is the arrival of two important happenings:   crystal clear blue skies and low(er) humidity.  Ahh ~ bring on happy smiling skies, outside walks, Breck-girl hair and comfortable sleeps.

 

Every year I declare Fall as my favorite season:  The colors, the smells, the tastes – yep – it’s my favorite.  It’s the one season I missed more than any other when we lived down south.   In Texas, the seasons were: hot, hotter, surface-of-the sun hot, and slightly less hot.     I loved many things about living in Texas but always, always I longed for Fall.

“Autumn…the year’s last, loveliest smile.” [Indian Summer]”  ― John Howard Bryant

Sometimes I sleep in on the weekends ~ I still wake early and usually I get up. But sometimes, like today, I do “tuck and roll” if only for a little while.  I did so today, and with great delight, dreamed of Mom.  I was back in her farm kitchen and she was teaching me how to make bread.  I was an impatient teen, not paying as close of attention as I should have.  She had something to teach me and I listened.  But not well.   When I awoke, the dream felt like a visit.  And even though I don’t bake or eat bread now, perhaps the lesson was in the listening.

“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.”  Laurie Colwin

I’ve been catching up on past episodes of Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown.”  ~Sigh.  I’m late to his party. He was such a scamp, so much fun, with that wicked smile and sense of humour/adventure.   If only he’d known it.

“I think preparing food and feeding people brings nourishment not only to our bodies but to our spirits. Feeding people is a way of loving them, in the same way that feeding ourselves is a way of honoring our own createdness and fragility.”  Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way

 

  • What season do you look forward to most?
  • Have you had any vivid dreams visits lately?
  • And are you on the Anthony Bourdain train?
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Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Confidence at any age, Faith, Family, Food, Growth, Humor, Joy, Life, Mom, News, Personal, Quotes, Seasons, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Random 5 for Labor Day ~Dishes, Empaths & Amazon

How is today is September 3rd and Labor Day already?

It seems like 5 minutes ago we turned the calendar from April to May ~ and while we didn’t have a typical summer, we still enjoyed many high points — beach days, good books and BBQs.    To that end here are my 5 Random 5s for Labor Day:

1 )  Good friends enjoyed shared birthdays this weekend so a celebration was organized, pot luck style.  I don’t know about you but, around here, “bring a dish to pass” gatherings offer the b.e.s.t.  food.  Why’s that?  Because everyone makes (or buys) their one “best” thing and, when you put everything together, it’s amazing.  Examples of what was offered include the following:

  • Deviled eggs, home-made pickles, olives and various cheeses & crackers
  • 7 Layer Salad (mine), Oriental Coleslaw, Pasta & Potato salads – all home-made – yummo!
  • Pastry-wrapped sausages, Sloppy Joe’s & baked beans (with bacon and enough brown sugar to carmelize an apple, yum!)
  • Veggies & Dip, chips & dip and Fruit salad
  • And birthday cake — not just any cake – but a local bakery’s marble cake with a creamy custardy middle  and fluffy whipped icing — OMG.
    • There was more, but the above is some of what I sampled and YES I enjoyed a small piece of cake — it was sweet and creamy and a little bit went a long ways 🙂

2 )  I’ve been reading a book that I can’t stop thinking about.  Normally when I land upon a good book I’ll tear through it like a starving wolf.  Not this one.  I’m savoring my way through.  See,  I’ve always known stuff I shouldn’t know, and I’ve had a feeling (good or bad) about a person, more than once. I trust it.  I just didn’t know how to use it or how to protect myself from absorbing other’s “stuff.”   

A sample includes:

  • Being an empath is different from being empathetic.
  • Being empathetic is when your heart goes out to someone else.  Most of us do this – especially after a tragedy.
  • Being an empath means you can actually feel another person’s happiness or sadness in your own body.  You can feel it so deeply that it can make you physically sick, sad or drained.
    • You may have been told to “not be so sensitive,” maybe you are, like me, sensitive to caffeine, startle easily, get overwhelmed in crowds, have a strong sense of smell and touch (sour odors and prickly clothes, no way).
    • These can all be indicators — so tell me — Are you an Empath?

3 ) I just realized that my Amazon cart always has something in it.  I  love the “save for later” feature.  Because my internet wanderings can take me into some deep valleys, it’s nice to know I can save an item for a more rational purchase point later.    Between books, vitamins, and skincare/beauty products, I enjoy new-to-me finds and repeat favorites.    For someone who doesn’t enjoy shopping, I sure enjoy Amazon 🙂

4 )  Speaking of books — I did a lot of not laboring this weekend ~ I putzed, cleaned, cooked a little, read a lot, fiddled with the hot tub & read some more.  Yep, definitely did. Not. Labor.

5 )  And with that, here’s September!  Bring on bright sunshiney days, College Football, autumn leaves, cooler nights and less humidity.  Because even though it’s Labor Day, the reality is it’s still warm, humid and summery … and that’s OK.  Put down the pumpkin spice and turn on the fan!

Autumn colors are arriving (scenes from the old house)

 

  • What signs of Autumn are near you?
  • Could you be an Empath, too?
  • Are you laboring to NOT Labor this Holiday weekend?
Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Family, Food, Fun, Growth, Holidays, Home, Life, Life Lessons, News, Opinion, Personal, Products I love, Seasons, Share, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Small Comforts add up

Coming back from running errands Friday afternoon I grabbed a glimpse into my past:  someone carrying a basket of laundry into the laundromat.  That image transported me back to my college and young adult years – the laundromat years ~ ugh!

Who else remembers trying to time a visit just right so as to secure an open machine? Wondering if you had enough quarters? Being tempted to just buy more underwear and towels …. And hoping and praying no one removed your stuff from the dryer before the dryer was done.

It made me realize how small comforts add up ~

  • Coffee auto -brewing before I leave my bed.
  • A meal simmering in the crock-pot.
  • Stacks of books waiting for me to choose who’s up next.
  • A good tune playing in the background …
  • Check-ins from our sons, for advice, but just as often just to visit.
  • Windows open, bees buzzing, birds chirping.
  • And this one:
    • Warm laundry, right out of the dryer, no trip to the laundromat needed.  😀

What small comforts are you enjoying today?

 

 

Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Family, Fun, Home, Personal, Random, Seasons, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Adulting in Summer

I don’t know about you but being an adult in summer still requires some adjustment.

Dressing up when the weather says “dress down.”  Shoes on when my heart screams “barefoot.”

Going inside to bed … when I want to stay up and watch fireflies dance.

In summer, I’ll start a new book and if an author bores me, feel no shame in reaching for another.

In summer I’m restless.

But not for a desire to do rather for the desire not to do.

In summer the job I enjoy feels laborious: phone calls, project calls, calls, calls and reminder calls.

Summer vacation affords an opportunity to shut that out and instead pad quietly through the house, sipping coffee, feeling the fan on my skin and the heat at the nape of my neck.

Summer days find me up early, drinking coffee and tea for hours, making bacon & eggs for lunch, and leftovers and fruit for dinner. Even better if eaten outside.

Summer brings a longing for the summers of my childhood.

Of screen doors and homemade pie, beach hair and strappy sandals; wienie roasts and kick-the-can, late night swims, ice-cream or watermelon eaten on Grandma’s steps.

Summer is the season when adulting has a very good chance of going sideways.

 

 

I’ve not tried this but it’s tempting …  Happy Summer!

Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Food, Holidays, Home, Life, Personal, Seasons, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Sunshine, questions and a big juicy life

A while back, a blogging friend Dor, awarded me the “Sunshine Blogger Award” – this award is as special as sunshine on my shoulders, sunshine on my toes… Or saying my future’s so bright I just gotta wear shades!

taken yesterday

Thank you Dor for your kindness & for including me. The rules are to do the following –

  1. Give a Big Hearty Thanks to the blogger who nominated you & link back to them (Check!)
  2. Answer the questions the other blogger asked you (See below)
  3. Nominate a host of others (rules suggest 8-11) but I’m just gonna leave this open whomever wants to play along and 😀
  4. List the rules/display the Sunshine Blogger Award on your site. (done)

Here are the questions Dor posed for me:

  1. Are you an introvert or an extrovert?  Do you wish you were the other and why?
    • Gemini ~ both, depends on the day and situation.  I can work the room at a conference or cocoon myself away with my books ~ it all depends.
  2. Are you an animal lover?  What pets do you have and love?
    • Yes, no pets right now but our Grand-Dogs and a Stray Cat warm my ❤ regularly
  3. Who was your favorite teacher and why?
    • Mr. Corbett; he was smart, strict and fun
  4. Have you ever had a bad habit you  broke?  What was it and how did you change it?
    • I’ve stopped asking for permission to enjoy myself!
  5. What is your favorite place to relax?  Explain where it is and why it helps.
    • Home or outside / outside at home / the beach!  I’m cozy at home and comfy outside, provided it’s not 95F+
  6. What is your favorite movie of all time?
    • One I watch every time it’s on is “Something’s Gotta Give.”  ~sigh
  7. Do you love to travel or do you hate it?  Why?
    • Love to travel for vacation and I tolerate business travel.
    • I love the coming & going, but I don’t love impatient flyers trying to fit a couch into the overhead compartment. Remember when flying used to be fun?
  8. Are you an organized or a disorganized person?
    • Organized. My grocery list is typed in the order of the store.  I admit it 😉
  9. Are you always late, early, or right on time?  Are there any advantages or disadvantages to your timing?
    • Always early. A disadvantage is that not everyone riding with me is ready on time!
  10. Do you create lots of blog posts in advance of publishing or do you do one at a time?
    • As they come to me
  11. What inspires you to create a blog post?
    • see answer to #1  😉

And here are your questions, friends:

  1. What’s a scent or fragrance that takes you back to summers as a child?
  2. What dessert item do you remember savoring at family reunions, parties or weddings?
  3. Name a song that makes you want to get up & dance.
  4. What ability do you wish you had and why?
  5. Who do you wish you could have a conversation with?
  6. And lastly, what are you looking forward to?

 

 

 

Categories: Animals, Attitude, Beauty, Blogging, Confidence at any age, Determination, Family, Food, Friendship, Fun, Growth, Home, Joy, Life, music, News, Opinion, Personal, Relationships, Seasons, Thoughts, Travel, Wisdom, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Random 5 Friday ~ Summer, Strawberries and Silliness

It’s Friday & it’s time for 5 Random thoughts ~ here we go:

1 )  June 1st and our grand-kids last day of school ~ Summer break begins.  I don’t know about you but we had to go through most of June to make it to Summer Break.    Usually the end of school year involved a class trip and, on the way home, a stop at McDonalds:  Two-all-beef-patties-special-sauce-lettuce-cheese-pickles-sauce-on-a-sesame-seed-bun – Imagine a bus full of kids singing that at full volume!  So good – and back when a fast food burger actually tasted like the commercial made it look.

google.images.com

2 )  Earlier this week, at a county meeting, I chatted with a Community official who has been a bit of a “Grumpy Grumperson” at prior meetings.  Not that day.  Seems she’s retiring in August, selling her house, bought an R.V. at a “old folks park” in New Mexico – she’s packing her books, Daisy, her 3 yr old German Shepherd, and heading out. Said she’s raised 4 boys as a single mother and its now her time — when someone asked what her kids thought her response was “the Best Western near me charges $49 a night … they can come see me and stay there.” And, she confided, on the way to the parking lot, that she’s not taking social security ’till she turns 66, in the meantime “I’ll live on coffee, books, my house proceeds and walks with my dog.”   🙂    The experience reminded me how freeing and necessary it is to take leaps of faith and to remember that ~ people – and their moods – are often just a reflection of current circumstances.

3 )  A couple of months ago I decided to invest in a personal cell phone ~ I was tired of being “on call” for my job, often muttering “I’m not a Fireman,” under my breath.  (Some of that was my own doing, I’ll admit).  So I enacted my own secret brand of mutiny and subscribed to cell service, transferred personal numbers over and asked my (short) list of contacts (family, friends, Dr., Dentist, etc) to please contact me at that number instead.  Yesterday,  while at work, I set my personal phone to airplane mode to save the battery and missed calls from Hubbs.  He called my work cell to ask – why do you have a personal cell?   Moments like this remind me how absurd I can be and how much like  her I am. 

4)  When I think of June I think of my 2 favorite fruits:  Strawberries and Watermelon.   Any “diet” will tell state that both are high in carbs.   Don’t care.  I’m not a big sweets eater but my favorite dessert always has been the one Mom made for my June birthday: Strawberry Shortcake – garden fresh strawberries, in their juice, with home-made whipped cream dolloped over Angel Food cake.  (Remember cake soaking up some of that “juice?” oh man!)   And while Watermelon wasn’t ready till mid summer – the start of June meant it was coming soon.  Family cookouts, birthdays, and barbecues were not complete without several slices of watermelon (don’t eat the green you’ll get a stomach-ache!!) and the juice running down our arms … we’d sit outside to slurp it down, wipe our hands on our shorts and run off into the summer night to play Hide N Seek or Kick-the-Can.  Pretty sure the carbs in both fueled us for hours ~ So many good summer memories, ahh!

5 )   Saw this on Facebook and it made me smile ~ are there 2 happier words than “Blanket Fort?”  Maybe “Summer Vacation!” 🙂

What’s new in your world?   When was the last time you laughed at yourself?

Happy Friday, peeps!

Categories: Faith, Family, Food, Fun, Holidays, Home, Humor, Joy, Life, News, Personal, Relationships, Seasons, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Random 5 Sunday ~ Hoarders, Deals and Stupid Ideas

It’s Sunday morning, the sun’s shining and we might * gasp * actually be seeing Spring today. I know, I know, we’re holding our breath because we woke up to snow Thursday.

To that end, it’s time again for 5 random thoughts, this time on a Sunday.

Ready?  Here we go:

1 ) Hoarders.  If I’m ever featured on an episode of Hoarders I’m blaming the books.   I’m not a shopper, hate the mall, and despise trying on clothes.  But click here to add one more book to my Amazon cart?  Oh, just one more nets me free shipping?  I’m in!   Many books have been devoured this past winter but this one is, hands down, my favorite:

2 ) Weekends.  A good part of the weekend is spent doing whatever I want to.  In the overly-scheduled world that is my work week, my soul craves an opportunity to goof off, waste time and accomplish absolutely nothing at all.  And I do.

“A mind preoccupied with planning plays homage to the idol of control.” – Sarah Young

3)  Stupid Ideas.  In my job I try to remain open to new ideas and different approaches.  But some ideas are simply stupid.  And stupid ideas are made stupider when brought up by those who should know better.  Except they don’t.  And, the older I get, the harder it is for me to stifle the snort a stupid idea commands. I’m working on it but let me just say, “Thank you, God, for the mute button!”  Snort Snort!

4 ) Deals  ~ about a month ago I was down with the flu – something positive that came out of that delirium was, in the midst of sleeping through watching morning T.V. shows, I learned of a cool site called MorningSave. Kind of like a buying group it’s a collection of all the “deals” featured on morning shows like “The Wendy Show,” the “Steve Harvey Show,” etc.   There are plenty of “deals & steals” on there, much of it is electronics (Bluetooth speakers, fitness gadgets, home security, portable phone chargers, etc),  fashion (handbags, jewelry), and personal items (watches, hair gadgets, skin care, teeth whiteners, etc) but here’s the skinny ~ most items are more than 65% off.    🙂

No chickens were harmed in this post

5 ) Saying Yes. I’ve written about the power of saying Yes.   And about how “no” is a sentence.   I’ve said “no” a lot over the past years.  Doing so has made room for Yes’s but I haven’t always said it.   I’ve enjoyed some time and some space without anyone in it.   Lately, I’ve started saying yes again — to things that challenge me – speaking opportunities, serving on advisory panels, putting myself out there to alleviate the boredom that comes with a little too much routine.  This has been soul-invigorating.  I’m not sky-diving or cliff jumping anytime soon, but pushing myself to say “yes” to opportunities that freak me out a little has brought something rewarding:  personal growth.

How about you? If you were featured on “Hoarders” what would it be for?  How do you like to waste time?  Heard any stupid ideas lately?   Got any new “finds” to share?  And lastly, what have you said “yes” to lately?

Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Determination, Faith, fear, Gratitude, Growth, Joy, Life, Opinion, Personal, Products I love, Relationships, Seasons, Share, Technology, Thoughts, Work, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

* Snow Day *

It’s Friday and Snow-ma-geddon is happening across the upper Midwest.  As predicted, Lake Effect snow began  last night – with the snow falling fast and beautiful.   I’m thankful to be on the inside looking out.

After an eye appointment yesterday, I took the opportunity to pick up some groceries — by 3:30 p.m. the store was packed – with Seniors!  Older ladies & gents with small carts stuffed full of bread, fruit, eggs, lunch meats, deli cheeses, big jugs of wine, candy bars, frozen foods, baked goods and toilet paper.  Everyone was chatty and the mood was upbeat, with a camaraderie that comes from sharing a weather event.   Even the cashiers were cheery; I bagged my groceries and pushed the heavy cart through the slush to my vehicle.

Hubbs and I chatted last night remembering what it felt like to be a kid on an evening like that ~ going to bed happy, deliciously anticipating two glorious words at dawn’s early light:

Because he grew up in town, and I on a farm, his “Snow Day” experience was a lot different from mine.  He remembers being woken up by his Mom, letting him know that school had been cancelled, she was leaving for work and their “to-do” list was on the table.  He & his brother were to shovel the driveway, each taking a side.  There may have been other chores to do, some of which were his sisters.  Then, once the jobs were done, he, and his best friend Bob, would head to their favorite sledding hill ~ Now picture a grown man whose eyes take on a dreamy look as he remembered their adventures on that hill.  They had traditional toboggans, saucers, and of course old-fashioned sleds with runners.  He even remembered being ran over by his buddy once, two of them ending in a tangled heap.  “He over-cooked it! Of course he did,” he said, laughing.   Often, after a full day of sledding adventures, they’d return for more that evening. “Their” hill had a pole light nearby which allowed for night-time sliding ~ and he speaks fondly of the two of them laying on their backs, staring up at the stars, catching their breath and talking.   Good stuff.

On the farm we received the glorious news via a phone call from our Bus Driver, Elliott.   One of two things had happened: 1) school was officially cancelled (yay!) OR 2) the bus wouldn’t start (-40 temps).  Dad typically was the messenger – we’d wake to hear him quietly say, “back to bed – no school” or “back to bed – the bus won’t start” — all 5 of us did a collective “tuck & roll” and snoozed a bit longer.

I don’t remember extra chores ~ my brothers helped Dad with farm animals daily and we girls did, too, plus we always helped Mom inside.  What I remember most vividly was how it never took us long to hatch a plan ~  the family farm has a winding coulee / cow pasture directly to the north, with wicked sledding hills, some more treacherous than others.  Mom fed us a big breakfast and booted us outside; we’d walk to the coulee as a group, dragging our sleds and crazy carpets behind us.  There we’d stay for hours ~ or so it seemed.  I favored the crazy carpet because it was much faster than the wooden toboggan – and it was easier to pull up the hill. However, it afforded absolutely no protection if you ran over a frozen cow pie.  Toboggans would ricochet off but that thin plastic barrier ensured at least one banged up knee or bruised tailbone.  We didn’t care – the faster the better, we  lined up, zoomed down, and back up we’d go.  So. Much. Fun!   When we finally had enough, in we’d come, red-faced with sweaty hair, frosted scarves, starving and exhausted.  Mom would make us tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches followed by a card game or two.  And, if we were really lucky, and the roads had cleared, Dad might take us into town to skate at the local rink.  He’d visit with neighbors,  play cards and eat pie.

Feats of daring and destruction!

Chatting with our oldest son, he shared that the grands have a snow day too – and he has the day off  and they’re scouting for the perfect sledding hill.  They’ve got snowboards and saucers but he’ll be the biggest kid on the hill 🙂

 * * *

* Below is the family coulee ~ in the distance you can see our magnificent sledding hills … oh the memories.

a coulee that runs for miles

 

What do you remember about snow days when you were a kid?  How did you get the glorious news?  And do you get snow days now?

Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Family, Fun, Home, Joy, Life, News, Seasons, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

R5S~ Peace, Joy and Progress

Random 5 Friday Sunday ~ here comes 2018, time to bid adieu to 2017.

1 ) Yesterday was that day of winter vacation – the day far enough past Christmas but closer to New Year’s  – the day when you can’t remember exactly what day it is or what you’re supposed to be doing … it’s a day I look forward to all year.  My day of “nothing” — nothing to do and all day to do it.  I slept in, drank a pot of coffee, read blogs, stayed in my fuzzy pants all day and cooked a wonderful stew in the pressure cooker.  A lovely shower, a bowl of stew, new fuzzy pants and blankets found me asleep in the chair by 9:30.    Today, I woke at 6:00 a.m., feeling like a million bucks.  Rest, a break from stress, schedule and chaos,  you can’t beat it.

2 )  Christmas with our boys and grands was just that – grand — we laughed, ate, played games, laughed some more, sang Christmas songs and told stories.   Gifts were exchanged and memories were made.    Love was in the air and it was the happiest of days!

3 )  Time off — I’ve not responded to most work emails, but have taken great delight in deleting any that aren’t applicable to  me; doing so has culled the volume. My job is demanding with many people pulling on me on a regular basis; making this small effort now lets me ease back in without resentment.   Value up!

4 ) Progress ~ in that picture on the left I was recovering from bronchitis (for the 5th time that year) and battling a lingering fever, body aches and chills throughout my Christmas holiday (ugh!) I read the 10 day Grain detox book  (accompanied by a cough, highlighter pen and sticky notes) and started a grain detox Jan 4 2016 — I have not been sick once – nothing – not even a cold – since — despite copious work stress, moving, the passing of my Mom, a heavy travel schedule and more.  Amazing!

*** 747 days without 1 sick day!*** I used to battle recurrent sinusitis and bronchitis, cold sores, frequent colds & the flu👍 Kick grains to the curb and feel your best within  days 👍😀. Amazing health can be yours!    An Emjayandthem (C) photo

5)  New Year’s Eve tonight ~  Friends are stopping by for a drink/appetizers before heading to an evening party. We’re staying in where it’s cozy; roads here are awful, temps hovering in the single digits.   I’m delighted to stay in, smooch my handsome hubby and ring in the New Year in the peace and comfort that is home!

Happy New Year!  Let’s surprise ourselves next year, shall we? 

Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Blogging, Confidence at any age, Determination, Faith, Family, Food, Fun, Growth, Holidays, Home, Life Lessons, Love, News, Opinion, Personal, Romance, Seasons, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Random 5 December ~ Traditions, time off and dogs

Hello again, friends.  It’s time for another Random 5  from my part of the blog-osphere. Ready? Here we go:

1)  Thursday morning, I woke with a start …. it was 4:04 a.m. and there I was, wide awake thinking about Christmas cards!  Ack, rolling over, I tried to resume my slumber.  No-can-do.  Muttering to myself that Hubbs never experiences such thoughts, I found my way to the kitchen and pressed the “brew” button on the coffee machine.

I used to enjoy writing Christmas cards, especially when the boys were little and I could include a picture or funny story about them. I don’t enjoy it anymore.

I can remember my parents’ delight when a Christmas card came in the mail. They were such a lovely alternative to newspapers, bills and other correspondence.  I recall the sparkles on my hands after reading updates from people I didn’t recall: Aunt so and so.  Cousin somebody.   Mom carefully taped the cards and put them up all around the kitchen window.  Red and green, silver and gold, shimmered in the light and brought festive to the room.  That she took the time to do so for each card suggested reverence to me.

There’s only a few family members left that I would normally mail a card to – this year, I’m calling instead.  And I think they’ll be just fine with a laugh and a chat and a “I miss you, too.”

2 )   Balance. As an adult I’ve struggled to balance between what I want (to do) for Christmas vs. what (I think) is expected of me.    Shopping is done, wrapping is not.  Some baking was accomplished …but also eaten (Hubbs!).

So what I’m working towards is making room for MY Christmas —  I relax and smile when the tree lights are on; reading or cooking near them makes me happy. There’s a peace I feel being able to pay the bills, have $ for gifts and a bit to put away, too.  There was a time I couldn’t do that, and I appreciate now that we can.  I look forward to time with the boys – card games, good foods, “knock knock” jokes with the grands, and days off with Hubbs.  No particular place to be.  No schedule. Reading more than a page or two at a time.  Knowing I can sleep in even though I won’t.  I’ll be up early, watching the snow fall, sipping coffee and reading your blogs.

My stack of reading is close to this size

 

3 ) 9 and 119 days left of work for THIS YEAR then 11 – count ’em – 11 glorious days off!  Time for a reset button.  I’m fortunate that I enjoy the work I do, but this year the challenge has been in being able to do it.  This has been a year of organizational change, steady movements, restructuring, people coming, people going, and that constant shift of the horizon has left me dizzy and needing a break.  And I plan to take it, no exceptions!

4 ) Shades of Frankie. Youngest boy got a dog, and memories of our beloved Frankie definitely influenced his choice.   Our Frankie as a Pup:

Frankie as a wee one

Ladies and gents, meet Sullivan, or “Sully” for short:

Sullivan (an Emjayandthem (C) Photo)

I haven’t met this furry little friend yet but I’m sure I’ll cry when I do.

5 ) We’re heading into the new year soon.  Can you believe it?   I haven’t thought about my goals and dreams for next year, but I’ll work on them over my time off.    A good friend is leaving our company next week; she hasn’t had time to think about what her “next” looks like.  I encouraged her to create a Vision Board.   I know she won’t, but it reminded me that I’m ready to.  

 

What traditions are worth continuing and which ones have you stopped? 

What gift are you giving yourself this Holiday Season? 

Wishing you peace at Christmas and always

Categories: Animals, Attitude, Family, Fun, Growth, Holidays, Home, Life, Personal, Seasons, Thoughts, Traditions | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The gift of an unconventional Holiday

I knew the day was coming, and tried to keep my voice cheery as I zipped his parka, handed off his Ninja Turtle backpack, and sent my 4-year-old off with his father.  Freshly divorced, and newly navigating the every-other-holiday thing, I kissed my boy good-bye and squeezed his mittened hand one more time.  He took his cues from me, and although bio-Dad was consistently inconsistent with visitation, and I had not yet met  (or even imagined) the man-who-would-be-Hubbs, I needed to keep my act together so my little guy would be OK.

Shutting the door, I stood in the darkened entry and watched them drive away, a wave of sadness fell over me. It felt like the wettest blanket on the coldest night.  It was a rainy, dreary Wednesday afternoon in western Connecticut.  My family was a million miles away in Canada and I’d been too busy surviving working to have made plans.  At least he would only be gone for the weekend, and knowing the other one, probably coming home early.   I looked around our sparse apartment, at my pull-out sofa in the living room, his bunk beds and toys in the bedroom.  My eyes landed on our small table with two chairs, at books and Play-Doh from earlier play.

Calling Mom, we chatted for a while and caught up on the goings on there.  I heard her attempts at a cheerful voice, knowing we were so far away, and that I was by myself tonight.  When she asked what I’d be doing for the Holiday, I sputtered out something about being invited to a friend’s apartment.  “Oh, that’s good, dear.  You should go, there’s no need to be by yourself, and, well, we’d feel better if you did.”  She was right, of course, but there was about a .001% of me that wanted to go out and meet new people.   I promised her I’d think about it.

Later that night my friend Dee called.  Practically begging,  she admitted her parents were coming, too, and “you know how my Dad can be.”  Yes, I’d met them both, they were European, on-again-off-again as a couple, the Mom, quiet and nervous, the Dad, critical and imposing.  I knew she needed a buffer and, quite frankly, I suddenly had a need to get out of that apartment.   We agreed I’d be there mid morning the next day.

Upon arrival, I learned she’d also invited the “strays” ~ anyone in her building who didn’t have a place to be or family to spend the Holiday with.  Wow!

We quickly set to work peeling potatoes, setting a card table & chairs at the end of the kitchen table, scrounging around for Fast Food napkins, extra plates, plastic cutlery, tablecloths and a couple of old candles.  She turned on the radio – with a countdown of sorts, a mixture of Motown and Classic Rock, fun.  The turkey simmered in the oven, and the aroma, unmistakable.

Next she announced we had turnips to prepare ~ her crusty Dad had a thing for buttered  turnips, except she had no clue how to peel the waxy layer off of  it and neither did I.  We managed to get a steak knife stuck embedded in that thing more than once.  Laughing, we developed a rhythm, but we were more like Lucy and Ethel than Fred and Ginger. I peeled carrots and steamed them with peas, poured off the turkey drippings to make gravy, and mashed the potatoes.  She stirred corn and cream and butter together, microwaved Stove-Top Stuffing.  We ran into each other more than once.  Yep, Lucy and Ethel.

Soon guests began arriving ~ old and young, a shy woman with a bright-eyed toddler and no mention of the father, a married couple from Venezuela, she with lovely accent, his hand on the small of her back.  My friend’s son and his girlfriend, her parents and me, and Ivan, the lanky maintenance man with a heavy Russian accent, a shy smile and two bottles of vodka.  Everyone streamed in, offering what they had, ~ buttery Seafood Paela, a cheesecake, Wine, chocolates, sausage, pickles and cheese. We sent her son to 7-11 for more plates and paper products while her Dad took a seat to carve the turkey.  Her Mom, a bit tipsy from the vodka, chatted animatedly with Ivan.  We all found a seat on uneven and mismatched chairs, making small talk, clanking glasses,and savoring the moment.  I was in and out, serving, and bringing more to share.

It was there, grabbing another bowl of something in my friend’s kitchen, when I remembered that I’d forgotten about being sad. About being far from home.  I felt a tug ~ a love of cooking I’d not experienced in years.  See, since the divorce, I’d been getting by on “functional cooking” —  cooking to live, cooking to check the box.  Day-to-day. No joy, no creativity.  This was different.  This effort, stirring the gravy and mashing turnips in a new-to-me kitchen – transported me to my mother’s kitchen.  To Holiday meals and Mom’s and my Grandmother’s tables so lovingly prepared one couldn’t feel anything but gratitude at being included.  To feelings of warmth and happiness and appreciation for everything – the love and the labor, the sweat and the tears, that went into it creating so much magic for all of us.  It was in that moment, on that unorthodox Holiday, when I felt my love of cooking re-ignite. It was there, tasting the turnips, that I gave thanks.

one end of my Grandmother’s Holiday Table, an Emjayandthem (C) picture

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Flash forward to now:  After a visit with our grand-daughter at school yesterday morning, my son and I enjoyed a brief lunch together.   He’s no longer that little tow-headed boy, he towers over me by a foot, and has a family of his own.  He helps them with their mittens and coats.  Full circle.

I told him the story of my unorthodox Thanksgiving holiday so long ago, and how I thought we would all be well served to experience a holiday like that.  I told him that getting through that helped me appreciate where I’m from, and the traditions we enjoy today.

He gently teased me about my “holiday marathons” ~ I pointed out that when I start cooking 2-3 days ahead of the holiday, it’s because I want to.

When I prep multiple appetizers and side dishes, meats and desserts, it’s because I have people to cook for.

And when I decorate the table well before anybody steps foot through the door, I channel all of them: my Mom, My Grandmother, and the other wonderful women of my childhood who did such things for me.

  • Did you ever spend a holiday in an unconventional way? What do you remember from the experience?
  • What traditions are you carrying forward?
Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Determination, Faith, Family, Food, Growth, Holidays, Home, Joy, Life, Life Lessons, Mom, music, News, Opinion, Personal, Recipes, Seasons, Thoughts, Traditions, Wisdom, Women, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Road to Shambala

I’m heading into the holiday season with the last of my scheduled corporate travel behind me now – Yippy Skippy!  I’ve not had much free time so this blog has lagged but I still think about writing, just as I think about many other things on my “to-do” list.

Epiphanies that took place this week include:

1 )  Music is therapy.    Road trips are better with handsome men singing harmony. 🙂   And hearing this song took me back to my summer trip with my sister and a concert we enjoyed featuring the music of Three Dog Night.  Front row seats – great music – and stellar company was simply awesome.  No matter what I’m thinking about, when a good song comes on I just have to crank it up and sing along.

2 ) Decisions that continue to bear fruit –  ahead of one of my many trips, I sent a note to a group of girlfriends I’d met at a workshop in May of 2015 ~ vibrant, intelligent, wonderful women.   Several quickly responded that – yes – they’d love to meet for lunch this past Friday! As the date drew near a few had to drop out but still 3 of us met — we enjoyed delicious food, the camaraderie that comes from being around others who “get us” and laughs galore. We shared our hopes, our dreams, and our plans.  We encouraged each other.    Boy, what one hour of positive company can do for you!

3 )  GPS boondoggles are often just what’s needed – when the system takes me off the beaten path and down a country road, I often am grateful for the diversion.  I am not sure exactly where I was when I snapped this picture but that’s the point.  Friends commented “but what if you’d had car trouble?” and my thought was “what a better place to be if I did.”  – Surrounded by fields and farms and trucks driving down those roads – all drivers waved.   Me – tunes on, windows cracked, smiling wide.

Snow’s a-coming. Somewhere in MI; and Emjandthem (C) photo

 

Wash away my troubles, wash away my pain

With the rain in Shambala

Wash away my sorrow, wash away my shame

With the rain in Shambala

 

Had any epiphanies lately?

Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Blogging, Growth, Holidays, Home, Joy, Life, music, News, Opinion, Personal, Quotes, Seasons, Self Discovery, Technology, Thoughts, Women, Writing | Tags: , , , , , | 10 Comments

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