Monday, December 31, 2012

Saying Goodbye

to 2012...

An evening cup by the
last night "glow" of the
Christmas Tree.

Reflecting on the past

Fully settled in The Den
and comfortable, now. Spent
the year learning to use the
transit system and discovering the best ways to
the airport/bus stations/train stations. Traveled to Chicago and Iowa with my DS family and it was wonderful. Diane, Sal, Karl and Lillian...thanks for kidnapping me. was so good to finally meet in REAL TIME.

Shared the year with old friends and new. Enjoyed having all the boys together for the Holidays again...and all the grands, too! Lennon...miss our coffee cup chats...I will see you at Graduation!

Watched Tucker settle in to his role as a "house-cat" iffy prospect at first...but much happier about it, now...especially in this snowy weather.

Shared the ups and downs with my very best friend, Angie...with whom I will be ringing in the New Year, tonight. 2013 is going to be...well...a LOT better. Glad that she is settled finally and has her studio at last!

Tried so many new things. Recipes from many different countries...tried Absinthe...learned a little Italian...learned the botanical name for everything I grew this year...learned a lot about container gardening and plant propagation...dabbled in acrylics...both representational and abstract...played with clay...discovered PINTREST...and the millions of ideas/recipes and tips it has to offer...made my own scarves out of old tee-shirts and created Spatter-Wear with Ola...and so much much more.

Took my annual sneak peek at FRED and am happy to report an overall decease in size...doubled up on my Physical Therapy and am still decidedly ambulatory. Increasing in strength. Reiterated to my MD that my new goal is to outlive him :)

After five years...the Zen Buddhist path...well...I am making progress.  Happier and more centered than my life has been for years.  Gratitude and Compassion make all the difference. Knowing that I am the love and light...and so are you :)

 Wishing everyone a Happy and Safe New Year's Eve!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Buttoning Up 2012

Woke this morning to a fresh layer of snow.
                                                It is absolutely beautiful.

And true to form...along with the cold and snow came the 2013 Burpee's Plant and Seed catalog. They know what they are doing. It's no coincidence, you know. If it arrived during the burgeoning warmth of a Spring Day you would lay it aside in an "oh-that's-nice" fashion and bustle on about your day.

However, when it arrives on a slate gray snowy day...when the gardens are buried under several inches of snow and the gazing ball is sporting a wintery crust of its own and it is 22 out but the wind-chill makes it feel like 14 degrees...well...that's an entirely different matter.

And, as gardeners we fall on it like a Dunkin' Donuts box at a Weight-Watcher's meeting.  

Necessitating an hour or more spent day-dreaming about next season's colors, herbs, vegetables and vines. A nice cup of English tea with cream and a pen circling the possibilities. All the while visions of Hollyhocks, and Roses and Begonias dance in our heads.

 Oh yes...those Burpee people are a scheming lot.

Buttoning up the year's end at The Den. Embarked on a room to room de-clutter and reorganize over the next three days. A place for everything and everything in its place by the New Year. Papers sorted and shredded and tossed. Year end projects completed. Even the computer gets cluttered over the course of a year, too.

Finished a read I had purposely avoided-- for what will soon become obvious reasons-- last year.  Just completed:  A Widow's Story by Joyce Carol Oates. Yes...Diane (and everyone else at DS who recommended it) this non-fiction account of her husband's death and her journey to the place where life goes nothing short of amazing! If you have ever lost a spouse through death you will find yourself nodding and understanding every word. If you haven' simply won't  "get it"...and that's okay...hoping you never have to.

So with the snows and chill comes winter-fare. The hearty soups, stews and chili. Heavy round loaves of homemade breads. Gingerbread and bread pudding with hard sauce...and one of my NYE favorites...rum balls. Wanted to share this recipe :)

Holiday Rum Balls




(...although a perfectly serviceable rum ball can be made with crushed vanilla wafers or chocolate cake crumbs I tend to enjoy the rich chocolate of these which start with a fudge brownie base...)

Prepare one 8x8 pan of boxed store bought chocolate brownies. The .99 cent variety works fine. Under-bake for about 5 minutes. Remove and let cool completely.

While they are baking soak 1/2 cup raisins in 1/4 cup 151 rum.

Measure out 1/4 cup chopped walnuts.

With a spoon scrape mostly baked and cooled brownies into a deep mixing bowl. Add the raisin and rum mixture and the chopped nuts. Mix thoroughly.

Using hands roll mixture into 1 inch balls. Roll balls in powdered cocoa...granulated or powdered sugar...and place on serving plate or tray.


Watching Congress do the year end scramble, too. Seems they've slowly realized that if the Stock Market nosedives...or the US Credit rating is downgraded again...well it is going to affect their investments and life savings, too. Not to mention their re-election chances in 2014.  Enlightened Self-Interest?

Just finished an assignment on CNN (...hopefully to be vetted...) on The Fiscal Cliff.

 Feeling much more optimistic about a positive outcome tonight.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Let it snow...let it snow...let it snow...

We've been "blizzed"...and it is beautiful!

Out with James and Carl for part of it...finally reaching our destination only to find they were CLOSED due to the

Undaunted, we broke out "Plan B"  (...that went over much better than Boehner's....) and stopped for Fajitas and Margaritas at a local Mexican restaurant for lunch!

About "Plan B"  Boehner's..not mine.

An EPIC FAIL- abandoned by his own party.
Norquist and the tea-party have managed to all but destroy the Republican Party (...which has been around for nearly 162 it is actually quite a feat...) And the ironic part is the GOP built them...

In a life imitates art-- horrible parody-- of Mary Shelly's: Frankenstein. Fox News...Sean Hannity...Glenn Beck...and Rush Limbaugh nearby shouting

 "...give my creation life!"

Forgetting, that it did not end so well for Dr. Frankenstein, either.

Oh alright...the Republicans get a little of the credit...raving about Women and Rape and Abortion and Gays and Blacks and Hispanics and Atheists and Muslims...Seniors and The Poor and Entitlements (oh my)

And to complicate things further we will hit the debt ceiling again on December 31st.

So here we are-- ready to go right over the waterfall...and the very guys that threw the paddles out of the canoe are yelling

"See...they (The Democrats) aren't doing anything...and here we are...going straight over this waterfall!"

And it is bad news.

It is every bit the crisis that the economists are warning us it will be.
And it is intentional and manufactured. Created by the same Congress we elect to represent work for us. 

Hoping the 113th Congress can get something accomplished...because seriously I have wondered repeatedly how the 112th managed to not go by the way of Marie Antoinette. 


Timothy Geithner (Treasury Secretary) minced no words with members of Congress yesterday letting them know if they actually stand idly by and let this happen they will be the very first to "feel the pain" of the rocks below as
Federal workers reinvestments would be the initial casualty.

Perhaps hoping to spark a little enlightened self-interest, who knows?

And sadly, American Politics has become some perverse spectator sport for not only us, but the World.

"Pass the Popcorn...and sit're blocking my view."

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Christmas Cup II

                              Kaylee...Hannah...Brenden and Jasmine                       
                                             Christmas Eve 2012

Christmas Eve spent with all the "Grands"!  And although there were many toys...even Brenden enjoyed the Barbie Doll-House.  Not nearly as I enjoyed watching their Dad build it though. At one point hearing him mutter

"I could build them a real house...from the ground up...easier than assembling this..."


Remembering his first tiny bike with training of those miniature bikes. And the clerk asking me before Christmas

"Are you sure you don't want that assembled?"

For those new parents out there...the correct answer to this question is

                                      "YES, PLEASE!"

But no...I thought it would be an adventure. It was an adventure...actually...kind of like a trip down the Nile...on a wooden raft....with no paddles or mosquito  netting...

But James did a great job and with the addition of three pizzas and a crockpot of hot chocolate with whipped cream and sprinkles on the side...and homemade Snickerdoodles and Sugar cookies and Chris playing guitar we had a wonderful holiday!

 And by the end of the evening Tucker and I were both frazzled :)

                                           "Christmas Eve Cat-Napping"

Did discover the most amazing thing this morning though...having poured the leftovers of the crockpot hot chocolate into a glass container to refrigerate. Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa Mix...refrigerated overnight...tastes just like Yoo-Hoo Soda when it is chilled!

Who knew?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Memories: Remembering a Final Cup

                               My Favorite Shot of Us: Photocredit Lennon

It is odd.

      After two years as a widow...Bill's death the morning of December 24th...but the day I replay...the day that sticks in my mind is today. The 23rd. Our last day together.

Just one of those really unremarkable, ordinary days in life.

Coffee together and the morning news. More coffee and dissecting the morning news. Another cup and lamenting the fact they
 "Never listen to they?"

The day to day chat...we had celebrated an early Christmas with the kids and grands only two days before. He was proud of our youngest's skills on the guitar...and our eldest...who was then teaching his oldest (his stepson) to play...continung the musical circle. Our middle had spent the better part of the year with us and was returning to Tampa to resume college. Our youngest grandson had been a delight :)  We mused at how amazing grand-parenting was...and how lucky we both were to have experienced it together.

                                                  Bill with Brenden
                                                     Bill with Kaylee

He was working on his (then) unreleased CD...tweaking the mix. I was working on the Cover-Art. We knew that the end was close. We had seen the "blast" filled slides in the lab just weeks before. Watched as the leukemia made him weaker and weaker. Knew that the last transfusion would be his last. was just an utterly ordinary day.

I fixed homemade biscuits and gravy that night. It was one of his favorites. We watched a Nicholas Cage film together. Wrapped in a blanket.

We turned in fairly early. Snuggled. He remarked how hard he was trying to hold on until January. And how very tired he was. He was becoming more and more symptomatic and remarked

"It's BAD isn't it?"

And I couldn't respond. Didn't need to. Just held him close in my arms and cried. Said how sorry I was that somehow I couldn't (as a nurse) "fix it". It is a terrible and real moment when you finally realize not everything can be "fixed".

And our last "I love yous" and our last kisses.

Especially our last kiss. 

(...though at the time neither of us knew...)

and snugged together sleeping "spoons" like we had for over 18 years...he slipped away at a little past 5 AM.
His final day he was happy. Had a good day. Enjoyed an afternoon doing what he loved Enjoyed one of his favorite homemade meals. Enjoyed one of his favorite actors/films. Reflected happily on the early Christmas celebration and our 18th Anniversary "getaway" to Turkey Run only a week before. 

Above all...he knew that last night how very very much he was loved. 
He felt loved. 
Isn't that all any of us could ever ask?

Today I am cleaning and baking. Tomorrow I will be surrounded once again by the kids and "grands". Our eldest grandson (technically our step-grandson) torn away this year by the divorce. Inside I am almost glad that Bill missed that painful slice of life. But the girls are so big now...and the baby certainly isn't a baby anymore...and the girls' little sister (Jasmine) is joining us...and has taken to calling me Grandma Rose like everyone else...

And like Frost said about life:
                                          It Goes On. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Fiscal Cup

So...that's it then?

As the President heads for Christmas in Hawaii and John Boehner tries to make sense of it all...licking wounds inflicted by his own party and learning the toughest lesson of all. Be careful John...they eat their own when there is blood in the water.

And the Nihilists amidst us are saying "Strap in and let's drive this sucker off the cliff. See what happens."

Admittedly, no economist...this is what I see if we boldly go over the edge.

1. An across the board increase in everyone's taxes. Yeah, rich guys...that means you, too.  15% for lower incomes 39% for the highest. Pre-Bush Era taxes.

2. A reduction (and in some instances an elimination) of tax credits.  Earned income, child exemption, et al.  (No more $1000 deduction for little Caitlin or Cory)

and a bunch of other fiscal stuff. 

But the real danger in plummeting over the edge isn't the fall.  
It is the landing.

Prepare to see the "now nervous" stock markets go full-tilt Gonzo...creating a domino effect nationally and then globally. IRA's and (especially) 401K's and with the gridlock in Congress when the debt ceiling issue re-emerges next year...I probably don't need to tell you how badly THAT is going to go. The Stock Market comes crashing down. Those who didn't want  to pay 1%-2% more in taxes (top earners) will watch the loss of much much more.  And they will have plunged us right back into a deep recession (possibly depression). The USD (already weakening abroad) will crumble. Companies will fold...their CEO's bailing early and floating gently to the Earth on Golden Parachutes paid for by their employees who will be unemployed and standing below them to cushion their landing...Unemployment will rival The Great Depression.  And so much more...and we will have (collectively) done it to ourselves.

 Oh sure...there will be those who blame Obama...and there will be those who blame Pelosi and Reid...and there will be those who blame the GOP or the Tea Party..but in the isn't going to matter much. The finger-pointing and gridlock and constant bickering amongst ourselves will have brought about the downfall of America.

Congratulations. Pogo was a visonary.

Peace on Earth would be nice this holiday season...but I would settle for Cooperation in Congress.

A Christmas Cup

Hot cocoa with sprinkles, and a slice of vanilla bean cheesecake topped with dark chocolate covered cherries.

Kara's "Winter Cabin" wood-wick candle crackling and filling the air with cinnamony sweetness.

Tiny white lights on the tree and a fresh blanket of snow outside.

The Den cozy and warm.

It's beginning to look (taste and smell) a lot like Christmas!

Life is good.

After all this time, I have come to realize that Christmas isn't so much about the gifts we get...but about the gifts we already have. The gift of family and friends. Of laughter and love. Peace and Understanding.

Christmas is about Gratitude.

Not for " all the stuff",
                          but for everything we already have.

Wishing Everyone a Merry Christmas :)

Thursday, December 20, 2012


                                      illudium Q-36 explosive space modulator is

All that is left is the Earth-Shattering Kaboom.

So tomorrow is it. The Apocalypse. End Times. As REM sings...It's the end of the World as we know it... Invited to a huge online EOTW's kind of come as you No parking problems and festival seating. Tickets? No problem.

Had a buddy from Tasmania write this morning that everything was "STILL HERE" as it was already well into 12/21/2012 there...and he was "going to bed"- but then another Australian friend pointed out that the Mayans did live in South there is STILL time.

Thanks Gail, for that bit of reassurance. 

Enjoying the downtime before the holiday. Took a cat-nap with an actual CAT this afternoon. Tucker and I. Him purring like mad. Listening to the rain hit the window. Nothing is more relaxing. 

Baking tonight. 

Delivering the rest of my brownies and cookies and Christmas wishes to my friends/neighbors here, tomorrow.

Missing the Baked Dish Gathering/Sharing we always enjoyed at the Rose Cottage... ~sigh~ and especially Ken's Deer Chili. Talked to Sandy quite a while this afternoon and she is planning a trek this way after the holidays. We shall plunder the Amish, again. Love Peachy's with all the homemade butters and cheeses and breads :) 

And they are promising snow for tonight!  I'm ready :)

Let it snow...let it snow...let it snow...

Catch ya tomorrow...

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Relaxing Afternoon Cup

Settling in for a relaxing afternoon cup!

Big Deep Breath.

The outburst of yesterday, past. Thankfully. Proving once again I'm Zen, but also very human. It's a process.

A close friend reminding me this morning that the only way to overcome the hate and struggle is with Love and Light.

This is absolutely true.

And finally, perhaps, the Nation's conversation has turned to the death and destruction that civilians with assault weapons can wreak, in addition to a failing/underfunded mental health system.

If the deaths of these children can spark the beginning of the end of the insanity...they will not have died in vain.

The cards are all mailed. The Presents posted or wrapped. The cookie dough made and wrapped, to be cut and baked on Christmas Eve.  This is the week to relax. Enjoy the season. Read (and work on my new manuscript a bit.)  To Breathe.

The last minute chaos and crush of the crowds a thing of the past. It took over 50 years to devise a

Christmas in 10 days. The Return to Organization. 

               (...actually working this concept up into an article...)

                                                will share

Admittedly, this has only existed in my life in the past few years. I could tell you horror stories about hours spent in malls and mall parking lots. Of watching people fist-fight over parking spaces. Of last minute shopping on Christmas Eve. And the holiday drone in the background of a thousand voices muttering

"I just want the holidays to be over.

And it has gotten so much of a greed-fest and so stressful...they really really mean it. 

So amidst the wrappers and ribbons...the boxes and bags...remember the important things. The things money can't buy.  Family. Health. Love. Gratitude. Joy. Wonder. Beauty. Peace.

Everything that 
                           makes life worth living!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Cafe au lait...Gingerbread Cookies and A Plan

                                                    Bill and I (1992)

Yesterday would have been our 20th Anniversary.  We had such plans for this one. The boys grown and gone. We were going to renew our vows in Bora Bora...make love in a thatched hut over the turquoise the sun rise and set together...explore the French Polynesia...sip umbrella drinks.

Well, in August 2010...we renewed our vows. Together with our sons at home. It was both wonderful and bittersweet. Four months later Bill died of leukemia. Bora Bora seemed a lot less important. 


Yesterday I decided to modify our plan. To explore Bora Bora (virtually) myself. See all those things we had talked about seeing. Fix a Polynesian meal. Peruse The Black Pearl Farm. Sink into a bubble bath with an umbrella drink and a bit of chocolate. Lightly spray the sheets with Polo (his scent) perhaps to meet in my dreams.

                 (...want to make the gods laugh...tell them your plans...)

The morning silence disrupted yesterday by a tearful phone call from my oldest granddaughter's Mother. The same granddaughter that was always "...Grandpa's Girl..." Both she and her mother locked in a terrible row. Hearing the 7 year old proclaim loudly in the background

               "If you won't TAKE me to Grandma Rose's...then I'll WALK..." 

Did I mention that I live all the way across town?
They both needed the break.

And so...that is how I ended up spending this "heartdate". Playing with Playdoh...leaving the Polynesian ingredients for this afternoon in favor of "P'sketti, Grandma"...messily mixing up a batch of gingerbeard cookies

 (...cutting them with the same silver stars and Christmas trees and Gingerbread men cutters that I grew up with as a child and cut gingerbread cookies with her Daddy when he was little...)

Playing board games...chattering...and her standing on tippy-toes "helping" with dishes.  In the early evening by the glow of the Christmas tree we sat on the sofa...her curled with her "woobie"...a raggedy-soft blanket she has had since forever and read books. Books that I used to read to her Daddy when he was this age. And finally...her drifting off. to sleep...wrapped in the blanket stretched across my lap.

And somewhere inside I could feel Bill's smile at this turn of events. 

                       Where despite everything...the day turned out absolutely perfect.

Late that night I did "explore" Bora Bora...let me tell is significantly less expensive on-line. Bora Bora having two modes. Expensive and extravagantly expensive. It is also breathtakingly beautiful. No multi-hour flights...takeoffs and landings or crowds, though. Discovered Hiano Pia ( the local beer) which Bill would have immediately tried. Bought a sample of Volcanic Chocolate Banana ( be delivered this week...) which is a chocolate, banana and walnut energy bar specific to Bora Bora...And picked up a small souvenir from The Tahitian Black Pearl Farm...a single black pearl and silver pendant...also to be delivered.

The Pearl will outlast me.
 I will pass it on to "Grandpa's Girl".

Proving, once again, how circular life really is.

                                          The Beginning of A New Day

Polynesian Roast Pork with Pineapple and Peppers

1 1/2 pound pork roast (oven roasted and cut into bite sized chunks)

2 cups steamed (prepared) rice.

1 regular can pineapple chunks.

1/4 cup brown sugar.

1 cup Duck Sauce (sweet and sour)

1 Green Bell Pepper cut into cubes.

5 Marichino cherries halved

(can add thin sliced onions if desired)

Arrange rice in baking dish. Top with Roast chunks...pineapple...peppers and brown sugar...arrange cherries on top and cover with Duck Sauce. Cover dish with aluminum for and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Serve with sweet rolls (like King's Hawaiian rolls) and fresh fruit.



Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Cup of Cocoa and a Candy Cane

Christmas Sax (CD) -(X)

Scented candles of Scotch Pine and Winter Cabin burning- (X)

Tiny White Lights twinkling on the Tree- (X)

Cards Mailed- (X)

Rolls of brightly colored gift-wrap...tape...ribbon...scissors...tags...-(X)

A Mug of Hot Cocoa stirred with a Candy Cane- (X)

Let the wrapping begin!!!

Tucker curled beneath the piano in "his corner" sleeping off the after-effects of shared KFC. 

"Spoiled, moi?"

With the shopping nearly done for The Grands and profusely thanking Fed Ex for the delivery of the girls Barbie Townhouse (with ELEVATOR??? RU kidding me?)  Not your grandmother's doll-house, that's for sure. And dolls and all that is gloriously pink! The lift lifts...the doorbell rings...the toilet makes a flushing sound and there are lights. Even unassembled it it ginormous.

Thankfully, James can assemble anything!

And The Fisher-Price World rises again, with Brenden. When the boys were young they had an entire civilization built up of the Fisher-Price cars/trains/airplanes/little people/houses and buildings. It would fill my entire living room.

 A steady stream of family and company and sometimes family as company during the past few weeks. And Christmas love and hugs to Jim...well...because you-know-why :) And Pam, who already surprised me with the new Batman DVD...and a terribly tasteless're right...I am less apt to be shot in the comfort of my own home...and a huge box of one of my favorite chocolates...and some great classic tunes :) and the promise of a trip up in January!

 And Idgy and I, who have decided to give ourselves an end of the year gift-of-self by celebrating NYE and Day together!!!! 

I'm seeing Southern and (homemade) Coke Blak and much Confetti at Midnight! Real hugs and up-all-night chat and laughter and yes, crepes for breakfast...with raspberries!

Great way to start the New Year!

Finished Suzanne Collins: The Mockingjay...the third in the Hunger Games series. Nicely done. The Capital having burned District 12 to the ground and the remaining survivors fleeing to District 13 and The Uprising continues with Katniss as The Mockingjay. Darker...grittier than the first two books and a wonderful twist ending. Looking forward to seeing "Catching Fire" when it is released next year! Marketed for YA audience but entertaining and well-written for an older audience. Recommended.

Another random shooting...this time in an Oregon Mall...and a Dad in Texas carving a pentacle on his young son's back with a box knife on 12/12/12. Does it ever make you want to scream

"What the HELL is wrong with you people???"

If the answer is: EVERYDAY.  
Know that you are not alone.
Seriously WTF?

 I know that Peace on Earth and Goodwill Towards Men might be a tad overboard on the whole Santa List...but certainly don't shoot people around you or carve up your kid should be a no-brainer.

Anyway...back to wrapping. Sending love and light to everyone...with a reminder this week:

                 BE The Light and Love for Others!


Friday, December 7, 2012

A Pre-Holiday Cup

A week filled with children, grandchildren, Christmas crafts/candles and baking...and Holiday Cheer!

Exhausted...but smiling :)

The Holiday Sale went over well. Thanks Tess for inviting Kara and I to join you this year!  Thanking Lennon for helping me with the baking and carrying and Chris for providing live music on Saturday! Kara...the new Winter Cabin woodwick is crackling behind me as I type...and it may be my new favorite!

                                        My boys!  23, 24 and 25 now.

                                            Lennon up from College

                                                       Santa Dad!

                                              Kaylee and Hannah

And it is shaping up to be a "Pink Christmas" with the girls (and my honorary "granddaughter" Jasmine) this year requesting EVERYTHING BARBIE... ~laughing~

Brenden is definitely a car-guy like Dad (...and Grandma) so he is just happy if it has wheels.

"No girls...I am not getting him the Pink Barbie Convertible"

                                  Lennon and Chris... both doing what they do best!

Lennon with mad computer skills and soon to start "Penetration" courses as part of his Sys/OP Sys/Analyst.

Chris with his latest love...a "butterscotch blond" electric perfect for wailing the blues.

So nice to have them all together again for a while :)

And always over too soon.

Company flying in on Sunday...taking a breather till then.  Taking the afternoon to restock the pantry and clean house...then soak in a deep bubble bath...maybe with a glass of wine...and chocolate, of course. 

The book of the week: The Best American Short Stories 2012.   Collection by Tom Perotta. Contains twenty of the best of the genre. My personal favorite The Miracle Polish by Steve Millhauser. Also including the works of Joyce Carol Oates, Alice Munro, Julie Otsuka and many others. A great book for the hectic paced holidays that can be enjoyed bit by bit! 

Mailing the last of the cards tomorrow and finishing the Christmas shopping early next week...and relaxing for the rest of December!

A nice way to ring in the New Year!