Texas Independence Day

“ I have said that Texas is a state of mind, but I think it is more than that. it is a mystique closely approximating a religion. And this is true to the extent that people either passionately love Texas or passionately hate it and, as in other religions, few people dare to inspect it for fear of losing their bearings in mystery or paradox. But I think there will be little quarrel with my feelings that Texas is one thing. For all its enormous range of space, climate, and physical appearance, and for all the internal squabbles, contentions, and strivings, Texas has a high cohesiveness perhaps stronger than any other section in America. Rich, poor, Panhandle, Gulf, city, country, Texas is the obsession, the proper study and the passionate possession of all Texans.” ~John Steinbeck, 1962

Saturday, March 2, was Texas Independence Day. On that date in 1836, the Declaration of Independence from Mexico was signed, officially separating Mexican Texas from Mexican rule, creating The Republic of Texas. Yes, the story Michael told me about Texas being the only state that was once an independent country is really true.

Last Friday, my friend Judi and I attended an author meet and greet at our local library. Judi is from Nebraska and I’m from Iowa so we both know we have a lot to learn when it comes to Texas. We try but it’s a long process. Even after years of living and learning “Texas,” we both experience moments when complete strangers walk up to us, looks us up and down, shake their heads, and makes the loud proclamation, “You ain’t from around here, are ‘ya?”

Time flew by as we listened to the stories shared by W.F. Strong from his book, Stories From Texas. His presentation was a mixture of history class, personal memoir, and stand up comedy. He impressed us both enough we waited in line to get our very own signed copy.

Along with the quote from Mr. Steinbeck, let me share a few others that are Mr. Strong’s favorites:

  • Davy Crockett: “You may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas.” Crockett said this angrily after losing his Tennessee bid for U.S. Congress. (I think he said, “Y’all can go to hell,” but grammatical purity likely corrupted the original transcription.)
  • Conrad Hilton: “There’s a vastness here, and I believe that the people who are born here breathe that vastness into their soul. They dream big dreams and think big thoughts, because there is nothing to hem them in.” Hilton launched his empire in Texas with his very first hotel in Cisco in 1919, going on to open Hiltons in Dallas, Abilene, Waco, and El Paso before expanding beyond the state.
  • Larry McMurtry: “What my whole body of work says…is that Texas spent so long getting past the frontier experience because that experience is so overwhelmingly powerful. Imagine yourself as a small hopeful immigrant family, alone in the Staked Plains, with the Comanche and the Kiowa still on the loose. The power of such experience will not sift out of the descendants of that venturer in one generation and produce Middletown. Elements of that primal venturing will surely inform several generations.” McMurtry wrote this in an essay for the Texas Monthly several years ago. In more accessible language, he also famously said: “Only a rank degenerate would drive 1500 miles across Texas without eating a chicken-fried steak.” 
  • George W. Gush, reflecting poignantly on his years in West Texas: “Those were comfortable, carefree years. The word I’d use now is idyllic. On Friday nights, we cheered on the Bulldogs of Midland High. On Sunday mornings, we went to church. Nobody locked their doors. Years later, when I would speak about the American Dream, it was Midland I had in mind.”

Okay, y’all, on that note, I’m fixin’ to head out and pour myself some wine.

I am…

B…simply being.   

~Peace~

 

 

“The Rest of the Story”

It is important to build an intellectual base for your goals. Formal education is fine. Self-education is vital. ~Paul Harvey

It’s Thursday so odds are high we were at an estate sale somewhere.

Today, in my opinion, I walked away with a little nugget of gold.

There are not many positive things I can say about my stepmother, Irene. I was reminded of one today when I came across this book, Paul Harvey’s America.

Every Saturday Irene listened to the Swap Shop which was followed by Paul Harvey. The Swap Shop always had some very interesting things for sale. I didn’t understand many of the things people called in to sell–in Iowa the majority of things revolved around the farming community. I’d listen and wonder why in the world Irene listened to them. Maybe it was to get the radio on and tuned in so she could listen to Mr. Harvey.

I did not understand the appeal of any of it. All I wanted to do was turn into the local rock station so I could hear the weekly countdown. Fat chance that would EVER happen.

I do remember the first time I stopped brooding long enough to listen to The Paul Harvey Show. I tried hard to hide the fact I was interested in hearing what he had to say. Even as an early teen I could see his point of view which made me question once again–why was Irene listening to him? If she liked him maybe we did have some common ground? Maybe I needed to give her a break.

In a matter of minutes I began another trip back in time thanks to another book found on the shelves of someone I never knew.

Stay tuned for the rest of the story.

“The child I was

is just one breath away from me.” 

Sheniz Janmohamed, Firesmoke

I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace~

 

Work Is More Than a Four Letter Word

“No man needs sympathy because he has to work, because he has a burden to carry. Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” 

Theodore Roosevelt

Lunch seems to be the common thread of my stories lately.

Lucky, aren’t I?

Today Michael and I had lunch with a former coworker of mine, Kathy Willer and her husband, Denny. Interesting thing is Kathy and I worked in the same NE Iowa community for the same radiologists but at different facilities. Kathy worked at Schoitz Memorial Hospital. I worked at St. Francis Hospital. Even though we were only a few miles apart our work environments were very different, each hospital had its own specialty and way of doing things. Looking back it’s a little bit comical and a little bit sad.

As radiologic technologists we technically worked for the hospitals. In reality we worked for the radiologists. Because the radiologists covered both hospitals, the staff knew each other and saw each other at different professional meetings and always at the annual Christmas party. We were a very diverse group of people–as you can see from the picture of the St. Francis crew I’m re-sharing today since both Kathy and I forgot to take a picture today.

Today’s lunch was a walk down memory lane for both of us. We said things like–“I think it’s been over 30 years since I saw and talked to you.” Or “I retired after working 42 years in imaging.” WHAT! Is that even possible? How old are we anyway?

As we talked and laughed it seemed like it was just a few years ago we were both balancing our work and home lives. Who would have thought when we started our careers the changes we’d see in the field of medical imaging. We saw the first CT and MRI images, watched ultrasound grow from B-mode/M-mode scans to 3 and 4D imaging with incredible flow studies, marveled at the advances in invasive radiology procedures, advances in nuclear medicine and the birth of PET scans, and all the incredible advances in radiation therapy.

We were both so fortunate to be a field where we could grow beyond our wildest dreams professionally and be surrounded by people who grew from coworkers into friends.

Thanks, Kathy and Denny for a wonderful leisiurely lunch.

I am smiling, I am humbled, and I am grateful.

“Motivation comes from working on things we care about. It also comes from working with people we care about.” 

Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace~

Chance

“By chance we met, by choice we become friend” 

Millie

Moving is not easy. Moving to a place where I knew a very limited number of people is harder yet. I have whined here about this a few times and said something like old friends were so much easier than new friends.

Old friends are still easier but I’m beginning to realize few things about the women who are becoming new friends.

What if my new friends have come into my life at a time when I need to rehash the past? Maybe there are some things back there I need to think about now in my more “mature” years?

Interesting.

A conversation I had last week with one of my wonderful new friends that took a turn into both of our past. I don’t think either one of us expected to have the conversation that happened after I asked some questions about her younger days. Turns out, we’d both experienced similar hurtful experiences and both struggle forgiving and forgetting.

That conversation has stayed in the back of my mind.

I’m beginning to see my new friends bring completely different points of view to my past and I bring my unique views to theirs. We may not be old friends but we are friends now. I think we’ve found each other exactly at a time when we need each other the most.

Maybe it’s not only teachers who show up at the time when we are ready for them? Maybe my friends have always been my best teachers and I never realized that fact. Maybe it’s one more example of God providing the perfect gift at a time when I never realized I needed it.

“Female friendships that work are relationships in which women help each other belong to themselves.” 

Louise Bernikow  

I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace~

Thank you, Debbie Long, for letting me use your photo of your beautiful vacation heart collection. It is the perfect collection for a very special and wonderful woman. Thank you. Love you. 

Footprints

“Many people walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.” 

Windhy Puspitadewi, Confeito

For most of my life I thought I could only have one best friend. I mean, best is THE best, right? So–only one person can be the best.

I don’t think I stopped thinking this way until I’d had time to reflect on my life and the different people I’d met over the years. I realized each person helped me through different stages of my life and enabled me thrive and grow.

First, there are my childhood friends. They knew me as a kid, they knew my sisters, and they knew my family. There is no replacement for this knowledge base and the life experiences we shared.  I am grateful many are still in my life. Even with huge gaps in what we know about each other and our adult lives, we remain friends.

There are friends I met after moving to another town and becoming the new kid my freshman year of high school. This little group of girls became so special to me because they accepted me and treated me like I’d always been one of them. This group also knew my sisters, also knew my family, but this group also knew my stepmother. This updated version of me and my life gave them a whole different knowledge base and our friendships grew as we grew.

After graduating high school, we all went our separate ways. Some to college outside of our area, some married and started families, some to the military, and some to area technical schools and nearby universities. New friendships were born at this rapidly changing time in our lives. We learned what we needed to begin to live our “adult lives.” We built friendships with those we saw every day and our common experiences forged strong bonds. That first step into adulthood was a tough one for many of us. Friendships made during this time were and are important ones to many of us.

Now many of us have retired and moved away from all our groups of friends. For me, finding friends at this time in my life is more challenging than I expected. Finding a person who has common interests and is willing to invest the time to become a true friend is not easy. I’ve evolved into a person with many layers. Some of those layers are harder to peel away than others and uncovering them often reveals old history I’ve chosen to forget for a reason.

New friendships are revitalizing. My new friend Glynis just shared with me today her story of having lunch with her new friend. She describes this special lady as someone who is “wildly creative with purple hair and fun glasses.” She said as she sat beside her she felt “so beige.” I laughed as I thanked God for new friends!

I’m learning I will have many friends in my lifetime. I am grateful I’ve been able to keep friends from each stage of my life and we continue share our lives as we age. Now we are walking our own paths but these paths are parallel to each other. If there is one constant in my life, God has a way of keeping those I love just an arms length away.

“Friends can make you feel that the world is smaller and less sneaky than it really is, because you know people who have similar experiences.” 

Lemony Snicket, The Austere Academy

I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace~

Spaghetti, Grace, and Friendship

“There is a twilight zone in our hearts that we ourselves cannot see. Even when we know quite a lot about ourselves-our gifts and weaknesses, our ambitions and aspirations, our motives and our drives-large parts of ourselves remain in the shadow of consciousness. This is a very good thing. We will always remain partially hidden to ourselves. Other people, especially those who love us, can often see our twilight zones better than we ourselves can. The way we are seen and understood by others is different from the way we see and understand ourselves. We will never fully know the significance of our presence in the lives of our friends. That’s a grace, a grace that calls us not only to humility, but to a deep trust in those who love us. It is the twilight zones of our hearts where true friendships are born.” 

Henri J.M. Nouwen

Since I’ve been sharing old recipes this week, I thought it’d be perfect ending it with one of my favorites.

This spaghetti recipe can be made ahead, it’s very easy, and it’s perfect comfort food for any cold winter evening.

I think you can still make out the directions even with my over zealous trimming–just in case let me fill in some of the blanks. If you break the spaghetti noodles up before you cook them, they will be much easier to eat–never knew that until I read this recipe. Use shredded cheese–that wasn’t available back when this recipe was written. Sauté the onion and beef in oil. Add sauce, wine and spices. Simmer covered, stirring for one hour. Meanwhile cook the spaghetti and drain. Add the meat sauce with the cheese and bake in a 3 qt. casserole.

Not only can I share a recipe, I get to talk about my friend, Mary.

I’ve been lucky enough to live and work in places long enough to establish strong friendships. Mary and I started our x-ray training together in the fall of 1971. It was a two-year program and we both thought it’d be a piece of cake–pardon the cliché but it seems perfect since food has been on my mind.

It was NOT easy.

I am sure I would not have made it without Mary. My heavens we were so young, so unaware, and so unprepared for how cruel the world could be–not just professionally but personally. If you want to see the best and the worst of humanity, spend a few days in a busy radiology department. It’s hard to leave those faces and images behind at the end of the day. We’d call each other and talk it through–the tumors, the car accidents, the abused kids, and the unidentified bodies in the morgue.

It did not stop there, though.  Not only did we work together for several years after we graduated, we were there for each other as we married, as we divorced, as explored the singles scene, as she remarried, and when she gave birth to her son, Mason.

As life would have it, I was about to learn change is a constant thing and life itself sometimes takes unexpected turns. My world certainly changed the day Mary told me she and her family were moving. Oh—I cried but knew she’d been unhappy. It was time for something new. I was happy for her job at a bigger hospital and the opportunities that would make available to her.

I was pretty lost for a while. Even though she was not beside me every day she continued to influence me. She was enjoying her new job which opened my eyes to the idea there were other places to work. I knew if I stayed where I was I’d never really grow in the way I wanted to grow. I took that leap of faith and moved on, too.

It was a lot harder than I imagined. Now Mary and I were a thousand miles apart. Long distance phone calls were not part of either of one of our budgets. There were times I’d pull out one of Mary’s recipes and cook just to ease my mind and comfort my soul.

I’m not sure I want to calculate how many years she has been a huge part of my life. I think it’s close to fifty. How is that even possible? In spite of the fact years went by when we rarely talked or saw each other we remained connected in some magical mysterious way. I am so thankful–her friendship truly was and is a gift from God.

“A woman or man of value doesn’t love you because of what he or she wants you to be or do for them. He or she loves you because your combined souls understand one another, complements each other, and make sense above any other person in this world. You each share a part of their soul’s mirror and see each other’s light reflected in it clearly. You can easily speak from the heart and feel safe doing so. Both of you have been traveling a parallel road your entire life. Without each other’s presence, you feel like an old friend or family member was lost. It bothers you, not because you have given it too much meaning, but because God did. This is the type of person you don’t have to fight for because you can’t get rid of them and your heart doesn’t want them to leave anyways.” 

Shannon L. Alder

I am…

B…simply being. 

~Peace~

A Visit With Effie

“It is not until much later, as the skin sags and the heart weakens, that children understand; their stories, and all their accomplishments, sit atop the stories of their mothers and fathers, stones upon stones, beneath the waters of their lives.” 

Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven

I came across another recipe in my search for something different. This one was super special.

Not only is it special, it came at a very auspicious time–today my ex mother-in-law would have celebrated her 100th birthday.

Even though my marriage failed, my connection to Effie remains special. She was by far the kindest, smartest, and strongest woman I’ve ever known. She will always have a special place in my heart.

As I leafed through pages and pages of recipes, many of them hand written, I gave thanks for having the insight to save them. I did have to stop and look at the condition of most–it was not only obvious which ones I used but it was clear I was not a very neat cook.

Stains and all, these scraps of paper form a powerful emotional connection to my past. This link would not be possible without them or if I had put them into some type of digital form. Now I can hold the pages, smooth out the wrinkles, and travel back in time. As I read the ingredients, the wording of the instructions, and squint at the fading handwriting, I can feel myself sitting at that little kitchen table in Effie’s warm and cozy kitchen. The tears came but my overall feeling was one of peace. I felt as though the two of us had just had the best talk.

Oh my–what a blessing this little piece of paper held for me on so many levels.

“You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you.” 

Frederick Buechner

I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace~

Sherrie’s Cherry Bars–Resurrected

“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.” 

Laurie Colwin

Baking was not something I had time to do when I was working. It was just to time consuming.

After I retired I started baking chocolate chip cookies. For two reasons–I knew how and I love cookies–especially chocolate chip cookies.

Today I wanted something different.

Somewhere, deep in my memory, I remembered some cherry bars one of our students made when I was working at St. Francis in the radiology department. I knew I had the recipe somewhere. In my mind’s eye, I could see the handwritten recipe–

It took some time–mainly because I had to read and remember every other recipe I came across  in my slow search. What should have been a ten minute deal ended about an hour and half later. It looked exactly like I remembered it.

This little piece of paper is special for several reasons:

  • It is written by the original baker, Sherrie–a young woman who was a radiology student decades ago.
  • The little added note on the top of the page telling me it’s from Sherrie was written by another co-worker–Jackie–who later became a student and then a fellow radiologic technologist.
  • These cherry bars are just as good today as they were all those years ago. The only change I made today was using two cans of dark cherries in syrup instead of cherry pie filling.
  • Memories come in many different forms. Today I walked down a little side road off of my memory lane. My sense of smell and taste were quick to appreciate this treat from a day many decades in the past. It was and is such an unexpected treat.

If you have the time to do a little baking–give ’em a try.

“Cooking is at once child’s play and adult joy. And cooking done with care is an act of love.” 

Craig Claiborne

I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace~

Checks and Balances

“Talk between women friends is always therapy…” 

Jayne Anne Phillips

I have been lucky this past week to have had the opportunity to have lunch with two new friends.

We shared old stories from our past, compared daily challenges we face because we’re now home not building careers, and talk openly about what we plan and dream for our futures.

The power of these luncheons has surprised me. Our maturity and past experiences seem to accelerate our friendships. I feel as though I’ve discovered a strong and ever-expanding circle of new old friends.

All of this could not have happened at a better time to help balance out the stress of filling out tax paperwork. It amazes me at the amount of data requested and how it all fits into some rather foggy and mystical equation. I’m not sure this is at all what the founding fathers had in mind.

This afternoon, I raise my glass to my friends, to my Michael for working so hard on the taxes, and I give thanks for my many blessings.

“This is a question too difficult for a mathematician. It should be asked of a philosopher”(when asked about completing his income tax form)” 

Albert Einstein

I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace~

Little Messengers

An Irish Blessing:

“Count your blessings instead of your crosses;

Count your gains instead of your losses.

Count your joys instead of your woes;

Count your friends instead of your foes.

Count your smiles instead of your tears;

Count your courage instead of your fears.

Count your full years instead of your lean;

Count your kind deeds instead of your mean.

Count your health instead of your wealth;

Love your neighbor as much as yourself.”

Sometimes the littlest things bring me the most joy.

I picked up a small bag of bird seed this weekend to use in a feeder I’d found at one of our sales. I wasn’t ready to invest any more money until I saw feasting birds.

It didn’t take long.

Within a few hours there was a frenzy of busy birds–obviously my birds are rather shy and decided to recruit one little bird friend for the attached photo.

Winter is hard on the psyche even in the milder climates. I needed some help in seeing and appreciating the marvels of nature surrounding me every single day.

I believe my perfect messengers have arrived.

“Clearly, one of the major obstacles to our experience of gratitude is the habit we have of sleepwalking through life. The truth is that we are never lacking for blessings in our lives, but we are often lacking in awareness and recognition of them.” ~ Rev. Diane Berke, Ph.D

I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace~