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Archive for May, 2014

REMEMBER

memorial-day Remember

REMEMBER
Memorial Day 2014
written in 2011

Remember the men and women who have served our country in the Armed Forces and say, “Thank You.”

Remember those brave men and women who have died fighting a war they wished had never happened.

Remember the men and women who braved the battlefield and returned home wounded in body, mind, and spirit.

Remember the sufferings of families touched by the forever loss of their loved ones in service to their country.

Remember Mother Earth and all her mutilations from all the wars.

Remember the good people who rebuild her and comfort her and bring her back to rest.

Remember the beauty of freedom the next opportunity you get to drop a ballot in a voting box.

Remember that we have a choice.

A choice to choose and not criticize.
A choice to build up and not tear down.
A choice to believe in the good, not the terrifying.
A choice to unify and not divide.
A choice for peace and not disruption.
A choice for joy, not dispair.
A choice for gratitude in place of grumbling.
A choice for community and not dissention.
A choice for understanding our fellow human beings.
A choice to choose honor and human dignity in our own lives.
A choice to place top value on life which nothing can surpass.
A choice to know we are all One, not two.
A choice to shorten the long journey between head and heart.
A choice to listen for the purpose of our life and follow that path.

My friends, I believe that war is obsolete and within that belief I remain patriotic to and loving of my country and grateful for the freedoms we share as Americans.

It is my vision that these freedoms continue in our country through many of my grandchildren’s future generations and that these freedoms spread around the world to the rest of Earth’s citizens. Mother Earth is the only mothership we have….and we need to know how to navigate her seas in a peaceful spirit with compassionate hearts and willing hands to serve the total ascention of humankind.

Remember Peace. Remember Love. Remember Life.

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Landscape - Billie Grumblatt

Some music does not need words to touch you deep in your heart and soul. Some photos are like that too. This picture is worth more than 1,000 words.

So my blog today is simply this gracious invitation to “come on in and sit a spell” in the garden landscape of Billie Grumblatt of Lansing Michigan.

Thank you Billie.

Ahhhhhhhh.

Landscape - Billie Grumblatt

Photography by Billie Grumblatt.

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Melody of Roses

RE: School Spring Concert Congratulations

Dear Kathleen,

Did you see and feel the accomplishment last night? I could not stop thinking about the difference in four years. I remember the night you asked us to be there four years ago when you bravely took to the podium, knowing the level of ability was going to be less than you’d hope. But you started with them. The audience was a mess.

This year, the audience self-disciplined itself with regular shh…..ing and they had an air of expectation of what was coming. A whole different sense in the audience, and the dimmed lights were great. It focused us on the performers.

I’d give Best Performance to the Choir, although there wasn’t a low note in the whole concert.  It was not just because of the fancy piano accompaniment. The kids were really enjoying GIVING their performance, you could tell. The music excited them and there was a pride in their delivery of it. I bet you get more choir sign ups from this.

When they were on stage, you reminded me of my high school choir director, Miss Klein, who put up with a lot of mischief, and couldn’t help herself laughing (and trying to hide it) at some of the more outrageous stuff the boys produced. But she got the BEST out of us because the Music was IN her. It is like that with you. You may give the kids the credit for their efforts, but their effort would not be there without the combination of your human personality and your musical professionalism.  It ALL showed last night.

ALL the bands were in top form. The sound was awesome even in a poor acoustical environment.  I don’t know if you focus on percussion, but every band had additional interest because of the varying percussion additions to the pieces they were playing.

All the music, sung and played, was interesting and entertaining. Did you hear the shout outs and whistles?  People must have said very nice things to you after the concert.

You should go into this summer vacation, knowing that you have really made a difference to that  school. Something unseen, also, is the general effect to the good this most likely has on the children, who without this focus on growing and achieving through music, might be in other unworthy paths of despair and disappointment. I am sure there are some who,  through the light of what music shines in them, can apply that to other areas of their lives. If we could only see the whole picture of what our work means in the world, I think we would all be amazed.

This is a long way of saying, Congratulations to the music mission in you and I love you and  I am proud of you.

Images of musician Kathleen

mom cues the pitJesus Christ Superstar Pit Band Director

JCS - Pit Band Member directed by mom

Mom the musician

not far from mom

and her favorite, just hangin’ photo

Kathleen - hanging

Love,

Mom

sing out loud

 

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One

Just about any time I am in my kitchen, mom is present. Usually with the memories of the life that swirled around my mom in her queen-space.  Mom was the efficient baker, sweeper, and goodies maker of our household. I remember that sometimes she and dad even tussled a bit when he got in her space with his own gas range meal making talents which he used to show off at county fairs to sell his propane and gas stove products.

Mom was the baker though! The Christmas bread above is just one small part of baked goods that began to fill the house from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day.

Today, after Mass I lit a candle and said a prayer of Thanksgiving for all three of my moms my birth mother, Doris, Tom’s mother Frances and Marion.

Marion was the mom who, as she married dad, also became mother to me, a two year old toddler and my brother, Dave. He was adopted by my mom Doris and dad. She named Dave as hers and brought him home with dad from the Catholic orphanage. She told my dad that no one could love him as well as she could.  Within three years, Marion gave birth to my second brother John and that completed our family of five.

 

 

Twelve1

 

I do not have too many things from our early family life. Mostly photographs, because I began taking them with my first camera, a box Kodak Brownie, and I never stopped taking them. I recorded family and school life though the lens.

The two things I have that make my mom present today on a daily basis are a few of her dishes and some of her recipes in her own handwriting.  Mom set a spectacular table at holiday times and special occasions. Simple, elegant and I can still feel the feelings of the nurturing that came with these dining room dinners.

 

Two

 

When this table was set up as the centerpiece in our square dining room on LaSalle Blvd in Lansing, you knew “good eatin’ ” was about to happen. Then the sides were dropped and it was returned to the side wall and became my study and writing desk for the eight years I lived there through high school and college.

I do not have mom’s china but here are some of her favorite glass salad bowls. I love to use them when our daughters’ families come for dinner.

 

Five

Four

 

I keep mom’s glass butter dish out all the time.  Seeing it first thing in the morning brings her quickly to mind.  We don’t use much sugar anymore, but I keep her glass sugar bowl in a common cupboard space, again a frequent reminder of mom. I cannot see that bowl without a thought of her floating through my heart.

The rutabaga is awaiting peeling to go with our chicken dinner tonight. Mom, a Wisconsin born and bred girl, always served rutabaga on festive occasions. I bought this vegetable with her in mind for Mother’s Day.

Now about those recipes.

 

Six

 

Even ones that are not in her own handwriting, you can see there has been great use of them by me from the kitchen stains on the page. Mom was famous for her pumpkin pie and this recipe today gains me great acclaim. Mom is with us every Thanksgiving as we enjoy this treat.

 

Eight

 

Chow Mein — sometimes a “left-over” type of meal for others — was a high delight for us. Mom made it with fresh asparagus on the side, a jello salad of some type and a relish and veggie dish and usually her Lemon Angel Pie. Oh, yum! The smaller glass dishes with the salad bowls above were decked out with olives, pickles of all types and carrot and celery sticks.

 

Three

 

I think these bowls may have become a classic. But in the “olden days”, these may have been awarded at Kroger grocery stores for certain dollar amounts of purchases. Mom not only mixed things in these, but she filled them with the hottest of water while awaiting the mashed potatoes and rutabagas. I have never been able to achieve her success at keeping food hot and getting it to the table that way like she did.

 

Ten

 

That is mom’s 1945 wedding suit. This photo is in the mid 1950s in the front yard of our Sycamore Illinois home. The pale blue is memorized into my head and heart. Mom kept her clothes immaculate and expertly cared for.

When we moved to Lansing, their bedroom had the tiniest little closet for two people (mine was also) I have ever seen. They had space left over in theirs!  Mom did not believe in “putting everything the husband made in salary on her own back” and said so many times. She would be appalled at even the idea of a walk-in closet, seeing no need for that at all.

 

Eleven

She taught us to take care of our own clothes, as well. There was no place for clothes left on the floor. We were a neatly “trimmed up trio.”

 

 

ThirteenMom and dad at our back-yard wedding reception

I married Tom a week after I graduated Michigan State University with a degree in Education and a move to Lexington Kentucky right ahead of me.  Tom already had his first job out of school with IBM Corporation and a third grade classroom at Mary Queen of the Holy Rosary school awaited me as its teacher.

Mom pretty much planned how the wedding would go and how I would look as a bride. Since I was a little girl, I had been drawing  Southern Belle pencil pictures of a heart-shaped bodice and a big petticoat floating skirt.  That was my fantasy of my wedding dress.

Mom engaged a Vietnamese seamstress from our church to make my dress, her dress and the bridesmaids’ dresses. I remember picking out the fabric with mom, but that is where my input stopped. I was about to get a narrow sheath wedding dress with a long, but simple train attached at the waist.

 

Fourteen

 

No swirly skirts here, but a perfect wedding.

 

 

Fifteen

Mom and dad’s annual vacation trip was driving up to Chapleau Ontario, renting a cottage at Dee and Harvey’s campground and spending a week fishing together in a dinghy boat.  Dave, John and I did that with them for many years.

 

Sixteen

 

After our marriage in 1965, Tom and I made our home for the next eleven years in Lexington. We brought their first granddaughter, Laura  back to Lansing in 1966.  By the time Kathleen was born in August 1968, mom and dad had left the cold winters of Michigan and moved to St. Thomas Virgin Island, where they made their home together until dad’s death in 1977.

They were in a perfect partnership there in the new climates, living and working together. It was Nirvana for them but I do not think either of them would like that word.

Tom and I had moved back to the west side of Michigan in 1977 to own and operate a country golf course outside of Gobles Michigan. We came in June. Mom and dad returned that month from the Virgin Islands for a week up north in Chapleau to fish.  Mom was with dad when he suffered a very sudden and fatal heart attack, shocking us all, and depriving me of the visit I would enjoy in one week’s time when they returned.

The joy in mom’s life was snuffed out. They were “Tony and Marion” and mom never did find the “whole” again in her life.  Existing with her grief, mom still gave to others her generosity of spirit, her helping hand always. The closest to joy she had was the times she shared with our daughters, her granddaughters. She was so proud and happy for them and my own perogative of mother-discipline was greatly diminished as she created great leaway and influence for what they wanted.

Funny, my daughters Laura and Kathleen now accuse me of the same thing with my grandchildren.

 

Seven

Seventeen - Final

Double the recipe is noted on this card because she always gave a lot away. It was just in her human personality to do so. Now  I have a couple of recipes and mom’s Norwegian love awaiting me in the kitchen baking department this Christmas.

 

 

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Here is a reblog from Dadirridreaming, Christine Whitelaw, my friend in Australia. Enjoy the sights and the sounds.

dadirridreaming

Bingie Beach from Grey Rocks Bingie Beach from Grey Rocks

The sun was swiftly dropping behind the casuarina bushland as I walked out to Grey Rocks yesterday. There is so much going on I really needed to spend a while with nature. You can see my beloved mountain at the top right, with smoke from hazard reduction burns in the sky from the west. The sea was roaring, that marvellous sound like a train approaching!

Grey Rocks Grey Rocks

A southerly wind blew against the rocks, spraying saltwater over everything, including me and the camera. Icy fingers reaching into nooks and crannies, reminding me that winter is not far away now. I stood and watched, marvelling at each huge spray thrown up by those roaring waves.

Grey Rocks looking north Grey Rocks looking north

Sea spray clouded the air, creating a mysterious atmosphere illuminated by the lowering sun. Water rushed up the beaches, leaving no room for walkers, it was display…

View original post 302 more words

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Hard Boiled eggs

I’ve learned the secret to making perfect hard boiled eggs that peel easily and finishing the novel one may have been working on for years.

First, the hard boiled egg. I’ve tried different combinations of making hard boiled eggs over the years. Sometimes, I’m lucky, sometimes not. It seemed more often then not, when it really mattered, as in Easter eggs and deviled eggs when you really want the egg to peel neatly, it didn’t for me.

Another problem was that if I was lucky enough to have the egg peel, the yolk was greenish and unappetizing looking around the edge. The method I am about to share vanishes that problem too.

Recently, I combined two methods. One I found on http://www.cooks.com and the other was in a magazine.  You don’t have to add either salt or baking soda to the water, as other texts call for.

1.  Bring eggs to room temp before using.

2. Place sufficient water to cover the eggs in a saucepan and bring to a gentle boil BEFORE placing the eggs in it.

3. Lower the eggs carefully into the water, using a tablespoon. When the water reboils, start timing  and reduce the heat so that the water simmers gently.

(Fast boiling makes the egg white tough and causes the eggs to bang against each other and crack.

4. You should start timing the eggs from the moment the water first boils.

5.  Hard boiled eggs, large size take 10 minutes.

6. Turn off the heat and place the eggs in an ice-water bath and time them to cool for 5 minutes.  The ice water bath will “shock” the membrane in between the egg white and the egg shell, loosening the shell and allowing you to peel it off easily.

7.  Store peeled eggs in the refrigerator.

Clock Creative Tool

Now about that unfinished novel.

The humble kitchen timer is the most important creative tool in your arsenal.  Notice the importance placed on timing in order to get the perfect hard boiled egg.

The same is true in the successful completion of your novel,  Melda Maguire , working on her seventh book,  insists. Here is what she says to do:

“At some point you sit down and set that timer for 30 minutes. Work on your craft or your project without interruption or distraction. It does not have to be major work — just focused work. Don’t get up from your seat until the timer dings. ”

“Then do the same thing tomorrow. And the next day. And the next day…”
Are you catching onto this?

To look at the financial side of this, she points out you don’t need to quit your job to be an artist or writer. You don’t have to take out a heart-stopping loan in order to get an advanced degree in creativity. You don’t need to move to Paris (but that might be fun).

You don’t need to change anything about your life. You just need to bow down before the humble kitchen timer, every single day.

A little universal truth that applies here is the the world will not clear out a time and a space for your dreams, art and writing. If you wait for things to be perfect before beginning (or continuing) your work (and play), you will die waiting.

Get yourself a kitchen timer and turn it into a creativity timer. What happens next can only be thrilling.

writer

 

Plus, you can always have a perfect deviled egg waiting for you in the refrigerator when your 30 minute timer goes off. Walah!

 

 

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Writing on Napkins

There I was, writing on napkins again. I was waiting for Tom to bring our two-for-one Tuesday chili special at Wendy’s to our table. This is our weekly Tuesday lunch date after our Poolates exercise.

I was on the verge of feeling a bit sorry for myself over non-important things so I pulled out a pen, grabbed a napkin and wrote at the top of it:

Gratitude

The thought and question that followed writing that word was: What attributes in my life cause me to feel gratitude? The next words that came to be written down were:

Richness
Abundance
Prosperity
Joy

Then I began to list the who and what manifests these qualities in my life.  I numbered them in the order, not only in the way they came to mind, but in a top-down type of practical truth of my daily life.

1. My loving relationship and life with Tom.

2. Being the mother and friend of Laura and Kathleen.

3. Being the grandmother and playmate of Devon, Andrew and Amy.

4. My life, in and as the Love of God.

5. My daily spiritual practice and prayers.

6. My excellent health and pretty good fitness and mobility.

7. Living in the home I love.

8. Financial stability through our personal income and God’s Providence.

Then since I had eight listed, I thought I should go for a top ten and add two more.

9. My writing as Napkinwriter, other writings and poetry.

10. My photography featured on my Peace in Our Hearts and Around the World Facebook page and my SoulCollage® cards and facilitation.

There you have it!  Certainly not ALL for which I am grateful, but a list that came readily to mind.  I am rich with choices of creativity.  I have an abundant family life. I am prosperous in living quarters and monthly bills met on time. And for joy, I must now add number eleven.

11. The joy of nature all around me in the birds, sky, blooming plants and growing seeds of springtime, the sun and the rain, the wind and the snow, the trees and the breeze. How spectacular they all are.

Now I can’t leave this list without adding

12. All the books which surround me in my home and on my Kindle Fire.

So, I can’t quite remember what I was feeling sorry about. I also suspect that soon I will be feeling sorry I did not add a few other things for which I am obviously, genuinely and eternally grateful.

 

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daffodil

When I post on my Facebook page or put a quote on my Peace in Our Hearts and Around the World  page, I usually use my own photography. The same is true for photos I put in my Napkinwriter posts.

But last week, as I traveled different routes around town, I was regularly surprised by the bright appearance and stately stature of the daffodils which have just burst forth. They always bring joy and it seems like I can almost hear them singing or trumpeting a resound of Alleluias in this  Easter season.

I hadn’t taken the opportunity nor the time to scout out some daffodils I could get up close and personal to with my camera yet, so I googled the internet for an image.  I put the one that  I found and liked on my Facebook page as my profile picture.

I got so many comments  and “likes” about those daffodils from others, that I know I am not alone in my love of these spring flowers, some of the first to arrive behind the frosts of winter.

They add delight to your moment. Not only should we stop to smell the roses, but we can enjoy the bursts of yellow telling us it is time for us, too, to turn to the earth and contribute our own gifts to the enhancement of our soil and the uplifting of our spirits through our creativity and grounding.

…when all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils…”
William Wordsworth

Spring and daffodills gently urge us to love life
and appreciate its mysteries.”
Alexandra Stoddard

I do both. I love my life. And as I get older and older, I surrender to its many mysteries, living them, not necessarily solving them.

 

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May Evening

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