The way to love someone
is to lightly run your finger over that person's soul
until you find a crack,
and then gently pour your love into that crack.
~Keith Miller

Sunday, December 27, 2015

 ferris wheel at the Christmas fair

 driving to Zilker Park for a walk around
driving home after the walk 

the dinner ONE recently cooked for us

spicy garlic soup
amazingly delicious cashews with bacon
charcuterie and assortment of cheese

edamame glass noodle salad
with a red chili dressing
recipe was something like this

orange honey bourbon
and molasses glazed ham
fried shishito  peppers (kinda like okra)
buttermilk cheese biscuits
(which I also enjoyed for breakfast this morning)

roasted vegetables with rosemary salt and pepper olive oil
splashed with molasses before serving
very tasty

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

things I got to enjoy today

view from the back deck
Egret fishing
Blessed to get to enjoy this view and how it changes through out the day

piano guts
back in the brush on a five acre lot we walked today
never know what you're gonna walk up on

one of my little gingerbread pound cakes
four more to go today

was/is (venting - you may want to skip this one!)

...and one panda
Yesterday ... shopping with my 15 year old - V, aka Five.
Today ... shopping with my 20  year old - C, aka Four.

And baking a couple of those (I hope they will be) cute cakes.

We are trying to get tickets to see the new Star Wars movie at one of those swanky theaters (meaning, I think, they serve cocktails).  It's my husband's idea.  (I think it's a great idea ...and I think the drinks will be crazy expensive ... I am the DD for this type outing) As it stands now, tickets are a week out if we want a decent seat (and they are assigned)!

I know I should be reflecting on Advent. 

Hope Love Peace Joy
What I do find myself struggling a bit with is wishing "things" could be better between my deceased brother's wife and me.  
I think I understand "it" a bit better than I did, but it's one of those things that needs time has to soften and blur the rough edges of.  I think it was hard for her to make room for me as a care giver to him.  She didn't like that he wanted me with him as much as he did.  Our closeness annoyed her even as she needed the help.  He needed the help ... his battle was intense.  Another major factor was she is the sort of person who usually finds herself the center of everything she is involved  in.  The cancer was pretty much about him.  I think she found the sidelines a difficult position to be in because life hasn't given her many opportunities to be there.  I heard him tell her several times that as "sucky" as the experience of CANCER is for her, that in fact, she is (was) not the one dying here.  Tommy could be a bit of a diva himself and ... CANCER did demand a main character in that "story of our lives together".  It did suck.  It still does.
I believe she thinks I was "mean" to her because I was unable to feel sorry enough for her as soon as she thought it should be her turn for attention.  I just didn't have the capacity at the time.  I wanted, truthfully, I expected, her to put her time in the "this really sucks for you" place on hold until after he died.  She did pretty good at managing that until he became mostly unconscious.  I needed her to wait just a bit longer, or go to someone else for the "loving" but she was unable to.  I really don't judge her for that.  I feel that it was unfortunate.  I also wish she had been able to extend a bit of compassion towards me rather then just expecting me to absorb/soothe whatever she felt she needed during a time that was very difficult for both of us.  It's also probably that she just never really liked me anyway - we had very little in common, maybe even only (our different relationships) with him.  I was happy for them to be together and a strong advocate for their relationship.
It's on my mind (too) so much now because ... this is the time, a year later.  He asked me to go out on Christmas day and find some things, some happy things, that we could do together this year ... this week.  I did that. C helped me do that and I'm pretty sure our family will make that a Christmas tradition - we would include her.
I have reached out to her several times this year.  Mostly she snubs me.  Once she did begin to enthusiastically text about the various ways Tommy is "manifesting" his continued presence.  It didn't bother me, it is just how she is.  We believe differently and I do respect her right to that.  
This year I have realized that she made things more difficult for me all the time, every time, last year.  
I think God "places" people in our lives for His own reasons.  Once I recognize that a person is in my life I make every effort to let them be in my life. Even if the relationship we share is difficult, I try to participate fully, I try to make it easy for my people to be at home with me. There are people who I would choose for myself all by myself.  I think I feel guilty about her because although I don't dislike her, I would not have chosen her to be in my life ... and I am relieved that I have no continuing obligation to honor a relationship that is dysfunctional.  
Does that make sense?  I feel guilty for hoping to be "off the hook".  I wonder if I get to choose to move away from that relationship.  Maybe people who divorce have a knack for ... dismissing.  My husband says I don't have to continue to reach out to her.  He says every time I do it leaves an open wound on me and doesn't seem to do any good for her.
She didn't have her own people around her helping much during the time of his CANCER.  I have no reason to believe that has changed ... that's why it's heavy on my heart.

I'm doing a guided seasonal meditation on Hope Love Peace Joy but ... it is not at my center as I wish it to be.  I am stuck in the mire of unresolved grief.  Not grief for my brother.  I'd like to be "working" through that more as I would naturally be. I'm just stuck on what I'm supposed to do about her.  The other (wakeful) night I thought this residual pain, or grief, is like a cancer in that something unseen is acting in me and it's not for my good.  I check myself to see how I can get past these feelings.  Is there something I can do?  "Throwing her away" is how it seems to me - it seems very unkind. There does not seem to be anything I can do.  
I have to accept the fact that there is no chance of a "better" past or future.  It was/is what it was/is.  

"Sincere forgiveness isn't colored with expectations that the other person apologize or change.  Don't worry whether of not they finally understand you. Love them and release them.  Life feeds back truth to people in its own way and time - just like it does for you and me." ~ Sara Paddison 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

It's not that I've been too busy to write, it's that I have nothing to say.

This cyclamen is on the kitchen counter top.  Definitely one of my all time favorite flowers. I love the purple throat which gives way to coral and rose. I love the delicate shimmer of the petals.

Mostly on my mind is a to do list, a list of loving things to do for my people.  I bought one of those Gingerbread Bundt Pans for making little cakes for the neighbors.  That will be fun.

C was here with a couple of old friends the past week, now she is away at a camp job. It was great to have them here for a few days.  I enjoy company and these kiddos are for all intents and purposes, family.

My V works today.  She has finished her first semester in Texas with a perfect report card and I think the best attitude about "stuff in general" that I've ever experienced on a fifteen year old.  Perhaps it helps that I don't hear as well as I used to.

Christmas shopping just about complete ... !

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Colleen's Cinnamon Rolls, aka ... "My Favorite Cinnamon Rolls Ever!"

I asked Susan, who has always baked beautiful scrumptious treats, for roll recipe, something easy, something even a novice baker like me could bake.  She emailed a dinner roll recipe (which I baked and delivered straight out of the oven to the deer on Thanksgiving day) and this, a breakfast cinnamon roll recipe.  Susan said she has been using this recipe, a gift from Colleen, since our school days together.  I've  successfully "re-created" these twice now. I do add pecans ... and a vanilla infused glaze once they come out of the oven.  These were topped with pecans and the rest of the cinnamon sugar.

Here's a pic of Susan and Colleen and Dolly.  They are beautiful aren't they?  It amazes me that they all three still look almost exactly like they did here on Colleen's wedding day in (I'm guessing) 1980.

Here - Susan and me probably a year later (on the TAMU campus).  It's funny to see this picture ... I still wear mostly white shirts (or black) with jeans and boots.  I thought my fashion sense had evolved, but clearly it hasn't.

I made the cinnamon rolls again while my daughter was here this week with her very best friends.  I sat with one of them, I've known her since she was young enough, still in diapers, to be in big trouble with her momma for constantly flipping her dress up at church.  She said she actually remembers that (I bet she does). Now they are around the same age as the four of us pictured here ... and I'm passing along Colleen's cinnamon roll recipe to them (and to you, they are that good!).

These friends have really supported me this year.  This year has been lots better because they have taken time out of very busy lives to remind me that I am loved ... and I'm not alone.
We've been loving each other for a long time now.

Now those cinnamon rolls become part of these three's sweet life story.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

It is slightly less delightful to sip my nice hot coffee with these two watching my every move
Sammy's begging for an early morning walk ... the cat is just noisy

Yesterday we hit the Farmer's Market bright and early - well not so bright, it was OVC and gusty. I like to go out there for breakfast tacos before we shop. Mostly, I buy fresh cuts of local proteins and eggs out there - the local grocery stores have beautiful produce (and fresh tortilla!)
It is good to be back in Texas.

Later I tried to wrangle the glitter stampede in our living room. Decorating this year has been harder then I expected. Our things don't look "just right" here, but I'm working on it. That sled is from my husband's childhood in Germany where is dad was stationed. I've almost finished the mantle - pic later.

Most importantly, C, aka IV, arrived not a moment too soon last night with a couple of her friends. They are sound asleep now, and probably will be for a while yet.  I love having them here. (That location share option - rocks!)

This may be my December/end of year picture, Snapped this week.  I think I'll look in "photos" for one taken this same week last year when most of December was spent in a hospital room.
Well ... that was not a good idea.  Apparently a breaking heart is clearly visible on one's face. 
Other than that ... more grey in hair, and bangs added this year ... and I look happier now.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

just pics from today and yesterday

hiding in his fishing blind
while I hide behind my "bottle tree"
hoping he doesn't see me

little ladybug helper
(it's December!)
making the trellis to hang Christmas lights
over the fire pit
for a smore night next week

yesterday's sunset
at the low water crossing

last night's appetizer
(yes the sausage is over crisp!)
(Louie Mueller's jalapeno - still delish)
this is roasted pumpkin squares, bacon and sausage,
with a drizzle of maple syrup
on a twig

Friday, December 4, 2015

steam fog

“Man finds it hard to get what he wants, 
because he does not want the best; 
God finds it hard to give, 
because He would give the best,

 and man will not take it.” 

~ George MacDonald

Heron Pic on San Gabriel yesterday's walk

“I would rather be what God chose to make me than the most glorious creature that I could think of; for to have been thought about, born in God's thought, and then made by God, is the dearest, grandest and most precious thing in all thinking.” 
~George MacDonald

Was looking for a different GMD quote and came to this one worth the thinking time.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Light Switch

 That's Shadow ... He came to us with his two brothers when his eyes were still shut.  Kitten formula, found at Walmart, and a little heating pad from the same place saved his life.  For a while they snuggled in a laundry basket full of soft old towels.  I'd lift them out carefully always mindful of their fragile skeletons, gosh they were tiny. Over the next several weeks I basically fell in love with them.  Sammy didn't seem to mind at all.  He tolerates them okay and it's funny to see how casual they are around him.  Shadow is.  I should say.  One was lost to a freak accident, another to a snake bite just before we moved back to Texas.  It's funny how it is with Shadow.  He's a real stinker, tumping over the kitchen waste basket ... he even has the audacity to leap up on to the counter tops with me watching.  We do this dance, he jumps up to see what might be available, I shriek at him, "GET DOWN", he gracefully acquiesces and struts towards the  out door.  He knows how it goes.  Tomcats who can't mind their manners best be outside.  If I'm home, Shadow frequently spends the day inside "lording it" over the other cat (also black, also a rescue, but an entirely different  moment of grace brought him to us) but prefers outside at night.  He hits the back door in time to come in for breakfast.  Lately, he's been coming home with a "sick" eye, which I tend to for him, yesterday I noticed another "notch" in his left ear.  I don't know what sort of trouble he finds for himself.
When I snapped that picture I was wondering, "What is Shadow getting up to now?"
He could sun on the back porch glider all day long, later he could bask in the moonlight filtering through the trees, yet he has things, mysterious cat things to do.

He wants for nothing, yet he wants something.  We are a bit like that too.

Today I am looking a bit deeper in to "The Engineering of Consent" ... Why do we want what we want.

Monday, November 30, 2015

down by the river

egret in our back yard

Your legs will get heavy and tired. Then comes a moment of feeling the wings you've grown, lifting.
~ Rumi

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Turkey Tacos

chopped left over turkey

guacamole - this one was a few ripe avocados  mashed with a can of spicy ROTEL drained* before combining with a dash of ground cumin, garlic and onion powder

corn salsa -
two ears of corn (roasted is better, but these were microwaved, husk on, for 2 minutes)
red onion (I used half of a large one)
garlic (two cloves finely minced)
fresh cilantro (leaves only of half a large bunch)
jalapenos (finely chopped with seeds)
key lime juice (Nellie and Joe's)
* liquid from Rotel can is a good addition to the salsa
also, I prefer serrano peppers with this, but had jalapenos on hand

Glad to live where excellent commercial corn tortillas are prepared fresh throughout the day!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015 Appetizer Recipes

 I roasted a pumpkin last week.  We made appetizers from it.

Pumpkin Hummus 

with thanks to Closet Cooking

  • 1 (15 oz.) can of chickpeas (reserve liquid just in case)
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • juice of one large lemon (1/4 cup)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • some cinnamon
  • salt, pepper, cayenne to taste
we added ground cumin
puree everything in food processor
I wish I had served this with red pepper wedges ... 

Filo tartlets with Spinach,  Pumpkin Feta and Pine nuts
with thanks to mediterrasian
6 sheets filo (phyllo) pastry 
2 cups peeled, diced pumpkin
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 
1 onion
1 bunch spinach (around 8 oz/240g)—stems removed, chopped 
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill (we used dried dill)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 oz (120g) feta cheese—crumbled
1 tablespoon melted butter
2 tablespoons raw pine nuts

Basically - prep Phyllo as usual (I used four sheets per tartlet for 8 sheets total) - cut sheet in six equal squares. Sauté everything except get and pine nuts.  Add feta, stir ... fill cups of muffin tin (12 each) bake 22 minutes on 350 - somewhere along the way add pine nuts to tops for light toasting.  we had filling left over which will be used as a hash.  Everyone loved these.

Pumpkin Soup

I just made up a recipe.

about 2 cups of roasted pumpkin
bag of peeled parsnips
1 white onion roasted
1 small purple bell pepper roasted
1small red pepper roasted
3 cloves garlic roasted
chicken broth
Creole seasoning mixture to spice it up (Tony Chachere's)

heated then pureed to consistency of soup
served with dollop of greek yogurt and pipitas
I made this a few days in advance and re-heated.

Husband didn't like - said it tasted like a baby food ... more for me.

One Baked Brie in a pie shell and topped with black cherry jelly (delicious)
Wrapped Brie in pie crust, brush with egg and melted butter (he said lots of butter) bake at 350 for 20 minutes top with jelly to serve

Deviled eggs ... the way I fix 'em.  Recipe available upon request.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

few thoughts on "the stories we tell ourselves"

Thanksgiving week.  Today I expect to finish up my grocery shopping.  The aisles have been swapped! Yesterday, I chickened out within five minutes of arriving inside the store.  Sunday shoppers are surprisingly feisty, the Monday crowd seemed aggressive.  I have time, and my list is dwindling - five minutes worth of shopping at a time.  Thinking about cooking the turkey today and compressing it to provide space in our tiny refrigerator for other things.
Also on today's list, icing cookies to gift the neighbors.  I am thankful for really great neighbors here at the rent house.
Still whistling snippets of the Saint-Saëns which we began rehearsing in September.  The performance was Sunday past.  Next work will be Mozart's Coronation Mass which I'm looking forward to.

Lately I've been thinking a lot about the stories we tell ourselves. Mark Twain observed,

  • "... life does not consist mainly -- or even largely -- of facts and happenings. It consists mainly of the storm of thoughts that is forever blowing through one's head. ",  
  •                         the stories we tell ourselves.

  • The Pastor's sermon a few Sundays back got me to thinking about it.  He said his step dad was physically and emotionally abusive.  He didn't say emotionally, he used a guy word that I can't recall right this minute.  He said he hated him.  And he told himself that basically everything wrong in his life was wrong because of this man, his mother's husband.  Somehow, and I believe it was part of his conversion process, he told his step dad that he was angry and asked him to forgive him for that anger.  Personally, I don't think anger is "a sin" but I do think anger may incentivize sinful actions.  That's probably what he was talking about.  His own actions.  

  • Some stories are about God will make things right.   Well, some little stories are about that, but I guess that's really one of the major themes of the Bible ... redemption, restoration.

  • Love is a theme we seem to like.  
  • I think love stories are really the main stories ... finding love, nurturing love, sadly - losing love, love will make it "right", unconditional love.  Love as a theme seems to transcend the genres as a major need and therefore point of interest.  I am wondering what I tell myself about love.  About who I love, how I love, how I am loved, or not ... and less importantly, the things I "love".

The flowing of time is another interesting topic as stories go.  
I sometimes look at my hands and think of how different they looked when I first started noticing them.  Say, for example, when I first started wearing a wedding ring.  My hands have been busy since then.  We all have busy hands.  The lady sitting next to me in the choir had her 75th birthday on Saturday.  She lost her husband this year ... this was her first birthday without him in I don't know how long.  Her hands look strong.  The skin is loose and spotted yet the actual hands are still strong. Her clear blue eyes sparkled.  I loved singing beside her. My mother-in-laws hands were continuously shaky as they searched, seemingly with a mind of their own, for something to fidget with.  The nurses told me that reaching for the air and pulling at the bedding was fairly common for those nearing death.

I like stories of discovery and tend to see them as a result of some heroic effort.  I see one type of  hero as the character in stories about discovery.  Of course they are the good guys in all the good-verses-evil stories.  Those stories aren't always about saving the planet from __________, sometimes they are small stories like reaching something down (adore that phrase, it just popped up from little memory wrinkled up in the 60's) for someone, or holding a door.  I like good guys.   

  • Those larger font words are probably the main types of story themes I think about.  It seems like to me that telling oneself "right" stories would be most helpful.  

  • Stephen Covey has some pretty good ideas.

    Mrs. Roosevelt is one of my favorites.
I do believe that we collaborate with God to create ourselves.  We are "becoming" ready for what comes next.  That's what I think.  And I'm going to start paying better attention to "the stories" I tell myself about me.  I remember that movie, The Help, where the lady told the child, "You is smart, you is kind, you is important."  
Those seem like good words to tell a child.  One of the things I tell myself that simply is not true is that I am alone.  Just not true at all.  Not even a little bit.  
This is busy day.  I'm doing the day before Thanksgiving cooking, so I have to scoot, but I wanted to make a few notes about this while it's still near the front of my mind.  I think you can observe the people you know well, like yourself (myself) and see some wrong thinking going on. I think it's a good exercise to listen to what the story you tell your self sounds like and recheck the authenticity.  Along that same line, I know just from being a grown up that some of the stuff I was told as a child just isn't correct.

“His words, soaring above his circumstances, set his troubles in a context large enough to contain them.”  Derek Kidner.

The Kidner quote - even when one doesn't have "troubles" to speak of, words may establish a context wherein life events are processed and  "contained".

I bet there are only a few "themes" that are explored or re-inforced by the stories I (maybe even subconsciously) tell myself.  It's fairly easy to see those I know best establishing "stories" about themselves or what is going on around them - some of the stories  not accurate and in the falseness harmful. One of mankind's first stories "God is withholding something good from us" hasn't fortified our way ... has supported troubles.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Jeff Foxworthy jokes, "If you measure distance in hours, you may live in Texas." Honestly, I don't think of distance in another way.  The other day, driving home from DFW, while stuck in traffic on 35 I saw a digital construction sign which read Temple 4 miles 40 minutesFoxworthy also notes, "If the speed limit on the highway is 55mph, and you're going 80, and everybody's passing you, you may live in Texas."  People laugh at those one liners, but ... seems just a fact to me.  They gotta get 35 back up and running!

Yesterday I walked with Sammy for a couple hours, came home, fixed a lunch (that is a word meaning "prepared") of chicken salad and leftover vinegar slaw, then set out on another walk with Sammy and my husband.
This picture was snapped from the low-water crossing (a concrete bridge) near our place. A heron is frequently fishing from a perch on that spillway along the San Gabriel River.  Yesterday, a baby heron practicing gliding skills delighted us as he flew from one side to the other.

What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

A weed is but an unloved flower.~Ella Wheeler Wilcox

These two pictures were taken from a top the rock ledge which borders the spill way.  I wasn't keen to take that path, wary of snakes and sticker burrs, but enjoyed seeing where I more usually walk (over the dam and nearer to the lake) from where I look towards. You can see the natural rock wall in the second snapshot (to the left) but it's harder to notice the sheer drop off to the right.  The color of the dry grass camouflages the fall.  I wonder if arrow heads can be found up here where things are less disturbed.  I appreciated my husband making that walk with me.  Back in the middle of nowhere there was a deer feeder, a motion detector on a fence stake (I think that's what it was), a cammo clothe pup tent and a big white dog sniffing it out.  He was off lead and I just hoped he'd hear the cease and desist tone of my voice.  We walked on without delay.  Bow hunting on the Corp. property is okay in season, setting up a "camp" probably would be discouraged!

Looking forward to planning and shopping for the Thanksgiving meal today.  Cooking is one of my favorite activities.

Also saw these cool things yesterday ... a leaf with branch aspirations and a snail making his way.  I like the story a shadow will tell.

Monday, November 16, 2015

200 OVC ... 67*F ... less than a quarter mile visibility Perfect day for a long walk, I could feel "the clouds" on my face.


161550Z 15008KT 3SM BR OVC002 19/18 A2993 

later today, BECMG ... -SHRA and later still, TSRA OVC009CB
around mid morning tomorrow NSW BKN20

May I should get back out there for another walk!

It is a joy to see the floral changes along the trail.  I like the coral leaves especially and some others that look like palm sized pottery bowls.  I would like to "make" some and use tiny twigs for their stems.  Pretty soon we will be settled in enough for me to find a studio.  I am certain that there are places for that around here!

We are about half way through our rental contract here, and thinking is turning more and more towards a longer term situation.  We still like the idea of building.  There are also 10+ acre older homes available that might make sense for us.  The building lots we have considered tend to be around one acre.  Later today we are going up to the courthouse to look at the deed restrictions on a lot we seem to be becoming more and more interested in. That lot "wants" an fairly contemporary looking structure built on it.  It is bordered on two sides by flowing water, on one side by a four story rock wall and the other by a residential street.  A conventional build would be very costly on that lot (which is precisely why it hasn't been built out).  There are a couple of lots, quarter acre lots, in the older downtown area.  We like the idea of walking in to town where lotsa fun seems always to be happening.  If we built there we would select a craftsman style home - modern craftsman.  For me the big downside to living in town is that it seems to be a pocket of relocated Austin Liberals, who I think would be lively dinner companions but maybe tiresome as neighbors.  I'm sure I would get on their nerves with my not so PC dependent leanings.  The big plus side of the downtown area property is it sells fast.  Though not the two empty lots (one became available when its house burned down), it seems like people are less likely to build new homes there, preferring to renovate the older homes.  The other possibility that we go back and forth in our thinking with is that acreage  option.  We like to think of restoring the older home that those places come with.  I do like older construction, homes built in the 50's and 60's ... the down side is they need a lot of work.  I also don't know what we would really do with all that land ... I might be able to take care of a few chickens, but that's about it.

I am excited about meal planning and cooking for Thanksgiving.  This week, maybe today, I'm going to make a first attempt at "knocking off" the iconic Black Forrest Cake which is served at Ft. Worth's Swiss Pastry shop.  It is my favorite dessert.  I should learn how to make it!

Monday is house cleaning extravaganza day for me so maybe no time for baking today (plus I'm wondering if the humidity will adversely affect these dry little cake layers).  Trip to courthouse!  No baking today.  I also want to put together a fresh lesson package on the BFR.
And I have both PTA and Choir rehearsal tonight!  I better get crackin'!