Sunday, December 31, 2017

Last day of 2017

The calendar change is my favorite holiday. This year I get to celebrate even more than usual. We leave tomorrow making this celebration look a little like packing for a trip than a celebration, but I am definitely doing all of this with great joy and anticipation of the year to come!

One of the big projects of the day is to finish up all the food in the fridge. I am making pizza with literally every leftover scrap as toppings! Anne is THE chef around here. I am the leftover scraps cook. This morning I made omelets to use up the eggs...  I will also bake a small chocolate cake to use the last two eggs. I cooked all the onions and meats this morning. We still have a little bit of goat cheese, brie, and grated Mexican mix, artichoke hearts, a tomato, and pizza sauce from last week. Perfect! I will divide most of these ingredients between the pizza for today and the pizza pockets I'll make for breakfast tomorrow. And that will just about take care of the fridge.

2017 was a year of immense change. Life took twists and turns. Things I had planned to do this year were pushed out of the way in favor of new adventures. 2018 brings a major adventure that a couple of years ago, I would have said I was doing solo. Now it's an even bigger project with the challenge of adding a partner to that project. Life is good. I am lucky to have so many options and opportunities.


Saturday, December 30, 2017

Packing

Today we packed and packed and packed. We leave on January 1st for over 3 weeks. We have cleaned every corner of the cabins, and we have tried to think of every possible reason to pack or leave something behind. I have a feeling I will have brought too many things, extra heater, extra dishes, extra this, that. But we will learn. This is our first big voyage. The first few days of this trip are going to be VERY cold, but we are told things should improve as we move west. We wanted to get as much done today as possible so that we could relax a little, let our minds wander as we think of those last little things to take care of.

  • Stop the mail.
  • Pack propane heater just in case we end up somewhere without electricity.
  • Double check security hitch locks.
  • Dog leash (we forgot that last time because the dog just jumps into the truck).
  • Pantry food items.
  • Clothes.
  • Outdoor kitchen items.
  • Toiletries.
  • Turn off all water on the property and drain lines.
  • Turn off electricity - empty refrigerators.
  • Consolidate vehicle insurance...  just got married!
That's the meat of it!  Let's GO!!!!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Amarity

I am still not entirely convinced that this is a real word. We try to learn a new word each day. When I googled it, I found very little. I'll use it here and see how it feels.

Her amarity toward her mother rivaled the bitter black sludge at the bottom of her coffee cup. After a lifetime of being belittled and never standing up for herself, she grew a shell which protected her mostly from the harsh words and judgments her mother had no problem throwing at her. She found that she had no kindness or grace to offer her mother anymore and only dreaded the times that family came together. She faced her mother with a cold separated kindness that was not entirely fake, but was certainly an effort. She was always a kind person to everyone, which is what made the amarity she felt all the more difficult to swallow in face to face encounters with her mother.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Windows

I know many people hate cleaning windows. It's the big joke - "I'll do anything but clean windows." I'm finding that I don't belong to that club. I find it so rewarding to see out of the bright clean window and see the world as if no glass existed at all. A few of our windows require a ladder to be cleaned on the outside, and some require me to stand on a chair inside. I scrubbed the windows of the container inside and outside. It was cold out there, but warm inside and didn't take that long. This morning, waking up to a view of our favorite huge oak trees as if we could reach out and touch them. Very worth the effort.

Now, if a magic elf would just dust the book shelves!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Anniversary

If I had stayed married to my first partner, we would be celebrating our 20th anniversary today. This has come to mind this year more than any other year since our divorce because I just got married four days ago. I'm not dwelling on my past marriage in any real way except through the connection of timing. I'm fascinated by timing, coincidence, symbolism, and anything akin to those things. I am fascinated by the passing of time and how it can feel both like an instant and an eternity. I remember my first wedding as if it was a dream, a story I once told, and nothing more. It could have been yesterday or a million years ago, or even entirely fictitious. I have been in close contact with Anne for almost 6 years now, and yet our time seems both like she has always been there and as if we met yesterday. Time is fascinating.

20 years ago today, I wore a beautiful winter wedding gown, stood in a church with bridesmaids dressed in green velvet, and married a man wearing a rented tuxedo. Our mothers coincidentally wore the exact same shade of bright royal blue. The church was still adorned with Christmas flowers and garland. There was even snow outside - this was Amarillo, Texas. My aunt cried. It was a happy day.

It's not that he was a bad person, and I don't believe I was either. We just didn't grow in the same direction. Maybe that's a good reason for divorce and maybe it's not, but that is basically the sum of it. I've been in contact with a few of his family members, but absolutely no contact with him even when I offered him a photo album I made of our years together. Our years were not bad, but maybe he'd rather let go of them altogether than be reminded in photos. I don't blame him for that. We all move on and process life in different ways.

Today, I wish him well. I hope he has found fulfillment and happiness in his life and with the people that surround him. A toast: To life moving this way and that, to people touching our lives for a while and letting go. May all find peace and joy and their ultimate best lives.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Dreary

Cold in Texas is almost always dreary. The sun hides behind the clouds and haze. The daylight looks like it is 5:30PM all day long. It's probably drizzly or flat out raining too. Cold days in Texas look sad. It's hard to be joyful or productive for more than a day of this. Today, Anne cooked several of our meals for the week. She spent the day in the kitchen creating warmth and tantalizing smells in our tiny living room & kitchen cabin. Some saved chicken scraps and bones went into a pot to make a broth. She added a small container of stew broth. I had stolen the meat and onions from the stew to make a breakfast taco one morning. She also added a small container of curry broth. The new combined broth smells delicious. She also made a spaghetti sauce. Tomorrow we plan to add a bit of ground elk meat and have a warm belly full of spaghetti squash with this sauce which smells slightly spicy. Everything we cook around here has a least a hint of spicy. She also made a big batch of popcorn on the stove. She pops the corn in a small bit of coconut oil and her own selection of herbs and spices. Food is such a wonderful thing to me. She cooks, I feel loved. It's a good thing.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas!

The room with its vertical stripes leading the eye up the 14 foot walls to the crown molding framed ceilings, held the newly wed couple safely in its soft bed covered with poofy white comforter and a few too many pillows as is expected of a room of this class and breeding. The dog has her own chair with her own pillow. The humans wake still holding hands and move closer as they wake holding each other in love and support of this new journey on which they have chosen to embark.

Today they leave this place and officially begin their life together as a partnership, as two individuals supported by the other.

Merry Christmas, everyone. All is well and happy here today. Love and peace to all!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Roof top deck

Today, we have walked about 6 miles around this city. Our hotel's roof top deck opened at 2PM. The sun is shining, and the city looks gorgeous. We are doing what we do...  writing.

It's hard for me to believe I am married. 20 years ago, Dec 27, 1997, I was married to my college sweetheart. Today, I marry with a complete different outlook on life, partnership, and love. Having a clearer look at what I want from my own partner, I hope that means I'll also be better at being a partner.

At the same time, it seems so perfectly normal, nothing is different at all. I feel at peace.

We go home tomorrow. We will have one week to finish preparing to depart on our first big journey across the Southwest!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Just Married

I'll be honest here. I didn't sleep very well last night. I was in a constant state of anxious craziness. Which is only mildly humorous because we are talking about a wedding with only five people in attendance. We had most of the food prepared. I had my speech prepared and printed. I knew what I was wearing, and yet, starting about 2AM, my brain wanted to calculate every minute that all of the details would take and my brain was convinced that not enough minutes existed before 11AM to do all the things that needed to be done.

Our guests, Jenny and Jamie, the officiant, arrived very near 11. We all gathered in the living room with a light round of snacks. As we finished the snacks, I decided we needed to get on with what I felt was the most important part, our writings or speeches...  whatever you want to call them.

Here is what I had to say:
I love symbolism. When I was in high school, my family attended an Episcopal church where I was an acolyte and eventually took confirmation classes which my mom attended with me. The interesting thing here is that I had come to decide I was not Episcopalian, nor Christian, and possibly not religious at all. BUT I found the history and symbolism through the church calendar and building itself to be fascinating. There were stories in every shape, every arch, every room, every month. Something to ponder, remember, and consider as one thinks about the life they are living guided by this religion they have chosen to participate.

Fast forward to a Buddhist retreat I once attended. A discussion on Buddhist alters brought the question of how Christians say not to worship false idols. This alter might appear to someone of a Christian faith as a place to WORSHIP that which is placed there. In the Buddhist tradition, things are placed on an alter, photos, symbols, knickknacks that remind a person of what they are striving to be…  not who they worship.

In my daily life, I frequently actually carry in my wallet a list of people who I look up to for some reason or other. In times of specifically stressful events (like the day I had to go to auction off a house), I wear rings and fill my pockets with items that remind me of people who love me, support me, and who I respect. These symbols are powerful for me, ALMOST as powerful as having the people they represent right there with me.

Here, today, we have a room of five people. As soon as I sat down to write something about this wedding, I knew it would be the symbolism I see in each person here. Anne and I are getting married seemingly with but only three witnesses. But I see more than that. Dr. Blankenship is Anne’s support, the best of her family, friends, those who love her both near and far. He represents her growing up here in Galveston, he represents the world that she is pulling toward my world. Jamie is my support. He is the great representative of my family, friends, those who love both near and far. He is a link to so much of the life that I am pulling toward Anne’s world. Lastly, and possibly most importantly is Jenny because in my view she represents two things. Jenny represents the people we will from here on meet together. We both met her this very day. Secondly, she is Jamie’s love and because I know and love Jamie, I immediately know, love and accept Jenny. This is what I hope happens as Anne and I walk through life. Someone knows and loves me? Then they will likewise know, love and accept Anne and vice versa.

So that’s the people symbolism. There is more, most obviously the rings.
I have thought so much about what I want to say to you as I offer a ring to you to wear. I can say what the ring symbolizes and means to me. I can say what I promise to do and be for you. I can say what I hope we do together as our future develops. I can say what I hope you will do for me as my partner. I think I will do all of these things, so have a seat, this might take a while.

We nearly rejected the idea of a ring symbolizing anything in our relationship because of the use of rings in “traditional” marriages. We are not a tradition. We are only us. We don’t have to listen or buy into or play along with anything we don’t want. The thing is, a ring is a clever symbol. It’s small, easy to wear, always within eye-sight, always within a tactile reach. I tried to think of another item that was as compact and simple. I still can’t think of one besides a tattoo, and ow! We can throw away any traditional symbolism and create our own.

As you wear this ring, I want you to be reminded of how much I love and support who you are and what you do. The ring itself is of a natural tree design which I like to think of as symbolizing growth. Our rings are different symbolizing our growth as an individual, and complimentary symbolizing our growth together. The sapphire, I want you to remember that special spark, the fun, the playfulness that we bring out in each other.

I promise to always be motivated by love. I promise help, pitch in, offer my opinions, ALWAYS in love, not to control or show off or be better than you, but to love and support you by using my strengths to your advantage and lift you in any way that I can.

Two people should come together to add more joy and to make life easier for both of them. Two people should come together because they see greater potential for their togetherness than as two separate people. Two people should not delete each other as individuals. It is my hope that we will find and maintain a good balance between who we are as a couple and as individuals. Our life is better together and will continue to be better and better as we develop this balance.

As my partner, I hope that you will see my love for you. I hope you will remember that anything I do, no matter how annoying, is done with love for you and us. I hope you will find positives and growth in the things we do. I am certain that your presence will motivate me to be a better person and move more consistently toward difficult goals I create for myself… I hope I do that for you too.

I love you, Anne. I hope you will be proud to wear this ring. I hope you will be reminded constantly of how much I love you and how much there is to look forward to in this life we will share.

Then Anne said what she had to say. Then food... Then Jamie gave his speech and declared us married. Then there was cake and champagne. Once again, laughter, friends, love, and food were the focus of the day, and we wouldn't have it any other way!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Wedding Eve

Yesterday, we loaded up the dog, left the cat with adequate food and water, and left our home to go visit one of Anne's dearest old family friends. He agreed to host our very very small informal wedding ceremony. For a couple of weeks, he would be in contact with me to see if this or that food thing would be to our liking. Food? YES! That's pretty much how every conversation went, only maybe a few more details. We wanted to arrive a day early so that we could help prepare this lovely food and make sure he didn't over-do things for what is supposed to be a simple gathering.

We did a whole lot of laughing, eating, story telling, joking and a bit of food prep. Anne and Jim made Julia Child's boeuf bourguignon step by step. Jim had made a rum bundt cake and waited for us to help make the ganache which he had never attempted before this. Turns out, the word "ganache" sounds fancy but is really quite simple.

Anne and I held our own bachelorette party at Galveston Island Brewery. We kid. It was just us and Jim as we waited for the other two to arrive from out of town. They arrived hungry about 7, so we moved our wedding eve dinner to Salsa's. Mexican food, margaritas, seafood - perfect for us. We had, in fact, almost decided to hold the wedding ceremony at a Mexican food restaurant, but we just couldn't narrow it down to one that meant something... We sort of love them all!

We went to bed knowing everything was prepped, our tummies were full and we had laughed about as much as any group of people could handle. Life is good.


Thursday, December 21, 2017

Actually

Actually, it was a dark and stormy night...  actually, the DARKEST and STORMIEST of nights.

The wind howled through the trees, but the rain pounding on the aluminum roof made the wind hard to hear. The constant roar of sheets of rain made it hard to hear your own thoughts much less a wandering axe murderer in the yard. Through the window, the flashes of lightning allowed the whipping tree limbs to be seen for just a moment like a wildly drunken dancing girl in a night club with the strobe lights. One instant things were in one position, in the next flash they might be entirely different. It's equally difficult to imagine seeing things and easy to convince yourself you saw nothing unusual.

The cat, not afraid of storms but quite alert to their sights and noises, sat in the window staring into the world certain he would see what needed to be seen whatever that might be. With one flash of lightning his ears perked to attention, but even the cat can convince himself he saw nothing. It is warm and safe in his home with his human. He decided it was probably best to snuggle up under the covers beside his human. Nothing at all would ever bother them in this safe warm cozy bed.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Sunshine at last

The air is still on the chilly side, but the sun is shining and the birds are singing. Stoli has not even come to the door all morning. He knows a good thing when he feels it. It's been at least chilly if not cold and really cloudy if not actually raining for days. Stoli has been moping and needing hugs and snuggles. We humans have done all the computer related and kitchen related work we can possibly stand. We are ready to feel the sunshine on our skin!

I am going to clean up the garage area and finish tidying up the egg camper. We have big plans this weekend. We come home Christmas day and have just a few days to finalize all of our packing and preparations before we head out January 1 on our first journey.

I'm in the kitchen at the table looking out into a world I haven't seen in days or maybe weeks. The sun shining down through the trees with freshly washed leaves... and the crystal almost fake looking blue sky without a single wisp of cloud. Alright, y'all...  I gotta go! The sunshine is calling me!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Insomnia

I almost always go to sleep just fine initially. If I don't there is some real reason like noises, stress, unusual sleeping location, or weird bed, and these reasons are rare for me these days. Whether I go to sleep at 9AM or midnight, I'm guaranteed at least five hours of sleep and then the dice are rolled. A trip to the little girls' room is usually in order, and then, do I fall back to sleep or do I stay awake for three hours before a restless half-dream sleep finally takes over?

I'm lucky. I'd say, maybe close to fifty percent of the time, my sleep is good enough. The other fifty percent, I wake up in the middle of the night with or without things on my mind and can not go back to sleep. Sometimes I go ahead and get up and do something, but that's difficult to do on a property that is so dependent on sunlight. Most times I just lie there in bed trying to remain calm and peaceful. This is all fine and good as long as I don't have a don't have a particular schedule the next morning with an alarm and a place to go. I usually feel better in the morning if I just remain calm and relaxed even if I stare at the ceiling for hours. Either way (staying in bed or getting up to do things in the middle of the night), I will finally fall back to sleep, have a million dreams, wake up a dozen times until the sun rises and I decide to give up and get on with my day.

Cats are EXPERT sleepers.
And so, last night was one of those wake up, give up and have some coffee and read a couple chapters, finally go back to sleep for a little while. The only one who really enjoys this night time plan is the cat. At first, he thinks it must be time to get up and go outside. I tell him it's not time and to hush. He curls up on my lap while I read and then snuggles in close while we nap until sunrise.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Dog clothes

I know some people absolutely despise the idea or site of a dressed dog. I'm pretty indifferent... or WAS, I should say. As long as the dog doesn't care, who else should care? Now, I am second mom to Macy, a terrier mix that looks much like a Westie but isn't. If it's cold, she shivers. She allows and welcomes blankets and sweaters to be put on her. Having seen this first hand, I am less than indifferent, I am FOR dog clothes so much so that I have found myself making the jackets myself. I based my design on a coat she already had but have now made several adjustments. I like to sew with fleece and it does different things that the original jacket made of standard human jacket materials. I have made her four jackets which she wears with pride day and night if it's cold.
Hardest part...  cutting. But yay for my awesome pattern!
If you have a Westie sized dog, send me some fleece and I'll whip up a jacket for your pup! 3/4 of a yard for a single layer thickness or 1.5 yards for a double layered jacket.
Macy needs a bath but it's too cold right now for that!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Almond Flour Lemon Cookies

My original post for the recipe of these cookies was still a work in progress. I have some new information and ideas that I thought I'd pass along.

First, I make these in a batch of ten and then we have them with our coffee first thing in the morning...  so one recipe makes 10 cookies and that lasts for five days. It's a just a tiny bit sweet and they have a good amount of protein. We like to have our coffee and cookie, then tackle "a thing", then eat an actual breakfast about ten, once we have had time to accomplish something and work up an appetite. "A thing" is really anything that makes us feel like we accomplished something. It could be a writing task or something more physical outside.

Second, which type of flour to buy. You can buy one pound bags like the one shown (that's what I bought) at many grocery stores these days. You can also buy it in bulk markets. The almond flour I bought this time is the brown variety which I chose because it is higher in protein than the white variety - the brown skins of the nuts were left on and ground up in this flour. I expected more of a gritty texture, but it is really fine.
Third, a bag of almond flour is expensive if you're used to only buying normal flour, and we don't want to waste a single bit. One one pound bag is 5 cups (not packed, just loosely poured into the measuring cup). Since each batch of cookies requires 2 cups of almond flour, we have a dilemma. Either we can use almond flour for two batches and then go buys some more...  or if you're like me and go through cooking phases, it's best to use the one bag and say "done." If we divide the five cups by 3 batches, we should use 1 2/3 cup of almond flour per batch. I decided to supplement this with 1/3 cup normal flour to make the entire 2 cups needed for the recipe rather than calculate for a smaller batch (it's hard to divide one egg! haha). There are 108 g of protein per bag of flour.  If we make 3 batches of ten cookies, that's 30 cookies and we still get 3.6 g of protein per cookie (plus the egg and small amount from the normal flour) which is still a respectable coffee snack plus the good kind of fat and fiber that are also in this flour.


Here's the recipe:
1 2/3 c almond flour (not packed, just scooped or poured into the measuring cup)
1/3 c ordinary baking flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 c sugar
Zest of one lemon
1/4 c melted butter
juice of one lemon (about 1/4 c)
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 350.
Combine the dry ingredients. Add the zest of one lemon. Add butter, lemon juice, egg, and vanilla and stir. Nothing fancy, just stir it until it looks completely integrated.
On a greased cookie sheet (I use "Baker's Joy" spray), plop 10 cookies (one heaping spoonful per cookie). If you have a wee bit leftover, you can spoon the leftovers onto the other cookies. Cookies will spread and then puff a little, your scoops of dough do not need to be perfect.
Bake for exactly 15 minutes. The bottom edges have a noticeable browning to them and they have puffed up slightly and evenly. The color of the rest of the cookie gives you no indication of doneness. Set the pan of cookies aside to rest for ten minutes. They should then slide easily and maintain their cookie integrity if you want to place them in a container to seal and eat later. Let them cool completely before sealing the lid.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Civil War Letters

Anne's family has a batch of letters from during the civil war. The contents of these letters include courtships, deaths, war happenings, and all sorts of other details. There is a second batch of letters from 1896 to 1902 from one woman as she is courted by a man... these letters end in their marriage. There are only her letters, not his. Though it is believed they MUST exist somewhere, no one has been able to find them. As I scanned these letters (I scan photographs and paper memorabilia as part of my self-employed organizer life), an idea occurred to me. What if we wrote those letters?!?!

A novel could be written using the letters we have. Her voice could be elaborated. His voice and his letters could be written fictitiously based on many details and comments made by Ethel. I'm sure someone has done this with some batch of letters. The task would pose challenges in the historical sense, but it seems like it would be a very interesting challenge. Because of the actual letters, it would draw readers who love historical fiction with real actual ties to true lives.

By the way, if you ever want to "steal" my ideas, they are freely given to you! I think the world is big enough for us all to offer our creative endeavors. The more the merrier...  and I'd love to be your reader!!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Memory

I have this secret goal to write here every day. It's a secret goal! I don't want to tell myself about this goal because I don't want to let myself down if I fail, which if I have my own history to use as a guide, I will inevitably run out of things on which to write....  or will I?

I walk through each day making mental notes. "I should write about THAT!" I think all day long. Then, I sit down like I am this morning and can not remember a single damn thing. Nothing. Sometimes, I'll at least remember that I baked cookies and I can share that recipe, but I swear, there were at least a dozen other things I had thought about using as a post here.

How about I write things down????  Yeah, I hear ya. I have a cute small green journal that I had planned to use for just this purpose and somehow, I don't. I am so sure that I will remember these morsels. It is obvious that I will not. I need to commit to writing these ideas down. Which reminds me of a story.

Excuse the details, Mom, as I'm sure you probably remember certain details differently. It's a particularly humorous story now that it applies to my life AGAIN!

Once upon a time, there was a smart but bored 11 year old girl in the fourth grade. The girl decided that the homework assignments were stupid and she had better things to do. So she didn't bother doing them. One day, the teacher told the girl's mother about this lapse in the girl's sense of responsibility. The mother was annoyed because the girl was obviously smart enough. Mom, "Why don't you do the assignment? You did these other subjects, why not this one?" Kid responds, "I forget about them by the time I get home." Mom, "Well, I suggest you write them down." 

A month goes by and the mom gets another notice that the assignments are going un-done. Mom, "Didn't I tell you to write things down?" Kid, "You didn't tell me to, you SUGGESTED it."

I SWEAR to you that I was NOT trying to be a smart ass, but as an adult, I find this story hilarious. Watch what you say to kids, they hear the specific words...  and only sometimes their meanings.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Big Show

I have been singing with Cayla and Alesha in this a cappella trio idea for a couple of years now. Alesha has been trying to get us to nail down a date for some shows for ages, and she finally forged ahead and organized an entire production. She rented the small auditorium in New York City, advertised, got us there, planned the program. Cayla and I simply needed to show up. We both felt a little guilty, but Alesha insisted this was a thing she truly wanted to do, she knew some people, and she would ask our help if she needed, otherwise, just support her and show up and sing.
We arrived at the auditorium where we met with our sound engineer and lighting guy. They were both super nice and both were people with whom Alesha had worked previously. We had plenty of time to warm up, check out the place, and get ready for our performance.
At 7:03, because you never start a show directly on time, we went onto the stage. There, in the shadows of the seats, were two people sitting and waiting for us to begin. Alesha was unphased by the size of our audience and so we began our first number, Africa. This was the first song we started to work up, and so we know it backwards and forwards. For some reason we were simply out of tune. I kept trying to adjust my tuning, but it seemed impossible to hear each other and the situation never really got better. We got to the second verse and Cayla cut the verse in half. Cayla and I are the pips on this song. I thought that maybe this was Cayla's way of getting us to end this song that we were clearly not tuning, but this upset Alesha noticeably. I saw her start to cry even though she continued to sing. Somehow the end of the song came together a little better and with its ending came a few more audience members. Cayla apologized quietly and Alesha shook it off.
As we continued the show, our audience increased. It was as if somehow our time had been advertised wrong. The place was full by 7:30. We ended the first half about 7:40.
A friend of mine in the audience came to find me and explained that she needed to run to a drug store. It was urgent. I took her backstage and found our driver, Mark Carboni a friend from the fair who knew NYC quite well. He had wanted to see our first show and volunteered to also be our driver. Mark, my friend, and myself hopped into the car and went the couple of blocks to the drugstore. Mark stayed with the car so that we could just run in quickly.
The pharmacist was taking more time than I had planned and I started to panic. I needed to get back to the concert hall. I tried to remain patient. Alesha was a genius at stretching things and stalling. It would be ok, I kept thinking. Finally we had what was needed and hopped back into the car.
When I walked into the concert hall, another group, high school aged possibly, were singing their hearts out on the stage. I laughed....  OF COURSE Alesha would have invited other groups to sing. As I looked on a program, I saw she had five different a cappella groups performing at the top of the second half. This was the third. I still had time to breathe as the other two would still take up another 15 minutes.
The second half of our performance began.... The cat jumped on my stomach and woke me up. It was just about time to start the coffee anyway. Goofy cat.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Growing Older

I am honored to have a friend like Pat who opens her home to me anytime I want to stay or even drop by. She also hosts Stoli for months at a time when I travel. She is so very dear to my heart. Her generosity, kindness, love, jovial nature are things that put me at ease as I take advantage of her hospitality. She has never, not in all the many times she has been ill, or not feeling as jovial as usual, NEVER made her hospitality seem like a burden or chore. She is a widow of 7 years now. She has two kids and 5 granddaughters that boasts like the most proud grandma ever. Her life is full of love, but also, her life has seen so much loss.
Yesterday, she hosted a Christmas gathering for members of the chorus where I met her. It was a gathering of 7. I had been a member of the chorus with Pat and two of the other ladies. The other 3 women at the table had been members at different times. Every year, members gather like this. Every year, we assess who has passed. Someone asks about news of another member. "Oh, she passed away, 5 or 6 years ago." We can't quite keep track. Everyone is getting older, the funerals more frequent, and as I think about this, I see one dear woman has fallen asleep at the table.
As I write this, tears build in my eyes. I want to skip this party every single year, but I go when I can because I love Pat and I know it means something to her to have me there. She asks what days would be best for me and she tries to make that happen. There is another reason tears well up. I feel guilty about not looking forward to these parties. I feel guilty that I can't be more help, I can't do anything, and that I feel so exhausted and depressed after visiting with these ladies.
The older we are honored to become, the more friends we have to watch pass away. That, right there, is the hardest thing about growing older. I can handle all the aches, pains, stomach and memory problems. Watching others depart this world is hard. With this group, most have lived full long lives, but as we live, even those who are our own age and younger fall victim to accidents and disease. Those feel tragic, even those I don't know well.
As I grow older, I need to realize this issue isn't going to go away, if I am so honored to remain alive. I need to grow up and find a way to be more graceful in their presence, as in not allow this to depress me. I need to embrace the honor that is supporting and loving people around me who may be nearing the ends of their lives....  and hell, we are all at risk of living our last day today. Maybe that's the key. Treat everyone with support and kindness because no one knows the struggle of their neighbor or amount of time anyone has here on this Earth. Don't add my own grief or guilt until the time is truly appropriate... these feelings do nothing to help myself or them as long as we are breathing!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Children

10 ways you know your child might be spoiled:
1. Your child has his own bedroom and his own game room, but most of his things are in absolutely every other area of the home.
2. If you counted your 7 year old child's collection of X, there would be more of them than starving children in Africa.
3. Your child can't find something but doesn't fret because you will text 'the help' and she'll know.
4. Your child has 7 unopened boxes of Legos that he got for Christmas LAST year.
5. Your child has one unopened box of weird-toy-I-can't-even-explain from his birthday party last month...  probably because the container where the collection of this particular toy is kept is overflowing.
6. Your child has more shoes than myself, my partner, and my mother combined.
7. Your child outgrows clothes that he never even got around to wearing.
8. There are crayon and ink drawings on the walls of every room in your home. There are also stickers and blobs of play dough decorating these drawings. And you think this is cute.
9. Your child believes that Santa's Elves decorate her home every year for Christmas. And he knows the elves do not do this for his friends' homes.
10. Your child thanks 'the help' for doing something you told him he needed to do before Daddy comes home. And you appreciate the fact that you don't have to enforce your threat because you wouldn't have anyway.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Daily diary

Every day when I sit down to try and write a post, I have to seriously THINK about what the heck I did the day before. I can't for the life of me trace the day. I think of just ONE thing and latch on to that hoping that one tiny flicker of memory will provide me with a bridge to other memories. I do stuff every day that while I'm doing them, I think, I could write about this for the blog." Then, it's gone, like a dream.
I am determined to write here as daily as possible. To those of you following, I apologize for the absolute lack of consistent content, but maybe in the randomness you'll find something amusing. I'm beginning to believe for myself, this may be a great way for me to actually remember what the heck I did with my days! When I wrote that post a couple of days ago about the soy flour cookies, I used my own keywords to locate the almond flour recipe that I had luckily written about in this blog because I have lost the little piece of paper on which I had recorded the recipe.
What I'm saying is I'm writing for myself! This selfish turn of mindset might be exactly what my motivation lacked. So far, I've always been pondering, "What will interest X-group of people?" and try to write for them, but the problem is, I have a variety of friends and audiences. I have my music-related world. I have the tiny-house and DIY world. I have the writing world. I have the travel world. And then I have my ordinary mundane day to day life. I can't satisfy ALL of those groups with any one post...  or can I? If I write for myself, to preserve my own memories, maybe I will begin writing with more of a personality like a writer should and with that my various lives can all be satisfied reading whatever news-flash-bulletin I feel like sending into the world! Haha. I laugh because it seems awfully self-serving to write like this, but who am I kidding...  This IS self-serving. The only way my life works is by sharing it. I think that's the only way ANY person's life works, by sharing their life...  And we all find the best way in which to do that for ourselves. Living life is self-serving or else why bother?  In the sharing, I hope it brings smiles, ideas, thoughts, inspiration to the lives of others, truly, that's my wish. Again, otherwise, why bother?
This rambling post brought to you by your friendly introvert with too much time to think this morning!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Arranging Songs

I was asked to arrange some music for a trio. A trio plus possibly me. The first song I was to arrange was "Landlord, Fill the Flowing Bowl" or "Three Jolly Coachmen" as some people know it. I tried to arrange it for the three voices the group usually has plus the added soprano/alto voice that is me if I happen to be around. The challenge is probably an obvious one for those who know anything about chords and arranging. The three fill out most every chord...  what do I do with the extra female voice me??? I think I managed to provide an unusual top voice that will add an entirely new flavor and character to the tune.
I emailed the finished product to the commissioner. I have either been entirely brilliant or a complete failure.  This is the plight of the artistically inclined. We are always certain that we are either abslutely brilliant or a complete failure!!  Haha...  no, actually, I'm not kidding.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Soy Flour Lemon Cookies

This is the first version of this recipe. I tweaked the original that I found online, and I will change a couple of things when I try again. My original plan was to make ALMOND flour lemon cookies. I have a tried and true recipe for those. They are delicious with a good texture and being almond flour, a decently healthy protein source particularly tasty with morning coffee. Unfortunately, the grocery store had no almond flour. I chose the SOY flour for the nutritional values.

1/4 c. melted unsalted butter
1/2 c. sugar
1 c soy flour
1/4 tspn salt
1/4 c. lemon juice

Mix ingredients. Place five flattened balls on the sprayed cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

I put a light coating of glaze on them after they cooled.

1/2 c. confectioners sugar
1 tbsn melted unsalted butter
1 tbsn lemon juice
lemon zest

The cookies are not a bad texture, but I think I will add just a little more sugar. They are a tiny tiny bit bitter. I think that's the soy flour. My recipe for almond flour lemon cookies requires more almond flour and less sugar. Cookie is trial and error. Let me know if you find a perfect combination!!

Friday, December 08, 2017

Snow in Texas

My home is a little unusual in that you must leave the warm bedroom, go outside, and walk 200 feet to another building to get to the bathroom. There are other ways we could set up our sleeping and bathroom arrangements, but for 345 days a year, this works out just fine. I woke up in the middle of the night as usual with the pressing need to visit the little girls' room. The cat sleeps to my right curled up against me. Anne is to my left blocking an easy exit. Our bed is situated sideways where one person can leave the bed easily and the other has to carefully crawl over to get out. I designed this bed to be my own space, not to be shared with someone else, but here I am sharing, and I'm just fine with this arrangement.
The cat notices that I am awake. He stretches and reaches one of his paws up to my forehead. He knows he's cute. I know that when I leave, he is going to sprawl into the space I once occupied because it is so warm and cozy. He almost encourages me to leave with his patent pending paw to my forehead gesture. OK, fine, you win, cat. I creep carefully out of bed, put on my wool sweater, open the door, and escape the warm cozy building.
It is cold. Texas version of cold, keep in mind. It's about 33 degrees, and I see light dusting of snow through the moonlight. I'm in a hurry to make my journey across the 200 feet to the other building, but I can see the dusting is quite bright and beautiful atop the mighty oak trees the cover the property.
On my return from the bathroom, I take in more of the beauty. It will certainly still look like this in the morning, say 4 hours, so I make my way back into the bed carefully pushing the cat aside. I look at my phone out of curiosity. It's 6:30AM! I'm surprised because we almost never sleep through the night. That wasn't moonlight, it is sunrise. Anne stirs and, thinking it is the middle of the night, grumbles about needing to go to the bathroom. I tell her, "You should! It's beautiful out there!" She thinks I'm kidding. I respond that I am absolutely not kidding, and even better, it's almost time to get up anyway. She is also surprised by the time.
I give her a couple of minutes to complete her mission before deciding to join her outside to watch the sun rise over the beautiful white world that we may never see again here in South Texas. It's a giddy feeling seeing this snow. It doesn't happen often, especially this far south. This will melt off by noon leaving no trace, no inconvenience to anyone whatsoever. We walk around taking pictures of the entirely different perspective this white coating provides. The lines of the trees are highlighted like some perfect classic painting of winter. The grass is still green in places which makes for a nearly humorous photo of the fire pit and back tree line.
When our toes are too cold to feel, we retreat to bed where we plug in the percolator type coffee pot that we set up on the dresser beside the bed the night before. The smell of coffee fills the bedroom. We open the curtains, enjoy a cup of coffee, and read a few chapters of the book were are currently enjoying.
What a glorious way to wake up.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Neglect

I have neglected this blog for a full year. This year has been big on transition. Most of my transitions are lightning fast. People are often surprised and even worry for me when I come up with an idea and the very next day set the wheels into motion. This year of transition has been a little different for me. I had plans but other things moved in and crowded those plans. I had been planning to record another CD, but the inspiration to do such a task was never quite there. Then some other things shifted. Travel came to the foreground as my parents and I planned a trip to Alaska in the summer of 2018. Writing plans combined with travel plans felt like the newly percolating focus rather than recording a CD. And then, my personal life took a twist.

I am a creative independent person. When life throws lemons at me, I instantly try to figure out how to make a living with those lemons. Some of them might be lovely lemons, in fact, I love citrus. And some of those lemons might be bitter picked too early unjuicy crappy lemons. Either way, I do NOT allow missed opportunities to slip through my fingers. There is always art to be made from life's twists and turns.

My bad lemons were the feelings that I had not achieved what I had planned, mainly the new CD that never happened. The good lemons, however, far outweighed those pesky feelings. The travel plans became clearer and clearer. The writing plans that coincide with those travels became more and more certain. The writing partner who had been a confidant strictly behind the screen became a face to face partner which made the traveling and the writing become even more absolutely necessary.

My partner, Anne, and I have now set up the groundwork for our 2018 writing project. We have a blog to be updated weekly as we travel. We have an adorable EggCamper to shelter us in our adventures. I plan to write here more frequently for anyone who cares to read along...  or for my own record keeping when I start putting the final book project together.

Here's to celebrating the lemons of life!