Saturday, November 29, 2014


is pass the PIZZA!

After three days of Turkey, when the delivery guy showed up- it was like

"Oh...Thank God!"  (falling before him like a Muslim at Mecca)

He said he has gotten that a lot recently.

And a miracle in itself getting ALL the grands (and honorary grands) save the same spot at the same time. May have to find a kneeling photo of his that is perspectively correct and photoshop him in this to put in my Professional Grandma picture frame!

Thanksgiving began Wednesday night with an invite to Chris and Tina's new place together and her first ever attempt at a Holiday Dinner (...which was amazing, by the way!)

With Turkey-Bird... Cheddar cheese biscuits...Green bean casserole...devilled eggs topped with real chopped bacon [yes...BACON...absolutely ditching the Paprika thing forever...]...and pumpkin pie!

Way to go, girl!

And enjoying Chris' lime green post-it notes on EVERYTHING as he learns German.

"Ja, Das es meine Plattenspeile"

So we listened to Alice's Restaurant on vinyl as he played along on the guitar...had a pre-Thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat...did a re-watch of Zombieland...observed Rule # 32...and then got up the next morning...

Thanksgiving Proper

Where they stopped by my place before heading out to Granny Great's.

I fixed Hot Coffee and Cinnabons with Cream Cheese Icing and topped with freshly spiced pecans...the house smelled amazing!

And we had a close encounter with Siri.

To be fair...she STARTED it, okay?

I was trying to get a photo of the kids with Tina's Cell when I accidentally pushed the Siri Button. Nothing. Again. Nothing. And then Siri's voice asking what I wanted to do.

I remember muttering the following expletive laden exclamation

"I JUST want to see..."  
[you will understand the rest of the statement when you see Siri's reponse]

After which, when the tears and laughter subsided, we did a screen shot.

And we spent the next 30 minutes exchanging bizarre comments with
She can be a bit of a stuck-up bitch, you know.

So, while they made their way to Granny Great's; Nancy swooped Brenden and I up to head to James and Nicole's.

And huge thanks to Donna and Tanya for making it all possible!  To have most of my grands in one spot at the same time. It was incredible, happy, chaos! 

Big Mike, Nancy and Scott [James' former co-driver...who rolled in later] joined us. Nicole cooked to feed an army...which we kind of were. A gigantic Turkey. Stuffing. Mashed Potatoes and Gravy. Green Bean Casserole. Yeast Rolls [the real deal...rising on the table, on my arrival, to bake later] Corn. Creamed Peas. A Feast.
 Everything absolutely delicious!

I got to meet Tanya's new daughter Natalyn when she dropped the girls off- too cute with a blue crinkle ribbon and flower on her head. Looks just like Kaylee at that age. And marvel at the fact that Aiden is now crawling everywhere and pulling himself up.  Brenden and all the girls were absolutely thrilled to be back together racing through the house and playing Dinosaur in the playroom with empty boxes ala Jurassic Park. All three movies were televised to get us primed for the release of the new one soon. And the adults all listened to Alice's Restaurant with dinner!

I had one of those Moments of "deja veux by proxy".
Nancy and I were playing 500 Rummy. We had a bowl of Cheese-it crackers on the table. Brenden was quietly standing watching us play cards for a minute and helping eat the Cheese-its...and there it was...the flashback to being a young child watching my grandparents and Aunt Mona & Uncle Jim around their table playing the same game in the 60's with the omni-present bowl of cheese-its and a cut-glass candy dish full of wrapped round cinnamon ball hard candy. Both of which my cousin and I frequently plundered throughout their card games. 


Now, I am the Grandma.

Life comes full circle.

James drove me home beneath a duck-feather snowfall. It was perfect.

Black Friday came the next morning, and I had a pre-bought fresh turkey breast to stuff and yams to bake with butter, and salad to make, and rolls to warm and a slice of Tina's pumpkin pie with whipped cream courtesy of Chris...and yet ANOTHER [now post] Thanksgiving dinner while working on the house, making the list, writing the Christmas al.

Anyway...I think that is why I've developed an allergy to Turkey. 
At least until next Thanksgiving.

 Enjoying the last bit of pumpkin pie with coffee this morning...and a fast may be in order tomorrow. There is no walking this off...unless you walked to, say, Key West or San Francisco.

And above all...I am truly Thankful.

Family...Gratitude...Tradition and Food.
The Key to Happiness. 

                      Life is Good.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Holiday Survival Guide: Eight Tips for Less Stress through the Holidays

Next week is Thanksgiving, which as everyone knows, means Christmas is  lurking around the next corner.

Only weeks away.

If the very thought has your brow furrowed and takes the jingle right out of your on.

Now, Martha Stewart probably has all of her unique-to-the-recipient and thoughtful gifts purchased, wrapped lovingly in colour coordinated and environmentally friendly hand stamped gift-wrap, and is busy crushing and dying egg shells for NYE confetti.  The rest of us...not so much so.

Breathe. It is okay.

Some simple tips for the best (stress free) holiday, yet.

Drink Heavily!   

Okay...just kidding.

1. Get Organize.

Santa knew what he was doing when he made a list and checked it twice.       Before you head out to a single store. Buy a gift. Mail a card, or deck the halls.  Make a budget. Know what you can afford to spend. Plan accordingly. Don't spend half your monthly food budget on 2 holiday meals. Very few people need the multiple starches and cakes and pies and cookie plates...the absolute excess...that festoons the table two days a year. Only for them to head into the New Year with The Resolution to lose weight. Or charge things that you will be paying for long after the gift is forgotten both by you and its intended recipient.

Be realistic.
And when dealing with family during the Thanksgiving Dinner, try to remember, you don't HAVE to participate in every conflict you are invited to. Nod, Smile and Be Agreeable. Refuse to Engage. Pass the stuffing.

2. Shop Local whenever possible.

 Sprawlmart may or may not appreciate the obscene profits they make during the holidays...and yes...I pick up a few items there, too...but buying from a local family owned business makes a real difference in someone's life.

3. Deep Six Black Friday.

Yes. That's right. I said it. These days it seems almost un-American to suggest we NOT celebrate the day after "giving thanks for our abundance" by mindlessly BUYING MORE USELESS CRAP. But spare yourself the insanity. The fisticuffs over parking. The absolute greed-fest that is Black Friday. No amount of savings is worth subjecting yourself to this. You want to save on Christmas purchases. Take the Friday after Thanksgiving and be mindful about that you will be giving. Think about what the recipient really wants/could use instead of a cart load of junk that inevitably winds up re-gifted or in a landfill or thrift shop.  Use Black Friday as a day to CENTER. Fix a pot of turkey and noodles, or soup from the leftover feast. Work on your Christmas cards to mail the first week of December. Reflect on how blessed your life really is.

4.  The Week after Thanksgiving

Get your online shopping finished. Clean the house, deck the halls, put up the tree.

Resist the urge to correct people whether they say Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Joyous Solstice, or whatever. Try to respond in  kind with a smile and be happy they took a few minutes of their time to wish you a Happy ANYTHING..okay????

5. The First Week of December 

Make sure everything shipping out of town is en route.Mail all the Christmas Cards. Keep a book of stamps, a pen and a few on hand in case you receive one from a long lost friend, love or relative.


Refer to your Christmas List...try to not judge whether they have been naughty or nice...and SMILE as you shop the decorated stores and listen to the piped in music. Go out of your way to smile and connect with the cashiers and people out there in customer service roles...because so many people aren't. Say please and thank you. Find something personal to compliment. And if you have excess and you see someone in line counting their change to make their a Christmas Angel. Having been on both sides of this in my Life, I can tell you with absolute certainty how wonderful it is...for both of you.

If a certain someone on your list has everything...just EVERYTHING...don't buy them more stuff. Consider a donation to a worthwhile cause. 

There are many. 

6. Try to have most of your Gifts bought by the End of the Second Week.

There will always be the last minute stuff...or stocking stuffers...but for the most part finish up by the Second Sunday of the month. That way you have a glorious week to The Grinch or a Charlie Brown Christmas. Sip a hot cocoa stirred with a candy cane. Or add a dash of Peppermint Schnapps.

7. Take Care of Yourself Through December.

Keep hydrated. Take time to eat. Sleep. Get a massage.  Do something beside Christmas. Have brunch and a laugh with a friend. Reconnect. Read a book or catch a movie. Take a nap.

8. Christmas Day!

Silently smile to yourself and know that in 24 hours it will be 364 days until NEXT Christmas...

Friday, November 14, 2014

Seasons of Life

Looking forward to my Next Great Adventure in life!

The youngest son (and his fiancé) hopping into nest of their very own and after 30 years of raising three boys/caring for my parents/ my husband's mom/ then my husband through leukemia until his death in 2010...I am reclaiming my LIFE (and home).

Life...AC ( After Children) which promises to be a great deal like life BC (Before Children)

Sunday Mornings- spent sprawled on the living-room floor in silk pajamas surrounded by the Sunday Edition, the cat and a mug of coffee. Music. Specifically, music I enjoy. Mostly instrumental/classical.  Long uninterrupted soaks in a bubble bath with candles, a glass of wine or a bite of dark chocolate.

A friend laughed recently and said,

"You won't know what to do with yourself!"

Oh yes...yes...I remember living alone...I do it quite well, actually.

You can wake when you want.

You can eat what and when you want.

You can socialize as often or little as you want.

You can do (or not do) whatever you like.

You can exercise...meditate...create...without an audience.

You can Try Everything without eye-rolling, throat-clearing or any other reproach. 

You can take a 2 hour bubble bath if you please...uninterrupted and with candlelight :)

You can pre-warm your quilts and go to sleep whenever you like. 

 Yeah...solo living is pretty wonderful, actually!

The Children were (and still are) a great adventure.

Marriage was a happy, amazing, wonderful adventure.

This is simply Part III.

                                  ...the adventure continues...

But for today...lots of hustle and bustle as they pack and sort and toss and get ready to embark on an adventure of their own. Planning to spend the night much like Bill and I did when we first found The Rose Cottage. A pile of quilts on the floor and a candle and I'm sending them up a ginormous pepperoni pizza (delivered).

Resisting the urge to "remind" them of all the stuff that you end up saying,

"OMG...we have to have toilet paper...and paper towels..and soap...and...and...and" 

Because those moments of realization are the moments you remember long after that first apartment or house is forgotten.

Trying to help where I can and stay out of the way when necessary. And have the wisdom to know the difference.

Busy week, this.

A Wednesday Holiday Shopping trek to Terre Haute  with Loretta, Sharon, Diane, Gina, Tim, Don and Eric- and brunch at Red Lobster.

The Mall festooned with the trappings of and tiny white lights. Amazing new scents at Bath and Bodyworks! My favorite Noel, which smells exactly like fresh baked Sugar Cookies. Also Yankee Candle's new fragrance Snowflake Cookie which smells just like an open tin of those Denmark Butter Cookies.
Yes...the scent of Christmas 2014 seems to be Cookies!

We had a great time!

And the celebration of James and Nicole's 1st Wedding Anniversary. Complete with her new hairdo!

The girl has spirit!

Happy to see them so happy!

And all the arrangements in place and Lennon will be here is less than a month looking forward to having all the boys together again for an early Christmas!! (photo:Skype)

By Monday my nest will be empty. Left behind...probably not the cute little fuzz and fluff...more likely socks and earplugs and a trashbag full of discards...but also a lifetime of memories. And a lifetime ahead of creating new ones with my (now grown and independent) sons!

Have a wonderful weekend!


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Weekend Zen Retreat

Not in a Mountain Monastery or some secluded Woodland Temple...but here at home. Learning to Center means that the silence and stillness can be found within as well as on the Outside.

Admittedly, it must be easier in the silence of a Temple or in the middle of a forest alone, but often, those are not the places we are at when we need Centering the most.

So- amidst the youngest son practicing German with Rosetta Stone, and later his Mandolin- I sat Zazen. Practiced Silence. Baked a Butter and Honey Round loaf and made Soup. Read lessons. Wrote a little. Enjoyed a relaxing soak...went to bed with the setting sun and rose just before dawn.  Slept like a child. 

At absolute Ground Zero of CHANGE right now.

Reclaiming my pre-marriage...pre-children life after nearly three decades. A wonderful....amazing change.
But huge nonetheless.

Along with multiple birthdays [3] eldest and his wife's very first youngest and his fiancé and their upcoming move (and my subsequent mega-housecleaning before the holidays) middle son's flight up...Thanksgiving...Hosting an Annual Christmas Party for friends early in December. Hosting an early Christmas Dinner for the entire family [restaurant] while Lennon is still here...and Christmas Eve and Christmas Day engagements. The end of the year is shaping up to be quite hectic. Almost overwhelming.

Hence the Weekend Retreat.

Reminding myself to breathe. Live in The Moment. Not Next Month. Take it a day at a time. Or at least one major event at a time... 


And to not lose sight, in the bustle, of how blessed I am to have this family/ these friends, and their love. All the amazing people in my life! How wonderful it is to share special days with them. How magical one's very first anniversary is...or moving...or even getting your life back after almost 30 years...

So taking the next six weeks in tiny bites
                                               ...and going to savour each moment. 


Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Post Election Commentary...

Yeah...let's face it. It was pretty much like this. Right down to the vultures picking over the carcass for the past two days. It is hard to know which is worse. The dead donkey or the scavengers.

What was particularly irksome was that only 1/3 of America's registered voters bothered to show up at the polls, at all. 

The abject apathy is more frightening than the prospect of the GOP controlling both House and Senate.

And the President still has the power of EO and the chances of the ACA being completely dismantled are slim and none...ditto Medicare and Social Security. Being a lame duck I can't see him having a lot of compunction about using either, should this Congress attempt to touch any of the three.

Since the populous is a notoriously fickle lot...prepare for another earth-shattering shift by 2016. 

Despite the GOP neener-neener fest of the past two days, this was a message as much to Congress (who holds a dismal 10% approval rating)  as to the President. Although I have to admit I am completely stymie by Mitch McConnell's re-election.  In an area where over 80,000 families live at or below poverty level...and the fact that K-NECT  (...Kentucky's version of the ACA ) has been wildly popular and widely used...they voted to re-elect a guy that..........(wait for it)....................wants to dismantle the ACA.  

Go figure.

                                ( Would you buy a used car from this man?)

I am happy to see that Crist didn't get Florida...despite the possible change in the marijuana laws. I have to think residents shook their had and said,

 "Yeah...we would LOVE to twist one up when we get in from work...but it isn't worth having Charlie back!"

( The Second Coming of Crist?)

Charlie Crist...who was a Republican...that didn't get he changed to an Independent- who didn't get elected...and finally morphed into a Democrat that didn't get elected, either...I am sensing a pattern here, guy. Give it the hell up! They just don't want you. 

This is the guy you dated who will morph into anything you want him to be if you will just STAY!!!!!!!!!!!!
 ( *sobbing*)

"Yes...a restraining order generally signifies the relationship is over. "

Just saying.

And what is up with Texas? Wendy Davis stood for everything women wanted in her area. Well, what they SAID they wanted. Until Election Day. Still shaking my head over that one, too.

So, the next two years are going to be interesting, anyway.

Feeling very Carlinesque. 
Just sitting back watching the show. 

Feeling Winter creeping in now...and may have another snow tonight. Sure feels like it.

Relaxing with a round loaf of home-made bread and a pot of bubbling Minestrone...

                          Life (despite the Election results) is Good!


Monday, November 3, 2014

A Gentle Nudge Reminding Everyone...

To Get Off
Your Ass and VOTE!!!! is the Midterm Election tomorrow. And if you are in an area (like me) where one party or the other dominates...and it doesn't make a lot of difference in your LOCAL elections...VOTE anyway!

And here is why...

People have been beaten tortured, and killed for the right to vote all over the World...and all we have to do is put down the remote and get off the damn sofa.

See you at the polls!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Goblins Prancing Through The First Snowfall!

A wonderful Halloween filled with Wild Things...

                                                           And Ninjas

And Monster High Vampires!

And Family and Nicole's Homemade Chili and SNOWFLAKES...a veritable blizzard of snowflakes and trick or treater's...and a two hour (unrelated) Power Outage necessitating a collection of candles burning that would dazzle the Pope...and Halloween candy, pumpkin shaped cookies to be decorated and chili eaten by candle-light and Emma reading "Good Night Goon" (a parody of the original Good Night Moon)...and even a viewing of"Monster House" once the power was restored! A night that left the Grands loudly proclaiming:

                                          "Best Halloween...EVER!"

Undaunted by the blowing snow and (adult numbing) cold.

The Power Outage (the result of a wreck which left the entire town of Cloverdale without power for a while) was somehow almost creepy the kids played hide and seek with glow-lights!

Came home late to Chris and Tina who had dressed up and attended Adam's Halloween Bash as The Joker and Harley Quinn

Woke early this morning to 28 degrees and all the October foliage either plummeted to the ground or hanging on valiantly in burnished shades of copper/bronze and browns.

Seemingly overnight! The last throes of Fall. And Winter right around the corner.


Met up with my old friend/long ago lover- this week for our Annual  (although this year has been bi-annual) brunch. A picnic in the Fall Leaves. Even managed to catch sight of a beautiful...and unseasonal bluebird. The Bluebird of Happiness, no doubt. Catching up. Deciding to up the ante and meet seasonally instead of annually. So our parting sounded very... don't know...Victorian. Romantic. Endearing.

"I Shall See You in The Winter" 

(As though The Winter was an exotic locale instead of the blustery, cold snow-filled event it always is in Indiana.)

The Winter. 

I think I like it. 

             More Anon.