Saturday, March 29, 2014

A Birthday Cup :)

My "carbon copy of her Dad" grand-daughter turns 7 today! Enjoyed a visit with her (and all the girls) yesterday. They are growing up so fast. This year she is all about Monster High dolls...and whipped cream time...of course. 


She and Emma are the same age now...well until August anyway!  Chris and Lennon always shared the same age for a month, growing up :)

An absolute scramble just before the weekend...thought Aiden was going to rush things along with his arrival. Things seem to be back on schedule though. Hoping to finish his quilt over the weekend...and found a cute stuffed elephant for him that plays Brahms Lullaby, as well!  James and Nicki make a good team as they create their new home/family together.

Its been a chilly damp week, here. No blooms yet...still just the tips of bulbs peering out as if to say

"Is the coast clear?"

and a few robins wandering around looking dazed and confused. 

Falling back and regrouping on the patio gardens...I think I have it sorted with the arrival of Sue's arbour...going to paint it to match the wood on the patio and add two identical David Austin climbing roses...I'm thinking

                                                 "A Shropshire Lad"

 Delicate pink...huge old World Cabbage Type with a rich English Rose scent. Tremendous climbers. One on each side should have the arbour covered in no time and will make sitting out in the summer ever so nice!

Assuming it eventually stops raining, and the sun (and warmth) return.

A Cinderella weekend for me...with everything clamouring clean me...scrub me...dust me...

Back to the household...because it appears the maid has ran away with the gardener...

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

You Morning Cup of...Ebola?

Watching the resurgence of Ebola Zaire...

It has jumped from Guinea...Macenta, Gueckedou, and Kissidougou...then to the capital (Conakry) leaving dead bodies in its wake...has hit the Liberian and Sierra Leone borders...and now a possibly infected passenger and his family have arrived in Canada on a flight- and are quarantined. 

I am far from an alarmist...never stockpiled Tamiflu when the Avian Flu scare hit...Didn't run through the streets yelling "Bird Flu...Bird Flu"  but this...

This scares the HELL out of me.

This isn't the "spread only by infected blood products" of HIV (...requiring direct blood to open wound blood exposure or transfusion- and still difficult to acquire...)

 This is spread through all the infected's bodily fluids including sweat. And one of the distinguishing characteristics in the early stages is high fever. Pretty effective vector method when you think about it. It can also live on surfaces that have been contaminated with the same.  From March 21st to March 25th to virus has travelled through the fore-mentioned regions...and now very possibly made the leap to another Continent.

The CDC gives us the following helpful hints:

Avoid contact with the bodily fluids (blood, feces, urine, vomit, sweat , in fact - any fluid, etc.) of infected people. Medical personnel should note the following advice from the CDC's recently updated "Management of Patients with Suspected Viral Hemorrhagic Fever -- United States":

    "Because most ill persons undergoing pre-hospital evaluation and transport are in the early stages of disease and would not be expected to have symptoms that increase the likelihood of contact with infectious body fluids (e.g. sweat, vomiting, diarrhea, or hemorrhage), universal precautions are generally sufficient. If a patient has respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough or rhinitis), face shields or surgical masks and eye protection (e.g., goggles or eyeglasses with side shields) should be worn by caregivers to prevent droplet contact."                                                   
Some "universal precautions" are detailed in the next section:   

"Patients in a hospital outpatient or inpatient setting should be placed in a private room. A negative pressure room is not required during the early stages of illness, but should be considered at the time of hospitalization to avoid the need for subsequent transfer of the patient. Non-essential staff and visitors should be restricted from entering the room. Caretakers should use barrier precautions to prevent skin or  mucous membrane exposure to blood and other body fluids, secretions, and excretions. All persons entering the patient's room should wear gloves and gowns to prevent contact with items or environmental surfaces that may be soiled. In addition, face shields or surgical masks and eye protection (e.g., goggles or eyeglasses with side shields) should be worn by persons coming within approximately 3 feet of the patient to prevent contact with blood, other body fluids, secretions (including respiratory droplets), or excretions."

Feeling fairly alarmed, yet?

Want to get a grasp on what this filovirus is capable of...pick up a copy of
Richard Preston's Non-Fiction "Hot Zone" and be prepared to lose some sleep.

The very characteristic that has kept it contained on the Dark Continent has been the transmission speed and the 90% mortality rate. In a small village it burns itself out quickly by killing most of the population. Dropped into a large could be devastating. The pandemic they have been predicting for years. 

So feeling a bit like "Chicken Little" this morning...and hoping like hell they are wrong about the flight-passenger from Liberia to Canada.


Canada Rules out Suspected Case of Ebola

Canadian officials investigating a man suspected of having contracted Ebola during a visit to West Africa say it has been determined he does not have the virus.
Cailin Rodgers, a spokeswoman for Canada's health minister, said Tuesday lab testing confirmed the individual hospitalized with symptoms of a hemorrhagic fever does not have Ebola.
She says there are no confirmed cases of Ebola in Canada.
The man remains seriously ill and is being kept in isolation in a Saskatchewan hospital.

And then we all breathed OUT again...

Saturday, March 22, 2014

"Illegitimi non carborundum"...and other observations

Foremost, it has been a wonderful week...despite the speed-bumps...

Pam and I enjoying our "Annual Birthday with Lobsterfest" extravaganza. Midway between her 55th birthday and my 54th. We have been childhood friends for more than 40 years now :)  We used to talk about growing old together all those years ago when we were just girls...and now, it appears we have!

With Snowcrab legs and shrimp scampi and fried shrimp and (of course) stuffed lobster-tail and fresh asparagus! And a piece of Strawberry Topped NY Cheesecake for afters. Hours of chat and catch-up. Planning a mini-Southside trip to Indianapolis after Aiden arrives. Spend a week centrally located between her and James & Nicki's new place and have a bit more time with everyone.

And quilting (and piecing together) like crazy now...

And here is why...

Because she is going to *pop* soon! Or maybe they're just smuggling a beach ball. Loved seeing their new home. Nicki, you have done an outstanding job, hon. It is so comfortable and beautiful- and I LOVE the "baby's corner"!  Watch next week...I've a rocking chair headed your way :) Every Mom needs a rocking chair!

Especially nice because James was able to "off the road" for some home time. Was able to meet Scott, his team driver and see him...and Tanya brought the girls over to visit/check out his new ride. They are excited about the arrival of their baby brother!

And "Baby News" for Chris and Tina, too!

 No...not THEM.

Tina's sister Kimberly who is getting ready to deliver her baby girl (...who will also be named Emma) so they are gearing up for Auntie and Unclehood together. Saving for their house, coming later this year!

ETA? Most likely this weekend. They have been camped at Methodist since Friday.

So with all this happy news...what is "Illegitimi non carborundum" (...don't let the bastards get you down...) all about?

Received word the first part of the week that across the board (all of us who live in the apartments) must tear out our carefully built gardens and borders. 

And all future plantings and lawn items must be confined to our patio. WTH?

For me, this is a minor inconvenience.

Admittedly, it has taken a week to actually realize that.

I have only worked on my border garden for about 3 years. With the exception of the "frog spa" and my strawberry bed (and Angie I am lifting and mailing my Tribute Strawberry Crowns to you with your Spring Box...enjoy!) is little more than lifting three roses and containerizing them and replanting Mom Chandler's irises in a basket.  There are many here who have extensive areas that they have worked on for 8-10 years complete with patio sets and pavers and such. Well established roses and expansive beds. There are many who have it much much worse than I.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon disassembling the Frog Spa and lifting my roses. I have heeled them in until I can procure an appropriate container/planter. Later I will transplant the Irises. A neighbour/friend asked if I wanted her narrow wooden free-standing archway. I love it. Going to re-paint it to match my patio wood and get a couple of fast growing climbers to train over it. While removing my black mulch and realizing for the first time (ever) I am going to actually be planting grass/low growing white clover and a natural turf appearence...which is a whole new challenge...I also realized that the three years of bark-wood turned soil and mouldering leaves- makes an absolutely perfect medium for in addition to seeding...I will be sporing the old border area heavily with morel mycelium...for (hopefully) next Spring MORELS!
Right outside my door. Yeah...I know.

That moment of clarity was my silver lining.


There always is one.

So looking at baskets and containers. Roses and plants. Looking forward to seeding and sporing the old border.  And by summer, my patio garden is going to be fabulous!

As well as having these to look forward to next my "patch" popping up just outside my patio!

And all is right with the world.

This week's book "Inferno" Dan Brown's latest and greatest. With twists and turns in the plot that rivalled Grisham's Pelican Brief this book will keep you riveted. Opening with the now-familiar character of Robert Langdon waking in a hospital after being grazed with a head shot...and in seconds an assassin bursts into his room to try to "finish the job".  A mysterious artifact that has a very lethal secret and an organization on a mission to save the planet from over-population by using biological means to "thin the herd". Mystery, science, intrigue, and a bit of is all there. This would make an outstanding movie.  One hell of a ride!
A must read.

And a overly simple recipe for an incredible breakfast croissant to enjoy with YOUR  morning cup.

Warm Sicilian Nutella and Mascarpone Croissants

Which are exactly what the name implies. A flaky croissant split and filled with
Nutella and Mascarpone Cheese (sweetened or not) then warmed. Can  be sprinkled with confectioner's sugar if you choose unsweetened cheese.

Serve warm with espresso.


And always remember...

Life isn't about how you handle Plan A...Life is mostly about how you deal with (and execute) Plan B.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Serious Test of ZEN

Opened the news to see an article on Fred Phelps this morning.
 The recently ex-communicated pastor of the Westboro Baptist (ersatz) Church.

 A man once proclaimed to be hated worse than Hitler (...and bad do you have to be to earn THAT title...)

 The guy that picketed dead soldiers and dead school children's funerals.

The same guy who wanted to erect a statue in Matthew Shepherd's hometown proclaiming he was "Burning in Hell Now".

 The guy who has (since 1955) loudly proclaimed that God Hates ( fill in the blank)- well basically most everybody he hates. Which covers a lot of ground.

Yeah...a real charmer.

It seems Mr. Phelps is in hospice at "death's door." 

Reading the article and the horrible feelings that bubbled to the surface severely tested this practicing Buddhist...let me tell you.
How sad when an impending death immediately triggers feelings of

                                "Good Riddance To Bad Rubbish"

or maybe simply

                                "I am going to Outlive the Old Bastard."

Not a Zen Moment. 

At first I made light of it quoting a line from Twain

"I've never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure."

Yeah Mark...haven't we all?

But after taking a deep breath I found only pity...almost compassion for this pathetic, hate-filled man who has wasted his life being angry and spewing vitriol. What a horrid way to live life. To know your very existence caused so many people such pain and suffering. And if he truly does believe in God at all...I would think he might be scared as hell of what is waiting on the "other side" for him. Even though the Buddhist in me realizes he has already made his hell...right here on Earth.


By the end of my meditation on the subject...I could only hope that his followers see the light and discard his hate-filled rhetoric and ways. Bury them with the man when he passes. And that people remember him as an example of how human beings should never treat one another.

It's the best I can muster...and it sounds hollow...even to me.  

It isn't Compassion. And I'm not a Buddha.

Note:  After 11:00 on March 20th...the first day of Spring...Fred Phelps drew his last breath. The World is a bit less evil today.

"My Mother always said to say nice things about the dead."

He's Dead.

How Nice.
                                                                   Author of Quote Unknown

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Elephants on Parade!

Working steadily on Aiden's quilt now...although his ETA is still well over a month away...both Nicole and I feel it will be sooner.  Last night she was going through that energetic burst of "cleaning"...even things that didn't need cleaning.
Nesting :)

So happy that James made it in for a while on his run to the East Coast. She was thrilled! They both were.

"It's LOVE when she greets you at the door excited and smiling at 2:30 in the morning, Mom."

Working on a green and tan elephant motif to go with the Carter's Green Elephant Nursery theme...and yes...I know these elephants aren't copies of the Green Elephant design. But they will fit in.

Found the best crib/converts to a toddler and youth bed I am having delivered at the end of the month. Dark espresso coloured wood and complete with mattress.

If he arrives earlier than that...they're just going to have to cradle him in a box or dresser drawer for a few days. 

After I finish it I am going to embroider 

                                           "Welcome to the Herd" 
                                                Aiden Brock Hurst
                                                                      Grandma Rose

Nicole says she can't wait to see him wrapped in it.
That makes two of us, hon!

Nice easy Sunday today.

Chicken frying...mashed red potatoes...steamed snowpeas and sweet tea chilling. Egg custard with nutmeg for afters. A little final touch up on the second book of the Zen Trilogy...releasing the 22nd (or thereabouts) some reading...some photo editing...catching up with email and the news...working a bit more on the quilt...definitely a nap...a deep warm bubble bath and soak in the tub...and checking out the film- Book Thief..."Idgy" gave it a rave review...and we can discuss it over coffee in the morning.

Adding to my container gardens this year and found the best fountain.

Can't wait until the weather settles so i can enjoy a long bask on North Patio Beach!
            (conveniently located on the North Side of my Patio)

The Trilogy...although the third book is barely more than cover-art and an outline (and dedication) at this point. With Spring only days is doomed to the writer's trunk.

It will resume as next Winter's project...


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Crying in my Morning Cup

Sometimes closure in our lives happens when we least expect it. 

This morning it occurred in the wee small hours while watching a compilation CD of some old family 8 mm films sent (early) for a 54th Birthday surprise. They were films from a past life I never knew...never remembered.

I was adopted before I was three by my paternal grandparents. When I discovered this fact at age 13 I was told by The Grandmother that I had been basically discarded. That my mother did not love me or want me. I didn't remember her or know what she looked like back then. The only photograph that existed when I was young was a black and white studio portrait when I was about 5 years old.

Until this morning.

How odd at 53 to realize that so many other things she told me...was a bald-faced lie. That my parents were so young when I was born. Way too young. When I looked at grainy shots from their wedding (...she was 15 and he was 16...) it was like looking at children playing dress up. They were children.  The whole "you were dumped on us" she complained about, as soon as I found out I was adopted, was yet another lie. At one point she had offered (per my bio-Dad and Mom) to pay a large amount of "cash" for me. Given what must have been my young parent's financial situation back makes sense. When they refused she found other ways. If there was one thing The Grandmother was good at it was bulldozing other people.
I watched it all my life growing up. Hell, there were so many times I lived it.

 (Not a coincidence that her younger sister Judy had just gave birth to a little girl...and Teri and I basically grew up together..."Two Sisters with their Babies." )

The entire post-realization makes me feel a bit nauseated.

When I phoned to thank him for the CD...I explained what I had been told...basically all my life.

It sorted a lot for both of us, I think.

He also had movies he had added to it of my younger brother and I together, when we were only 2 and 3 years old.

How I miss my little brother.
Tried to locate him all my life...only to find in 2012 that he had died back in 1996 at 34 years old.

But just like finding his obituary...this morning's compilation CD helped heal a wound...provide closure. Showed me a glimpse of a life I had lived but never knew...remembered. 

So excuse the ramblings today...I think everyone grows up wanting to feel they were wanted and loved.

Even if it happens after 53 years. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

A Nearly SPRING Cup

and not a moment too soon!

Even the bulbs outside are starting to peer through now. The robins are back and the snow is gone...

In 6 days we will celebrate another winter season...gone!

Slowly adapting to the latest FRED curve-ball. And enjoying Diane's self-proclaimed door-prize (...long bizarre story...but opened the door to a package containing a Magic Bullet Blender this week, she had sent...) and now my grocery shopping critera has expanded to

1. Will it FIT in the blender?

2. Can I make it fit?

3. Can you make a "smoothie" out of it?

And seriously I feel a bit like Will Smith's character in Enemy of the State 

 "I Blend."

And an early Christmas warning to my family and such...remember how last year was the Year of the Kindles...well this year may well be the Year of the Blenders because...this is entirely too cool!  Thanks Diane (and step away from the German Chocolate Cake...)

And enormous thanks to Marti (...whose husband died from one of these brain-invaders...) and has been so wonderful and amazing discussing FRED and adaptations and well as smoothie recipes and so many other helpful handy hints. Hope you can make it up before June!
Would love to see you again :)

Because my whole interest in the "Pia" sad story has turned (admittedly) a bit obsessive. Still mystified how anyone can disappear from life for 6 years and NOBODY notices...I checked out the (open to the public...touted by the news) FB created by her niece and frequented by her family. After reading some of the obscenities and rudeness and anger spewed on its pages by self-professed loving family members...toward the general public...I must say I came away feeling like this poor woman probably isolated herself from this clan deliberately.  
And understandably. 

Instead of the page being a Memorial...or even a place to discuss what may or may not have happened to seems to be much more of a hunt for the one-armed man...perhaps they should focus on what probably did-her-in...human indifference. 

Two books for this week's review. The first- Always Looking Up written by Michael Fox. Uplifting, non-fiction, serious and sometimes hilarious account of his battle with Parkinson's Disease.  Well worth a look.

The second- Russell Simmon's Success Through Silence. A non-fiction book on the benefits of Morning and Evening Meditation. A guide to meditation. Also highly recommended 

Working on the baby's quilt in earnest now...only about 8 weeks to go. Since the nursery is being decorated in a Carter's Green Elephant motif...a group of elephants with "Welcome to the HERD" seems appropriate.

Also found this for canvas

But want to add a medium sized brown elephant beside the blue Mom to signify "Emma" as well.

Using the elephant templates from this  poster for the quilt elephants. Changing only the colors to the moss and browns of the Carter Design so it will (hopefully) match everything else...

Looking forward to some time with Kaylee, Hannah and Jasmine this afternoon!

And Kaylee-Bug's strawberries are slowly greening up for bright red summer fruit...probably even "smoothies"

Wishing everyone a wonderful Almost-Spring Weekend...and Pam, I will see you next week for our "annual combined birthday" Lobster-fest!)

And Idgy...will see you in only 120 more days! Going to have reservations for that new French Restaurant here!!!! 

Escargot and all :)

Awww...Come on guys...
They've invited us to this great French Restaurant!

What could possibly go wrong with that?

Saturday, March 8, 2014


Her name was Pia.  Pia Farrenkoft. If you believe what you read in the papers she was anywhere from 40-49, worked at Chrysler (or didn't), had a son...or didn't. She was estranged from her sister...estranged from her family...estranged from the neighbours...and if being dead for six years and nobody notices is a reliable indication she was estranged from life. Estranged from humanity. Found this week mummified (desiccated) in the back seat of her Jeep Liberty...garage closed and keys partially in the ignition. A highly probable suicide. Was she Eleanor Rigby "wearing the face that she kept in a jar by the door.." of the lonely people?...a thwarted lover?...a sad and forgotten Mom?...a difficult family member? A recluse? Hermit. Spinster. A businesswoman who gave up her life for a job only to have the job disappear in an instant? 

Bits and pieces drift in slowly. Hard to separate facts from fiction. When I read the story the morning it broke I was mystified. Couldn't imagine how anyone in these days of extremely high technological connectivity could just disappear for 6 years and no one notice. 

I can't skip my morning Facebook for a day without a half dozen phone calls.

 Her bills, they report, were handled through auto-pay. According to the news she had $54,000 in her bank account in 2008. Was last seen employed and received a ticket for driving without insurance somewhere after September of that same year. Missed a court date in January of 2009 for the ticket. And then was never heard from or seen again. From six years the payments trickled out...everything on time....until the money was gone. Then the house fell into foreclosure.

 Her neighbour's first assumed she was she travelled for business extensively...then they assumed she had moved. They kept the small lawn cut...and after the house fell into foreclosure the foreclosure company would continue to maintain it.

 If you don't pick up your mail in a timely fashion The Postal Service removes it and eventually everything is either Returned to Sender/Undeliveable or in the case of flyers and junk mail...eventually tossed.  Then they just don't deliver to that address again until it is reactivated.

Six Years.

If this poor woman's short life teaches us nothing...let it teach us this: 

 We MUST look out for one another.
Care for each other. 

Take five minutes and say hello to your neighbours. 
If somebody new moves into your neighbourhood be the first to greet them...whether it is with a pie or an invitation for a cup of coffee or brunch.
Take the time to know your co-workers. 
Care about other people.
Life is too short for familial estrangements. 
Life is too short for hate or grudges. 
Life is to short to isolate yourself.

Life is too short.

Spent this week dealing with some speed-bumps and doing a bit of soul searching of my own. 

Experiencing some "technical difficulty" secondary to FRED.

Yeah, remember FRED?

Not to worry...not quite dead yet.   Just really really inconvenienced.
Cranial space is, after all, decidedly finite and every bit of grey matter that is squidged about by FRED through the years creates some interesting and sometimes not-so-interesting side effects. 

The most recent having the not-so-wonderful limits on my solo travel. So yeah...I spent a big part of the week having this horrid little pity party for myself...and then this morning I woke up and told myself to

           "...Get up...Build a Damned Bridge...and Get the Hell over It!"

So looking into more "...better living through chemistry..." options with my doctor/neurologist/PT and trying to adjust my attitude. Which is at least 90% of the problem, so far.

After all...I am doing pretty good for someone who is heading into the sixth year past my "expiration date"  :)

Looking forward to seeing Nicki tomorrow for a while (and watching Aiden thump and bump and kick things off her belly!) 

Can't wait to meet Nicole's Mom (...we've talked on the phone...but it isn't the same) and planning a very very late Reception for the kids with a Wedding Cake while everyone is in town for Aiden's arrival! 

Despite is still pretty damned good!

Afterword:  Finished the edit/re-write on the second book in The Mindful Life:Zen Living trilogy and it is ready to release on the 22nd of March. Started the outline of the third and final manuscript this morning...while I was writing the dedication to my Dad: My Grandfather Who Raised Me...I also added three words at the end...

                               And for


Monday, March 3, 2014

A Night on the Red Carpet

Made absolutely Ellen hosting the Oscars!  Including pizza delivery and the "selfie" seen round the world!  :)

The Best Dressed competition narrowed down to Cate Blanchett, Lupita Nyong'o and Jared Leto...although I think if Jared had listened to his inner "Rayon" he could have walked away with this one.

And though I would have liked to seen Philomena do more...and Nebraska...and August: Osage County...and I felt like Wolf of Wall Street did not belong there at all. (...might possibly have been the worst film of the year, in my opinion...)

An edgy, socio-political year for the Oscars with the two leading films dealing with Slavery and AIDS.

I was happy to see the Best Picture go to

12 Years A Slave.

And Lupita's performance in the fore-mentioned film (best supporting actress) was topped only by her humility and beauty (both in body and spirit) at last night's ceremonies. It is not often that an acceptance speech can move me to near tears.

 McConaughey was brilliant in The Dallas Buyers Club and kudos for making a film that for years no one wanted to make...the script turned down over 130 times. Richly deserving the Oscar for Best Actor. Still trying to find out if the near skeletal look was achieved through CGI or if (like Christian Bale in his performance in The Mechanist") he actually starved himself thin for the role. Bale reportedly ate an apple and a vitamin daily while shooting his film. The transformation was Auschwitz Thin.

(Referenced this later...and yes...he dropped over 40 pounds for the role)

And right beside him as best supporting actor Jared Leto (...who looked amazingly sexy on the red carpet with all that beautiful hair...possibly because he is amazingly sexy...)  did an incredible job as "Rayon" a tough transvestite with a heart of gold. And captured the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. I particularly liked the way he let the press "fondle" his Oscar during the conference. Nice touch.

 and as his character Rayon.

Although Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine didn't stand a chance between these two blockbusters...Cate Blanchett richly deserved her Oscar for Best Actress for her performance as Jasmine. A performance that rivalled Blanche DuBois in "A Streetcar named Desire" only brought into modern times and situations, and set in San Francisco. Although the ends were not as tightly tied up as Miss DuBois' knew a facility was in her near future.

A tough year with many above average films vying for position...but I think the choices were well thought out.

And Elton and David's 2 year old son, Zachary Furnish-John, the absolute toast of the couple's Annual After Oscar Party!

                                                   Meeting Bono