“C” is for Confusion


Quotation-Larry-Leissner-confusion-genius-knowledge-funny-Meetville-Quotes-177

Confusion seems to be my constant companion these days – fuzzy brain, mind drift, feet going different directions and hands fumbling at tasks they have done for decades. What’s up with all that!?

I love to write, and I love to read. But somehow, now, writing takes a back seat, and I am hard pressed to move forward with it, whether it is this blog, snail mail letters (I have a new pen pal!) book reviews or grocery lists. In fact, I drag aforementioned feet, (that seem to go several directions at once and going nowhere,) to do the two tasks I set for myself today, scrub the bathroom and make dog biscuits.

The dog biscuits came out great. I made a few really big ones for the wonderful dog next door, Jessie. A love big mix, lab or retriever, chow-chow maybe (blue tongue) black long hair with white touches. As with most of the dogs that know me (Becca’s Kona, for one) I am the treats lady, so I try to make good healthy treats. These are not peanut butter, but chicken (with no sodium chicken broth) from a recipe that I  got from Tea Time magazine. (July August issue)

dog biscuits

The big ones are for Jessie! Dropped one hot out of the oven and Dixie took off with it – crazy dog.

OH. And I cleaned the bathroom. I clean it once a week superficially – toilet, sink, counters and shelves. But the bath/shower is a serious pain. I have to do it in starts and stops.

See what I mean? You are not interested in that blather. The real point is that illness and growing older has affected my abilities a lot. So now I make a list every night before going to bed. Not really a list. Two items. It was three items…

Sundays list

Sunday’s List is full of intention….

I got Make and Create done (which tells you my strong interests) and Finished got worked on but not yet completed (which tells you my weak point – finishing!)

Is confusion a bad thing? Oh yes. As with most elders, I remember my 30s well, working full-time, going to school, caring for two kids, one preschool and one 1st grade, keeping up with the home we owned, and spending time with my own elder parent. (My father died when I was 26) I HATE CONFUSION! It is a sign of weakness to me, the lack of strength and attention that I have had my entire life.

There are lots of reasons why, one being the amount of drugs (legal ones!) that I take and my long list of illnesses that have created the need for the drugs. My diabetes is “under control” but not nearly where it should be as far as blood sugar #s go. My Sjogren’s continually affects my mouth and eyes with dryness and has destroyed my teeth. And the fibromyalgia, well, that’s a main cause for the brain fogs. It is hard to stay focused when pain is your permanent companion. So perhaps I should put three things on my list every day, two tasks and one focus that remains the same, a constant one that reminds me to be gentle with myself, patient with my confusion, and attentive to my own needs,  smiling through it all, and to be the best “ME” that I can be.

Someday-everything-will-make-perfect-sense

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Anatomy of a Regency Letter


ReaderWoman:

I absolutely loved this post, so thought I would share it here.

Originally posted on Her Reputation for Accomplishment:

VigeeLeBrunLetterDetail Detail from Portrait of Comtesse de Cérès, Elisabeth Vigée -Lebrun, 1784. (Toledo Museum of Art)

When I first started looking at online images of letters from Jane Austen’s era last summer, I often felt confused about what I was seeing. Maybe it’s because I haven’t handled real letters from that period to get a first-hand sense of their size and how they were folded. Maybe it’s because different archives photograph their letters differently, making it hard to compare them. Maybe I just didn’t see an explanation that clicked for me. So, although there are many articles and blog posts about Regency letter-writing on the web (see links at the end of this post for some), I’m going to add another one- the post that might have helped me last summer. Do keep in mind that, while there are conventions, individual letter-writers practiced many different techniques in different situations: there…

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Letter B


My topic for the blog today is Bread.

I bet those who know me well thought that B would be for Books! But although reading and books course through my veins, Bread is indeed the staff of life, at least for me!

sourdoughI am a diabetic with a great love of bread. A problem? Oh Yes. But I try to eat sourdough whenever possible. According to the University of Wisconsin, “Sourdough is a white bread that is low on the glycemic index. For a 1-oz. slice, sourdough scores a 52 with 1g of fat and 20g of carbohydrate. Sourdough is a rather lean dough that obtains much of its robust flavor and texture from the sour mix that ferments over time adding leavening, as well as flavor. While it is a white dough, the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics Center for Integrative Medicine’s Glycemic Food Index ranks sourdough lower than most in scoring making it a favorable option for diabetics.”

But rather than bore you to insanity with statistics, I will instead treat you to some fun recipes and some fantastic quotes about bread itself.

baker bettie bread

I recently discovered this yeast bread at Baker Bettie’s. It has no added sugar and entrances the palate with rosemary and kosher salt, in a simple and easy recipe that is great with soup. Even though it is a yeast bread, it requires no kneading. Go to the webpage for all the details – here is a brief once-over of the recipe:

FIRST, you must have a cast iron 12 inch skillet

cast iron skillet

Ingredients
  • 1 package active dry yeast (2¼ tsp if measuring from bulk yeast)
  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • ½ TBSP kosher salt
  • 4⅓ cups all-purpose flour (any flour you like, depending on your needs and likes)
  • olive oil
  • rosemary
Instructions
  1. Combine yeast and warm water in a large bowl.
  2. Using a wooden spoon add 1 cup of the flour and then the salt and mix until combined. Stir in the rest of the flour, one cup at a time, until completely incorporated.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap or a lid that is not shut completely. Allow to rise for 1 hour.
  4. Do not punch down the dough. Lightly oil the bottom of a cast iron skillet (a 10″ or 12″ skillet works well). Sprinkle a good amount of flour on top of the dough and then cover hands with flour. Take all the dough and shape into a disk. (it will be sticky)
  5. Place in the skillet, cover loosely with a towel and allow to rise for another 30 minutes.
  6. Pre-heat the oven to 400ºF.
  7. Drizzle a little more oil over the top of the bread, and slash the dough with a knife creating an X. Sprinkle with coarse salt and rosemary leaves.
  8. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the top is a deep brown color.

“The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight.   – M.F.K. Fischer

Why do I love bread? Despite my cutting back (a LOT!) on carbohydrate foods, I feel the earnestness of bread in many aspects of my life. I do not have an issue (e.g. Celiac disease) with bread or whole grains. As mentioned in a website article,  “I believe in eating real food, in balance, in its whole form, according to an individual’s needs, for the sake of nourishment and good health, all the time.” (Laura of Heavenly Homemakers) Moderation in all things! But bread also is the food of poetry and beauty. The classic and romantic poet, Omar Khayyam is very well-known for his Rubaiyat, and this quote:

“A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and thou.” I love this in the 1st translation by  Edward FitzGerald:

(Quatrain XI in his 1st edition:)

Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse – and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness –
And Wilderness is Paradise enow.”

The feeling here of fullness and rightness, brought along with the loaf of bread (food) a jug of wine (drink) a book of verse (something to share and read) and thou (the one most beloved, is a gift both to the mind and the spirit.

A feast for the senses – bread smells so good, wafting from our kitchens to tickle the nose. A well-cooked loaf teases the eyes with the joys to come and when the loaf is sliced and passed out, the sense of completeness grasps our tongues lightly, mixing with the flavors, the added butter or jam.

Christianity is awash with biblical metaphors which involve bread. The word Bread or Manna was used over 200 times in the Bible the most well-known one from John 6:51  “I am  the living bread that came down from heaven.  If a man eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

And for me, it is a way of sharing yourself – homemade bread as a gift to your family, embellished with the use of your hands, and perhaps, as with me, homegrown herbs, as a way of saying you are important to me.

Cornbread. I have my grandmother’s cornbread stick pan and find it a loving and enjoyable way to make bread beyond the yeast or quick breads. This is a great recipe to experiment with flours.

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1teaspoon baking soda
  • 1teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup yogurt or 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter or 3 tablespoons margarine

cornsticks

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350.
  2. Grease an 8-in square pan with butter.
  3. In a medium bowl combine the dry ingredients.
  4. In another bowl combine the wet ingredients.
  5. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry, mixing only enough to thoroughly combine.
  6. Spread into the prepared pan.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the center is firm to the touch.
  8. Serve at any temperature.

 Southern Cornbread in a class by itself:

“The North thinks it knows how to make cornbread, but this is a gross superstition. Perhaps no bread in the world is quite as good as Southern corn bread, and perhaps no bread in the world is quite as bad as the Northern imitation of it.”
Mark Twain
(Samuel Langhorne Clemens) (1835-1910)
From an autobiographical sketch, 1898

And there you have it. My paean to bread. How about you? How do you feel about bread?

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A is for Acrobatic Anteaters Ate Apples


Have your attention now? My actual topic for the blog today is Acceptance

happiness-can-exist-only-in-acceptance-quote-1I have learned a lot of lessons in the last 10 years. One of them is that accepting something is not the same thing as mindlessly allowing something to happen! In fact, the very process of accepting something implies* that there is something else being accepted to fill that spot. 

Example. I accepted that a friend made the decision to move on in her life without our friendship. I accepted that, mostly because she gave me no choice. But in the place of that friendship, I accepted that there may be some personality quirks, flaws, if you like, that turn people off. I have been working on these as a part of my acceptance, and realized that there are some consistent facts that are me.

  1. I have a quick temper. Hits hot, burns off quickly.
  2. I have a sense of humor that some either don’t get, or don’t appreciate (or accept!)
  3. I am hard of hearing, and therefore have a loud voice my daughter compares to a megaphone. I have no whisper level.
  4. I interrupt. A lot. See #3. I often talk over people because I am not fully hearing all the convo. AND because I am…
  5. Impatient and in a hurry. Whether it is for a project to be completed, or someone else to stop speaking, I ride roughshod over others. Usually, but not always. I am a good listener when I am focused and alert. As my mother used to say “Be alert. The world needs more Lerts.”

lerts

So I have accepted that these are traits of my personality, whether by upbringing, evolution or health issues, and in my acceptance of these, I am assuming (as in “to take or begin to have (power, control, etc.) in a … situation“) responsibility and I am working on minimizing the friction of those attributes. Another way that acceptance plays out in everyone’s life is defining it for each situation.

contemplate acceptance

You accept your faith. You are accepting of cultural differences. You have the mental state of acceptance when you have accepted something as true or believable. (The sky is blue. Democrats are liberal…) An acceptance of someone or something is also an indication that you approve of or believe in it (or them).I think we all should try to live in a state of grace, and a state of acceptance. As the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr  wrote (and 12-step programs have adopted)…

serenity_prayer12

Some things and people in our lives cannot be comfortably accepted, or acknowledged. Yet part of acceptance is learning what that line is, and how to accept those things/people that are unchangeable. SO the next time you have struggled for a long time with a problem, accept that it is not yet ready to be solved, not solvable by you or missing something in order to be accepted/solved, so you move on, accepting your nonacceptance(!!) and finding a alternate pattern to the possibilities, allowing you to continue to grow and move forward. Remember, all you can change and fully embrace and accept is yourself and your own life. By accepting that, you are way ahead of the game!

*(I struggle with imply and infer – here’s my go-to source for info about them:  http://www.vocabulary.com/articles/chooseyourwords/imply-infer/ )

Posted in Life is What Happens..., ~ Renew ~ | 1 Comment

Hello, I love you won’t you tell me your name?


flikr.com

Wow. Two years of nothing posted. In the shower the other day, I was thinking and so forth, and had a blog idea. Well, a post on this long defunct blog idea. AND a blog idea.

The alphabet. Every writer that ever was (slight exaggeration) has written a book, a short story, a blog post or something that involved using the alphabet as a kick off point. So I know this isn’t a new idea. But hey, when Ah itches, Ah scratches!

These will NOT be regularly scheduled posts. I am done with assignments and deadlines and shoulda, coulda, haveta. But I do plan to get all 26 letters dealt with in 2015. Which probably means there will be a dozen posts in December! :)

Look out for the first for letter A – Assumptions, Anticipation, Anteaters – one of those or another. Coming to a blog near you.

Oh. And a new blog. Inspired by the great Helen Yoest, gardener and writer extraordinaire! (http://gardeningwithconfidence.com/blog/) Soon… very soon…

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What I Believe


An interesting discussion with my best friend and one of her FB friends today prompted this post!

It is not so much WHAT I believe, but how I chose to disseminate that set of beliefs. Is my goal to change others’ minds, by expressing my own beliefs, or is there a narrower/broader focus here? Therefore, I decided I would write, in a disgorging purge, what it is I believe.

“I believe for every drop of rain that falls a flower grows” Oh. Sorry. Wrong train of thought…

I believe that each of us has a purpose in being here. Our job is to find out what that purpose is, and be true to that purpose.

I believe my purpose is to share my love of learning with others

I believe that the ultimate goal in any life should be to enhance the lives of others.

We do this by practicing kindness, paying it forward, acting without bias or prejudice, treating others with love and consideration

I believe that all religions and faiths have the same roots. I believe in One God/Goddess.

The three main religions of humanity share Mohammed based roots. “They are related by a common belief in God and the constant battle between good and evil.”  http://www.bookrags.com/essay-2005/11/12/2733/4500

I believe in Hope.

Hope fuels our days and nights. Inherent in all  humans is the belief that tomorrow, and the future, will be brighter.

I believe in family.

 There is nothing more important than family. They give us roots and wings. No  matter how we get along on a day-to-day basis, we need family to give us strength. It may be a biological family, or it may be the extended family of friendships we develop in our lifetimes.

I believe in enjoyment.    

We need to appreciate and enjoy our lives. They are precious, a gift, and there is no sin in enjoyment.

I believe in learning.

EVERY day is a new opportunity to learn.  We learn about others, ourselves and the world around us.

I believe in a democratic (small d) society, with overtones of socialism (small s)

socialism: a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.

democracy: government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.

I believe everyone has a point of view – not everyone can express or explain theirs, though

To encourage dialog, debate, and discussion between those of differing opinions is a GOOD thing. Battle the beliefs, not the persons expressing them.

I believe change is good.

Change is our means of creating a practical, usable system, whether it is our personal lives, or what is going on politically within our country.

I believe hatred, prejudice and cruelty to others has no place in an enlightened society

AND I believe that a lack of education is the root of all of these. Learning allows expression, openness, honesty and understanding.

I believe in simplicity, sustainability and self-control.    

We need enough to be comfortable, and enjoy life.  No more, no less. We should encourage and help others reach this status as well.

                Simplicity: absence of luxury, pretentiousness, ornament

 Sustainability: the quality of not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources, and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance.

Self-control:  the ability to exercise restraint or control over one’s feelings, emotions, reactions.

I believe doing good is much, much better than having done well (in economic terms) Or, in other words, having a good life means much more than money.

It should be the natural goal of every person – to create a world, a planet, in which each person works at doing good for all.

Lastly, I believe in words.

Words are powerful. Nevertheless, their basic purpose is to express meaning, and in doing so, we define our purpose, our values, our beliefs and ourselves.

My challenge to you – create your own list of what you believe. Print it out. Believe in it, practice it, change it, enjoy it, and learn from it!

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Nuances


I lost a friend yesterday. And in that loss, I became painfully aware of the nuances of our language. “Lost” sounds like I set my friend down, like recalcitrant keys, and forgot where I put her. “Friend” implies a deeper intimacy than “acquaintance;” we were not intimate, yet so much more than mere head-nodding-as-you-pass-by women. My friend, Gloria died. By her own hand. I can tell you some interesting things about her; she was a divorced Catholic with eight grown children. She was retired from many years as a grocery checker. She loved yard sales and flea markets. She shared my love of books, particularly well-crafted mysteries. She loved her significant other, Bob, with whom she had shared 15 years. Bob’s constant memories of his deceased wife had been a third-party in their relationship since the beginning. Yet SHE was lost. Somewhere, in her life, was an inner struggle that I didn’t look deeply enough to see. I truly regret that. What went on in those last bitter, lonely hours, before she made the decision to leave her loved ones behind, who are now struggling with guilt and grief? What horrors in her life made her go against her religion, which believes suicide to be a sin, and to take her own life? I don’t know. I will never know.

Image

Borrowed from deviantart.com

I have lost another friend recently as well, when my best friend of 45 years, without discussion or response from me, decided that our friendship no longer served a purpose. Again, the nuances flutter in my face like angry butterflies and echo in my head with devastating repeats of past conversations. Friend? For 45 years we experienced our lives together. Boyfriends, the senior prom, marriages, childbirth, divorces, remarriages. Parental deaths. Laughing, crying, arguing about books, religion, politics, family, hobbies. I felt we had such a deep root in our friendship, our sisterhood, that it would never die, but would always be there, sometimes in the background, more often in the forefront, a strong presence to rely on, to share with and to enjoy. Where did I miss the signs? What happened to make her so determined to destroy what we had spent decades building and nourishing? I don’t know. I will never know.

Image

The last member of my mother’s immediate family died recently, at 95. As I lost this last Uncle, and reminisced with his sons about our parents, I became achingly aware that in this loss, an official torch had been passed. I am now the senior generation. My parents are both gone, lost to me in the physical sense, but always present in my mind, a kaleidoscope of memories that often bring a sharp burning to my throat and eyes. Did I appreciate them enough when they were alive? Did we ever really understand one another? My Uncle was not a friend, in that I knew almost nothing about him except that he loved ice cream and women. Not necessarily in that order. And although he was “family” he was not an intimate part of my life, as were my parents, as are my sisters and my children. Will I ever be able to wrap my head around being, what seems to be suddenly, a senior citizen, the one family comes to, (or groans over) for family stories, pictures, reminiscences and tall tales? I don’t know. I will never know.

Image

my mother Miriam (1914-2005) and her brother, my Uncle Bill (1917-2012)

Why is it, I wonder, do we become so introspective as we age? Why is it, at around age 40, we begin to search for self, for meaning, for a solid grasp on the nebulous thoughts of spirituality, religion, friendship, loss and family? Why does it matter so much, as we age, that we understand these things, express our beliefs, share our lives, explain our viewpoints, cherish our loves? Why do the delicate, tremulous nuances of our language both tempt and repel me as I attempt once again to express my thoughts and feelings?

Image

I don’t know, and perhaps I will never know. And, guess what? That’s okay.

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