My Holidays Limerick

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My Holidays Limerick

A cold has me stuffed in the sack
How I sniffle, I sneeze and I hack
The laptop is dusty
Inspiration is fusty
Yet, it feels mighty grand to be back

Oh, the holiday season was fun
Though I’m gleeful the chaos is done
Bye family and friends
Eating fudge had to end
Or we’d all end up weighing a ton

Saint Nick wanted cookies this year
And carrots to feed his reindeer
But Grampy was fast
The treats didn’t last
No cookies for Santa, I fear

You might get a laugh or a shock
To hear we got mittens and socks
A boy named Tornado
Got Legos and Play-Dough
All wrapped in a colorful box

New Years was dreadfully lame
No fireworks bursting in flame
No bubbly or wine
I was snoring by nine
All sickly and achy and tame

The blog suffered scarcely a peek
Between games of hide-and-go-seek
I was tempted to read
But the days passed with speed
And they rapidly turned to weeks!

No, I didn’t prep one single post
of which I can merrily boast
I finished draft two
A feat that will do
Now to blogging or my butt is toast

To my pals in the wide blogosphere
I wish you world peace and good cheer
The blessings of health
In friendship great wealth
And a bountiful, happy new year

This poem was inspired by cough medicine that made me a little loopy. I pre-scheduled it for JUNE and wondered why it didn’t post this morning.

I have a ton of catching up to do! It’s going to take me a bit, but I’ll be over to say “hi” soon. 🙂

Tornado Boy

The Real Tornado Boy

Love, Gratitude, and Friendship

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Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love that we don’t give presents, only our presence.

In lieu of my usual post, I invite you into my secret garden

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These are some fall photos of my yard, taken on my ancient camera.

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The last brave roses are still in bloom

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And the grape vines are really this ridiculous, glorious color!

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Of course, this wonderfall color has submitted to the rain.

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When the leaves fall, many of the trees are covered in silver moss that looks like snow

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And my doorbell. Did I mention that dragons live here?
(Ignore the cobwebs.  Clearly, spiders live here too).

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May your day, wherever you are in the world, grow a peaceful garden of love, gratitude, and friendship.

Happy Thanksgiving

I’m traveling for a few days. See you soon.

The Power of Fear

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“Fear,” the man said. “Fear has long, fine fingers.”

Grigor Phelan found fear intriguing, full of subtleties, an art form one contemplated because nothing of its shape or color or texture was what it appeared. Fear spanned a spectrum from the subtle edge of respect to unbounded terror, and he was most attracted to what lay in between, in the murky hues of human sentiment. He was charmed by the guises of fear, how it hid itself from its host, how it crouched on the rim of consciousness. Like a child’s kaleidoscope, fear proved changeable, multi-faceted, and often lovely as it turned. It might wear the face of generosity or compassion, decency or loyalty, adoration or threat. It could be manipulated by the most benign of words or actions, or pace like a wolf at the edge of a nightfire, seeking a way in.  (Myths of the Mirror)

***

Few will deny that fear is a powerful force. I wrote the above words as the puppeteers geared up for the invasion of Iraq. Fear was the weapon of choice to convince otherwise rational adults to ignore facts and engage in some shock and awe. The Oxford Research Group estimates that 6,700 civilian men, women, and children died during those 3 weeks of “awe.”

Fear is empowering. We all know that invoking the “other” unites us, fires our collective will, and rallies our troops. How thrilling to identify a monster, threaten to lay it low, and scream our slogans. If you want to unite a people behind you, find a common enemy – a racial or ethnic group, a religion or gender, lifestyle or point of view. All other problems, all other responsibilities, every other option falls away.

Few are impervious to fear’s influence, though some are bolder, braver, and willing to see beyond the lurid illusions. No matter how one felt about Barrack Obama’s policies, it’s hard to deny the remarkable fortitude, dignity, and grace he exhibited while facing eight years of fear-based racism, bigotry, smears, and lies. The baseness of the attacks brought a whole nation to a standstill. They accomplished nothing and served no one, least of all the fearful.

Peace, unity, and progress require hard work. Fear is easy. It does away with the pesky time-consuming need for listening, dialog, collaboration, and compromise. It requires no research, no curiosity, no empathy, no diligence, no ethics, no time, no compassion, no truth. It’s so much easier to lay blame, to hide behind righteousness, to repeat the lies, to say what others want to hear, to feed and fan the flames until it becomes the norm for political discourse and cements walls of cynicism and suspicion in place.

Fear is ravenous. It claims those who wield it and makes them slaves to their own words and actions. Few who have unleashed the monster will risk the backlash should they try stuff it back in its cage. Once the beast is fed, it’s safer to keep feeding. Who would have thought kindness requires such courage.

Today, the US votes. I hope that we as a nation aren’t ensnared in fear’s talons. I hope we can stuff it back behind the bars and elect leaders who will knuckle under and start the tremendously hard work of finding solutions to the massive problems riddling our country and the world. This is serious business with lives at risk, real lives that depend on our leaders to stand up against fear and proceed with, at the very least, mutual respect.

What wonders we could achieve if we believed in the power of love.

My one political post for the year. Thanks for listening ❤

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My Oven Saga

My fixed oven and stove

My fixed oven and stove

I can’t cook.

It’s one of those skills that never penetrated the thick membrane that lines my skull and keeps my brain from leaking. I marvel at foodies who produce mouth-watering cuisine using random supplies from the pantry and refrigerator. Despite good intentions, I peer into those mysterious places and my mind goes blank.

My husband took over the grocery shopping 10 years ago when he noticed that “grocery shopping” failed to result in groceries. When the poor man eats one of my meals and says, “that was good,” it comes out sounding surprised. Like going to the dentist for a root canal and not experiencing any pain. It’s jaw-dropping amazing!

frog-1254650_960_720So, when we moved into our current house 6 years ago, it didn’t bother me that only one burner on the gas stove worked. My cooking is far from fancy, and juggling a pot and pan over the single flame was no biggie.

Then, this past June, the electric-powered oven broke. With only one working burner, the oven was somewhat handy. The three meals I make that consistently earn a “that was good” comment are oven-made, so this was not a positive turn of events.

We ordered the new element, and when it arrived two weeks later, the dear man tried to install it and broke the thingy inside the back of the oven. A gas-related complication meant that any attempt at further repair was likely to end with parts of this author and her handy hubby sprinkling the mountainside. We needed a professional.

Now, my better half thinks that since I started writing, my ability to accomplish basic tasks around the house has deteriorated to the point where he’d rather do everything himself. I have no idea where this silly thought came from, but I’m not complaining. More time to write. He takes on the responsibility of calling the manufacturer to see if there’s a repair service somewhere willing to send someone into the wilderness to fix this thing.

Stuck with a single burner and no oven, I have no choice but to cook stir-fry.

30 days later, I’m still cooking stir-fry.

60 days later, I’m getting a little sick of stir-fry.

90 days later, I decide to make stir-fry interesting and roll it up in wraps with sour cream and salsa. Hubby announces he needs to get that oven fixed ASAP.

120 days later, neither of us can deal with any more stir-fry. We loathe stir-fry and stir-fry wraps. Hubby calls Gadget who lives ten miles down the road. Despite some bad weather, Gadget comes over three days later and fixes the oven!

animal-1238228_960_720But wait, what about the burners! This very lovely fellow looks down the gas jet thingys and raises his eyebrows. “I think you have spider webs in your gas jets.” I haven’t used those burners in the 6 years I’ve lived here, so it sounds reasonable to me. He starts pulling the “web” out with a tiny hook, and it’s not spider webbing after all. It’s decade old mouse nesting. Ick. Yuck, Blech.

Anyway, now the burners all work and the oven is fixed, thanks to Gadget. To celebrate this miracle, the hubby ventured out in the rain, wind, and stormy weather to buy ingredients for one of my three reliably “good” meals. I’m all set to cook eggplant parmesan and garlic bread.

Then the power goes out!

**

This post is dedicated to a few blogging foodies that I’ve followed for some time now. They inspire me to try new recipes. Now I can!

Kathryn at Another Foodie Blogger
Lynne at Lynne’s Recipe Trails
Antonia at Zoale
Lynn at Lynz Real Cooking

If you like to cook (or want to try), click on over and pay them a visit. 🙂

On the Road without WiFi

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Sunset near my parent’s home

This summer has been a busy one and finally it’s time for a break. I’m headed to the high desert of western Colorado to visit the folks, help with chores, go over paperwork with my dad, and talk talk and talk with my mom who is blind and loves to fill her hours with visiting. We’ll spend several days organizing stuff, a favorite pastime for both of them.

The last time I was there, I helped pack up the house for an imminent move to Oregon to be closer to family (me), and then my parents wouldn’t move because they didn’t want to uproot the cats. My dad will want to do something adventurous like driving out into the backcountry and getting the car stuck in a gully. And I’ll probably clean the refrigerator, among other things.

The folks don’t have WiFi, and in their little town there aren’t any cafes where I can hang out for hours and blog, so I’m going to be incommunicado for a couple weeks. It’s an opportunity to focus on my parents, a daughterly must especially now that they’ve reached their mid-eighties and health concerns intensify. I plan to write but will limit my fantasy forays to early mornings before they’re up, nap times, and after they’ve gone to bed. It’s all good, all part of life.

I don’t plan to post and won’t be able to visit blogland to peruse your wonderful posts or respond to random likes, comments, and follows. I’ll catch up when I return to the best of my ability.

Have a lovely couple weeks. Enjoy the beautiful changing of the seasons. Make time for the ones you love. “See” you when I get back.

The folks last summer

The folks, last summer

 

 

 

 

My Patio Failure

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I just put in a patio… for the second time.

That seems to be how I do things … twice. I try something with zero planning and no idea what the heck I’m doing. It’s pure adrenaline and inspiration, and usually, I have a lot of fun despite my first-time failures.

I wrote a book that way. Zipped through it, scribbling like a lunatic, 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. In 30 days I wrote 189,000 words. I loved every single moment of it. Then I learned a thing or two (or 50) about writing and had to rewrite the whole book from start to finish. It took me two years.

It’s how I roll, apparently. I was raised believing I could accomplish anything if I put my mind to it and applied a hefty dose of elbow grease. A good impetus for trying new things, even though my first efforts are often disasters.

Imagine the worst sheetrock job of the century, the crumbling stone wall, the warped floor, the divorce, the singing waitress job (yup, I did that).

I put in this patio a couple years ago without any preparation – no sand, no wire, no plastic, no concrete, no level. I just set everything on top of the dirt. Each rock was a different size and I dug individual holes so they would all be even. It was spectacular.

My friends out here in the rainforest asked me how I prepped the foundation. “Oh, I just lay everything on the dirt,” I said cluelessly. They exchanged wide-eyed glances and bit their lips but had the grace not to explode my happy-bubble.

Did I mention the rainforest? The place where green things grow 2 feet a day… all year round. Within a month, the weeds between the stones were waist high. The squirrel-sized moles had tunneled beneath the whole thing, pushing stones aside and heaping up knee-high piles of dirt. For two years my beautiful “patio” was a jungle of thistle, ferns, burdock, blackberries, and grass. Yeesh.

So, it was time to do it over again… completely. When my eyeballs dried up from editing, I went outside and pulled up rocks and bricks and pavers and piled them in the woods. I weeded from one end to the other and relaid every single stone … the right way.

The point? Don’t be afraid to try new things if you feel inspired. A little planning and preparation is probably a good idea. But even if you jump in with both feet, like I do, know that failure is a great teacher and nothing to be shy about. The end result is often worth it, and you might surprise yourself!

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Reflecting on Mother’s Day

Four generations of women on Mother's Day, 30 yrs ago

Four generations of women on Mother’s Day, 33 yrs ago

A reblog from last year, no less relevant today.

For several years, I had the great privilege of serving families in need. As part of my work, I was invited into homes and lives to guide, teach, nurture, and when I could, to gather baskets of memories brimming with new ways of being and believing in the world. At most, I accompanied mothers and children on their journeys for mere slivers of time, and yet in the collection of hours and days, I was witness to great suffering and love, desperation and hope.

Those who travel the helpers’ path are granted gifts. Not gifts wrapped in paper and laced with ribbon that we set on a windowsill and forget with time, but gifts that reside within us, that alter who we are and how we perceive our world.

We live in a time of divisiveness. Our politics shred our world, and unfiltered rhetoric spews like bile into the air, toxic with deception and blame. It is no wonder that we are losing our ability to listen and behold each other with open minds and compassionate hearts.

Struggling mothers and their children live everywhere: in the mountains of China, on the plains of Africa, in the arid lands of Iran, or simply around the corner. Across the globe, mothers touch small foreheads, peer into innocent eyes, and sing their children to sleep.  What would happen to our world if we became still and quiet and listened to those whispered songs?

The enduring gifts of a mother’s love have sustained children, families and communities through the centuries. They are timeless, borderless reminders of our common humanity and dreams of hope.

To mothers everywhere, I wish us a world of peace.