What’s Cooking?

I am going to take some time away from writing next week. I have been hitting the research hard these past few weeks. I feel the need to step back a bit and allow my brain to absorb some things before I move on. I’ll be back on-line in a few days.

Before I do that, I want to share a couple of things.

First, our newest kitchen tool, a Power Cooker electric pressure cooker. It has quickly become a favorite at our house. We had planned to buy another crock pot to use during the summer months–I am learning very quickly that temperatures in Texas are too hot to even think about baking. We debated going the crock pot route or venture into the newer technology. The Power Cooker was more expensive but gave us many other cooking options, one option being using it as a slow cooker. We read the reviews but could not come to a definite decision. So, off we went to a store near us so we could see and feel the different types of cookers available. The Power Cooker won our vote. It was a good size for storage space we had, it offered the most options, and the inside pot was well made with clearly marked liquid measurements.

We are still learning and fine tuning our cooking techniques. Our comfort level rises with each use. It is easy. The “quick use” guide really does take you step-by-step through the cooking process so your first meal is successfully and fast. There are many recipes on many different sites, from appetizers to desserts. Most recipes are prefaced by the words, “I was afraid to use it because of the old pressure cooker my grandma used to use….” I was also hesitant but the directions were well written and the recipes included are ones most of us would use often. If you need a new cooking option for the summer, check it out.

Secondly, I watched Anne Lamott’s Ted Talk last night: 12 Things I Know for Sure.  Anne has been one of my favorite authors since I read her book, Bird by Bird. If you are looking for a quick and entertaining source of enlightenment, check this out.

Of the twelve things she presented, the one that rang truest for me was #2:  Almost anything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes–including you. 

I saw that as a thumbs up from Anne for some down time.

Once again, timing really is everything.

I am…

B…simply being…

Peace

Exploring

Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the starts, and they pass themselves without wondering. 

St. Augustine

I have been doing a lot of research. I began my blog as a way to get my thoughts out of my head. I wanted–I needed–to share my life stories and experiences. To me, this has felt as though I am back in some type of new therapy. Alone. Bouncing thoughts, ideas, and memories on and off the papers I have scattered around me. I have pages saved, pages tossed, pages where question marks abound, and pages that give me pause–I shake my head and wonder how I had survived?

The focal point of my research has been women writers. Women writing about writing and women writing about their lives–their memoirs. I love my little local library and I visited it earlier this week. A book caught my eye as I walked in, the woman on the cover vaguely familiar. I thought, hey, cool, a new memoir. I grabbed it. I was in for a treat and some direction for my own writing.

Grace Notes by Katey Sagal won my heart and soul. So many of the things she writes about prick long-buried memories of my own. Isn’t that what it’s all about, though? Sharing and helping each other through this journey called life?

Her book is arranged in “snippets” and they are simply lovely. She had me from the prologue on. Here is a collection of lines from the prologue:

I am getting older. 

It is time to write things down…

…I need to start now.

Because getting older makes me think a lot about the end…

…My keen sense of knowing that this amazing life I have could end at any time is a fucking pain in the ass. Seriously. 

And it is always on my mind…

…In other words, I have the time.

Time to write.

I can sit still now…

…I now feel more grounded in the center of myself, with no desire for overstimulation or permission needed to wallow in wherever I am. 

To be myself…

She had me captured–word by word, line by line, chapter by chapter. The final chapter came quickly and here are a few of her thoughts from there:

…Like everything I do, I wanted to keep my writing to myself and share it, both at the same time…

…along the way, I have struggled with the vulnerability that these “notes” of mine have brought up. 

Am I brave? Am I egotistical?

…I have set myself up for attention, and true to form, I’m not sure I want it…”

Katey’s notes–snippets–were encouraging, comforting, and enlightening to me. Thank you, Katey Sagal. You were a wonderful addition to my small little group therapy session.

I am…

B…simply being…

Peace.

 

 

Triumph

One of the things I like best about living in Texas is the people. Maybe it’s because I have more time to observe them. That’s probably part of it. I think a bigger part of it is that people here practice their faith–they don’t just go to church on Sundays. They support and show their love for each other in their daily lives. They take the time to talk with you when they meet you–something I am still getting used to–they are simply kind.

Yesterday, Michael went to one of the local big box stores to get some supplies for our garden. He was wearing one of his old motorcycle t-shirts. When he went up to pay for his purchase, the woman at the register looked at his shirt and said, “I just LOVE your shirt! I bet you really can triumph over ANYTHING!”

Michael chuckled as he me told the story. He shook his head and said, “She’s obviously not a motorcycle person.”

No, she’s probably not a motorcycle person–but she’s certainly a very sweet and kind one.

I am…

B…simply being…

Love and peace, y’all

 

Mother Nature

Yesterday started out quickly and dramatically in Hibdonville.

My husband, Michael, was out watering the plants. I was sleepily wandering into the kitchen when I heard some unusual sounds coming from the backyard. I was a little slow realizing that what I was hearing was serious–a pretty big error on my part.

To understand this tale better, I need to tell you that we live between two small communities in the hill country of Texas. We are not in town but we are not really in the country. We have undeveloped lots around us, which gives us the chance to observe some wild life: raccoons, foxes, occasional coyotes, many birds, including our favorite, the road runner and our least favorite, a very LOUD nocturnal bird called, Chuck Will’s Widow, many feral cats, and quite a few deer. The weather this Spring has been exceptional with new babies arriving daily. The fawns visit at least once a day,  jumping and running through the lots, making us laugh at their antics and marvel at their speed and dexterity. The two new litters of feral kittens provide hours of pure entertainment. We are not cat people so it’s taken awhile for the cats to work their way into our hearts. They have been very successful. So much so Michael named the newest members. The oldest litter of three: Moe, Larry, and Curly. The newest litter of two: Thelma and Louise.

Yesterday, tiny Larry enlarged his circle of exploration a little to far. The sounds I heard earlier came from behind a very large and dense persimmon bush. Larry either crawled under or through our fence. On our side of the fence stood our very gentle Lhasa Apso, Duffy. He had been watching patiently, anxiously awaiting the arrival of what I think he saw as the best new toy ever. A toy he grabbed excitedly, carrying the tiny white bundle further behind the shrubbery.

As fellow dog owners know, trying to take a toy away from your dog often does not go well or quickly. This was the case yesterday. It did not end well for Larry. We were devastated.

This left me wondering if there was anything I could do to prevent this from happening again? I cleaned around the perimeter of the fence, putting rocks in places where I thought something could crawl under. I walked away at the end of the day feeling I had probably discouraged something from crawling under the fence, but any small animal could still crawl through. I had done what I could. I needed to acknowledge that and let it go.

Sigh.

I did not see any kittens today. My guess is both mama cats moved their little ones further away from the newly perceived “danger zone.” Even though I miss seeing them, I hope they are away until they get a little bigger and a lot more street smart.

Mother Nature can be hard to understand sometimes. I’m just a “town kid” trying to figure it all out. I do realize I cannot fix it all and know I have a lot more to learn.

I am…

B…simply being…

Peace

God’s Gifts

I am having a hard time focusing on a particular topic these past few days. Then, a Godsend, I got an email from my soul sister, Mary.  This is a new term for our friendship, a precious gift that has spanned 40 plus years. It came about because of one of my blog posts where we both learned we shared one more experience. We had both lost a sibling at birth. To a list of many, we have one more shared one. It was one more confirmation that we are all here to share our life lessons.

I heard from Mary very early this morning–a red flag whenever you hear from someone either earlier or later than normal. She had lost her Uncle Ber and making arrangements to go back to Iowa. Many years ago, I was lucky enough to meet her uncle. I did not know a lot about him. I did know that he was important to her and was a strong and positive male role model for her.

Her loss reminded me of all the people who had come into my life over the years. I was incredibly blessed by family who supported my sisters and I when no one else was around. I wish so often that I could go back and thank all of them for all the sacrifices they made for us.

There is a lot here to think about and share. For now, I encourage everyone to think back to those people in your life who were always there for you–without fail. God sent many people into my life to help my family and me through the years right after my mom died. I certainly never thanked them or appreciated them enough.

I will be making my notes and encourage you to do the same. Include the names of those who have helped you along the way without asking for anything in return.

I send you my love and sympathy, dear friend and soul sister, Mary Kelly Moline. Safe journey back home to Waterloo. Know I will be joining you in raising a glass, toasting the good life and kindness of Uncle Ber.

I love you.

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

Peace

 

Sharing

I have been sitting at my desk for sometime trying to corral my whirling thoughts. There is so much running through my mind it is hard to pull it all together into something I can share today.

A couple of things keep repeating themselves. I am discovering that writing is a very positive, healing experience for me. What I need to stress is that I am not writing to elicit sympathy. I am writing to share my experiences with those who may be dealing with some of the same issues–either in their lives now or in their past. I believe we are here to share the lessons we’ve learned. By sharing, two things will happen: I will be able to move on and readers will learn from me, hopefully saving them some time and heartache.

While researching quotes about grief, I came across a paragraph written by Miriam Toews. Finding this was like having that chance encounter at the grocery store when you run into an old friend–that friend who knows exactly what you need to hear as she greets and hugs you warmly.

Writing helps me create order out of chaos and make sense of things. It helps me to understand what I’ve experienced, what I’ve felt and seen, so it becomes easier to handle. On the other hand, I don’t want it to be just a cathartic experience, an outpouring of grief or whatever it is. 

My mind had turned to grief because of the newest terror attacks in Great Britain. Even the words of that sentence strike me as wrong. How could I be talking about an attack that killed many people with the descriptive word, ‘newest?’  We live in a world where tragedy seems to be a daily breaking news event. This morning I realized that terror attacks are becoming so common I am no longer shocked. For me, that thought stirred up a whole new level of grief. The memorial concert for the victims of the Manchester bombings had not yet happened when this new series–yes series–of attacks took place.

How can we find a way to understand any of this when these attacks, involving our brothers and sisters simply out living their lives, happen so quickly?

This quote attributed to Cheryl Strayed, gave me some comfort as it reinforced my belief that we are all in this together.

The healing power of even the most microscopic exchange with someone who knows in a flash precisely what you’re talking about because she has experienced that thing too cannot be over estimated.

If there was ever a time for us to take that extra second for patience and kindness, it is now.

I am…

B…simply being…

I love you.

Peace

 

Short Notes

Sometimes my days in Texas seem like I have stepped back in time. Honestly, it is very  refreshing and comforting. Exactly what I need today.

The local radio station, KBEY 103.9, is a country western station–surprise! They have local staff talking about local news and events. They announce the time every hour. At noon, they play the National Anthem. Fridays are swap shop days, with people calling in to describe what they have for sale.  Local high school games are broadcast along with Sunday morning church services. The station is sponsored by the weekly newspaper, The Picayune, the best newspaper money can’t buy–still free after all these years, and local businesses. The downtown stores have store fronts and weekend market days. Our neighbors know us because they actually walked over to introduce themselves when we  moved in. The kids play outside and speak to us as we are out walking the dogs. Questions are answered with a yes, sir, and no, ma’am. People make eye contact when they speak to you and do not have a cell phone in their hands 24/7.

It’s the everyday things–the simple things–that makes life worthwhile. I am blessed. I am thankful.

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless y’all. Peace.

 

 

My Little Sister

This is my story from a year ago–edited so I can share today.

“The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.” 

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

I lost my little sister eleven years ago today.

Beth Ann Burton was the best person I ever knew. She loved me and most people she met unconditionally.

I love you, Beth Anna, with all my heart. One of the clearest memories I have is hearing her tell me she loved me bunches and bunches.

I miss her every day–Sundays are, by far, the worst–even after all these years. I still find myself looking at the clock around five thinking it’s time to call her. Those Sunday calls began when she moved to Des Moines from Waterloo–I’d call to see how she was doing with her new job in a new city. The calls continued after I moved to Denver. Both our lives were busy–she worked two jobs and my job demanded a lot of my time. Regardless of what was going on in our lives, I don’t think we missed a Sunday call.

“Childhood memories were like airplane luggage; no matter how far you were traveling or how long you needed them to last, you were only ever allowed two bags. And while those bags might hold a few hazy recollections—a diner with a jukebox at the table, being pushed on a swing set, the way it felt to be picked up and spun around—it didn’t seem enough to last a whole lifetime.” 

Jennifer E. Smith, This Is What Happy Looks Like

I am…

B…simply being…

I love and miss you, Bethie.

~Peace~

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday Lessons

The day is only half over and I am at my max level of frustration.

Being a retired person in today’s world is not easy. I spent the morning searching for a primary care provider who accepts our insurance. Hours later, after bouncing back and forth between the insurance website and various physician websites, I thought I had found someone. They have what appears to be good credentials,  great patient reviews, accepts our insurance, AND accepts new patients. I call. Many prompts later I am connected to a real live person. She tells me: only a few of their physicians accept new patients, my husband and I don’t choose a physician, the available care providers review our completed paperwork and decide which provider would best suit our needs. She directed me to their website–I had spent considerable time there already–where I could find the many-paged new patient documents and return them via email, regular mail, or bring the forms into them.

Okay, thank you, bye.

I am learning that I need to take a break when things seem to be a little more insane than usual. This was one of those times. I am stepping back to share some of the things that have made me smile over the past few days. My internal scale of balance is reaching a critical tipping point.

Attached to my blog today is a picture of a little tiny cross given to me by an elderly woman who was in line with me at our local Walmart. She turned around, smiled, and asked me if she could give me something. Well…I was in Texas…I was at Walmart…BUT she was a tiny little lady so I said, yes. She reached into her pocket and pulled out that very small cross. She pressed it into my hand with a “God Bless You.”

I had to smile.

I put the little beige cross in my pocket. When I got home I put it on my desk where it reminds me every day that I AM blessed.

My husband, Michael, and I live outside a tiny little town in the hill country of Texas. Not really in the country but not in the mainstream of the city, either. We have a fair amount of wildlife around us. We have a young buck who visits us several times a day. He is very curious, healthy looking, and handsome. We’ve named him Gorge.  There are several feral cats in the hood, meaning sooner or later, we will have new kittens. We have a very busy and cute litter of kittens romping around the neighbor’s backyard, with a second litter in the wings.  The first litter has three adorable kits, named by Michael: Moe, Larry, and Curly.  The crowning event happened yesterday afternoon. We were visited by a young doe and her newborn fawn. Mama was moving slowly with the little fawn following as close as he or she could on very wobbly legs. Exciting and wonderful things happening in our little corner of the world.

Mother Nature has helped restore some balance to what can sometimes be a world so out of control. For these and many other things, I am grateful.

I am…

B…simply being…

May you find things to make you smile today as well. I send my love and wishes for peace.

 

 

Memories of Memorial Day

Memorial Day has never been one of my favorite holidays. The reasons go back to my childhood. I grew up in Iowa in the 50’s and 60’s–a time when the excitement over the Indianapolis 500 was surpassed only by the almost assured fact that there would be at least one serious injury to the drivers involved, if not a fatality. This race was the only race I remember my Dad listening to. I was an anxious kid about most things. Putting this race on the radio for what seemed like HOURS was a guarantee I would not have one finger nail left by the time the checkered flag flew.

When I was about seven or eight years old, Memorial Day activities changed. Our family suffered a loss that was very hard for my parents and, I believe, on their marriage. My mom had a very difficult pregnancy, one that sent her to specialists who were not successful in helping her preclude pre-term labor. Her prayers for a baby boy were answered; our prayers for his survival were not. We had one more Memorial Day together as a family, traveling to Waterloo, Iowa, to a cemetery not far from the hospital where Richard Dean Burton lived his short life and died. We did not linger there, I’m not sure my mom even got out of the car. One of us put a small bouquet of flowers on his yet unmarked grave. The short 50 mile journey did not take long. What made it seem long was the static on the radio as it played the sounds of the crowd and the racing engines of the Indy 500.

Shortly after that Memorial Day, my mom was diagnosed with a type of lymphoma. She fought hard but was not able to defeat the disease. Our family and our observation of Memorial Day changed forever. The family going to the cemetery was now smaller, sadder, seriously silent, lost in our own thoughts as the radio played the chatter of yet another Indianapolis 500.

Visiting the cemetery, even though it became one of the most constant traditions of our family, is not one I continue today. I moved from Iowa which gave me an honest excuse. It did not take away the guilt I felt for not going. To give myself some peace, I created a garden as a remembrance of my family members who have died. My garden is named the Donna Bethie Garden in honor of my cousin, Donna, and my sister, Beth. This past week, as pictured in this blog, I was able to get a great start on my garden here at our new home in Texas. I am thankful for the rain that has given it a boost and even more grateful that none of the rain storms came with hail.

And NO Indianapolis 500 coverage at all.

I wish you all a safe and memorable holiday spent in ways that give you joy.

I am…

B…simply being…

Peace.