Month: November 2017

Dogs

The Weather Outside is Frightful!

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Winnie is a very curious puppy and this is her first fire; she can not stay away!

Dear Reader:

The weather outside is frightful, showers and 59 degrees Fahrenheit, but the fire is so delightful! Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain. Winter on the Central Coast of California is easy, just like the livin’!

Best wishes to you for a cozy evening, too.

Michele

Eat, Drink and Be Merry, Grief and Loss

Pie and Memories

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Dear Reader:

My husband drove me to town today to pick up the pies. He let me off at the curb and circled back for me as there was no parking. I hobbled into a small local restaurant known for their amazing baked goods, among them: roasted pumpkin pie with mascarpone whipped cream.

I happen to be known at this restaurant (not surprising)! The owner noticed my bright pink ankle support and unusually slow, wobbly gait.

“Falling is so scary,” she said. “Glad we could do the pies for you. Now I’ll get someone to help you carry them.”

A young man appeared at my side with the pies in his hands. He waited until my husband arrived on the street in front of us and wished me a Happy Thanksgiving. I wanted to thank him by name, but I did not know it. He introduced himself as “Matthew.”  I assured him that I  would not forget that name.

I happen to know the derivation of his name. “Matthew” is from the Hebrew and it means:  Gift of the Lord. It was my beloved brother’s name and he was most certainly a gift.

I felt my eyes fill with grateful tears. It’s been sixteen years since Matt died but he is always with me. I will forever be thankful for him.

Michele

Physical Fitness, Mental Health and Growing Older, Quotations

We’ve Been Married Forever

 

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A tiny chocolate bar to share!

 

“I love being married. It’s so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.”

Rita Rudner

Dear Reader:

Well, the chocolate wrapper and Rita both said it well. But, I’ll add my voice to the chorus.

Thank you, dear sweet husband for:

  • picking me up when I fall, literally
  • racing to the store to buy me Motrin and forcing me to ice my ankle
  • understanding when I want to throw a rock through the tv screen
  • remembering the details of my life sometimes better than I do myself
  • eating at my favorite restaurants over and over again
  • helping me when I have a technology glitch
  • picking me up when I fall, figuratively

During this month when I reflect upon all of my blessings, I begin with you.

Love,

Michele

P.S. Not really forever, but 32 years is a long time!

Physical Fitness, Mental Health and Growing Older, Politics

One foot (ouch!) in Front of the Other (ouch!)

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Dear Reader:

This is the third day in a row that I’ve spent on the couch! Despite my recent Lazy Post, this is not like me.

Last week on November 8, I tried to forget what happened last year on the same day. But, it was time to acknowledge that I’d coped with a difficult year by agreeing to a second glass of wine and a decadent dessert a few too many times! And, I have 5 pounds to show for it. I am somewhat comforted by the fact that I am in good company as both Stephen Colbert and Barbara Streisand have both blamed their weight gain on the POTUS.

Anniversaries can bring about reflection, and it came to me that we’ve (most likely) got another three years of this administration to suffer through. I may be able to accept a five-pound weight gain, but I’m not about to accept a twenty pound gain. So, I decided it was time to re-commit myself to my exercise routine …and to stop buying ice cream.

Next day,  I hit the gym. I hit the stair-climber; that was a mistake. I overdid it and spent Tuesday on the couch icing my overworked, arthritic left knee.

During my down-time, I took the opportunity to finally call the personal trainer my friend recommended many months ago. My goal is to improve myself, after all, not incapacitate myself!

“Don’t worry,” he assured me, “there are many things we can do without further straining your knee. I’ll meet you at the gym tomorrow.”

Next day, I woke feeling exhilarated with the Rocky theme song playing in my mind.  My knee was better after my day of rest and ice and elevation. I felt lighter and healthier, as a result, of simply making the right decision. I’d see the trainer in the afternoon and resolve to do better.

I began the day with a few errands and it was in the parking lot at the grocery store that I tripped and came crashing down. Hard. I had twisted my right ankle and scraped my left knee. I was lucky my husband was there to pick me up and get me home.  We applied an ice pack and I called the personal trainer to reschedule. And so I spent another day on the couch.

When I woke this morning, there were no theme songs playing in my mind. I knew I’d be spending the day on the couch…again. The dogs were happy enough, though. They spent the day draped all over me.

As they say though…one day at a time! And, one foot (ouch!) in front of the other (ouch)! I’ll let you know how it goes at the gym next week.

Michele 

Grief and Loss, Physical Fitness, Mental Health and Growing Older, Politics

One Veteran’s Story

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Mike enjoying the view from the porch

Dear Reader:

My husband and I had just finished watching Ken Burns’ The Vietnam War the week before I visited the Avila Valley Barn with my daughter and her college friends. I passed a man in a baseball cap that read: Vietnam Veteran as I entered the property.

I looked at him and said, “Nice cap,” and gave him a thumbs up. It was, I suppose, a rather awkward way of acknowledging his service, but he responded with an open smile.

After I shopped for fresh produce, sampled apple pie and selected pumpkins for my seasonal table, I felt compelled to join the veteran on the porch. I sat down in the rocking chair next to him and said hello. Mike and I began an easy conversation about the fine weather and pleasures of Avila Beach.

Then I began the conversation that I really wanted to have with him by asking if he’d seen the Burns’ documentary. He had not, but he readily shared his story with me. He had just entered high school when the war began, but he said he somehow knew that he would end up in Vietnam.

After graduation, he received a scholarship and attended The Boston Conservatory of Music. Mike was an opera singer for two years… until he was drafted. He was discharged a year later after he witnessed the death of two others standing very near to him. His injuries, both physical and emotional, remain with him. It seems the after effects of Agent Orange have been the most troublesome to his well-being.

“The folks at the VA keep telling me I’m not long for this world,” he told me. “But, I don’t put a lot of stock into what the government says.”

His distrust seems justified.

“My wife and I just settled into the home of our dreams,” he continued. “It’s a small house with a huge garden that my wife loves. And, I’ve finally found some peace.”

I asked what had become of his musical career and he answered that it was another “casualty of war.” After many years of struggling with life on a daily basis, Mike discovered that he had the patience and skill needed to work with disabled children.

“I’d have never known I could help so many kids if I hadn’t served,” he concluded.

I left the barn that day with tears spilling from beneath my sunglasses. My thoughts turned to Mike again this weekend as we celebrated Veteran’s Day. I certainly hope the VA doctors are wrong; I hope Mike has many years to enjoy life in his new home and garden.

Michele

Creativity

Sunshine Blogger Award for Me!

Dear Reader,

I’ve been tagged! I want to thank Angelica @TheBookCoverGirls for nominating me to answer the following questions as part of the Sunshine Blogger Award 2.0!

Angelica is very curious about me! Here are her questions and my answers:

What is your favorite book cover of all time?

 

Aside from reading, what is your favorite pastime?

I like to write and to eat, drink and be merry.

Who are your favorite authors of all time?

I admire Joan Didion and enjoy Nora Ephron. The children’s/YA author, Cynthia Rylant, holds a special place in my heart; I’d love to meet her.

What is the hardest thing about blogging?

Well, I had to overcome my fear of technology!

What is your favorite thing about blogging?

I love the feeling of personal satisfaction when I feel I’ve nailed a post and I love the friends I’ve made.

What is your favorite piece of bookish merchandise that you own?

My coffee mug with the T.S. Eliot quote: I have measured out my life in coffee spoons.

How many books do you own? (Physical, audio, ebook, etc.)

OMG! I refuse to answer this one! Let’s just say: I love books and I’ve been alive/collecting for a long time!

Where do you usually read? Is there a specific spot in your house?

I read pretty much everywhere: on the couch, in bed and, of course, in the pink shed.

What is your favorite book to movie adaptation?

Loved the books first and then the movies: Gone With the Wind, To Kill a Mockingbird and Silver Linings Playbook (I read the book after seeing this movie, because I loved the movie so much).

What is your least favorite book to movie adaptation?

Eat Pray Love was so disappointing.

Write down the first animal that comes to mind. Ready, set, go! Tell me something cool about it!

Surprise (not) ….a dog. I have three on the couch with me now and they are keeping me warm on a cool autumn evening!

Thanks for reading, as always…

Michele

 

How does it work…

  • Thank the person(s) who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog
  • Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you
  • Nominate new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your post and/or on your blog

My Nominees:

My Botanical Garden||Busy K Blog||Milly Schmidt||Gardening Nirvana||Marie McLean||silkannthreades||

My Questions:

  1. Why did you start blogging?
  2. Why do you continue blogging?
  3. Do your family members and close friends follow your blog and, if so, do you moderate yourself?
  4. What is your earliest memory of being read to or reading yourself?
  5. What is your favorite children’s book and why?
  6. Who are your heroines/heros?
  7. What publications do you regularly read?
  8. Do you still go to bookstores? If so, do you have a favorite?
  9. Pick one:  coffee or tea?
  10. What is your favorite travel destination?
  11. Who are you in three words?
Dogs, Grief and Loss

Dia De Los Muertos

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My altar
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Catrina draped in my grandmother’s rosary beads
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A lamp made by my brother

Dear Reader:

Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) is a misunderstood holiday celebrated in Mexico, and in my home, on November 2. Given the timing of the holiday and the macabre imagery and costumes, people assume it’s simply “Mexican Halloween.” But, the meaning of this holiday is so much greater.

In the year 2000, my 35-year-old brother was diagnosed with an incurable form of cancer and I did what I always do when presented with a major life challenge; I researched and read about the topic of death. Books have always been my saviors. During the toughest year of my life, as I watched Matt die, the accumulated wisdom of others brought me comfort. It was during this time that I learned about Day of the Dead.

The holiday takes its origins from the Aztecs and was celebrated around the end of summer like Halloween. With the arrival of Spanish conquistadors, Catholic influence led to the combination of the holiday with All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day. Dia De Los  Muertos follows the same two-day structure. In the Catholic tradition, All Saints’ Day calls us to reflect upon how we should live; All Souls’ Day is a celebration of those we’ve loved and lost. In the Mexican tradition, November 1 is the day to remember the loss of children and November 2 is the day to remember adults who have left us. The most important aspect of the holiday is the belief that the spirits of the dead join the living for the celebration.

In preparation for the party, altars are created that contain remembrances and offerings to our departed loved ones. (Sugar skulls are often included for children and alcohol for adults. You may have noticed KAH tequila in my display.) I love arranging my tribute each year and I love talking about my altar to visitors in my home. Those who are represented are gone but not forgotten; that truism is comforting to me.

I remember:

  • My grandmother, Rose Carmella Bartucci. She had a big heart and memories of her make me smile. My daughter never knew her, but her middle name and nickname (Rosebud) are in her honor.
  • My brother, Matt. I miss you so much.
  • My father-in-law Jim. My husband inherited all your best traits and my daughter adored you.
  • Bart, my faithful four-legged companion. The pink shed isn’t quite the same without you.

During the time that my brother was sick and following his death, I often felt very alone in my grief. It’s not easy or natural to speak of death and dying in our culture, but I believe very strongly that we should. What better way to start a conversation than by bringing the departed back into your living room?

I’ll end this now as it’s time to toast my loved ones.

Cheers,

Michele