All beginnings matter…

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Okay, face to face with a new year, the 69th in a row, and contemplating my place in it, as you do.

There’s a built-in human affinity for new beginnings, fresh starts, do-overs. We know, if we’re lucky, what we want, and we hit it with our best shot, but we’re also embarrassingly aware of our weak follow-through.

There are things in my life I want to change, provided it doesn’t require too much effort, sacrifice, or consistency. I could be a healthier, nicer, more disciplined person, and finally ditch my heinous habit of procrastination, I know I could. And sincere effort will be expended toward those ends, but no promises, kids – I’ve been who I am for far longer than not, so we’ll see.

What a serious look at the past and present, and a trepidatious peek into the future, are telling me today is that a lot of things are within my power to change and influence but some aren’t. If I were to make a New Year’s vow to stop being honest, and stop writing and talking about the things life throws in front of me, I’d be lying from the get-go, so my “resolutions”are all from the do-able stack:

  1. Become an even better friend to myself and love my body like it’s the only one I’ve got.
  2. Keep loving and appreciating the people who make life beautiful, and make sure they know that.
  3. Find the truth in all things and settle for no less.
  4. Never let fear win.
  5. Never back down on what matters.

Fun having two New Year’s Days this year – more sanctioned hours to be bums, and also to gear up for the road ahead. Let’s all meet up next year, same time same place, and compare notes.

 

 

 

 

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The Right Stuff…

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The magic was always in the secrets and the rush and the crazy, trying to make each holiday season the best one ever, the gifts perfect, the food exactly according to tradition, all for that elusive (illusive) Old-Fashioned Christmas.

On this December 24th, in the year (of our Lord?) 2016, the magic lies elsewhere. It’s in the big messy bed, the fog hanging outside our windows, the Salted Caramel Bailey’s swirling into the coffee mugs, the Kim Breakfast because Saturday, the spa tub filling.

Tomorrow, Christmas Day, Santa will bring the Zen all over again – Black Forest ham, scalloped potatoes, roasted Brussels sprouts, lovely rolls, easy munchies. Vino, always. A Pentatonix Christmas, we love those sweet babies. And later, when we’re in our cups, Bad Santa. Saving Hudsucker Proxy for New Year’s, 2017 apropos.

The Real Christmas was always at my maternal grandparents’ house, where one long, very long, table was set up through the living and dining rooms, and pretty packages spilled far past the tree while Grandma and her daughters and daughters-in-law still frantically wrapped gifts in a spare bedroom, giving the door a kick once in a while to keep nosy grandkids away. My mom was one of nine offspring, who were themselves fairly prolific, so Christmas dinner could involve 40 people or more, with additional afternoon drop-ins.

The women cooked the enormous meal, the kids raised hell, and after dinner my good-looking uncles rolled up their sleeves, stored food, picked the turkey carcass clean for leftovers, and washed the dishes, no rugrats allowed in the kitchen. The uncles, former Marines, Korean War, could be intimidating when they put their foot down, and were no doubt laughing up their collective sleeves at us every year. Omigod, we were insufferable.

They’re gone, those people, and I can’t even find a photo this morning to honor the first Christmases of my heart. The pictures are here somewhere, in an album online or on a shelf, old Kodachrome color snaps – upwards of 60 or more of us crammed into one glorious photo with the tree barely showing in the back and wrapping paper still strewn. That’s how my heart remembers it.

I hope your Christmas, old-fashioned or otherwise, will be sweet. Tuck it into your heart…those memories belong to us forever.

 

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A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and thou…

Thanksgiving equalled good…

Prosecco splashed with POM

Brut splashed with POM

Rita’s/Joy’s Cheesy Potato soup with crispy bacon bits

A crusty loaf of whole-grain bread from Wheatfields

Red grapes

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RITA: Grains and tubers will set you free.

KIM: Every 8 hours.

We YouTubed for dessert:

The Judy Chops, Hazzard to Ya’ Booty, The Union, Jeff Lynne – If I Loved You, and Kim and Rita singing ALL the lyrics to Crosby, Stills, & Nash’s Our House because they’re cool like that and know all the same music.

Then we snuggled in with the fireplace and the National Dog Show – and what could be more quaintly Zen? As the afternoon deepened, the man person Made Football Great Again and the women persons set up camp on the vaguely-temperate balcony and lazily contemplated tradition, the seeming universal angst over life, and how it’s all about change. There was wine, and the man person joined us during half-times and other breaks in the action.

All three of us are pissed at the people who did this…

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…so the holiday we celebrate is not that, because nobody would actually celebrate that. For us it’s about being grateful in every direction for the good, in spite of the bad, every day. If the powers-that-be want to give everyone a day off to be properly thankful, all the sweeter. {For the record, we do not personally know anyone who celebrates the unfortunate bit of history articulated above.}

There is always much good to celebrate, because later there was ice cream – English Toffee Caramel – and our 2nd-Annual-Sometime-Between-T-day-and-New-Year’s viewing of The Producers, with Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, which makes us cry laughtears every time through. If The Producers turns out to have a shelf-life (blasphemy!) we’ll start on Blazing Saddles.

The Morning After brought The Saturday Breakfast on Friday, a spa soak, lush coffee, and NO SHOPPING. Amen.

I hope your day yesterday held all the things that mean most to you, and that our thankfulness will help carry all of us into the new year and the unknown. Again.

 

 

 

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The calm before the earthquake…

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Another beautiful Saturday morning in the neighborhood – Farmers Market is busy, #lfk is opening her arms to us as always, the sun’s shining, 67º and easy. Friends who are family have included us in their 3-Day Labor Day Blow-Out, so the day promises lazy fun around the pool and great food including BANANA PUDDING!!

The Official Saturday Breakfast that hasn’t diminished an iota in more than twelve years of Saturdays – always the best-tasting, most satisfying meal of the week – has been humbly savored. And now Kimmers is in his Happy Place, the one with the stove, putting together a big pot of beans & hotlinks for the Framily. The sun is in its heaven and all’s right with the world – we’d make every day look pretty much like this if it were in our power.

Turns out, and experience teaches us this, there’s bloody little we control, and there are watershed events as we roll through life that abruptly stop the momentum and make us take an accounting. Therefore, second, third, eleventh chances cannot be overrated, and spending vital chunks of the past week with my cherished baby sister has driven that point home as nothing else has in years. It’s never a bad idea to stop and take a look under our public face, down to the one we wear for our own use, and past that to the Real Us. A fresh face-off (see what I did there?) with mortality is an exquisite motivator to change what needs changing, fix what needs fixing, just DO it, now instead of someday.

To close out The Week That Was, we had an earthquake mere seconds after Kim took the sunrise picture. It was apparently 5.6 at its epicenter, 3.2 here, 235 miles northeast. Rattled things pretty energetically up here on the 4th floor…but after the earthshaking week behind us it was only an entertaining blip.

I hope your Labor Day celebrations will be earthshaking in all the best ways.

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Maidin mhaith!

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Irish coffee and sunshine here … Happy Day to all!

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Red Velvet Pancakes

A late Valentine’s Day brunch?  This temptation brought to you by AllRecipes.com.  You’re welcome.

(DISCLAIMER: I would have to settle for Light Pink Velvet.

Too much Red #40 for this chickie!)

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Reader suggestions: 1) Add one more tablespoon of cocoa powder and sugar to the listed recipe. Don’t skimp because it really takes the flavor up a notch which to my palate was perfect!! 2) Cook the pancakes on a lower heat setting then regularly. I found these pancakes like to burn a little faster than others. They do better at a lower heat. 3) Butter and spray oil for the pan/griddle is essential. A little melted butter followed up by a spray of oil and you will have a hint of buttery flavor and a slight browning to the red batter. 4) Let your batter remain a little on the lumpy side. It does seem to produce better pancakes. Let the bubbles form completely and the edges dry out a tad before flipping. The cream cheese drizzle works a little better with a touch of milk and a few seconds in the microwave. Enjoy!!

Happy Sweet ’16!!

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Wishing the world a bright shiny new year filled with pockets of peace and splashes of rainbow happiness!

#realist  #askingtoomuch

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It’s today …

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Christmas only gets better.

Happy Christmas Eve morning! Pretty sunrise, then cloud cover, now patches of blue sky. Madison is looking happy and definitely on the road to recovery, although she’s lost a quarter of her body weight and she has to go outside every hour & a half now because the steroids make her thirsty and the cycle is in full swing. The good is outweighing the not-so-good right now.  Merry Christmas!
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Kim made caramel-banana waffles for breakfast — he drenched his in pure Vermont maple syrup and I slathered mine in butter, organic peanut butter, and sandhill plum jelly. Don’t judge, it’s once a year.
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Our friend and neighbor Sharon brought Maddie a Bass & Co. fleece-lined hoodie and us a big bottle of Baileys, which will find its way into our coffee at spa-soak time. I plan to live in nothing but my new comfy lounge clothes today because other than walking Maddie we have NO ACTUAL PLANS!!
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If the weather holds, we’ll get Rita and go to Susan’s tomorrow.  (My sisters.) If not, Plan B will probably look much like today’s Plan A except for the waffles. It’s happy all up in here.
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Kim and I live like ever-so-slightly-reformed hippies and we like to think we aren’t tradition-minded. Since our first Christmas we’ve done only a wee minimum of decorating, we don’t send cards or letters, we don’t have a gift-opening ritual, or even gifts (as such). However, he makes The Kim Breakfast every Saturday and ranch-bean omelets every Sunday, always makes me a Bloody Mary with the sweet tender hearts when he puts a bunch of celery in anything, stands on the step directly in front of me on a Down escalator, the step behind on the Up trip … and there’s the waffle thing … so we may just be lazy.
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Oh look, I seem to have written a Christmas letter! So from all three of us, Maddie, Kimmers and me, a beautiful Christmas and holiday season full of real joy, and a 2016 that will knock your socks off in every good way!

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Rainy days and holidays …

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The rain … on the plain … leads cruelly to pain … (think Bob Dylan) … but I’m fatally attracted, I’ll never not love rain.  We’ve had buckets of it this spring and summer and our rivers are flowing full and beyond.  The trees are glorious!  Everything’s green and blooming and couldn’t feel more conducive to smiling and laughing and cavorting outside and taking naps.  What is it about an accidental, or entirely on purpose, nap on a soft sunny day that tells us we’ve been kind to ourselves and it’s more than okay?

Yesterday was full of family, food, and fireworks.  Oh, yours too?  And did you have the feeling all day that you could easily nod off and not miss a thing because it would all go right on swirling around you and soaking into your DNA for yet another year?  Yeah, works every time.  All that rain did its thing and produced a perfect day here — blue skies, quiet beauty, and peace, other than the astounding amount of ordnance being detonated all around us especially after dark.  Like true American warriors, we assimilated the audio into our psyches and marched on … through a mountain of burgers and brats, potato salad, baked beans, pasta salad, deviled eggs, guac & chips, an array of cold liquids, and homemade Butterfinger ice cream.  (Not a complete list.)

Little girls lighting pastel-colored smoke bombs with Papa, sets of sisters in three generations being goofy together, bros bro-ing, beer chilling before swilling, everything easy-going and sweet-feeling.  Turns out the America we grew up in … and were pretty sure we remembered … still exists and is way worth saving.  The friends who friend us, the family who love us, the times spent just being together, are still the real stuff, and there are days when you know you’d lay down your life for it.

Happy July 4th, America.  Thank you for your patience and long-suffering while we try to solve the puzzle of being human.  You’re a Good Girl.

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May ye’ be completely ate up with the luck o’ the Irish!

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Little St. Paddy’s road trip.  May your day be filled with green beer and laughter …

A man stumbles up to the only other patron in a bar and asks if he might buy him a drink.
“Why, of course,” comes the reply.
The first man then asks, “Where you from?”
“Ireland,” replies the second man.
The first man responds, “You don’t say, I’m from Ireland too! Let’s have another round to Ireland.”
“Of course,” replies the second man.
Curious, the first man then asks, “Where in Ireland are you from?”
“Dublin,” comes the reply.
“I can’t believe it,” says the first man. “I’m from Dublin too! Let’s have another drink to Dublin.”
“Of course,” replies the second man.
Curiosity again strikes and the first man asks,”What school did you go to?”
“Saint Mary’s,” replies the second man. “I graduated in ’65.”
“This is unbelievable!” the first man says. “I went to Saint Mary’s and I graduated in ’65, too!”
About that time in comes one of the regulars and sits down at the bar.
“What’s been going on?” he asks the bartender.
“Nuttin’ much,” replies the bartender. “The O’Malley twins are drunk again.”

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Saying hello to the new year …

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Ranting about thankfulness on HumpDay …

Didn’t feel like losing it over anything on Monday, so you got a break.  Love it while you can because that’s over in 4 … 3 … 2 …

So Monday was okay, as I recall.  Tuesday afternoon we’re tootling along Hwy 10 when the tootle goes away.

Kim sits, hands on wheel, just long enough to assess how and why and mutter “F*ckin’ embarrassing” before he starts walking.  Li’l Truck inhaled the last of the fumes about a quarter of a mile short of an exit, beyond which there is rumored (according to the sign) to be a service station, but just before Kim gets to the exit ramp somebody in a big black truck pulls over, picks him up, and drives away.

Which, after the shortest, most obscure Monday Rant you are likely ever to hear from me, brings us to Thankfulness Tuesday.  Because yes, there was a service station just beyond the exit ramp.  WAS.  Extinct and crusty.  Enter Ric, driving back to KC after the cold burial of a much-loved friend.  Spots my husband strolling along the highway, hunkered against the chill, a heavy coat, stocking cap pulled over most of his face, imposing enough man that you’d notice, and of course pulls right over.  Thank you, thank you, thank you, Ric.  Ric isn’t a big guy, but he sticks in your mind that way.  He repairs heavy equipment and does pipeline work, and I’m pretty sure he isn’t afraid of much, but his kind heart is a lot bigger than all that.  He insists on driving back down the 4-lane to get the Madster and me, carts us all back the other way to where the service station really IS, then west one more time where he uses his new truck to shield Kim from Highway Harm while he pours gas in the tank.  And yeah, then follows us back to the same service station so he knows for sure we made it, and tells Kim to give that piece of green to somebody who’s looking for it.

But wait, there’s more.  Kim’s a good mechanic, knows a lot about a lot.  For instance, he’s known since he bought the truck that it needs a new sending unit for the gas gauge, and probably a new fuel pump while you have the tank dropped, but since he doesn’t have a place to do his own work anymore and hasn’t loved the estimates he’s gotten, he’s just gradually developed a little system.  The system failed yesterday.  But only so we could start getting acquainted with Ric, and so he could offer to replace the unit for parts at his cost, plus labor.  Helps him, lets my husband win.  Think it’s gonna happen.

Also it’s HumpDay AND New Year’s Eve.  Do with that what you will, kids.

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Sweet winter peace to all …

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Christmas Eve 2014

 

ChristmasEveFrameKeep it sweet, share the love.

 

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