Friday, December 4, 2009
Chailyn picked up a cinnamon stick with red ribbon crossing it horizontally, creating a tree effect. He smiled and said,"Mom, mom, my cinnamon ornament that I made last year in Mrs. Moritz's class!" Kayden hung a gingerbread girl that she recalled making with her friends two years ago at our house... during the "kid" holiday gathering. Ornaments went up that I couldn't remember receiving, but the kids knew. Kayden "awwwwed" at the picture ornament of her, five days old, curled up and crinkly like a new petal with a pink ribbon on her bum. Chailyn played with the nutcracker that dances when you pull a string... that his grandpa brought him home from Italy a few years ago. I hung a wooden santa that my friend, an artist, made for me before Chailyn was born.
Our tree tells a story of our life. It reminds us who has come and gone, and how we have spent the moments up until now. The memory of making that marshmallow ornament with the kids at the Novi Holiday Night is what we hang on the tree... the giggles mixing gingerbread dough... the cuddle we shared at Grammies, now framed in silver and tied to the branch with a red satin bow.
As my son hangs a faded rocking horse with the words "JASON 1970" scrawled in red marker on the back, we are reminded of our own youth... that time before this family, when we were a part of another family. When we were children creating memories and hanging handmade ornaments on our first family's Christmas trees, we had no idea that we would be remembering with our own children decades later.
This morning, as I ponder the hour we spent together last night lighting up a small corner of our dining room, it reminds me that the parts of childhood we remember are not the ones we might suspect. It's not going to be the toys or the gadgets, the new fads that "must" be purchased or the kids just won't be happy. It's not going to be whether we disciplined the kids the right way (if there is such a thing), if we had gourmet dinners or fancy cars or big houses. What is going to be remembered are the moments of being together, of loving one another, of sharing our lives with people that are close to our hearts.
So, I guess you could say there is a little love in every ornament on our tiny tree. When I look at it this morning, and each time I look, I am reminded of a lifetime of love, joy, laughter, friendships, family, and everything that the spirit of this season is supposed to bring. This is a tree of our life.
Monday, September 28, 2009
As I got older, had a career, children, and more real life responsibilities, I sort of let my glowing self absorb that alter-ego until it practically vanished. I haven't written a poem in probably ten years. That is, unless you count the haiku I posted as a response to my status on Facebook. Is it that I my emotional edge has dulled with use? Is my life more monotone now that I have undergone and emerged successfully from many emotional trials? Or do I just not have time?
Well, maybe it's hormones or monotones or baritones... I don't know. Maybe it's lack of motivation. But now that I have more time, I am using it to write some short fiction, play on Facebook, and go through all the old stuff I used to write when I considered myself a writer. What I did notice was that, even in high school, I was really sensetive to things like social injustice and peace. I found the trip down nastalgia lane very amusing. Here, I brought you back some souveniers!
I think I wrote this one when I was about 11 or 12 years old:
Ding-dong the church bells cried
Hate has taken a bride.
Fear in her black wedding dress
has taken considerably less
time to take a groom than Doom
who screems up in the belfry room
and scares away Sir Gloom.
Happiness has slipped away
upon this Spiteful, Rageful day.
Joy and Love have lived in dread
since Hate and Fear were wed.
Wow, this has a lot to say. I am impressed with my younger self. Good job, little girl!
Here is one that I wrote my first year in college... before I met Jay.
Modern Love Story
Strangers share cheap beer
and trivial conversation
as the pungent smell of last week's liquer
mixes with inevitable sexual tension.
Stuck somewhere between youth and wisdom.
Somewhere between innocence and knowledge.
Blindly searching for something alien and strange.
Not knowing where to begin or how to end.
as potential lovers search within their souls
and within the strained eyes
of each familiar stranger.
for something that seems
so empty of reverence.
I wrote this at party, on a bet that I couldn't write a poem about the party in under three minutes. I did it, and here it is recorded exactly as it poured forth from my pen... only in cyberspace instead of on the napkin!
Well, I have embarked on an interesting journey. We shall see where it takes me...
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
Next to me on the counter dried pinto beans were simmering in a crock pot. When they are soft I will toss them into the frying pan with a healthy cup of the chicken stock that I made last night from the remains of a roasted chicken we had for dinner. My family will enjoy a Mexican fiesta tonight! But the joy I was feeling was not in anticipation of a party... instead it was satisfaction from knowing that the work I was doing was sustaining the lives of the people I love.
Sure, I could run up to the store to buy salsa in a plastic tub for $4.29... Garden Fresh Salsa that has an expiration date and a bar code stamped on its side. My tomatoes didn't have a bar code. Instead they had the stamp of my love, the hours spent planting and watering and weeding, harvesting and chopping. My work is saving my family money on groceries, it's providing nutitious alternatives to prepackaged foods, and it's saving my mental health all in one shot!
Next year I plan to dig up more shrubs and grass so that I can plant onions and cilantro, potatoes and enough tomato plants to can for the winter. My garlic should provide healthy cloves next year, and the strawberries along the side of our patio should bear two harvests as long as the birds leave them alone. I want to plant enough fruits and vegetables to provide the bulk of our family's produce, plus some to share! I also hope to have my children more involved in the work of the garden, so that they too can feel this sense of importance, of knowing that they are needed, not just wanted.
This is my way of taking smaller steps toward a larger goal. Of course, communal living on twenty-five acres of carefully horticulturally crafted land seems a long way off. But next summer's planting is near.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
It sits on thirty acres of woods and wetland, and stretches itself out on the shores of Lake Huron. The lodge was initially built as a church, but the project was abandoned and the new owners gutted and reinforced the building to turn it into a bed and breakfast. With eight Great Rooms (each with its own fireplace and bathroom), a guest cottage, a library and a large living room, big commercial kitchen and screened-in wrap-around deck, it is my communal living opportunity come true.
I have wanted this living arrangement for a long time, as a way of not only reducing my footprint on the earth, but also of connecting myself more closely with the people that I love. I want a village to help me raise my children, I want a sanctuary from the ever-growing consumerism and materialism that I find encroaching on old fashioned values, I want to reap the fruits of a hard day's physical labor, I want my children to grow up in a family of people that love them and care enough to help me raise them, and vice versa.
I picture myself waking in the early hours of morning, in the quiet darkness, to mix yeast and water and sugar, to knead warm dough on the long butcher block countertop, dusted with flour. I would look out the window to see the light spreading itself like melted butter across the pond, raking through the needled pines and tiptoing gently over the sleeping leaves of maple and elm. The early morning solitude welcomes the soft thud and swish of dough as it rolls and presses against the wood. I will slide ten loaves into the hot oven, its mouth gaping in anticipation.
While the bread bakes I will sip tea made from the peppermint growing just outside the door, in the herb garden that spreads out in front as if to lure the culinary explorer up the path into the kitchen with their basket filled. I picture myself piling the table with fresh eggs scrambled with herbs, sweet wild strawberries and cream, home made maple walnut granola, warm bread smeared with blueberry preserves, and coffee with wild clover honey. I picture a long, rough cut table filled with my friends and all of our chattering children, sharing food and life, sharing hardships and celebrations, sharing work and play.
I picture a dozen yurts nestled in and around the woods. These would be rented to individuals or families that want to come for a week, a month, a summer, to experience communal living. They would help for a short time each day with chores around the property in exchange for meals of seasonal vegetables, fresh goat cheeses, eggs and poultry, fish and fruits, all served around a big table or around the camp fire at night. We would offer guided hikes and bike rides around the miles of groomed trails. There would be opportunities for these "campers" to learn about the native herbs and their healing properties, to learn how to cook simply from seasonal foods, to swim in the pond and in the lake, to drum and play music, to meditate and practice yoga and tai chi in the quiet of sunrise. There will be new friends to make, and old friends to cherish.
I know it sounds like utopia, and many will say that I am a dreamer. But where else do ideas begin, how else are changes made, if not by first dreaming? Why are people so afraid of chasing their dreams? I have spent much of my life getting one step behind my dream, and then turning back on the path, only to let my dream disappear over the horizon. I replace it with a new dream, and then the cycle begins again. I want to be done turning around.
I think the most successful people in life are those that have a dream, or an idea, and they don't stop until they acheive it. If my dream is to live in a peaceful, co-operative community that teaches people how to respect and sustain one another while they give our earth that same courtesy, why shouldn't I try to achieve that dream? Some day I will have my Sanctuary. I know I will.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Sunday, July 19, 2009
I did it! I have gone sugarless, and artificial-sweetener-less. Well, I have been cheating a bit with my morning coffee by putting just a tad of stevia in it, but that's a nutrititional suppliment right? ...and the coffee is another story. One addiction at a time.
Anyway, I haven't had cake, pudding, ice cream, cool whipped topping, cookies, brownies, cheesecake, sodas, sugary cereal, syrup, or any of those other things with hidden added sugars. I have had a little bit of white pasta and some pizza at a friends' house.... my dad always taught me to eat what you are offered when visiting someone's home. Manners, manners! But I was careful not to overindulge (usually I would have scarfed down several servings of those delicious egg noodles with butter.).
I have also increased my protein intake, eating low fat protein packed snacks like almonds and cashews, and using oat and brown rice flour in my home-made pizza dough and coffee cake. My kids have been loving egg-white omelettes with sprouted whole grain toast for breakfast! And they aren't missing their sweet cereals at all! (well, not usually)
So the result is that I feel much more in control emotionally. I am not experiencing the sugar cravings, wolfing down a couple of cookies, then feeling guilty. And I don't have to suffere through the sugar-crash. Ya' know, the yawns, the fatigue, the short fuse and bad temper. And a great side effect is that I lost five pounds and haven't even been dieting!
I've been trying a bunch of recipes for dessert items that my kids might like... because they are still craving sugar as I haven't taken my whole family along for the ride... YET! Hmmmm, I've noticed my hubby a little cranky lately, ransacking the cupboard for something sweet, too. I bet he's jonesin' for a sugar fix!
Anyway, I've hit the jackpot with two desserts... One is a cinnamon-apple cheesecake with an almond crust (recipe soon to come), and the other is the peanutbutter biscuit with strawberry cream. I'll give you the recipe for this second one... let me know if you like it!
One pint of whipping cream (I use organic)
One quart organic strawberries
To make the cream, puree the strawberries and bananas together in the blender until smooth. Beat the cream in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Gently fold the fruit puree into the cream until mixed. Set in refrigerator until ready to serve.
1/2 cup natural peanutbutter
1/2 cup cream cheese
one teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (or a tad more) oat flour
Crack the egg in a large bowl. Beat in baking soda with electric beaters until dissolved. Add peanutbutter and cream cheese. Beat until smooth. Add oat flour and beat until you get a cookie dough consistency (add more flour if necessary). Make tablespoon sized balls of dough and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. (You can make a dent in the center and add a dallop of strawberry all-fruit-spread if you like.) Flatten slightly and bake at 350 degrees for about 9 minutes or until slightly puffed and firm to the touch. Cool on wire rack.
When cool, drop cream on top and garnish with a strawberry. If you're not expecting these to taste like cookies and ice cream, they're delicious!
Friday, July 3, 2009
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
I have recently discovered the heavenly delight of French pressed coffee. It's simplicity is only striking because of it's rich flavor and deliciously smooth krema that give it the mouthfeel of good quality espresso. Of course, I drench mine in cream and raw sugar until it drips with the decadence only a housewife in her pajamas, savoring the early morning solitude before her children awake, can truly apreciate.
The contrast of this seemingly uppercrust drink against the pathetically average appearance of me at my desk in my raggy gray Renaissance Festival t-shirt and faded black yoga pants is what makes it the perfect morning drink by which to type my thoughts, my memoirs if you will.
My life is full of contradictions, of false facades, of expectations that blossomed but never fruited, like an apricot tree left abandoned in the backyard of a nice comfortable home in a middle class neighborhood. The family thought it was a dying peach tree with puny and dry fruit. They didn't know it was an apricot tree, nor did they have the time or ambition to study and nurture the tree, so they let the apricots fall to the ground and rot.
I sigh in honor of French pressed coffee, a good heavy mug from which to drink it, the pungent, sweet smell of overripe fruit, and peaceful morning solitude.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
On the other side of the semicolon is "to overlook." This doesn't entail any action on the part of the victim. She simply pretends like nothing happened... Now let me sketch out this scenario for you: A friend does something that hurts you. They know they did this. You know they did this. You are no longer speaking over this thing that was done. At some point you decide that you forgive them (this is in your head). You are feeling better, but the offending friend is still being eaten up with guilt because they don't know they have been forgiven. Is this forgiveness without an act of pardoning sincere?
I keep coming back to the words of Jesus Christ: Do unto others as you would have done unto you. It's the golden rule, and we see it in every religion across the world. It is the foundation for morality. If we all followed that rule, there would be peace in the universe right now (unless we have a larger population of masochists than I think we have). So I ask myself, "If I make a mistake, do I want to be forgiven?" Yes. Do I want to know that the person I hurt has forgiven me? Yes.
But now comes an important part of this blog entry: Does the act of forgiveness need to be preceded by an apology? My thought is, "Absolutely not." Very often the person who hurts you doesn't realize what they have done, or perhaps the extent to which it affected you. Even if they do, we ALL KNOW how difficult it is to apologize, ESPECIALLY if we think the recipient will not be forgiving. Furthermore, it is my experience that an aplogy will immediately follow the act of pardoning. The floodgates open and humanity gushes out from behind the dam.
I am not saying that the offender shouldn't be told that what they did was wrong, that it hurt, and that a relationship may change because of it. They should definitely know, so that they have the opportunity to learn from their mistakes and lead a better life. What an amazing position you are in to be able to teach someone how to better themselves!
This is how I live my life. I believe that it's the only way to have peace. If you are unable to forgive (the kind to the left of the semicolon), not only will you carry around a lifetime of pain, you will leave tokens of guilt in the pockets of all who have hurt you. Those are not the bricks that build a foundation of peace.
(I know my blog won't allow comments, but please feel free to comment via Facebook!)
Monday, May 18, 2009
-William F. Schults "Hold On" UUWorld
I have read this quote to myself every day, sometimes more than once a day, for the past week. It has been my meditation, my bible verse, my prayer, my mantra... and it has gotten me through. And now my dune is at a new angle of repose. However, looking back, I realize that this wasn't simply a waiting game, sitting through a storm while the sands pelted me and swirled all around me.
I helped the sand to settle, I helped to throttle the storm. My tool? Forgiveness.
What exactly happened to cultivate this storm is irrelevent here. The details are insignificant. I will say that a judgement was made against my moral character (something I hold in the highest regard). And this judgement was made by a friend. And this judgement hurt me, my husband, and could have damaged my family. The winds were whipping all around me, and my angle of repose was deepley disturbed.
For a day or two I was really angry and confused. I struggled and questioned. I read this passage over and over again, along with some verses from the Tao Teh Ching. I have always been a peacemaker, never one to buck the system or rock the boat. Some friends have accused me of being a bit naive, a pushover, too innocent, too trusting. But those are just the words masking the forgiveness that has always been in my heart. It is part of my nature, my character.
Why should I forgive someone who hurt me, broke my trust, and made judgments about me? Because I have the power to forgive. Because once I forgive, I can let go, I can let the sand settle. Once I have sustained a state of forgiveness, I can breathe again. I have released myself from the conflict, and I can heal. Because I want to be forgiven
I hope that, though all of this, my friend will come away with a life-changing lesson: That you shouldn't always walk through life seeing only through your eyes, and never your heart. I truly believe that forgiveness is one of the first steps to leading a peaceful existence. At least I know that it can bring calm to a storm.
Friday, March 20, 2009
- Pay the mortgage
- Make sure I can pay the mortgage for the next few months
- Pay the water bill
- Make sure I can pay the water bill for the next few months
- Pay the energy bill
- Make sure I can pay the energy bill for the next few months (did I mention heating and air conditioning being one of the basic needs?)
- Buy groceries only when they are on Manager's Special orange sticker at Kroger
- Plant a garden so I have food for the next few months
- Pay the internet bill (OKAY, FINE... just gimme this one)
- Meditate or allow life to flow through you in whatever way brings you peace (I prefer laughter as a meditation)
- Do good deeds and spread love (two here makes up for #9)
- Reach nirvana
Okay, sounds like an easy twelve-step program, right! I'll be rising above my ego in no time... right after I pay some bills and get another job!!! :)
By the way, this yogi here is lookin' FINE! Somehow that doesn't look too peacful to me. Someone, please give this man a Hot Pocket!
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
... no more non-commital monotone conversations at my own convenience.
... no more screaming in capitals.
... no more LOL, or ROFLMAO.
... no more thumbtyping while stopped at an intersection.
... no more thumbtyping while driving down the freeway.
... no mr msacrng englsh syntx.
... no more frightening yet comforting chimes in the middle of the night.
... no more silly random pictures e-mailed to my spouse at work.
... no more checking constantly to see if anyone cared enough to e-mail me that second.
Ahhh, media package, you have been like a kind-of-annoying little sister to me. Although we had our fun when we were together, I will not miss you now that we are apart.
I finally did the deed. After forking over $371 to AT&T for our last two months of telephone bills, I asked the polite young man in the tidy blue shirt to please cancel my media package. He did so without hesitation or question... odd, I thought, because usually they try to keep you shelling out the dough. Hmm, I chalk it up to the economy. Phone dude knows that it's time to cut back. I knew it was something that had to be done.
Honestly, I am looking forward to stepping off of the information superhighway back onto the sidewalk (not quite into the nature trail yet)! The pace is slower, but more friendly, and a little more real.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Seriously, when you meet someone new, do you end up talking about things that you DON'T LIKE? What's wrong with the economy, what's wrong with that second grade teacher, what do you hate about the new Facebook. Think about it, we are even complaining about things that make our lives EASIER... because they might not be perfect!
Do you ever find yourself on the computer, trying to upload a picture, and it takes that little blue bar more than three seconds to complete the upload! Do we sit and marvel at the amazing technology that allows us to take a snapshot of our sexy new lingerie, and within minutes have our husband clocking out of work early? NO, we bitch about it taking a nanosecond too long! What is this world coming to?
My grandmother is 103 years old. She is one of the most patient people I have ever known. Do you think it's because she actually had to work for everything she had? If we're thirsty, we get fresh clean water squirted right into our glass from the side of the fridge. Then we put the glass in our dishwasher and it gets clean! If my grandmother wanted so much as a drink when she was a girl, she had to walk to the well, dip the bucket down, haul it up, and scoop the water. Never mind what they went through for lemonade or milk!
I think we all take so much for granted. Stop for a minute and totally marvel at everything around you that makes your life easier... from cell phones and computers, to public schools and grocery stores! Our world truly is amazing!
But is all this amazing-ness making us discontented, ungrateful little brats? If you don't think so, try this little experiment: Spend one entire day without saying anything negative at all. Nothing. Try to notice how many times someone else says something negative to you, and try to respond with a neutral or a positive! By the end of the day you will be fully enlightened, and will be raised into the light to live eternally as the spirit of good. No, um, just kidding. But you might actually understand what the hell I'm talking about!