Saturday, November 29, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving And Beyond

I hope everyone had a wonderful day!  I had yesterday (Wed.) off so I'm in the middle of an already too-short five-day weekend. (This next paragraph I wrote on FB and I'm including it here for the stone-age-loving members of our family and friends who don't "do" Face Book, so those of you who have already read it, it won't hurt m feelings if you skip over this part.)

This holiday, more than any other, stirs up my yearnings for the old "hearth and home!" I am overly encumbered with the memories: the walls of the house bulging with the chattering presence of loved ones surrounded by tantalizing aromas, clanking din of dishes and the rough-and-tumble yelps of a rousing game of nerf football out in the yard. And at the same time, am warmed through with the current reality of spending this Thanksgiving with my two "best beloveds!"  

Even if we are a couple of soup sandwiches we were today.

We planned to forgo the traditional turkey-dressing-gravy-sweet potato spoon bread-Grandmother's clover leaf rolls, NO greenbean casserole blow-out this year and get some Korean and/or Chinese take-out.  I wondered if we shouldn't have picked the food up yesterday, but I guess we believe too much in movies to think those places would be closed on Thanksgiving!  

So, after driving around to see if any place good was open, we just came home and decided on Christmas breakfast for Thanksgiving.  A quick and homey repast of cinnamon-vanilla Dutch Baby Pancakes, DIY blueberry syrup kicked up with honey, scrambled eggs and bacon.  Then we got out the Christmas Crackers, which are still a little unnerving to Desmond.

We did manage to buy our favorite lemon-meringue pie the other day and Desmond helped me whip up some cream with a wisk...not that we use the whipped cream on that particular pie, but this is an activity he loves to do, so we did it in celebration of the day.  Yes, we are perfect Norman Rockwell subjects:

We may or may not go get the Asian food tomorrow, depending upon how hungry we let ourselves get.  Today's decision turned out to be just the right thing and we don't feel as though we need to make up for it tomorrow.

A friend of mine from Alaska is swinging by tomorrow on her way home from Minnesota for at least part of this weekend.  She has another friend who lives up north on the border and has use of a summer home and has invited us to stay up there for a few days.  We decided against doing that because that's just too long a trip right now for Desmond.  But she thought it would be fun to be on the beach, etc., and I think it would probably be a fun little road trip, too, but we're just about road-tripped out for a while.  Sometimes you can stand only so much fun.

So she will stay a night and a day with us and we'll show her around somewhere in this area.  (On Black Friday...eeeek!)

Here's a sweet sentiment for topping off that slice of pie you're having for a late-night snack: (I read this on another blog: The Blind Pig and the Acorn)

"The winds of Thanksgiving always blew toward the big white house that used to sit back from the river here. Once a year they whistled up the clan, calling the kin back from city and town and the hills around. There was the pull of family in them, the yearning of kin to be with kin. Uncle Jake always said - and Aunt Minnie agreed - that Thanksgiving needed family."
~John Parris

Friday, November 14, 2014

Fractured Thriday

"For Children:  You will need to know the difference between Friday and a fried egg.  It's quite a simple difference, but an important one.  Friday comes at the end of the week, whereas a fried egg comes out of a chicken.  Like most things, of course, it isn't quite that simple.  The fried egg isn't properly a fried egg until it's been put in a frying pan and fried.  This is something you wouldn't do to a Friday, of course, though you might do it on a Friday.  You can also fry eggs on a Thursday, if you like, or on a cooker.  It's all rather complicated, but it makes a kind of sense if you think about it for a while."
-- Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time

I work 4 ten-hour days and normally have Friday as part of my weekend.  People in my office often make reference to Thursday being our Friday by calling it Thriday.  It's cutesy, I know, and if I'm anything, it is not cutesy, but I'll take it now because I don't think I'm cut out for writing in a blog every day of the week.  I got Way-layed on Wednesday and now Thursday is Through.  (I never claimed I wasn't corny) Here it is Friday and I am not going to do anymore every-day-writing after this (because, remember? I started on Saturday!) I'm wondering why it is that I even feel the need to explain any of this.  It's Fractured Friday because this entry is pieced together like so many shards of glass being glued together.  Like a funhouse mirror. Like Thursday and Friday getting mixed up with each other.

And now here's an explanation of my (sometimes Fractured) Philosophy of Life.  If you know me at all, you will totally get it:

"Narrator:  And now, we come to the next chapter in which...
Winnie the Pooh:  But I haven't finished yet.
Narrator: But Pooh, you're in the next chapter.
Winnie the Pooh: Oh. Well, what happens to me?
Narrator: Well, let's turn the page and find out."

--A.A. Milne The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

Remember that chapter way back there where I went chasing rainbows?  I caught one!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Wild And Wonderful Western Washington Wednesday

On the networked trails of Priest Point Park here in Olympia.  At the heart of this 314-acre park is about a mile of saltwater shoreline, too, but no pictures of that area today.

I like to take pictures of Katy taking pictures. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Tempestous Tuesday

"You cram these words into mine ears against
The stomach of my sense." William Shakespeare The Tempest

Isn't this so much more interesting and evocative than these over-used and abused modern-day equivalents:?

"Dude! TMI!"

"Don't speak...Don't tell me cause it hurts." (*singing)

"Talk to the hand 'cause the face ain't gonna listen."

"Don't ask, don't tell."

Or just plainly, "I don't wanna hear it."  Like when your mother said that to you when you had a very good, quite reasonable reason for bringing the car home late.

My brother has a great method of avoidance when he doesn't want to hear something someone is going to say even after he has asked them not to say it.  He sticks his fingers in his ears and starts singing loudly.

"A pox o' your throat, you bawling, blasphemous, incharitable dog!"  (again) Wm. Shakespear The Tempest

 Silence, that golden peace of mind.  There are times when I value it above knowledge and when it is laden with knowing.  There are times when silence comes too late because some fool didn't know when to shut up.

There have been times when my stomach hurt to hear, when the incredible words deflected off my adrenalin-filled, painfully thumping, tempestous heart.  Like when they told me my kid brother died and then again when they told me my sister had just died.  The calming of the storm, naturally, finally descended upon my hurt senses, the years having passed and passed as they have.

It was only a few days after my sister's passing that I went for a walk listening to a Christmas CD by Ryan Shupe and the Rubber Band.  It began to snow a little in that tree-lined neighborhood where I lived at the time.  This is the song I heard for the first time and I couldn't hear it enough ever-after:  It sounds so much more tender and moving than it reads.  I would change the title, too.  I would call it "Deborah's Song."

it was just snow soft and white
it was just snow falling so light
it was just snow soft and white
falling so light,
falling last night
no it wasn’t a lightning storm
ripping leaves and
the limbs off of trees
and it wasn’t a massive earthquake
the earth buckling from beneath
because he wasn’t quite that sad
and he wasn’t quite that mad
but his messenger died yesterday
and he wanted us to know
so it was just snow soft and white
it was just snow falling so light
it was just snow soft and white
falling so light,
falling last night
no it wasn’t a giant tidal wave
drowning every man
woman and child
and it wasn’t a huge hurricane
wind and rain whipping
‘round us so wild
because he wasn’t quite that sad
and he wasn’t quite that mad
but his messenger died yesterday
and he wanted us to know
so it was just snow soft and white
it was just snow falling so light
it was just snow soft and white
falling so light, 
falling last night    

Here are some of my favorite silent scenes that have occurred after a tempest has settled and things seem to be getting back to being right with the world:

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

My Goodness, Monday!

"How did it get so late so soon? 
It's night before it's afternoon. December is here before it's June. 
My goodness how the time has flewn. 
How did it get so late so soon?"  
Dr. Suess (italics mine)

When our father was living with us (as in, on the earth where many--not enough--of us still live, so far,) but was not supposed to still be alive according to several doctors, including one who was afraid to touch him because he thought he might hasten the inevitable, it was quite obvious the poor fellow did not like having his wings clipped.  

He wanted to be out and doing, which was not such an easy thing for him or for us, either, due mostly to the fact that afterwards we wondered how he actually survived all the rigamarole and then we would feel guilty and worried.  We didn't feel much better when we didn't take him places he wanted to go. It felt a little mean.  We took him camping, sight-seeing, grocery shopping, dining out and even got him on a plane to go home to Texas to be with family one last time.  

The plane taxied the runway for more than an hour and he thought we were on a train that was never going to get where we were going.  Sight-seeing was something we called driving around in the car with his asking if I had my lights on and when I said I did, he would exclaim how hazy it was out side.  In the summer.  At high noon.  Dining out found him regaling the waitstaff at Prairie Schooner with tales of the whole pack of us having just pulled up and climbed out of the buckboard wagon to come in and get something to hold us over on the long journey home. (Don't laugh. Two miles is a long journey in a wagon with questionable suspension gear.)  Picture, if you can, my face when he announced, as a very proud father of the bride-to-be, to the unsuspecting cashier at Albertson's that I, his daughter, was getting married tomorrow.  My face reddened at the shock and then more deeply so at the cashier's speechlessness.  

One day I lamented to my younger brother that I wished I could take Dad fishing.  He was never more about his business than when he was fishing.  I knew that one wasn't for me.  At all.  No one else wanted to tackle it, either.  (Oh!  See what I inadvertently just did?)  

"Penny," said Little Bro, "we all have something we wish we could still do." 

"You're right, Bub. We all have things we wish we could do."

Without de-valuing my current state of affairs, and that which I can do, I wish I could still:
  • climb pear trees, build a tree porch, eat green pears 
  • key on my skates
  • have secret communication with life on the moon
  • do the limbo
  • run and skip and leap over garbage cans...and ENJOY it!
  • take a summer nap on the gravelled roof of my house
  • walk early to college classes in time to swim a few laps at the free-to-me pool
  • be a young college student back in the 70s, while we're at it
  • ride my first -- and only--motorcycle up the canyon to a swanky dinner party
  • carry a torch for a stuttering preacher
  • be in Alaska
  • sing
  • eat all the bread I ever wanted to lovingly handcraft
  • live in Korea, eat strange and exotic street food, sleep on the floor (oh, I can still sleep on the floor, but I'm not so good at getting back up!) 
  • be the boss of my sisters (well, I guess I don't wish I could still do this, but it was fun while it lasted...right, girls?)
Oh my goodness gracious sakes alive, where has the time flewn?! 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Sunday Post About Supper

"Mary Jane she set at the head of the table, with Susan along side of her, and said how bad the biscuits was, and how mean the preserves was, and how ornery and tough the fried chicken was--and all that kind of rot the way women always do for to force out compliments; and the people all knowed everything was tiptop, and said so--said 'How do you get biscuits to brown so nice?' and 'Where, for the land's sake, did you get these amaz'n pickles?' and all that kind of humbug talky-talk, just the way people always talk at a supper, you know."  Mark Twain The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

As a child, I often spent time in my mother's kitchen wondering why it was she never wanted to teach me to cook.  "Teach me how to cook, someday soon, why don't you, Mom?" She would say she would, someday maybe.  That "day" didn't come for many years when she walked me through her famous New Mexico-style stacked enchiladas.  That's the only time I remember her sitting back and telling me what next step I should take.

When I first started asking her, we were a working class family of eight. And then we grew some more. I often sat at the kitchen table or stood on a chair to get a better view of the stove top, watching things on the burners change realities.  Alchemy.  Cooking was magic and I could see that, but how?  I must have thought that learning to cook was like learning to sew or crochet where you only had to show me a few simple techniques and then I would be off on my own, designing Barbie fashion and baby blankets, spreading Sunday supper before an admiring and awe-struck , hungry family.  Simple activities with simple tools.  Cooking should have been like that.  A pot, a knife, a slotted spoon.  What else could you ever really need?  Just teach me already!

I have long since forgiven my childish misunderstanding, realizing that my current prowess as a cook owes it's unremarkable beginning to those early days of watching while waiting for the formal instruction.  I turned nine before I finally gave up expecting a classroom experience in our kitchen, but still wanted to be there for the magic.  I picked up a copy of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and began reading aloud to my mother as she floured chicken pieces and peeled and carved potatoes and soaked beans and opened cans of corn.

As I read, I slipped into a very southern dialect, which was not at all hard to do because we come from family that other people either make fun of or can't understand.  My own voice transported us both to that simple raft winding it's submissive way down the bucolic and willful, mighty Mississip.  My mother was entertained and I absorbed cooking knowledge through my pores. Magic, I tell you.

Our own  little Tommy Tucker gave out while singing and waiting for his supper this evening:

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Sanguine Saturday

"Sanguine by nature, Troy had a power of eluding grief by simply adjourning it. He could put off the consideration of any particular spectre till the matter had become old and softened by time."  Thomas Hardy -- Far from the Madding Crowd

I feel like playing some word games, so I am planning to write allitertively-inspired Days of the Week posts for a while here.  The idea, I guess, is to just see what the words bring to mind and toss some thoughts out onto the page

This Saturday's word, as you'll notice in the post title, is "sanguine."  

Please forgive me if I over-explain things and state the obvious, like how much I enjoy posting pictures.  I just snapped this one because I'm sitting by the window and notice that these ruby-red leaves fit my theme today, encapsulating both meanings of the word (the color and the feeling...the feeling because this view makes me feel cheerful.)

Like Troy, in the line from Hardy's novel, I have that ability, that sanguinity of nature that leads people to exclaim to me, sometimes, "Move over on that cloud and let me join you!"  

Or wait.  Is it being optimistic or just unwilling to read the writing on the wall?  Optimism, I think. 

I hope.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

"November Always Seemed To Me The Norway Of The Year,"

wrote Emily Dickinson, "The noons are more laconic and the sundowns sterner and Gibraltar lights make the village foreign."

Some of my November or approaching-November encounters:  

(How's this for a grille?)

Some would blow or rake leaves off the yard while others wash barnacles from the East Bay shoreline (of Budd Inlet at Percival Landing in Olympia.)

Tornados in Western Washington? A couple within a week of each other.

I have no frame of reference for Ms. Dickinson's description of November in this part of the world, especially this year.  Nothing laconic about this noon with a storm brewing and getting ready to snap some of those trees in half.  (I'm more informed this year than I was last year when a load of branches fell onto my car in this parking lot at work.)

Stern?  Austere?

Maybe somewhere, but not here!

I don't really know what she means by "Norway of the year."  No, I  mean I really don't know what she means by that.  

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

These Days, It's All About Apples And Pumpkins

What does it do to you to see apples floating in a bucket of water?  Does it make you a kid again?  In a place that just absolutely can't exist any more?  Somewhere like, oh I don't know...the past?  Back there where those very apples actually tasted like apples?  Back there where there were only two kinds of apples:  Orchard apples and Red Delicious Christmas stocking apples. Oh the lovely, lilting, bouyancy of the word itself.  Apple. (Somebody should definitely name their child "Apple.")

Hey, what?!  Like 40 or more varieties of apples?  In one grange hall?  The idea is to walk the perimeter, taste each and every one of them and take notes to return to your favorites.  I couldn't hang with those hard-core apple tasters, though.  After a few bites, I got a bit full of apples.

However, no matter how many samplings of apples I had, I just couldn't walk away from these dewey little drops of immortal ambrosia.  WICKSON CRAB APPLE.  At once tart, tangy, noisy, crispy-clear and sweet.  Like an apple stolen from the past.  Like an apple's apple with the flavor of a real apple!

Just ask this kid; he'll tell you.

So with all apple tales come stories of spiders and caterpillars and the ancient art of examination and discovery.

Another day, another tractor ride. And wagon ride and bounce walk. And kittens in the hay. Maybe a pumpkin or two.


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Another Day In The Cascades--Peshastin, WA

Really only down the road from Leavenworth right off the highway at a little place called Smallwoods Harvest, where they sell fruit and related miscellany, and have a handful of attractions for children.  I'll just make this a picture post.  (The horses were corralled behind the Wedge Mountain Inn motel where we stayed for half the price with about double the amenities as our stay at the Hilton in Vancouver, WA!  This place helped fasten the feeling of being on an old-fashioned road trip.)