Thursday, September 21, 2017

Looking for a Clue

Whimsy and Hugs!

Good morning, Dear friends. Due to a change of heart, I am going to attend two of the several festivities being held by my graduating class of 1972. I originally opted to stay home, despite the lovely urgings and invitations from class mates, family, and friends. 45 years. However, I flipped through a digital copy of my senior yearbook online. A blur of total recognition, reflection, nostalgia, and gratitude overwhelmed the cloudy apprehensions. I swallowed my hatred of the handicapping factions of my life, rented a wheel chair, invited my willing son, and reserved our places at tonight's picnic and Saturday's dinner/reception. 

Smiling back at me from 1972 were the laughing images of classmates and teachers who have no ill will toward me... or anyone else. Although I did not dwell on it, the realization brushed against my ever-denying mind---- a sizeable number of "us" have passed away, and that shock naturally pains my heart. Life is fragile, and precious, and exciting... and disappointing.... and giddy with fun.... brimming with tears. Anyway. Tonight is just a hotdog in the park with my precious and ever-supportive son, my friends from long ago... and a wheel chair.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Come sit at my table!

I have often seen writing prompts that queried who would be the invited guests at a dinner party for x number of guests if you could have anyone living or dead...  Given one choice, I will always say my son. And blessed am I that he graces my table every week at least once!

From my personal past... one seat is not enough. So I might just pass altogether. Too many and time too short. Who could say goodbye all
over again?

Famous living? That's a good question. I am just a bit disenchanted with the famous. Would I pass again, rather than just experience someone? I think I used to have an idol. But now... I just cannot choose.

Famous dead...  Now give me ten: Anne Frank, Elie Wiesel, Princess Diana, Jesus, (no, sorry, not in any particular order!) Hannibal (the Punic War guy, yes), Helen Keller, Jimmy Stewart, King David, Audrey Hepburn, and Patrick Swayze.  ----  Now, what dishes would I choose and what would I fix for a menu....?

What about you? You are welcome to share your guest list in the comments below!

Whimsy and Hugs!

Baking in the Lavendar Fog

I love to bake about 4 a.m. About the time the delicious scents fill the air, I can start to see today's lavendar dawn. Today two friends are coming for lunch, so I have Hawaiian chicken marinating in the refrigerator and pineapple cinnamon bread baking... Both are new recipes, and I really hit the vanilla pretty hard on the bread! I also added quite a bit of cinnamon. Here are the recipes if you decide to also celebrate these final days of summer.

Hawaiian marinade -- Chicken 

3/4 c. pineapple juice
1/2 c. olive oil
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/4. c. ketchup
1 T. crushed garlic

Put chicken and all ingredients in gallon bag in refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight. Bake chicken until done through, topped with pineapple rings or chunks and maraschino cherries.  May add cheese if desired. Do not over bake.

Pineapple Bread

I added a teaspoon or so of cinnamon and a "hooping tablespoon" of vanilla.  One of the hazards of drowsy baking!

I had a very sleepy helper this morning. She loves to snooze on "her" angel box!

Whimsy and Hugs!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Again This Year

It isn't the first or even second time I have blogged about the classic Autumn movie, Practical Magic. Last night I declared it movie night, and since the theme around this house is Autumn and Halloween, I voted to watch this cutie with Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman, and the rest. I really don't watch it for the plot, which starts out cute but gets a little odd at times. I watch it for the house, the little cameo quotes, the aunts, the sisters...  the mood of magic. 

My original blog from 2007 said so much about my first look at this movie. Here is the link, should you be interested.  LINK.

And so, I will just leave you with the images and "famous" quotes to start you on the path to a lovely fall...  

Whimsy and Hugs!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Little by Little..Hey. hey. hey..... It's Magic!

Autumn brings out collectibles by the acre!....  I am in over my head, but this apparently will not be the year I do not decorate. I cannot believe the stacks of glittering stuff! Days 1 and 2. If I ever get to sleep, I am shooting for the whole house to be done tomorrow. (It's good to have goals!)

Who's a copy cat?

I am queen. Get busy.

Outside my screen door. I think this Raven can be heard crying, "Nevermore."

I love this jungle life!!!!

Yes! Si! Oui!   More boxes!

And finally.... a smidgen of progress.....

Whimsy and Hugs!  More to follow...

Monday, September 11, 2017

New Month...

My hope is that you and yours are all safe from life's storms. 

Whimsy and Hugs!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Happy Labor Day

So today's big plans here are to grill a few rib-eyes and make a huge salad...  I think I have this! Probably just a little labor (need to figure out wifi for a new printer and more cleaning) ...  but I hope some more serious Game of Thrones catching up...  We are on Season 5... Yes, I know.

My son is actually off work but on-call, so who knows. Have a great week. Labor Day usually signals the end of summer, the last of white shoes, and folding away of any red, white, blue /Patriotic decor...

Have a good Labor Day! Don't work too hard!

Whimsy and Hugs!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Mom's chili, My chili, Your chili.... I love them all

This post is full of links and recipes.

First, let's agree that chili is universal... and delicious in all its many forms. My personal go-to is Goal Post Chili, the one I have down to 20 minutes from frozen burger (two 6 minute spells in the microwave...) and cans to simmering, ready for company.

1 1/2 # hamburger browned and drained.
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 large can tomato juice
4 cans chili beans, undrained
2 T. chili powder
1/2 T. cumin
1 T beef bullion
salt to taste
1/2 t. pepper
3 T. ketchup
maybe water, depends
2 T. brown sugar (optional) not really an option if you ask me...
Mix and heat completely. Simmer if you have time. Adjust to your taste

For many years I was very blessed to be the go-to house for the guys my son hung out with...  I still maintain a few here and there and one dedicated friend for, I hope, forever. This chili, tater tot casserole, and brownies made quite a few appearances!

This Christmas I began to make Pioneer Woman's chili, a real meaty hit with the guys.

Today I tried my best to create my mom's chili from my childhood. I think I decided to go out and greet the Autumn. recreating Mom's chili is very hard without quarts of home cold-packed tomatoes...  or the ever beloved End of the garden Relish I so adore. My mother's chili had pieces of  stewed tomato in it, which is a big no-no for some. However, I love it.  I remember one of my students complaining about bits of tomatoes in chili at a school dinner. "What are those? Guts?" the cheerleader cried. Oh, Lordy.

Mom used a couple different kinds of beans, probably because she grabbed what we had in that little tin pantry Daddy brought home from the curb outside some shop in town. (I do love me a good junk haul the night before the garbage trucks run!) And her chili was thin. She always called it "chili soup." I drew the line on the little one-inch pieces of spaghetti she sometimes threw in to fill it out. As many times as I will be reheating this I made today, those would be mush!

Mom's Chili (almost)

In a huge pan...

3 # browned hamburger (drain if it needs it.)
1 can chili beans with juices
1 can black beans (or another kind) with juices
1 can diced tomatoes
1 large can whole tomatoes (squish the tomatoes quite a bit with a fork or your fingers)
1 can tomato sauce
1 T. garlic minced
2 c. water
1/2 cup ketchup (for brightening, according to Mama)
1/4 cup sorghum molasses
1/4 cup real maple syrup (Mom's preference was Indiana maple)
1/4 cup sugar (yes. it is almost like a sweet chili sauce if you add all these sweets
) I probably add more.
3 T. chili powder
1 T. cumin
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper
1 t. garlic powder

Simmer one hour or more, stirring often. Adjust flavors. Add more water or tomato juice if you have room in pan.

Whimsy and Hugs!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

20 Years Later -- England's Rose

As I glanced at a past post on Facebook this morning, I realized today was the 20th anniversary of the tragic death of my princess. I looked for a post I wrote and realized it came ten years ago...  I have been a blogger for over a decade...  and a score of years has passed, the world very different. Personally, I have aged through both my parent's deaths. I still feel a strong bond to Diana, but time has kept her forever young while I have felt the weights of real life alter my priorities.

I received this comment from a former student on my Facebook post tribute to Princess Di, and I wrote the response...  So thought I would send this post through once again...

For those of you who felt a kindred spirit to Diana, England's Rose:

My 10 Year Tribute----  from 2007 (written on her birthday in July of this year a little over a month before my dad passed away and I moved here with Mom.

Ten years ago this fall the news came of her tragic death....

"My heart has never been the same. Diana seemed so much more than an English Princess to me. I know she was adored by multitudes, but somehow, I always felt so extremely, personally, close to her. I absolutely loved her as a friend I had never met, somehow a kindred spirit, a soul similar to my own, I believed. I'll never know for sure, but I imagine we would have been dear friends had there not been miles of ocean, protocol, issues, and fate between our lives.

"On Diana's wedding day my home became a lovely English reception hall. My adored and revered gramma came down, stayed all night with me, and helped me decorate and cook a wedding breakfast fit for royalty. We used our best sterling silver, my finest china, live roses, and we created little maidens in Welsh clothing as favors. My family all arrived desperately early in the morning (England is six hours ahead!!!) We watched the wedding and then celebrated with scones, what I believed to be crumpets, tea, and lovely what I hoped to be English foods. My dad and my ex-husband were bumfoozled. What was happening? They thought I'd truly flipped. But it was an event to immortalize, so I tried. I remember I used to play a little game with myself as I cleaned my house and readied it for company. I pretended Diana was planning to be a guest! Boy, could I ever clean for a Princess!!!! During her life, I collected, hoarded, begged for and cherished a stack of books, cups, dolls, miniatures, magazines--- anything Diana. My collection fills a five foot amoire. When Diana stopped, so did I. I barely managed to tuck in the beautiful People Commemorative issue. A few lovely friends gave me books or magazines in her honor. But, for the most part, I was never happy collecting anything "Diana" after Diana was gone.

"I am not from England, so I have no idea how hard the whole Diana lifetime events have been on the English. I understand they must have been overwhelmed and heart-broken by everything that happened. I have only MY side of the ocean, my own reverent and unashamed adoration of her. When the negative things about her came into focus, it only made me feel more kindred to her spirit. I have been disappointed in love, a little obsessed with weight issues (little?), and uncomfortable with my surroundings too many times to count. I have adored a son with all my heart and felt my heart break for world causes. I have flirted with disaster and with men who spell disaster. I listened to taped interviews with the Princess, and I finally believed my initial guesses to be true. We are friends for life.

"I have a confession to make. I don't grieve and go on. Hidden below a cheerful (I hope) and bubbly (I wish) exterior lies every wound, every grief, every tear I have ever created. Sometimes the sheer angst (how I love that word but hate to use it) of it all just gets me to sobbing when I don't know/can't say why. Diana is a part of all that, just as are the beloved people in my own circle who have left this earth. When Kensington castle had a fire, my then-husband left work a little early and came to my school room door: "Everyone's alright," he assured me. "But Diana's castle was on fire for a little bit. I was afraid you'd hear it on the news and worry." Aw.... one of the sweetest, most understanding moments I recall. Then that awful night ... A phone call from my dad; disbelief, denial, first refusal to turn on the television, then glued in loud sobs to the broadcasts. My son told me he could hear me from his room, but he couldn't come out because he didn't want to invade my wall of sorrow. I remember putting my flag at half mast and walking to my mother's to do the same. She told me quickly and curtly, "She wouldn't be crying if this were reversed!" But I insisted she would if she had known me. So."

Kim Kardashian? Not even close....  <3

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Summer nights

Delicious dipping oils with Italian herbs and Parmesan, served with soft bread sticks. Vegetables marinated in olive oil...  chicken wings from China Garden...

My friends have been visiting. We rotate turns for the meal.

Oops. Somebody never takes her turn!!! What's up with that?

Whimsy and Hugs!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A Shade of Difference

(Disclaimer: This is the only in-focus picture I took. I was snapping a few shots like a wild child, but I did not waste a second of time focusing...  sorry!)

If you had asked me a few months ago when the publicity about the total eclipse of the sun began, my remarks were firm and quite negative. "You won't find me there. I think I hate eclipses. It seems dumb to me..." I based those ideas on the fact that I was rather afraid of the first lunar eclipse I remember viewing during the 60's with a very excited daddy in our back yard. He took me out to see my beloved moon turn dark. Now, my dad was brilliant, kind, just perfect.... but he didn't mention the eclipse was TEMPORARY, so although it lasted only seconds... I was so sick at heart that my moon had turned muddy. I remember standing outside by the purple Rose of Sharon bush thinking how weird it was my dad was happy about that. Later we laughed about it, but it rather tainted my feelings on eclipses. Future solar partial eclipses were overshadowed by warnings about going blind and the absurd idea you could see by looking into a cereal box pinhole. I was not interested. It may have worked. I admit I did not even try.

Fast forward to a couple months ago when my wonderful, so much like his grandpa, son texted he had requested August 21st as a day off. I pondered that date and came up quite empty. Then he said we were headed to the full eclipse zone at least 70-80 miles to the south... I decided I needed to wake up and be "cool," or I would get left behind. I was lucky I hadn't rattled my negativity to him, so I was the eclipse partner he chose. Since Mom passed away, we both are pricelessly aware we are the sum total of our basic family... for a while, at least. I was not about to lose a golden opportunity to spend a day with my son.

I did some fun prep work over the weeks, buying the special glasses, ordering chipotle garlic sunflower seeds, baking cookies, and choosing my wardrobe... moon and stars sweater ( a bit HOT, if I admit it).

Yesterday we left the house and mutually decided to grab my dear friend Doralee, kidnapping her to go along. She was outside and not ready, but it took only five minutes for her to throw on a cute outfit and grab her eclipse glasses she had (just in case)...

My son had researched through the night on Sunday--- the weather, the trajectory, the traffic...  We headed toward Ashland, MO, with no set destination. Guided by guess and by golly... and such a loving Heavenly Father, we drove around town a bit and then headed down a blacktop to the west...  We spotted a church on a rise of land--- and a few cars ----and we drove in to see if we could join. My son had talked of nothing but the things to look for. He had asked what I was most excited about, and I had honestly (but rather disappointing to him) responded, "Being with you all day."  Well, duh, Mom... He added a few scientific reasons to be inspired, such as his favorite (behind being with me, of course), the 360 degree sunset, the diamond rings, the accentuated shadows....

This church parking lot was perfect. The Youth minister came out to our cars and told us we were welcome, invited us to come in and get cool water or use the restrooms. He had an excited group of kids who joined the cluster of cars gathered  from all over the country, all navigated there to that one spot to form an ephemeral group. One family from Oklahoma had just decided on a spot much like my son had. The dad took our emails to send us the photos he took through his telescope. I will share those when he has time to do that.

What can I say? The air tinted surreal. We greeted each advance of the black thumb edging through the sun with greater anticipation and exclamations of delight...  but oh! in those brief few seconds of totality...that 360 degree sunset of lavendar hush... the total twilight at nearly noon, the sudden stirring of breeze and locust...  spontaneous respectful applause mingled with children and adults saying aloud, "Thank you, Lord." We peered at the Total Eclipse of the Sun 2017, hoping and praying ourselves and our loved ones to be alive and well when it comes again in 2024. I am telling you this. It was a singular two minutes in my entire life with nothing ever really like it for comparison. I shared it with dear people. I shared it with strangers. I shared it with God, and I somehow shared it with my dad.

We left the group waving and exchanging wishes for safe travels. Of course, I sobbed like the baby I am....  I am crying even now because the overwhelming "darlingness" of life fills my heart too full.. most of the time.

We didn't experience the traffic jam forewarned of nearly a million and a half extra vehicles in Missouri... until we drove home to our own small town, Macon. I think we had most of that surge through our two-lane highway. There it took nearly two hours to inch a little over 8 miles. We saw license plates from many states and ...finished the last of my oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies, of course! We heard that several friends at home and even some who traveled just as far, missed the eclipse due to rain and imperfectly timed clouds drifting and blocking the Totality. I hope they see it next time because it is hard to describe and simply incredible.

Later my dear friend who writes so beautifully created an amazing essay, which he will share at a future time. I will only hint this much about it, but you will be blessed when he reveals it.

Motto of this story: Do not waste any golden opportunities to experience this life and what might seem to be "take it or leave it" moments...

Here are the shots from that kind person in Oklahoma.They are incredible. I thank him for doing this for us. People are good.

Whimsy and Hugs!