Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Saying Goodbye to 2014

And taking a minute to reflect on the Year.

The goals...for the most part met.  Okay...except for that day of silence thing. Maybe next year. 

Loretta is so proud. Not only has she learned to navigate the World Wide Web...but now she is encouraging others to try. She has also continued in her neverending quest to impart her fashion sense to me. Sometimes successful (...I do own multiple infinity scarves, four purses, and numerous pairs of shoes/boots, and matching earrings now). Apparently, it's a process. 

And thanks to Carol I think we can all agree that the new Challenger is 2014's "sexy beast of a car" for the year! Hellcat- non-withstanding.

We watched several states legalize marijuana...and many many more embrace same sex marriage....and somehow the world did not grind to a halt. Dorito and snack food sales and home decorating items went through the roof, though.

And it snowed and snowed and snowed...and then rained and rained and rained. A beautiful Summer and Fall....and we barely cracked the high 90's this year.

I became a Grandma again! Another beautiful grandson "Aiden Brock Hurst" And I was there to say "Welcome to the World" and enjoy his Fraggle hat (orange) and neon green footprints! As well as tacos in the room later for our little Cinco de Mayo guy!

Thanks to last year's 5:2 Diet I not only kept off the pounds I lost, but for the first year in over 25 years...I actually lost a few more and am toning up. I feel really positive about this! 
Happy with my body for the first time since 1986.
The last DIET I will ever have, or need.

Nicole managed to find her daughter (who had been abducted by her ex-husband 3 years ago)  now has full custody, and he has very strictly enforced supervised visitation.

We watched The Seahawks absolutely slaughter the Broncos on Superbowl Sunday 2014. It was pathetic. Can't wait to see who will play this year.

I finally bought my full-size plein air easel...and enjoyed sitting outside during the Spring/Summer and Fall creating with acrylics...spawning the Behind the Door Gallery.

I discovered the joys of Cronuts and the horrors of Artichokes :)

Together...we learned to make Limoncello! Nothing better in the midst of the hot summertime to sip.

I managed to get the second Zen book in print and a good start on the third and final book of the trilogy to be released in April of 2015.

There were some sobering moments as well. The results of the MRI showing that FRED (...that little space invader...) was indeed causing some of the problems that caused my seizures and put the stops on my solo travel in April. I am going to resume my MRI's in January. Frankly the whole thing was depressing and I refused this November's sneak peek.

The grisly discovery of Pia Farrenkoft in a garage in Michigan who had been dead (and mummified) in her garage for over 6 years and nobody noticed she was missing.

The untimely death of the ultimate adventurer/traveller Harry Devert in Mexico.

 The death of amazing funny man Robin Williams.

 And some more personal. The death of our amazing Guitar-Man- Loran. His being the first death within our DS family and we were in shock getting our heads around it. Especially since just before he had attended the Colorado Gathering with everyone. We were all able to attend his Macon Memorial in real time virtually...and we have embraced the Tarantula Ritual at future DS Gatherings in his Memory. He would have sooo approved.

 Also the "all too soon death" of my friend, neighbour and crazy-cat lady, Tess...who had given cancer a run for its money...only to succumb of a heart attack. RIP

And, of course, the death of Bruce in September. Sometimes there just aren't enough words...or tears. Always a friend...sometimes a lover. It seems a lifetime ago. I will see you in my memories and dreams. Thank you, for trust, helping me slay my internal demons...helping me find my brother...and giving me 18 again...long after I thought it was gone forever. 
 Je n'oublierai jamais.

Fred Phelps died this year, too...and the world became a little less hate filled.

Ebola dominated the World News. Thousands in Africa died and over 10,000 now are infected. And although I was pretty blasé through the Bird Flu scare...I have to admit this brought out the panic in me. 

I discovered the joys of owning a Keurig! 
(Dear Green Mountain Recall People...if you attempt to take my Keurig- I WILL cut you. Sincerely ME)

In April (...realizing that my gypsy-travel was over...) I made the happy transition to Virtual Gypsy.  Maine (always my Unicorn) became a two week long virtual adventure. It was incredible. I am beginning the New Year in (virtually, of course) a tour of France. See everything I have always wanted to see...peruse and even shop the stores and sample the tastes.

My good friends Sal and Diane tied the knot! Married. And with the magic of cyber-space we all got to be there! Marti and Lee married as well! Several others became engaged or romantically involved- or in the case of Vicki and Mark and Carol and Jeff...moved across country to be together. Our family became even tighter.

I turned 54...and cultivated a new habit of watching sunrises and sunsets with my morning coffee or evening herbal tea/glass of wine. It is outstanding!

I experimented with Aquarella (watercolor based pencils). Not my cup-of-tea...but you know my motto (stolen from Andy Warhol)

I took the plunge after several nasty falls and got The Walker. It has made a huge difference in regaining my independence! I did not paint it candy apple red or with! I do have the Harley tee, and the leather trousers fit now.  No sense dressing like a geezer.

I learned that despite FRED I can still sit a horse...enjoy a day at the Falls or Creek...and a million other wonderful things!

I survived a SPIDER dropping in my bath...I cannot say the same about the spider. (...hey, if you are as arachnophobic as I would understand this is a major accomplishment...)

Indiana recognized same-sex marriage...a minor miracle in this state. I wish Bill could have lived to see this day.

I experienced Five Guys Burgers and Fries! 

It was brought to my attention that Brown Sugar Cinnamon PopTarts do, indeed, have 420 calories...coincidence...I think not. (420...get it?)
Official snack food of Colorado.

I tried my hand...and learned to make homemade wine! Blush and White. Next up...going to ferment a batch using Cran-grape juice :)

I discovered the joys of Breyer's Tiramisu Gelato  (meglio del sesso)
                                                                                   better than sex

And I tried Mark and Sheri's recipe for Rosemary Herbed Bread. Not quite Breyer's Tiramisu...but pretty damn good and a use for all the extraneous Rosemary I grew in the herb basket this year.

I did the ALS Bucket did many of my friends...and! Who was a bit less than amused.

"Idgy" and I had a wonderful late Summer Adventure together and planned next year's Joint Birthday Adventure already...including a bonfire of a cake with 95 candles (40 for her and 55 for me) She taught me to paint with palette knives and I taught her how to sell on eBay. We exchanged recipes and cooked together and had picnics in the park! Even a balloon "Let it Go" release on our last day together.

I attended all the birthday parties, the orchard trips, the Farmer's Market on the Square, The Covered Bridge Festival...and more.

I re-learned the difference between a crisis and an inconvenience when Pam's childhood home burned to the ground...and suddenly what was really important in life you could count on one hand.


I took a Zen Retreat and a Writing Retreat...but did not manage a Photography Retreat this year. Maybe Next?

Chris and Tina moved into their own apartment and so for the first time in nearly 30 years I have my pre-husband/pre-kids Life back! I'm loving it!

I managed to Mall Rat monthly with a group of friends...Bloomington, Metropolis, Castleton, Terre Haute :)
Never get too old to Mall Rat

I have not only mastered using the transit system here...but we now have a local cab so I can get anywhere, again!

I enjoyed Tina's wonderful first Thanksgiving dinner..and Nicole's amazing Christmas Eve Feast...and got to see/spend time with Lennon for a week before Christmas..and spent all the holidays with the kids and grands and their Moms! It was The Best.

In the midst of this I SURVIVED the current version of the flu...or as I refered to it:  The Plague!

So did everyone else in the family.

We drew eyebrows on the!  Somehow it seemed important to mention. I had been wanting to do it since he was born. I doubt they would have laughed in the birthing room.
Funniest thing ever!

I became an (honorary) Great Grandma Rose with the arrival of Brittany's daughter Amelia Rose in December. She is beautiful! And so tiny!

And we have for years now...Idgy and I are ringing in the New Year together with cheese and crackers and Honey Mead and (virtual) confetti...which is much much easier to clean up! has been one hell of a wild ride!

Hang on tight...I think 2015 is going to be 
Even Better!


Monday, December 29, 2014

Close Encounter With a Fresh Artichoke

Okay. So you all KNOW how I love to cook. And you know how I LOVE to discover/try/experience new things. So, there I was in the produce aisle and saw that fresh artichokes (which I had never tried before) were marked down to a buck each. That...and the fact they had loads of them post-Christmas, and they didn't seem to be flying off the shelf...should have been my first warning 

But NO.

I employed the

"If Not NOW-then WHEN" 

motto that I tend to carry with me. For the record: I absolutely LOVE those jarred in olive oil artichoke hearts on salad.

 And so, muttering the fateful words "How difficult could it be?" I selected a firm tightly closed specimen to go with a nice bit of sirloin, a baked sweet potato, sautéed onions and Portabellas and returned home.

I was so clueless as to where to start I actually Googled  "How to Prepare Fresh Artichoke. 

I snipped the thorny tips off and pared the stem down to base level. I washed it.
I prepared the steamer with water, garlic, lemon and a bay leaf.  I let it steam for 30-40 minutes until per the instructions the leaves were opening and easy to pull from the base.  I prepared additional lemon butter for dipping them.

People eat these?

Leaf by leaf...dipped in drawn butter...putting the fleshy end of the leaf in my mouth and drawing it through my teeth scraping off the tiny bit of edible flesh with each leaf.  You know...before artichokes I was skeptical that there were actually foods that required more calories to fix and eat them than they possessed.

Not any more. 

And as the stack of scraped leaves piled up I realized somewhat remorsefully...because of the drawn butter...they weren't even fit for the compost bin, now.

Who the hell looked at one of these one day and said

"Hey...let's see if we can eat THAT"

The flavour slightly reminiscent of prickly pear cactus (also tried in the past)...which in turn tastes a great deal like green beans sautéed in facial toner. Artichokes are perhaps a little sweeter. 

And if I thought the whole draw, dip and scrape thing was tedious...nothing could have prepared me for the "fuzzy choke".

The instructions made the choke sound vaguely like some cute little fuzzy teddy that lived in the center of the veggie...just scoop it away and under it is the HEART of the Artichoke.

Foremost, I can see where the "CHOKE" part of it comes in. If you actually made the mistake of putting any part of this thistle-like (complete with thorny spikes)  thing in your might just choke.

To Death.

And it wasn't easily scooped away. It required Seal Team Six...ARs and a Zodiac.

When I finally did manage to reach "the heart"...I wasn't even sure I was interested in eating it, anymore.

Now maybe my Artichoke was a mutant. Maybe a lot of normal artichokes have cute little teddy bear chokes that you can scoop away with a flick of a wrist. Seriously, I will never know.

Because I am buying mine in a glass jar soaked in olive oil and spices from here on out.

I feel like this whole experience may be a public service announcement. 

You have been warned. 

 Proceed at your own risk.


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas 2014

Has been going on here since the 18th...and will extend through Monday. This year there really is 12 Days of Christmas!  Beginning with Lennon's arrival from college...and ending over a salami, cheese and cracker tray and sharing final gifts with Loretta and I.

And I think Tucker is about "Ho-Ho-Ho'ed" out.  Pretty exhausted myself! (...pretty sure this kitty shot is next year's Christmas card though...)

Had a lovely visit with Lennon...even visiting some of the old haunts ( this diner...) where Bill and I used to take them all out when they were little.

And loving having all three boys together again...with this year clearly being the year of The VanDyke :)

Christmas Eve spent with James and Nicole and all the Grands...and Brittany and the newest Great-Grand!

                                             Brittany and Amelia Rose

All in all there were about 18 people there and nearly half of them were shorter than 4 feet tall.  Nicole made a feast! Baked ham...Green Bean Casserole...Baked Macaroni and Cheese..Rolls...and cookies she had made with the kids.

And Santa Came.

You have to hand it to these two (James and Nicole) who went from basically being literally homeless last Christmas to having a good career...nice home...being with all the kids...and of course, Aiden's arrival and getting Emma back. All in less than 12 months. I'm very proud of all they have accomplished!

The kids had an amazing Christmas.

And what do you get for a Mom and Dad who have 5 children between them?

Duct  Tape?

Close...His and Her's Sippy Cups

Last night Preston,Brenden and Donna came here for a bit of holiday with me.

And Preston and I built his Foosball Stadium together...truth be told it would have taken less time to build an actual soccer stadium, I think. No wonder they don't assemble these things in the factory!  And Donna and Brenden had fun playing with his Wheelie-Popping car.

But we managed to get it built!  And Donna made me the best Grandma Rose gift!

                                  (inside) filled with page after page of
                                   photographs of all my grandchildren!

So...Chris and Tina over tomorrow for Biscuits and Gravy...and now that "the boys" (Benny and Neville: their rat terriers) are home it appears I have grand-puppies as well!

 and Loretta over on Monday and that is that...Christmas is officially over. 

My table is now filled with their gifts...chocolates, baskets, bubble bath and bath items, cocoas and Elsa's Story Cookies, candles and perfume. I may retreat to the bath with the goodies and hide there! 


But the BEST gift of all was being able to be with EVERYONE this year for Christmas!

Christmas 2014

Monday, December 22, 2014

Saying Goodbye...and Hello.


Thanks to his sons (Derrick and Matt) and a bit on online wizardry...we were able to attend (and even chat between ourselves) during Loran's Memorial Service in Macon.

From the playing of "Wish You Were Here" by Pink Floyd which had me in the Raffle at the end, winning ticket way, and the prize bag held a bottle of Tarantula Tequila (...yep...the little blue drink...) which had me in tears of laughter- the Memorial Service was so absolutely Loran. A Celebration of a Life Well Lived!

 "Leave them Laughing"

We will all miss you.  And there will be a bottle of Tarantula Tequila at the September Gathering 2015 and shots will be passed among us...blasphemous as it may sound.

"Do this in remembrance of me" 

Loved you, guy. We all did. Or as you would have said

"All Ya'll"

Always going to take your advice and make

"The REST of my life the BEST of my LIFE!"

Goodbye, my friend. 

And with every goodbye, it seems, a Hello.

Welcoming to the world:  Amelia Rose.

And Nicki (thanks to her adopted daughter- who is grown) is now officially a Grandma. Feeling old yet, hon?

What a great early Christmas gift!

Also making me Great-Grandma Rose- by proxy.  
And I am okay with that!

Don't just look for The The Light...


Friday, December 19, 2014

My Christmas Wish Has Came True :)

And laughing until we cried after drawing exaggerated eyebrows on the baby for the evening!

Christmas (and happiness) is FAMILY!

A wonderful week filled with love and laughter and a few of my "grands"...and all three of my boys, again!

And if I received nothing more for Christmas...the past week would be ENOUGH.

Okay...and maybe some chocolate, too! 

(...yeah...definitely some chocolate...)


Friday, December 12, 2014

I Survived The Plague of 2014....Holiday Fudge and Hell's Angels :)

                                       The First of the Reese’s Fudge

Although, I am sorely tempted to have

"I Survived THE PLAGUE of 2014"

tee-shirts made for all of us this Christmas.  What an absolute mess. Everyone slowly rejoining the holidays now; wondering where the hell the last couple of week went. 

 The Fudge has began. The above pictured made with a combination of milk chocolate morsels and peanut butter chips...then topped (after being poured) with Reese's (chopped) mini-cups.  The fudge tastes like a giant Reese's cup with a creamier texture.  In addition I'm making White Fudge with English walnuts. Idgy's Favourite. Dark Chocolate Fudge with Black Walnuts. My Favourite. And Pecan Turtle Fudge with Pecans and a layer of soft caramel. Everyone loves this!

The "drive-by fudgings" begin next week!

Excited! Our Middle son arriving this weekend...and EVERYONE together for a few hours. Which is right up there with my Jewish friends Miracle of the Oil. Seriously.  And while I am thinking of  Sal and Diane (yenta-in-training) and Vicki and Carol and Larry and Arlene


 Marketing's Alternative to the Elf on a Shelf.

Or for the slightly more adventurous. Buy both.  These two together spell trouble. But I think it is written in Santa may cut you some slack.

The best laid plans I see up-to-the-wire Christmas shopping in my near future. Luckily, I did manage to get all the online and out of state done before being dropped by a microscopic virus. 

I also managed to read one of Hunter S. Thompson's earlier works that I had somehow missed until now.  Hell's Angels. A work done while the author was embedded with Sonny Barger and the Oakland Chapter's of The Hell's Angels in the late Sixties.  The Angels. Part Man. Part Myth. Part Machine.  The press creating an indelible image of chaos that even The Angels had a difficult time "living down to".  As someone, who remembers vividly a mid-sixties rumble on Tweedy Blvd. in much older cousin [I believe she was actually suppose to be watching me at the time]. Teri and I bought tacos from a too close for comfort street vendor as her boyfriend (who would later become her husband) Paul fought beside the Gypsy Jokers. Of course- back then rumbles were settled with fists, chains and the very occasional zip gun (made from a car antenna and a .22 shell). Still scary as hell for a little kid. [me]

Today, you would doubtless be killed in crossfire. 
Gangs these days play for keeps.

Excellent read. 
A microcosm of that period of time in California. 

And ending, interestingly enough, when his subjects end up turning on him and stomping him to the point he ended up in a California ER.

Dangerous Business...this author stuff.

So off for a bit to enjoy my family!
You know...those people who gave me the plague to begin with... [hey]

Wishing everyone the very best of Holidays.
No matter what you celebrate!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Battling "The Plague"...but it's Beginning to look a Lot like Christmas!

Okay...not Ebola bad...but still pretty bad.

It seems one of the adults (or more likely one of the cookie-crumblers) on Thanksgiving had THE PLAGUE...and spread it pretty much to EVERYONE who came to the house that day.  The Flu this year is vicious. Settled in several evenings with high fever and chills and aching all over.

"If my eyes start bleeding, it is Ebola, damn it..."

Chris saved my ass early on by dropping by Sprite and Saltines...all the while making Ebola jokes and keeping his distance.

Talked with Nicole and James who said

" have it, too?"

The bright side is that today it appears to be on the downside although I feel the beginnings of an opportunistic URI that slipped in.

"Well, you were already flat on your back...I didn't figure one more bug would make any difference."


But...feeling much better today...and catching up on things while a crockpot of ham and beans simmers and a skillet of cornbread bakes.

Finally sat down and worked on my wreath and pine cones and other bit of decorating and home is a bit more seasonally cozy tonight.

And tomorrow I start the Christmas Fudge!

The out-of-state and online purchases handled and the wrapping begins next week. A few gifts left to pick up...but pretty much have it handled for 2014.
Lennon will be here in days :)

Received an early surprise from my eldest! Christopher Titus' Special:
Angry Pursuit of Happiness. If you have not seen this bit of stand-up it is brilliant!

If you have seen it you will fully understand if I walk by muttering,

 "That does it...definitely demoted to a 1."

Or randomly call out


And in the very midst of this flurry of gift wrap and shiny baubles and tinsel and ribbon tomorrow marks a Buddhist Celebration of a very different sort. A day (or at least a great part of it) set aside for meditation/reflecting.

Bodhi Day

The Day [beneath a tree of the same name]
The Buddha Achieved Enlightenment.

I am still practicing. This is my 7th year. I catch those rare fleeting glimpses occasionally. They are pretty magnificent.  Centering is much easier than it was years ago. 

So... not as beautiful as the Hindu Diwali with floating sky lanterns...and without stories of Angels on High...Shepherds or Menorahs or Miracles of Oil lasting days instead of hours...not even a Jolly Fellow in a red and white suit bringing toys to all the good boys and girls.

Just the story of a man...another human like you or I...who sat beneath a Bodhi  in meditation for 49 days in 658 emerge enlightened at age 35 and spend the next 45 years of his life teaching others self-awareness. Not telling them how they should/or that they must walk the path...merely pointing the way.

Not a bad way to spend a life time. 

 So...before we start listening to the endless bickering over Happy Holidays ~vs~ Merry Christmas...

Happy Bodhi. 

I wish you ALL much love, light and happiness on your journey.
Whatever journey it may be.