Mother’s Day Reflection

12 05 2021

I’m not a big fan of holidays. I find them, by and large, to be marketing opportunities for card companies, chocolatiers, florists, and the like. They can also generate guilt and grief. I am not a fan.

Sunday was my first Mother’s Day without my mother. It was my tenth Mother’s Day without my daughter. In spite of this, it was not a sad day. It was just a day and that was enough.

I loved my daughter. I loved my mother. They knew that and I know they loved me. There is no need for a card or a call or any other special remembrance, regardless of what the calendar might say, because I carry that joyful certainty in my heart every day. Yes, Sunday was just a day like any other day. I missed them no more and no less than always. They are always in my heart and that is enough.

I hope you have good days, good memories, good family, and a good heart to hold them. That is enough.





Cinco de Mayo

5 05 2021

I am mutt – some German, Irish, and parts unknown. I am fairly certain there is no Hispanic DNA, though, as I am, shall we say, not good at getting a suntan. Being a mutt, I have mutt’s taste buds: I like a very wide variety of foods. Most of those foods are decidedly NOT German or Irish. They are far more often Asian, Mexican, Italian, or Caribbean . . . and ice cream, which always deserves its own category.

Today, I am sure many of us will be having many foods flavored with chiles, cumin, cilantro, and tequila – it’s Cinco de Mayo.  I will admit that I don’t know what this date means to Mexican people. I should, but I don’t. I will also admit that I eat Mexican food and drink a little tequila more often than one day a year.

In this fever dream of the last fourteen or so months, it seems there’s been enormous interest in the concept of cultural appropriation and the expanding of our ideas of what constitutes committing that social crime.  As a COWL (Cisgender Old White Lady), I accept that many folks will feel I have no standing to even comment on this, but I’m going to do it.

Here’s how I see it. As long as I am appreciative of and respectful toward something that is identified as being of a heritage that is not my own, I am not guilty of cultural appropriation. Clothes, music, food, literature, art, dance – all of it should be for all of us.

Let’s try sharing more often.  There is so much to enjoy and sharing it with others makes (almost) all of it better . . . I’m not sharing my ice cream!

Cherry cheesecake ice cream. I made it. Yes, I would share with you. Just a little, though.




I Can Dig It

28 04 2021

What a week!

From blustery to beautiful, it’s the end of April. So, what’s the big deal about that?

It’s the true beginning of play-in-the-yard season! I have happily moved, divided, shared, traded, bought (and bought and bought some more) plants. I have been frustrated by the loss of several old friend trees and shrubs to some unknown wintertime assassin. I have delighted in finding buds breaking on others I had written off as goners. (If you’re my age, you might remember “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat!” which perfectly describes my gardening adventures of the past twenty-odd years.)

I am never less than awe-struck when I see months of bare ground transform into leaves and flowers. I can traipse around my yard for hours, thrilling in every hosta shoot that wasn’t there yesterday, finding where the brunnera has decided to sow itself this year, seeing the tiny first leaves of my styrax that I know will grow to the size of two hands by June – it’s as close to magic as anything.

Styrax Obassia leaf, less than an inch long, will grow to at least six inches wide and long.
Brunnera has grown from three plants to a sea of little blue flowers dotted around several beds.
Branford’s Rambler fern with this sweet little white throated sparrow, one of many creatures that appreciates my hard work . . . the bunnies appreciate it a little too exuberantly, but that’s another story.

There continues to be so much pain, worry, and hurt in our world – private troubles and public tragedies – my gardens are a balm, a distraction, and promises fulfilled (mostly), and the persistence of beauty. I simply have to take the time to notice it. I hope you have a beautiful distraction that lightens your burden and lifts your spirit. If you are fresh out of ideas, you’re welcome to enjoy my garden while you think.





Hold My Grudge

21 04 2021

Oh, you folksy little meme, you. How right you sound, but how wrong you are.

Protecting ourselves against people who are untrustworthy/unkind/or unreliable and holding grudges are two very different things.

When we are shown that someone is not good to us or for us and we avoid having further contact – business or social (or familial) – with them, we are practicing self-defense. To do that, however, we are not required to carry a hot coal of burning anger toward that person. That is not self-respect; that is self-destruction. I can’t say how long it took me to learn this, but I remember how much less I enjoyed my life before I did.

Here’s a story that helped me see myself more clearly. It’s about a beautiful white cat and his encounter with the neighbor’s new Doberman pinscher. The cat was snoozing comfortably on a sofa when the dog came barging in, all bared teeth, saliva, and bark.

There was a LOT of barking and then it just stopped. Cat had not moved a whisker at all this ruckus. Dobie cocked his head one way and then the other, backed up a few steps, and then, in what could only be interpreted as the agony of defeat, slunk out of the room. I’m told the dog never recovered his bravado after that failed show of ferocity, living a very timid existence after that.

What the dog couldn’t know was, as with almost 80% of blue-eyed white cats, kitty never heard the noise – he’s deaf.

All that energy was wasted.

How many times had I been like that poor dumb dog, frothing at the mouth, barking my head off, and generally exhausting myself, expressing vitriol against someone who hadn’t the faintest idea they were being cursed? Well, even once is too many times, of course. Holding a grudge simply hurts the one carrying it. Put it down and walk away.

It’s so much easier to move forward to good things when we stop dragging the unnecessary baggage.





Poetry is Personal

14 04 2021

It’s National Poetry Month. I only very recently (yesterday) learned this. Because I am fond of words and I do like a challenge, I decided I HAD to write a poem for today’s offering. This is my observation; I have not asked for any approval from any of the people who might identify (I hope identify) with what follows. This is all on me.

Ode to a Certain White Cis Middle-aged Male

You have had advantages because of your race.

Your face has not held you back, caused you to fear.

You have not experienced an unwelcome pat on the ass. No one has called you an ugly name from across the street.

You’ve had it easy, but

You have never taken your advantage for granted.

Your heart has made you compassionate.

You have stood up against bullies. You have never used a racial slur. You have never been obscene.

Yet, you are, by virtue of your white-cis-middle-aged-man-ness, looked at with suspicion, contempt, anger, even hatred.

You are a stereotype, even as you deplore those who stereotype those who do not share your physical attributes.

Sure, there is a long and horrible history of things “white men” have done to people of color, LGBTQ people, women . . .

You do not deny history, but

It is not your history.

Two of the gentlest gentlemen I know.

While I do not absolve the incontrovertible and horrific events, large and small, that “white men” have perpetrated, I can not stand for laying of blame at the feet of anyone who “looked the part.”  The acts we abhor today were perpetrated by those who stereotyped others, dehumanized them, portrayed them as a monolith, and vilified the whole with no respect for any one individual. Please, let’s put down our broad brushes and connect with each other as persons, not demographics, teams, or other arbitrary collections. This is not excuse-making. This is fair.





Slow Down

7 04 2021

It’s true; time does seem to move faster as we get older.

Why?

Today, I had an inkling of an answer.

I was driving along one of the many back roads that lead from my house to the various places I regularly go, noticing the beauty of the early-spring-flowering trees, observing the change in the water level of the little brook that runs beside the road for a bit, and being generally pleased with the place I live.

This is one of the roads I used to drive as fast as my sports car would allow – and that was pretty damn fast. The exhilaration to my teen-aged brain was undeniable, but the risk I refused to process was not worth the thrill. I know now that speed limits are meant to protect people who would like to safely cross an intersection, ride their bicycle on a narrow shoulder, move farm machinery, and many other things people besides a speed-demon teen ever considered would be using that road.

How many other things have I sped through in the years before I grew up (circa 2019, I’m guessing), not paying proper attention? I’m betting there have been too many to catalog. I’m betting I am not alone. They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but they are wrong. This old dog has finally learned one of the most important tricks there is:

Find the goodness around you and enjoy it.

Whether I am laughing at my neighbor’s grandson toddling around after him like a little carbon copy of Grandpa, being wowed by a broad expanse of grape hyacinths overtaking the roadside at a farm field, or noticing how good the sunshine feels through my windshield while I’m at a stop light; I am seizing the good day of it.

The most beautiful magnolia tree in the world – as far as I am concerned. Route 74 south of Boiling Springs PA.

I think time moves faster for me now because I move more slowly.  I do not suffer physical impairment that requires it; I choose to slow down. Slowing down allows me to appreciate so much more of the wonder of this fine life. It also likely keeps me from getting a note from Officer Friendly!





Tradition =Togetherness

31 03 2021

I grew up religion-less. Oh, I went to Sunday School a few times when I was in elementary school, but my family was decidedly not the pray-before meals, first Communion, manger-in-the-Christmas-decorations kind of family. We were taught morals and responsibility by the beautiful way our parents lived their day-to-day lives.

My husband grew up, well, to be honest, I’m not sure exactly how, because he’s Jewish and I only knew one Jewish kid in school (yep, sheltered and homogenous district in the 1960s). What I do know, after 35 years of being married to him, is that his family is a lovely and loving bunch of the best in-laws anyone could ask to have.

Why is this important?

We’re not into religion, but we love a good tradition – like the Passover Seder. This year, we’ll read from the Haggadot from my husband’s childhood. We’ll use the same Seder plate he grew up with. We’ll be grateful for our health, the love we have for each other, and for the hours of work this shiksa hostess will have put into the preparation of delicious Seder fare.

Matzo Ball Soup Step 2 of 5.
Dessert without Flour or Dairy, but with Kitchenaid.
Coconut, Chocolate, Convection

Whether or not you believe in a higher power, follow the teachings of a particular religion, or are pretty sure you’ll burst into flames if you enter a house of worship, I hope you will take every opportunity to celebrate with traditions that bring you peace, joy, or macaroons.

Peace and sweetness to us all.





Spring in My Step

24 03 2021

Sure, it’s still March and I’m tempting Mother Nature by even thinking this, much less writing it, but

WOW!

What a wonderful stretch of warm, work-in-the-yard weather!

Some folks like to play golf. Some run. Others enjoy bicycling or hiking. I garden.  I could do with fewer weeds and a smaller collection of neighborhood leaves, please; otherwise, I love everything about my gardens.

This is the time of year I have to try very hard – and with little success – to rein in my exuberance. I managed to refrain from cleaning up last year’s detritus until the weather turned reliably over fifty degrees during the daytime. I was not able to stop myself from buying just a few new plants, though. Today was rainy and gray, too ugly to work in the yard, so I did the logical thing: I schlepped around two nurseries and came home with half a vanload of sweet growing treasures.

Soon it will be time to dig, divide, transplant, edge, mulch and weed-weed-weed. For now, I have a few new friends to introduce and see where they want to live in my little third of an acre playland.  I know that there will be six more weeks of early spring weird weather, but having so much to look forward to will keep me from being stormy as the forecast.

A quick fix of color for a forlorn porch pot.
A few sunny and a few shady perennial promises.

Sure am glad flowers don’t make me fat. Whew!





Appropriate This!

17 03 2021

It’s St. Paddy’s Day! 

How do I know that?

My great grandparents’ names were Patterson and O’Murphy, so I happen to be Irish (enough) to claim this culture as my own. Now that we’ve established my credentials, let’s talk a little about

Cultural Appropriation.

Sure, there are some things that rise to the level of “don’t EVER do that,” when it comes to walking outside our genealogical lines, but not everything rises to the level of high offense. For example, I am not insulted when a non-Irish person wears green, adopts a brogue, trills “Top o’ the mornin,” and wishes we all get inside the Pearly Gates half an hour before the devil knows we’re dead . . .

There is one specific thing, about which I have heard a few recent news program discussions, that I feel strongly should not be brought into the cultural appropriation discussion – FOOD!

I’m Irish and German.  I love a well-crafted lasagna al forno, broccoli with garlic sauce, spanakopita, tamale, bagel with lox and whitefish salad, quiche, corned beef, kielbasa, spätzle, and hamburgers and apple pie. Taste buds are non-racist, without a country, and know no ethnicity. They exist purely to aid in our enjoyment of life. There is nothing inappropriate about loving foods from all over the world, from wildly diverse traditions, and made with love by people of all heritages.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Sláinte!

Cheers!

Skoal!

L’chaim!

Salud!

Let’s eat!

Homemade Cinnamon Raising Bread from my fifty-plus sister-in-law, who has just learned to cook! She’s a late-bloomer, but a quick study!




Not as Planned

10 03 2021

Who am I kidding – I almost never “plan” my blog posts. I usually have a hint of an idea sometime between Tuesday evening and the moment I post on Wednesday, but that’s about it. Today, I was mulling around a few thoughts, but they were crowded out by one I was trying hard to ignore.

Today’s Mom’s birthday. Had she not left us (for a better party, I’m sure) six days after my birthday in January, she would have been 91 years old. Since I surrendered to thinking about her today, I have been remembering the things she did for me and how proud of her I will always be. Thanks for indulging me as I show you just these few photographs to remind all of us that life is not about waiting for the Grim Reaper. Life is about living. Mom showed us how it’s done.

Mom was a hard worker and loved being outside, playing in the dirt. June 2020.
Never one to sit idle, Mom was happiest when she could help one of her kids. I made sure I had something for her to do; otherwise, she’d be remodeling a bathroom or changing a car battery! November 2020.
This was about a month before she left us. We’re doing some holiday cooking at my house. Mom’s making popcorn crunch, one of her signature treats and one her sons-in-law love. December 2020.
This is my birthday, January 21, 2021. Mom passed away just six days later. She was great until the very end.
Badass from the beginning. Probably 1948.

Happy Birthday, Mom!