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Traditions

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

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Categories: Animals, Attitude, Family, Fun, Growth, Holidays, Home, Life, Personal, Seasons, Thoughts, Traditions | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 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

Lions, Lambs and funeral luncheons

Mother Nature has been mercurial again – here March roared in like a lion, with freezing temps, bitter cold, blowing snow and lashing sleet.   All this after a mid-February warm up to nearly 70F.  The latest round felt like a mid-winter spanking. Are we safe to assume March will leave like a lamb?  I’m not so sure.

A friend passed away last Sunday ~ shockingly young, leaving a wife and two children plus a business and employees to take care of.  We struggled to absorb the news and rally around our friend.  As expected, a call went out for food and folks didn’t disappoint.  At the wake Friday night, were crocks full of hot foods like meatballs, macaroni and cheese, Sloppy Joe’s, Fettuccine Alfredo and Lasagna plus trays of cakes, cookies and squares, salads, raw vegetables, fresh fruit, deviled eggs, boiled shrimp, crackers and cheese, a  baked ham and the fixings for sandwiches.

There’s something so comforting about being able to help at a time of sadness. 

Many commented on the abundance of foods and I thought of Mom and my Auntie and all the times they’d done the same. It’s nice to be part of a community that comes together and provides sustenance when needed.

Later that evening, reflecting on the day, Hubbs and I chuckled at how we’d both observed the same thing: older gentlemen – every one of them had a big slab of cake (sometimes two), cookies or brownies on their plate ~ we laughed about how we could see my Dad or his Grandpa doing the same – how they knew enough to”go for the good stuff first.

Co-mingled in the sadness is a lingering feeling of fellowship, the memory of a room growing loud with laughter and toasts to a good man.

And as the wind howls outside here today, no lambs are in sight.

**   How does your family or community navigate loss?  Are you experiencing Lambs or Lions where you live? **

 

Categories: Confidence at any age, Faith, Food, Grief, Home, Life, Love, Opinion, Personal, Share, Thoughts, Traditions, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Memories of Masterpiece

Winter has arrived in Michigan – we’re on our 3rd day of heavy snow – yesterday was swirly, twirly snow spinning down and around and to the ground.  Today snow is falling quickly, like rain. It’s cold and beautiful and slippery!

“It’s a good day for a house,” Mom used to say.   Yes indeed.

Hubbs is making omelettes and I’m wrapping presents.  Christmas tunes play on the radio.  We’re cozy, tucked in and content.

Reminiscing last night about the Christmases of our childhood, Hubbs and I laughed at how our parents always bought us board games.  Well 1), because we asked for them but 2) setting up the board and figuring out the rules kept us all occupied for hours.  In my home our dining room table often had a board game set there on a rather permanent basis – Monopoly,  Clue, Masterpiece, just to name a few.

My oldest sister was the keeper of the rules and my youngest brother was the one most likely to bend them.  Oldest brother sometimes played and sometimes he didn’t – by my middle sister and I were fierce competitors.  The real fun started when our cousins and aunts/uncles arrived.  Kids games were quickly  moved to a back bedroom as the adults took over for Cribbage, Rummy, 7 card stud and Whist.

Hubby and I remember smokey clouds above the card table and counter tops covered in nuts, treats and ingredients for various adult beverages – Caesars,  Harvey Wall-bangers and Rum/Rye and Coke.  Nobody over did it, Bing and Dean played on the record player and sometimes they danced.  Ladies wore dresses and pearls, slingback heels and peep toe shoes.  Gentlemen sported dress slacks and buttoned-down shirts, jackets and sometimes a tie or a sweater.   I remember Dad grinning as he took Mom for a twirl around the kitchen before guests arrived – I watched in my Church dress and white tights.  Those moments stay close even though they’re both gone.

Coca-Cola was a hot commodity, too – that was a treat we rarely got.  At Christmas time Dad would buy a few cases of pop to keep in the basement (ever cold) and if we were good – and only IF – we might get to split a glass of pop with a sister or cousin.  Ooh what a treat.

Sipping on a glass of Ginger Ale, stealing Aunt Irene’s famous peanut-butter balls and winning at Masterpiece  — now that’s a Christmas vacation I can only dream about today.

parker_brothers_masterpiece_auction_art_game_board_box_lid

Forgery!! – A favorite from my childhood

**When you think back to Christmases of your childhood – what comes to mind?  Did you play board games or card games in your family?Which ones? What tastes and smells take you back to the Christmases of your dreams?

 

 

 

Categories: Family, Fun, Gratitude, Holidays, Joy, Life, music, Personal, Random, Relationships, Romance, Seasons, Thoughts, Traditions | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Random 5 Sunday – Vacation, Naps, Plans and Cheer

It’s time for Random 5 Sunday on the first Sunday in December:

  • Thanksgiving week vacation:  I’ve never taken the whole week of Thanksgiving off. I’ve taken a day here and a day there. But never the whole week. And now, ladies & gents, I do believe I have a new tradition ~  whoop!

good-for-your-soul

  • Hallmark Channel Holiday movies.  While on vacation, I watched at least 5 Hallmark Holiday movies – sometimes I only caught the tail end or the beginning.  You have to admit, the plot is easy to predict most of the time – a beautiful young lass soured on love by a jerky boyfriend moves back to her home town only to bump into the world’s hottest handy-man while shopping for her daughter who it turns out only made 1 friend at school – the (widowed) hottie’s son … and in just a matter of weeks she finds the love of her life, saves a small town business, rescues kittens and puppies and all they live happily ever after, over hot chocolate in perfectly coordinated tartan jackets ~ sigh

hallmark-christmas-movies

  • Naps – glorious, wonderful, and life-redeeming.  Because we stayed on our “normal” schedule during our time off,  just 1 nap was enough. Somehow I kept up on my rest.   Went back to work wide-awake and refreshed.  And good thing, because I clocked 800+ miles last week alone!

kitten asleep

  • Travel plans ~  Sissy and I are planning a “sister’s” getaway – we’ll likely revisit Branson, MO for a week of visiting, shopping, visiting, shows and fun.  We’ve visited there once before, 10 years ago, when we took Mom for her 77th birthday.  What a great time we had – and such a relaxed and friendly place to be.   After our 3rd night Mom happily chirped, “You know, I’ve never stayed in a hotel this many nights and I’ve never gone out for every single meal!”  We were girlfriends on this trip you see, more than mother and daughters.  She loved the adventure and spoke of it many times with fondness.  I know she’d love that we’re planning to go back.
me, mom & my sister in Branson, MO, 2007

me, mom & my sister in Branson, MO, 2007

  • Christmas Spirit:  I wasn’t really feeling any Christmas spirit heading into our Family Christmas party last night.  The hustle and bustle and holiday ho-ho-hos didn’t do it.  Lots of yummy foods, hugs and merriment didn’t do it.  No – it was capturing this picture – of wee cousins (with our grands in the mix) at the exact moment they all cheered “SANTA CLAUS” – that’s what did it.
xmas-party-2016-kiddos

Santa Claus!! An Emjayandthem (C) photo

“He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.”  ― Roy L. Smith

What randoms would you like to share?  Are you feeling the Christmas spirit yet?

Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Faith, Family, Fun, Growth, Holidays, Home, Joy, Life, Patriotic, Random, Thoughts, Traditions | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Random 5 Friday and special occasions

It’s Friday and the day after Thanksgiving, and Black Friday for all the shoppers. Here are 5 randoms from my world this week:

1  Sent most of the leftovers home with oldest boy & his family last night.  It’s yummy and all but one plate of that calorie-dense food is enough for me.  I’m still full today! Normally I would have enjoyed a piece of pie with my morning coffee today but instead I opted for a nutrient-rich Nutribullet smoothie.  It’s all about balance.  And saving room for a burger later. 🙂

funny!

funny!

2  The house still smells like Thanksgiving dinner.    There’s no candle that could match it!

peanuts-thanksgiving

3  When I was a girl Mom’s Holiday table was a sight to see  – she used her  best china, cut crystal and tablecloths. The table was set several days ahead and we’d circle it, marveling at the tiny decorated Christmas trees or crafted pumpkins down the middle. At mealtime we were given a small bit of Ginger Ale to sip from a goblet, and she served shrimp cocktail to all – young and old. Learning to use those tiny forks and handle fine china – those experiences are precious to me.   Most importantly, she taught us not to save our best for company but to share with all who gather.   The grands are learning how to leave the table without taking the table-cloth with them, they have their own “special” goblets to use, and they and our boys have learned they’re special enough to warrant the good stuff.

cut crystal

“Start living now. Stop saving the good china for that special occasion. Stop withholding your love until that special person materializes. Every day you are alive is a special occasion. Every minute, every breath, is a gift from God.” – Mary Manin Morrissey

 

4  When asked recently if I would be shopping on Black Friday I gave my patent response, “Not without a gun to my head.”  You see I tried it once, years ago, and it was miserable. Life lessons abound, though, because standing in line for a long time affords one the opportunity to determine how badly you want/need the item you’re about to “save” $$ on.  I remember putting it back and leaving the store where I waited for my friends in the fresh air.  People rushed past me, I was the only one smiling, and I learned I’ll happily 1) pay full price to avoid all that or 2) go without.

5  Saw this a few days ago and knew you needed to see it, too.  Happy Thanksgiving, friends.

grateful for

** How was your “Turkey” Day?

What traditions have you kept from your childhood and which ones have changed? **

Categories: Attitude, Faith, Family, Food, Holidays, Home, Life Lessons, Love, Personal, Quotes, Thoughts, Traditions | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Goofballs & Billy Boy

*originally posted October 29, 2011

Halloween parties meant a costume parade through the entire school! (My grade school ~ An Emjayandthem (C) photo)

When I was a little girl, Halloween was a very exciting time. We had a class  party and costume parade to look forward to, yummy treats to enjoy, games to play and of course …“Trick or Treating.”

Living on a farm eight miles from town, “Trick or Treating” involved 2 absolutes: cold weather and a car.  Mom and Aunt Irene helped us make our costumes and we often recycle pieces of from older costumes into something new. After supper, we’d pile into one of their cars and head out for the night.  This involved a total of five – count ‘em – five farms to visit:  The Lee home (neighbors), Uncle Harley & Aunt Maxine’s, Grandma and Grandpa’s, Aunt Irene & Uncle Jarl’s and ours.   So, depending on who was driving, we’d start at one and end at the others with three stops in between.   It was expected that we’d “sing for our supper” – sing a song, tell a joke or do something entertaining. Our song of choice was always, “Billy Boy” (Oh where have you been, Billy Boy, Billy boy .. Oh where have you been, charming Billy..) because 1) we knew the words, 2) they knew the words and 3) it always seemed to bring the best results.

I still love Halloween! Me & the Hubbs had a lot of fun with this costume.  An Emjayandthem (C) photo

Bear in mind that very few treats were “boughten” at that time – most offered us a home-made treat.  ((and trust me, this was the good stuff!!))   Norma and Roy Lee always gave us pop – our choice – orange or root beer – and a small bag of home-made cookies or fudge. Yum!  Aunt Irene was known for her caramel apples; Granny Smiths smothered in a thick layer of buttery rich caramel… mmm.  Aunt Maxine was crafty and loved to carve massive jack-o-lanterns to delight us… and her chocolate fudge was delicious as well.   Grandma made each of us our very own candy bag filled to the top with home-made popcorn balls and cookies mixed in with a few store bought treats – black licorice, toffee, and Old Dutch potato chips.  Smiling shyly, Grandpa always slipped in a can of pop and two bits (a quarter) and we felt oh so rich.  Our pillowcases were filled with to the brim with treats and good wishes.  After much admiration of the genius of our costumes and our profound musical talents, off we’d go to the next farm, darting through the biting October wind, wondering at the sky and trying to spot the witches we just knew were flying around.

At the end of the night, we’d get back home and marvel at the abundance of treats .. but it was always those home-made delights we fought over most.

I remember Mom making us “Goofballs” and I think I’ll make some for my grand-kids today :).

GoofBalls

Goofball image courtesy of theartofmakingthings.tumblr.com

1 pkg. Kraft caramels
1 can Eagle brand milk
1/2 lb. butter
1 box Rice Krispies
1 bag large marshmallows

Unwrap the caramels and place into a heavy saucepan.  Add the Eagle brand milk and the butter and stir until the caramels are melted and a sauce is formed. Remove from heat.

Stick 1 toothpick into a large marshmallow and dip it into the sauce carefully.  Immediately roll the caramel covered marshmallow in Rice Krispies. Set on a waxed paper-lined cookie sheet to cool (remove toothpick).    These travel great and kids (and adults) gobble them up!

And .. sing something, will ya?

Happy Halloween!!

Categories: Attitude, Family, fear, Food, Fun, halloween, Holidays, Home, Joy, Life, Mom, Personal, Thoughts, Traditions | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Random 5 on the 4th – the Capitol, summer tunes and more

I missed Random 5 Friday so instead am doing Random 5 for the 4th – here we go!

1. Today is Saturday, July 4th, our nation’s “birthday.”   The birds are singing, the weather is hot and hazy, and we are celebrating our nation’s independence by independently deciding to lay low, hang out pool-side, and chill.  Ahh.

81218434512_0_ALB

Summer is here!

2.  One month ago I was in our nation’s Capitol on business.  Being a new citizen and representing my company in the highest offices of the land thrills me beyond description.   Walk 34 miles in heels in 90F heat? No problem.  Endure multiple security checkpoints? Sure.  Witness a vote from the Senate gallery?  Mind-blowingly cool. Sit down with members of the United States Congress over and over again? A-m-a-z-i-n-g.

on this day in 1776, the Second Continental Congress approved and adopted the Declaration of Independence. Happy Independence Day!   https://www.visitthecapitol.gov/

On this day in 1776, the Second Continental Congress approved and adopted the Declaration of Independence. Happy Independence Day! https://www.visitthecapitol.gov/

3.  Listening to the radio last night something we heard brought us right back to our teens:  the hits-from-coast-to-coast!   Remember how every summer holiday weekend brought the top 40 countdown?  Did you ever sit next to the radio and record the songs played?  I remember my cousin and I shushing our brothers because a favorite song was coming up soon and we were determined to “catch it.”  I couldn’t tell you what happened to those tapes but I know there were a lot of them!

cassette recorder

Shh … Rod Stewart is up next!

4. Speaking of music, we also reminisced about our experiences with the “Columbia Music House” collection and what a deal we thought it was — 11 choices for a $1.00 plus the added requirement to purchase more at  ridiculously inflated prices. We were kids, we didn’t know any better.  His choices included Ted Nugent, Supertramp and Chicago.  Mine included Elvis (duh!), the Oak Ridge Boys and Boston. Funny.

This was me at 15 and I think the worried look can be attributed to an overdue shipment from Columbia records!  An Emjayandthem (C) photo

This was me at 15 and I think the worried look can be attributed to an overdue shipment from Columbia records! An Emjayandthem (C) photo

5. Stopped at the Farmer’s Market Thursday and picked up the biggest, tastiest tomato ever.  I did that so I could enjoy this for my lunch today:

Toasted Tomato Sandwich  ~ ahh, Summer!

Toasted Tomato Sandwich ~ ahh, Summer!

I hope that wherever my words find you, whether you’re American or not, you join us in celebrating her birthday today. I hope you take a moment to step outside and look up at the sky – our brilliant shared sky – and I hope that, just like me, you can do so without fear.

 ** God Bless America! **

What are your plans for the Holiday today?  Did you ever tape the top 40 hits off the radio?  Had a toasted ‘mater sandwich lately?

Categories: Attitude, Faith, Friendship, Gratitude, Holidays, Home, Joy, Life, Opinion, Patriotic, Seasons, Thoughts, Traditions, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Two for Tuesday – the boys

It’s Tuesday – and time for 2-for-Tuesday – pick a topic and go with it.

Care to play along?  On Tuesdays, pick a topic and segue into it!

Care to play along? On Tuesdays, pick a topic and segue into it!

On Sunday, as I putted around the yard, I noticed a large amount of water on top of the pool cover.  All that snow melt and recent rains amounted to a lot of water – the amount of water that ducks just love to make their Spring home.  The amount of water that starts to pull on the pool cover and create issues for the structure.  ~Sigh~.

Chastising myself for not noticing sooner, I hooked up my little water pump and watched the water trickle through the garden hose and out onto the back lawn.  I knew that, at this rate, it was going to take a long, long time to make any headway.  And I knew about  rain in the forecast.  Geez.

Yesterday morning, fretting about the water, I mentioned it to oldest boy who promptly offered to check his inventory of tools and supplies to see what he could come up with. He promised to call me later and I went on my merry way and forgot about it.  Yep, I stopped at the Hardware store and bought a new, bigger pump and as I pulled into the garage, there he was, big smiles, pulling in, too.  He had a heavy-duty power-pump ready to go.  He labored a while and got the contraption working and the water level soon dropped dramatically. Sorry ducks, no spa for you this year!

Walking with me to the house he offered tips on monitoring the situation all while asking what’s in the fridge these days anyways? After warming up some stew, he chatted happily with Dad and little brother and it was in that moment that I learned another lesson:

Refusing help when you need it is refusing someone the opportunity to be helpful.

We’ve helped him a lot.  I guess it hadn’t occurred to me to let him help me.

Later, I’d left the TV on and gone off to put away some laundry.  When I came back, youngest boy told me, in an outraged voice, that he couldn’t believe what was being shown on TLC.  TLC is an abbreviation for The Learning Channel and that’s a channel I often watch.  But he didn’t know that.  He went on to tell me that he had walked through the living room and a show was focused on domestic abuse.  Why the outrage? Above and beyond the programming – this is a boy who grew up believing the only possible thing TLC could stand for is: tender-loving-care.  I smiled big, hugged him good night and gave thanks for getting two things just right.

Yes!  Google.images.com

Yes! Google.images.com

 Are you able to let others help you? Does that include your children?  Were the men in your life allowed to be tender or only tough?

Categories: Faith, Family, Growth, Home, Life Lessons, Love, Men, Mom, Personal, Random, Relationships, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Traditions | Tags: , , , , | 17 Comments

Random Five Thursday

Today’s my Friday! I’m taking tomorrow off work and with many things going on, I woke up early this morning ready to jump-start the day. With that .. here we go:

1.  Took a road trip yesterday to points south. What did I see a lot of?  Road construction, tourists and county sheriffs.  I counted not one, not two but at least 6 vehicles pulled over in a 7 mile span.  Naive me, I didn’t recall seeing anyone speeding … Hubbs filled me in that the route I was on is known for drug smugglers and undocumented workers coming to MI to pick summer crops.    Sometimes I really still am just a farm girl out in the world!  🙂

2.  At yesterday’s meeting, there were a lot of good ideas shared and alliances formed. But the highlight was meeting a most important task force member ~ Layla, the office dog.  Silky soft fur and eyes that could melt butter greeted me after the meeting and as I petted her,  I told her young owner that we had to put our old dog down.  “Aww I’m so sorry,” he said. I smiled and told him that “as hard as that is, and it’s been nearly a year, any day I get to pet someone else’s beloved dog is a really good day, thank you.”  And with that, a bond was formed that couldn’t have happened at a conference table.

3.  Found this picture recently and it seems not that long ago that youngest boy, who now towers past me by a foot +, would wrap his legs around me as I held him.  He’s still got those grasshopper legs!

Summer 1996; crossing Lake Diefenbaker, SK Canada on the Riverhurst Ferry.  An Emjayandthem (C) photo

Summer 1996; crossing Lake Diefenbaker, SK Canada on the Riverhurst Ferry. An Emjayandthem (C) photo

4.  Sometimes I just can’t take watching TV news — it’s depressing.  Yes I stay up on current affairs, but lately, I’ve found myself retreating into reruns of shows from a gentler time.  Just the other night I watched “The Brady Girls get married.” My cousin and I talked about this shift happening in both of us and she confided to a recent binge of  “The Waltons.”   I admitted to watching them, too and we both agreed that, for all her haughtiness, Corbeth Godsey was a minx.   Ike Godsey had it made in the shade!

Oh Corabeth! Image from The Today show.com

Oh Corabeth! Image from The Today show.com

5. Lastly, a friend reminded me that yesterday marked 6 months till Christmas.  In response, I sent her this photo, taken on the lake we lived at every summer:

image from Lake Diefenbaker Tourism.ca

image from Lake Diefenbaker Tourism.ca

What TV shows remind you of your childhood?  What image to you says “Summer is here!”

 

Categories: Animals, Attitude, Blogging, Faith, Family, Friendship, Growth, Home, Joy, Life, Love, News, Opinion, Personal, Relationships, Self Discovery, Traditions | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Memory lane across the span of three cupboards

My trip to the farm has come & gone.

Out of one world, into another, and back again.  Just like that.

Now I’m fighting a nasty cough, likely brought on by chats, the dry climate and a wind that never stops. Yep, “like trying to stuff 12 pounds of potatoes into a two-pound sack” we absolutely did just that.

So now I am here again, bridging my two worlds, and thinking of an epiphany  experienced in my childhood home: this was the first of all of my trips back “home” that “home” wasn’t there to be found … turns out, home is here, where I’m at now.

It was odd … sleeping in my old room, using the same coffee cup I’d favored as a teen, sitting in Dad’s chair .. and not feeling that familiar sense of home anymore.  It took me a while to see the obvious: I’ve grown up and moved on and I don’t really fit in there anymore.

I’ve lived more years away than I did there.

Once I got past that, I could lean into the visit.  And lean into it we did.   We spent most of our time just being together. Within touching distance.

Hugs good-night and good morning hellos.

Passing the jam.

Washing my hair in the kitchen sink, like I’d done as a girl.

Fixing the coffee and instinctively finding the grounds where they’d been forever (beside the fridge, on the floor, in a large tin can).

We finished stories and told new ones.

We stayed up late.

We asked “whatever happened to so & so?” and we were there for the answers.

We settled into a routine and I became part of the landscape where Mom’s lived and loved for 62+ years.  The home I hope she can stay in for many more.

It’s not my home anymore and that’s O.K.

But it did take time to be able to see it.

It took even more to be able to admit it.

And oh, before I forget, I made a pie!

It was a bright sunny morning, the country radio station was blaring and I took over her kitchen to whip up a pie … and, the funny thing is,  I enjoyed the making as much as I did the tasting … look at all that meringue – yum!

That  experience of standing at her counter tops – listening to familiar radio chatter once more – using Mom’s “harvest gold” measuring cups and battered mixing bowls – all of it … made me smile.  The trip down memory lane happened across the span of three cupboards.

Flapper pie; an Emjayandthem (C) photo

Flapper pie; an Emjayandthem (C) photo

It also took this trip back to my roots for me to finally understand why I’ve never been a fan of surprises or surprise parties.

You see, part of the fun for me is the anticipation. Don’t deny me that, please.

Trips are like that, too.

Trips and pie.

Sometimes the process can be as enjoyable as the end result.

It was soon gone.

The Flapper pie was soon gone.

# # #

When was the last time you had an epiphany?

What did you learn?

# # #

My sister-in-law’s Mom’s Flapper pie recipe:

(while talking about baking pie, my SIL Colleen quietly mentioned her Mom had been quite a good baker in her day and had a great Flapper Pie recipe and might I like to have it? Of course I would! So here it is.  Thanks Colleen!)

Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup margarine
  • Melt margarine, pour into crumbs and stir in sugar.  Press into large pie pan and up including sides.

Filling:

  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Stir in microwave-safe pourable bowl; Microwave on high until thick.  About 2 min, then stir, then another 1-2 min, depending on strength of microwave.  Watch closely, must be thick but pourable.  Pour into shell.

Topping:

  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Whip with an electric hand mixer or whisk until frothy & forms peaks (to test, turn off mixer and lift beaters away from mixture. If a peak remains, you’re set. If not, keep going.  It took me about 5 min with the hand mixer set to high to get the peaks formed).
  • Spread over filling and bake in 375 F oven until golden brown, about 8-10 min.

Allow to cool at room temperature then cover with plastic wrap and keep in fridge – best served cold with some strong “Farmer’s Coffee!”

 

 

 

 

Categories: Faith, Family, Fun, Growth, Home, Joy, Life, Life Lessons, Love, Mom, Personal, Thoughts, Traditions, Women | Tags: , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Greed registries

This weekend, I looked over a Registry for a shower I’m invited to.

Holy Dollar Bill$, Batman!

Does anyone else remember Church basement showers where “you get what you get and you didn’t throw a fit?”

What happened to Pyrex baking pans wrapped creatively in gingham tea towels?

What happened to onesies and jammies in neutral colors?  Burp pads, receiving blankets and teddy bears?

What happened to cookbooks and measuring cups and pretty hand-towels that were nearly “too nice to use?”

What happened to baby quilts lovingly crafted by arthritic fingers?

What happened to the “dainties” (tea cakes or squares) and finger sandwiches laid out by ladies in their Sunday best?

Showers I grew up attending looked like this. Without the men!

Showers I grew up attending looked like this. Without the men!

I know there’s a practical side to registering .. but I still hate it.

I’m sorry, but it often just feels like a $hakedown.

So here’s what I do.

I say “no” to the gift greed registry.

I say no to $160 coffee makers and Margarita machines.

I say babies don’t need a $300 glider to be rocked.

I just say no.

But I always attend, and I always bring a gift, something lovely and practical, something wrapped with love and sincerity and my very best wishes.  Something not often found on the greed registry!

 * * * What are your thoughts on “gift registries?”

Categories: Attitude, Family, Growth, Home, Life, Opinion, Thoughts, Traditions, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 26 Comments

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