Thursday, November 18, 2010

Holidays ... holy days ..

I love this time of year. Autumn leaves, harvests, Thanksgiving, with Christmas hot on its heels.  Making lists, checking them twice, fishing out the decorations and laughing over the ones that were forgotten in last year's packing them up ... the glass pizza slice Sara bought for her dad after his heart attack, when all he wanted was pizza and it wasn't on his menu ... a bell, or a star ...   putting away the normal clutter to make room for the delightful clutter that goes along with these holidays ...

... but this year is different.  Daddy lived with me the last five years of his life, and those five years were a gift I cannot describe to you. Idyllic? Heck no!!!  He drove me NUTS!!  I would go out to the woods when he got the better of me, and rant and rave ... even called my first born and told her to come get him, I'd had it!  In those five years, the lines were blurred.  Parent - Child, Parent - Parent, Child - Child. Our roles overlapped, changed places, evolved.  It was a time with him that let me know him better, let go of some of my childish angers which were unnecessary .. gave him time to understand me as I have become, rather than as the little kid that helped him build a garage, or shovel snow. 

He was the last of the parents.  Mother died in 1999, my in-laws died in 2008 and 2009 ... but Daddy was still there. My kids are grown, with families of their own ... lives of their own ... but Daddy was here.  And he's not here any more. 

I feel more than just a little ... lost.  I'll be unwrapping the ornaments myself, and putting them on the tree. He won't be looking at each one as he unpacked it, hearing me tell him why this one or that one was important. Part of me is terrified to face the holidays without him, the glue that kept our little rag tag family together for my entire life. He was there for my kids when I wasn't. He was there for mother, when I wasn't. He rang the bell for the Salvation Army on the corner of 9th and Market in Wilmington for 30 some years ... heckling his friends on payday to pony up some money for the pot. He'd rake in more in that hour than all the other bell ringers did in weeks.  He'd sing, too, he and his buddy would harmonize Christmas carols as they stood there in the weather.  Long after he'd retired he could still be found at 9th and Market, ringing that bell. 

But maybe, just maybe, as I go through the motions of digging out the Christmas things, making turkey stuffing the way Nana did, I will find that he's NOT really gone. He's in every little bit and piece of it.

If you're looking at the holidays and thinking how will you cope with someone missing, stop and look again. Those people are NOT gone.  They're in every fiber of all you are. Smile, even through tears, and realize without all that they were, you wouldn't be what you are.  That is the most perfect gift of all. That is the gift you will have forever.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Thanksgiving Recipe for You!

Since I was typing this out for a recipe swap, I decided to put it here for the rest of you as well.  My grandmother "Nana" always made her stuffing this way, and it was absolutely yummy.  I really can't remember what my mother did, as we always had TG at Nana's house. So I'm the 3rd generation.  My daughters would make the 4th!!  Anyway, enjoy!!  The soup is my concoction.  YEARS ago I remember seeing a recipe for "turkey frame soup". I have no idea what went in it, or even where it came from ... but after years of practice, this is what I do, and I've had many satisfied customers!
Thanksgiving, before and after!!!
  • 1 bag crumbled Peppridge Farm herb stuffing (NOT CUBES)
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and diced
  • 1 cup white raisins
  • .5 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2-3 strips crispy bacon crumbled
  • diced celery hearts (all the good parts out of the middle of the package) and leaves
  • diced mushrooms (if your family will eat  them)
  • diced turkey liver
  • chopped chives  (I add these, freeze dried, in addition to onions)
  • diced scallions (those long skinny green onions, cut 'em up all the way into the green)
  • 1 tsp freeze dried garlic
  • 1 tbsp "poultry  seasoning"
  • egg/butter/liquid (see below)
while you're doing all this, put the turkey "innards" in a pot to boil ... save the stock, and the liver.  I usually let the outside critters have the rest.  And they know it.
put the bacon on to cook, and make it crisp.
dump the bag of PF into a bowl. Using their guidelines, add butter,egg, and instead of water use 1 cup white wine (no whining here, you can drink the rest) and any additional liquid needed from the pan of turkey innards. Add the goodies from above.
stuff the bird cavities, and bake.  I found it better not to tell people what's in it. They enjoy it more that way. Most folks can't figure apples and raisins in with onions and celery!
        clean off the turkey carcass of whatever meat you can, and deposit the ENTIRE CARCASS into a huge pot.  Cover with water.  Add to it:
  • the big pithy leftovers of that package of celery
  • the long green tops of the scallions
  • the rest of the innards from that earlier pot, if you didn't already  make gravy out of it.
  • if you can get it, buy a box of Turkey Stock.  If you can't find it, cover with water and add a tablespoon of poultry seasoning.
Put the pot on the stove on the lowest setting (unless you have a reeeeeally big crock pot), and go to bed. 
The Next Day:
        you need a second large container, and a large colander.  Gently pour contents of pot-that-cooked-overnight thru the colander into the new pot.  Set that aside for a bit.  Gently paw thru the contents of the colander for any meat you might want to use in the soup pot you set aside.  This is a good job for husbands. What you don't want goes (in my house, anyway) outside for the critters.
     Now.  into said soup pot you set aside, add:
  • any turkey you wish, diced
  • any diced onion or celery you have left (or a bag of frozen if you don't)
  • some more freeze dried onion, chive, poultry seasoning (I'm heavy handed with the freeze dried spices. garlic is good too if your family likes it.  I use a brand called Litehouse, they make a whole raft of freeze dried stuff.   Lighthouse offers a variety of freeze dried spices and even mushrooms and you can check out the full line here : or at your local grocery store. ( I found mine with the refrigerated salad dressings)
  • a cup of that stuffing left over from dinner
  • a cup of barley  (be careful with this. when it cooks, it SWELLS!)
  • and if you wish, a package of frozen vegetables for soup, or leftover veggies from TG dinner.
  • cup of white wine
    Simmer that a bit until the barley plumps, then fill freezer containers and  label 'em "Thanksgiving Soup"! 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

"blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape"

"blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape."   It's an expression of which I do not know the origin, but certainly one out of which I get a lot of mileage.  This weekend is a perfect example of that. Unexpected medical "urgencies" (as opposed to emergencies), which could very easily louse up the next few months, domino style. I'm sure you're familiar with such things.  You get all the dominoes lined up ... have your plan set.  And then something knocks over the first domino.  And down go the rest of them. 

What's your "cure" for that. What do you do to "cope" with things.  I have a few things that come to mind .. one of course is obvious to a quilter. Another quick fix is to spend some quality time with my cat.  I look at his eyes, his whiskers, listen to his purr, rub him the way he likes best ... Or I tend to my violets.  All of these things may remind you of your GRANDMOTHER, but they work. That, and I think about "blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape."

It really doesn't matter what your faith perspective is (I like that commercial where the gal who plays the part of Divya on Royal Pains says "I believe that all paths lead to God") ... the bottom line is the same.  Be flexible. Let go. Let God (He's going to be up all night anyway).  Take a deep breath. Go for a walk. In the overall scheme of things, does what you're upset about, does what upset your dominoes, really change the world? Maybe it alters your short term plans, or even your long term goals.  But then you really have no guarantees as to what tomorrow will bring anyway. Today's all we really have.  A friend of mine takes his dog for a walk on the beach. I have a photo of him standing in the water, maybe a bit more than ankle deep, at dawn, with a cup of coffee.  What an incredible start to a day.  I watch my little furry buddies come for dinner after dark, and smile, and think "what a neat sight for the end of the day".  

SO, be flexible. Bake a pie with the lemons you were served. Remember that the bitter makes the sweet all the more sweeter .  Instead of shaking your fist at the snow, close your eyes, tip your head back stick out your tongue and be a child again, catching snowflakes as they fall. Favorite TV show get pre-empted by a sporting event? Go curl up with a book. Fix a pot of tea. NOT in the microwave, but in a pot. Properly steeped. with a pretty cup. Take care of your spirit, and let it be flexible, so it doesn't break.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Emmerson ...

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The reward of a thing well done, is to have done it.
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

I like Emerson. I like Thoreau!  I'm learning to use a quilt frame system, ideally it would have a mid or long armed sewing machine on it, but for now it plays host to my Bernina.  I have doodled with it, and was pleased with how easily I segued from moving the quilt to moving the machine!  But I can tell, there are a LOT more capabilities with the second method.  Shapes, designs ... quilt a little here, and a lot there ... And each time I remove the project from the frame, and look at it over all, I'm pleased with  myself.  Of course, the REAL "feel good" came when I dragged my first attempt to the Quilt Shop to show Sherrie.  She positively glowed at me!  THAT felt good. It was the "reward of a thing well done, that I actually DID!" 

It's true of so many things, when you get right down to it. Not necessarily limited to a craft, or a hobby. It could be true of a long awaited letter  you finally sat down and wrote; it could be the new recipe you wanted to try on your family, but were afraid of their reaction to "change".  There are no limits!  Last week, when I went through some of the boxes to find things for the new resident in Oscoda who is starting over, I was pleased not only with what all I amassed for her, I was also pleased with having succeeded in moving things to the new shed, out of the garage.  I need to do that again. There's still far too much chaos in the garage.  As I moved the boxes, and sorted through them, I located photos friends have been nagging me for;  I found things that have been packed since our exodus from Arizona five years ago. What fun! I was reunited with possessions, and felt enriched.  Memories were renewed and refreshed, and I felt like I had accomplished something at the end of the day.  Big deal, you say, I moved 6 boxes.  YES!  BIG DEAL!!! It was well done, and I felt the reward! 

Tackle something tomorrow. It doesn't need to be a world changing thing, choose something you can achieve, and DO it!  And then bask in the glow of the reward for a job done!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The best gifts can't be bought ...

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There you go, here's some nice links to help you with your Christmas Shopping! I have to say, though, the best presents to give are the ones you don't have to buy. Is there something you're good at? something you like to do? From Bird Houses to wall art, place mats to quilts. Several years ago, my son was then a college student, and as all college students are, broke! That year he made a barn for a Nativity scene, and his lady made the figurines. I treasure that to this day. In fact, it's time for him to make a bigger one, for the bigger Nativity figures I have! (yes, I put out several Nativities, and half a dozen trees ... I just love everything about Christmas.) Every year my firstborn makes Christmas cookies for me. I look for those first, they're special, and then I HIDE them from the overgrown rodent in my house who would eat them all up!! One year when my middle child was still in grade school, I was gifted with a rosary she made for me. Yup, still have THAT too.

Do you have a family member who loves to feed the birds? Make him or her a bird feeder, or a bird house. There are many patterns and designs on the internet there for the searching. Do you knit? How about a pair of arm warmers! They look like mittens, but the fingers are open, and just a hole for the thumb. I saw a pair I loved for 18 bucks in the mall, and then came home and started looking for a pattern for them.

Are there little grandchildren in your family? Buy a story book, and a blank cassette tape. Sit down in a quiet room, and read the story out loud, while recording your voice. Your grandchild will be able to follow along with you, and hear your voice, even if you're far away!

Just little things to think about ...

Carpe Diem

Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it. No idleness; no laziness; no procrastination; never put off till tomorrow what you can do today. Lord Chesterfield (1694 - 1773)

For some dumb reason, sleep eludes me tonight. Maybe because I'm a few hours from finishing a quilt for a very dear friend who is facing surgery next week. Maybe it's because I feel guilty for neglecting my blog for a few days. Maybe ....
What it REALLY is, is a guilty conscience.
My friend is in his mid70s, and the surgery is for cancer. He's going to have a rotten few weeks, ICU, then a step down unit, then in-house rehab at a skilled nursing facility.  He's in California, and I'm in Michigan.  He told me months ago that the kitty kwilt I made him in 1992 is falling apart from daily use, would I make him a new one. I hunted thru my stash, and lo and behold I had enough of the original kitty print to make a new quilt. And every time I geared up to work on it, something or other would happen, and it would get postponed.   Now I'm working long hours, because I want to get it to him before his surgery. I am ashamed of myself for putting it off. It was a simple request, and there's no valid excuse on my part.
Maybe therein lies my message to you tonight. (this morning? it's a little after 2 a.m.).  Don't put things off ... it may turn out that you waited too long.
I have the most wonderful primary care physician.  She has seen me through the loss of three parents, a sick husband, my own ills ... and a few weeks ago we sat together in the visitors lounge of ICU, where my husband had been admitted.  We shared a tear or two, as we both lost out daddies this year, 6 months apart.  She knew her dad wasn't in the best health, and wanted to get home to India to see him before he got worse.  One reason or another, and she didn't go. Then she got a phone call that he was dying. She ended up sitting on someone's desk in Detroit, trying to get clearance to fly home to India, but there was a paperwork snag. During the 48 hours she camped in the airport, frustrated and anxious, the call came that he had died.  i know the things in her mind, I know she's having difficulty forgiving herself for not going sooner, for not having her travel paperwork in order.
We never really know what lies ahead. We are promised today, yesterday is over, and no one knows what looms for tomorrow.
Don't do it. Don't put off making that phone call, making a visit, finishing a quilt you started with a particular recipient in mind.Think about it. My challenge to  you today is to pick at least one thing  you've been putting off, and GO DO IT!!