Wednesday, May 30, 2012

wrapping up the school year. busy as a beaver.

So nice to finally sit down. It's way past my bedtime; especially with me waking up at 4:30 am lately, wide eyed-bushy tailed and ready to go. (Sort of.) I feel my posting here has been a little sparse this past while. There's so much living going on and I often feel  the need to "decompress" and process it all in the way I do here in this space. It somehow makes me feel a little more balanced when I take the time to blog and journal it all. Breathing in with the living part and breathing out with the reflecting and recording part.

It's been non stop action around here. I've especially been busy. It's all good, though.

With the school year winding down, we've found ourselves hither and yon with the different end of year activities and culminating celebrations. Sam's choir concert, (tears welled in my eyes watching him singing his heart out, and with gusto. Especially emotional when he sang that favorite of mine: Nella Fantasia. Grateful he has taken this opportunity to become a little more well rounded when a lot of his focus tends to be on sports.) Also, Eliza's 8th grade celebration dinner with all the parents and teachers who've supported and encouraged these young people along the way. Academic recognition assemblies, class parties, and now today's dance festival. Isaac and the other 2nd graders (their class focused on the 70's era and don't you just dig their handcrafted tie dye?) rendition of Funky Town was so cute. Seeing my kids dancing joyfully is one of my favorite things in life.

As for me, I've been busy supporting the kids in all this. Since Monday (after we got home from our Memorial Day picnic and graveside visits) I've also put a lot of my time and efforts getting the yard in shape, the vegetable garden and flowers finally planted. My hands are pretty much stained brown and the dirt underneath my fingernails won't go away. I can't tell you how many piles of weeds I've pulled in the last three days. Mountains, and I'm not kidding. We live on a half and acre lot with a tremendous amount of vegetation and bedding areas where, unfortunately, the weeds are constantly winning the battle, and it amazes me when I take each load to our towering "compost" heap (more like organic matter dump) on the edge of the yard.

I felt so exhausted last night after having labored hard outside in the hot sun all day, looking at what I had done and what still needed to be done. The sprinklers, again, were broken. The grass, in many spots, as dry as a bone. Keith's ongoing back issues/pain flaring up yet again. I was filthy. Sweat pouring down my face while sneezing my head off. Wiping my snotty, dripping nose on my shirt sleeve all day because I didn't care. I was to the point of tears.

I don't like this feeling of being overwhelmed with this yard.

But I do the best I can. It's getting there. It'll never be perfect, at least all at one time, and I need to learn to make peace with that. 

Yet, though it all, I get a great deal of satisfaction knowing that I know and can work. Hard. Labor. And I'm not afraid of it, either. I receive a lot of happiness looking at the the ways I've made our yard and home a more beautiful place because of my efforts.

Along with writing long and detailed letters twice each week to Gary, I also put together a "care" package for him on Tuesday. Homemade Rice Crispy Treats, a favorite of his, included, and some photos I printed out of recent events that I knew he would be happy to see.

I've also been putting a lot of my energies into hosting a bridal shower this coming Friday for my niece Paula and my soon to be sister-in-law Alice. Their June weddings are two weeks apart so it worked out this way to combine our celebrating them. I might be scarce here until after the shower. I've got lots of fun things to share, so come back for lots of  "pink" party goodness.

Take care, and see you soon.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

gathering, remembering, and honoring on memorial day

It's tradition.
We gather,
forging ties
at that same old park
every Memorial Day for as long as I can remember.
And the potluck spreads out long
as we share, we feast on
Papa and Reuben's jambalaya in the Dutch oven
and even some gumbo,
(a first this year)
in honor of our proud
Louisiana roots.
While Aunt Barbara's Cajun music  
energizing us, reminding us all
where it is
we come from.
Later, the family elders,
Aunt Ione, Papa, and Uncle Cliff,
stand before us
reminding of the importance
of this family,
our ties,
our tradition.
And warm tears are shed,
this heart filled with pride
for this
my heritage.
This strong connection I have,
growing more and more
as I get older
these roots,
where I came from,
who I am.

This day set aside
to gather, to remember, to honor
those beloved whose
legacy, memory, and sacrifice
we love
and will never forget.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

summer porch

a homey welcome for those who pay them a visit,
a beckoning haven to those who dwell there.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

little bits o' happy

For going down Sunday to hear Jane speak to her student church congregation. Busting my buttons with pride for this girl of mine.

For board games getting pulled out.

For the school routine winding down.

For summer's approach. For all the fun we are planning.

For those times she calls me up on the phone, bursting, filling me in on all the happenings in her world.  

For this little number right here we had on Sunday night. There's just something about bananas, nuts, and chocolate that sends me to the moon. And a few sliced strawberries on top. Oh, wow.

For getting his emails. Wednesdays are my favorite day of the week, now. And he's doing so great, by the way.

For these no chill now, shorts and a t-shirt morning runs. Loving what these new shoes are doing for me, too.

And not to be and not to appear *materialistic* (I really hesitate to share this, as I unfortunately came across this way to a reader not too long ago for disclosing that I bought new porch swing cushions.)

After 11 years of driving "Old Reliable" who isn't too reliable anymore...

...we decided it was time for us to look for and purchase a new(ish) car. The car I would mainly drive. Friday night, most of the day on Saturday, and then all day yesterday was consumed with this task.

Well, we found something to feel good about. Even if it's older-  a 2004 Acura MDX- it pretty much is making me very happy today.  

(It's kind of like a big deal to me, friends.)


Thanks for the memories, old friend.

So long. Farewell. Auf Wiedersehen. Goodnight.
Goodbye.... Goodbye....

You served our family well. Being there for us in those heavy parenting years, when all the five kids were home and needed to be carted around this way and that. We loved you. For the times you took us on our vacations. For the trips to the library. For the never ending trips to get groceries. For the innumerable trips to and from the various schools. For all those carpool runs.  Even the time when that huge pot of gumbo spilled all over the back and we had what the kid's said was "old pizza" smell lingering for years.

And so farewell to that 15 year long Mom-Van stage of my life.

I will not miss the three doors that wouldn't open. (only if you know the "trick".) I won't miss the embarrassment of the paint peeling and rust spots taking over the exterior. Breaking down on the freeway with little kids in tow. The missing, never replaced hub cap. The broken, Duck tape repair job side view mirror.

Maybe you still will stick around for teenage drivers. Then again, maybe you won't.

But for me, it's time to move on.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

hey good lookin'. whatcha got cookin'?

... not that I'm good lookin'. But you know. Just liking that catchy opening, is all.


I've been cooking up a storm this week. Not sure why, but I guess I've been in the mood and felt like with all my attention focused on other things this past little while, I needed to channel some of my creative energies back to the kitchen.

So here's a recap:

As Sunday was Mother's Day, I know I could have delegated my food assignment for our extended family get- together to someone else around here, but I had some things in mind that I felt like doing. And I didn't mind.

:: strawberry-rhubarb crisp with a bundle of rhubarb I picked up from Saturday's visit to the Farmer's Market. (Our rhubarb isn't quite mature enough for prolific picking.) This was really good. Mellow with that sour-ish rhubarb flavor.

:: Okay, I had good intentions with this pasta salad. A dressing that I'd never made before, and initially this tasted good to me as I filled a little bowl full to try at lunchtime. But a strange thing happened. Later at my sisters house, this salad morphed into something pretty nasty. I kept tasting it to get a grip on it. Totally inedible. Enough so that I had to warn everybody in the room. Humble pie time for moi.

All I can say is we all have flops.

:: Not pictured: gigantic fruit platter garnished with fresh mint from my garden. Really beautiful.

Okay. Monday is my big cook day.

:: mixed up and started these Mexi- Flax crackers for the dehydrator. Fun project.

(not pictured)
:: put together and pulverized a "dried veggie mix" (celery, peppers, and onions + dried seasonings) that I had hanging around. Now more convenient as a mix to season lots of stuff.

: put together a "chili seasoning mix" of dehydrated tomato powder and Mexican seasonings. Will use in variety of ways.
:: I tried something new I had heard about. Cooked all my beans for the week all at one time in Mason jars in the canner. 2 jars of black beans, 2 jars of garbanzos, 2 jars of pintos, and 1 jar of lentils. Allowed the beans (1 cup dried) in each jar to soak the previous 24 hours. Drained them; refilled to the rim with fresh water and added a teaspoon of salt in each. No lids on the jars. Placed them in the rack and immersed them in that big black kettle with a few inches of water on the bottom (with lid rings on the bottom), brought the water to a boil, and then turned it down a little, placing the lid on the kettle. The lentils were done in an hour and the others about an hour and a half. A success! A time saver! I think this deserves a more detailed post when I try this again.

: cooked up a week's worth of brown rice I had soaking with the beans. I liked the results of the soaking.

:: made a batch of hummus with one jar of the garbanzos. Cut some veggies to have on hand with this.

:: with a jar each of garbanzos, lentils, and equal amounts of brown rice, I mashed these together and dehydrated the mixture. Formed a sort of homemade "veggie meat crumbles" that I added with a bit of the above veggie mix. Will reconstitute with liquid and fresh grated veggies, etc. into patties and such. We'll see how it goes.

:: Spanish rice (used above chili mix)

:: Refried beans (used above chili mix) to go with burrito fixings for dinner.

:: Choco-Banana-Almond shakes for Family Night Treat. So yum.


:: ground my wheat for the week.

:: made two pans of granola.

:: :: two different kinds of raw date-nut balls. "Cookie Dough" and "Brownie Bites". Good to store in the freezer for lunches and "when I need a little something".

(not pictured)

:: whole grain pancake mix

:: baked a batch of carrot cake muffins for Wednesday's breakfast

:: cheezy sauce (recipe here) to accompany this night's dinner of Mountain Man Hash (stir fried potatoes, onions, peppers, and zucchini spears)

:: big mixed veggie and greens salad bowl with Sweet Mustard Dressing (recipe here) to accompany.

:: mixed up dough for daily bread and pizza dough (to freeze). Stored overnight in the fridge. (I use Artisan Bread in 15 Minutes a Day method.)


:: green smoothies for breakfast to go with yesterday's already baked muffins.

:: baked the whole grain loaves to go with tonight's planned Sweet Potato, Corn, and Kale chowder.

Whew. Seeing all this written down makes me tired. I did a lot. It was work. It was satisfying. I hope it's worth it. I think it is.

Tomorrow, we garden!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

a celebration getaway :: happy trails in red rock country

Keith asked me if there was something extra special I'd like to do on our little vay-cay.

I told him that I had a hankerin' for riding a horse. It had been so long. Like, since I was ten.

Of course, he agreed that we needed to do it.
He's good like that.

So we arranged with Patty, the horse woman whisperer and guide, to set us out on the trail. She has quite the outfit. I admired her competency and experience with those horses, but especially appreciated her warmth and spunk.   

The day was a hot one, but we didn't mind. Even if it was in the middle of the day. In a desert.

This white beauty I focused the camera on before our ride, unknowingly, was Shasta, who I'd have the pleasure of mounting a few minutes later.

All these horses in Patty's outfit just seemed to go on autopilot. Leading us down the trail like they'd done it a thousand times.

Like they probably have.

Okay, a confession. Kind of had a surreal moment (actually there were quite a few of those moments, to be perfectly honest), where I felt like I was channeling some Old West female ranch hand or one of my favorite characters of all time, the courageous and tough as nails pioneer homesteader Sarah Agnes Prine, from the book These Is My Words.

I guess I was living out some of my fantasies in a way.

The motion of that powerful, yet gentle creature and me just rolling rhythmically along together in a synergistic fashion. (Even though I didn't know the heck what I was doing.)

Looking down at the yucca and other vegetation- delighting to spot a few blooming prickly pear cactus along the trail.

Looking back behind me at Keith so many times, smiling with pleasure at each other and with each other.

The strange, unearthly beauty of those red rock formations.

Laughing while listening to Patty's stories.

The  strange mixture of confidence intermingled with bits of apprehension when Shasta would maneuver us going down a few rocky, sandy hills.

Even those times when she'd stop to pee, or impatiently try to speed up to a trot, ("Whoa, Bessie!) and even those times when out of her desire to itch herself, she'd drag me through a few prickly bushes.

It was all so much fun. I think I loved every minute of it.

Even the sore bum the next day.

Having fun is something I don't experience very often and this satisfied that need I think for the both of us.

It's important, you know?

Well... so long, partner.

Happy Trails to You,
 Until We Meet Again...

(I just had to put that in.)

Monday, May 14, 2012

a celebration getaway :: taking in a little history and a whole lot more

I love:

cities and towns full of character and charm
old houses given a second chance
old things and old ways
maybe I was born in the wrong century
looking, looking, looking for truth and beauty in the commonplace
the joy I feel when it's found
capturing the light
oh yes
that's what it's all about
pink hollyhocks
my favorites
peace in this holy place, as in every other
walking along with his hand on my shoulder
him getting out of the car when that couple needed help 
when all they spoke was a little English with their French
could have given them directions, but took them there instead
how he found that twenty dollar bill on the grassy roadside and turned it in to the police station
that he loves the things I love