Wednesday, March 25, 2009

does absence really make the heart grow fonder?

I'm slowly returning back to the land of the living.
I had a wonderful time in Austin, photos to follow, but came home with a nasty cold bug. I've been taking Airborne daily for two and a half years and it's worked all that time, but it finally ran it's course. Fortunately I have a wonderful husband who made a stop at Milton's on the way home from the airport for their 'Jewish penicillin' chicken soup and that's sustained me for three days and here I am again.
I'm sorry if you checked looking for new news and there was none for too many days, but the brain's buzzing with projects. For now I'll just let you savor my wonderful fam and fram pics!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad
Originally uploaded by mrsfishigator

cute, huh?

here's the link to her blog - she's got some other imaginative recipes: cupcake forest

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Times they are a changin'/bliss in Austin

This is sweet Lila playing on a very special quilt made by her Great Grandma Trudy and surrounded by the beautiful blanket knitted by Great Aunt Lynne. I hope she will always feel the love of her family.

This is the beautiful look on her face when she wakes up. No tears, just happy.

Always before all I could see when I looked at her was her handsome dad, now all I can see is her beautiful mom!

12 minus 1 layer cake

This doesn't look a thing like Bakerella's.
Tasted pretty good, but next time I would bake less cake sections for a shorter time and do my own frosting recipe.
Thank you, Derek, for cleaning up the mess I made on the stove!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Jesuit Tin Whistle: Faith and Begorra!

I love following Ryan Duns Jesuit journey, but here's a little St. Patty's Day music which features him as a musician, not a priest.

What do we teach our children?

Thanks to Patti Digh for this:

Thanks to Juliana Cooper-Goldenberg for pointing me to this:

Each second we live is a new and unique moment of the
universe, a moment that will never be again. And what
do we teach our children? We teach them that two and
two make four, and that Paris is the capital of France.
When will we also teach them what they are?

We should say to each of them: Do you know what you are?
You are a marvel. You are unique. In all the years that
have passed, there has never been another child like you.
Your legs, your arms, your clever fingers, the way you

You may become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven.
You have the capacity for anything. Yes, you are a marvel.
And when you grow up, can you then harm another who is,
like you, a marvel?

You must work, we must all work, to make the world worthy
of its children.
--Pablo Casals (1876-1973)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Chicago's Frozen Shadows

Chicago's Frozen Shadows
Originally uploaded by mreioval

cool picture of Chicago. I even recognized it before I saw the title.
Still remember such a fun visit there in October.

Monday, March 9, 2009

oh my, oh my, oh my...

Everyone knows how much I love Pioneer Woman and her contests. I really didn't have any interest in entering the one for the visit to the lodge for time with Bakerella, however, when I saw the hello kitty pops that she made I did have to check out her site, Bakerella

I think the 14 layer cake is the coolest and doesn't really look that hard. I need an occasion to make one!

A productive Sunday

Helping Deidre get used to kids.
Thank you Collette, Garrett and Megan for being CCI puppy raiser assistants!

4 new crocheters I hope!

Rod's glorious bread.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Books, books, books

I've been fortunate to attend a few meetings of the Lomas Santa Fe Book Club. I'm a total newbie, but after each meeting, we receive an updated list of all the books they've read thus far. It's quite an impressive list. You can see by the dates it's a long standing group.
I thought I'd share it with you, with some stars by ones I've particularly enjoyed in recent years. I didn't star all the ones I've read, partly because I didn't particularly like them or partly because I can't remember too much about them.
I'd love to hear from you if there are ones you particularly recommend that I may have missed.


List of Books Read

September 1997 – March 2009

1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn -- Mark Twain
2. Age of Innocence -- Edith Wharton
3. Ahab’s Wife -- Sena Jeter Naslund
4. The Alienist -- Caleb Carr
5. American Daughter -- Wendy Wesserstein
6. Angela’s Ashes -- Frank McCourt
7. ***Angle of Repose -- Wallace Stegner
8. Anna Karenina -- Leo Tolstoy
9. Atticus -- Ron Hansen
10. Beyond Belief -- V. S. Naipul
11. The Bluest Eye -- Toni Morrison
12. Body and Soul -- Frank Conroy
13. The Body Artist -- Don Delillo
14. The Bonesetter’s Daughter -- Amy Tan
15. The Book of Ruth -- Jane Hamilton
16. The Bookseller of Kabul -- Asne Seierstad
17. ***The Book Thief -- Markus Zusak
18. The Color of Water -- James McBride
19. The Corrections -- Jonathan Frazen
20. Crazy in Alabama -- Mark Childress
21. ***Crossing to Safety -- Wallace Stegner
22. Daughter of Fortune -- Isabelle Allende
23. Death Comes for the Archbishop -- Willa Cather
24. The Deep End of the Ocean -- Jacqueline Michard
25. Degree of Guilt -- Richard North Patterson
26. The Devil and the White City -- Erik Larson
27. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood -- Rebecca Wells
28. Dreaming in Cuban -- Cristina Garcia
29. The Eight -- Katherine Neville
30. Ellen Foster -- Kaye Gibbons
31. *Empire Falls -- Richard Russo
32. Eventide -- Kent Haruf
33. The Falls -- Joyce Oates Carol
34. The Figeater -- Jody Shields
35. Finbar’s Hotel -- Dermott Bolger
36. A Fine Balance -- Rohinton Mistry
37. The Five People You meet In Heaven -- Mitch Albom
38. The Flanders Panel -- Arturo Perez-Reverte
39. Follow the River -- James Alexander Thom
40. Foreign Affairs -- Allison Lurie
41. Forever -- Pete Hamill
42. For Whom the Bell Tolls -- Ernest Hemingway
43. **The Girl With the Pearl Earring -- Tracy Chevalier
44. The Glass Palace -- Amilav Grjash
45. The Gold of Exodus -- H. B. Richard
46. The Good Earth -- Pearl S. Buck
47. A Great Deliverance -- Elizabeth George
48. The Great Gatsby -- F. Scott Fitzgerald
49. ***The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society -- Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows
50. The Hours -- Michael Cunningham
51. The House of Mirth -- Edith Wharton
52. House of Sand and Fog -- Andre Dubus III
53. I Am Charlotte Simmons -- Tom Wolfe
54. In America -- Susan Sontag
55. Innocent Traitor: A Novel of Lady Jane Grey -- Alison Weir
56. In the Time of Butterflies -- Julia Alvarez
57. Intruder In the Dust -- William Faulkner
58. The Jane Austen Book Club -- Karen Joy Fowler
59. John Adams -- David McCullough
60. Julius Caesar (The Play) -- William Shakespeare
61. The Killer Angels -- Michael Shaara
62. ***The Kite Runner -- Khaled Hosseini
63. Lady Chatterley’s Lover -- D. H. Lawrence
64. The Liars Club -- Mary Karr
65. The Life of Pi -- Yann Martel
66. Light in August -- Wm. Faulkner
67. Like Water For Chocolate -- Laura Espinnel
68. Lolita -- Vladimir Nabokov
69. Lone Survivor -- Marcus Luttrell with Patrick Robinson
70. The Loop -- Nicholas Evans
71. The Lost German Slave Girl -- John Bailey
72. The Lovely Bones -- Alice Siebold
73. Madame Bovary -- Gustave Flaubert
74. The Map of Love -- Andaf Soueif
75. March -- Geraldine Brooks
76. The March -- E.L. Doctorow
77. ***The Memory Keeper’s Daughter -- Kim Edwards
78. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil -- John Berendt
79. ***Moloka’i -- Alan Brennert
80. Mornings on Horseback -- David McCullough
81. Mrs. Dalloway -- Virginia Woolf
82. My Antonio -- Willa Cather
83. My Cousin Rachel -- Daphne Du Maurier
84. My Year of Meats -- Ruth Ozeki
85. The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency -- Alexander McCall Smith
86. The Optimist’s Daughter -- Eudora Welty
87. ***Peace Like A River -- Leif Enger
88. Personal History of Katherine Graham
89. ***The Pilot’s Wife -- Anita Shreve
90. Plainsong -- Kent Haruf
91. Poisonwood Bible -- Barbara Kingsolver
92. The Power of One -- Bryce Courtenay
93. Pope Joan -- Donna Woolfolk Cross
94. Prodigal Summer -- Barbara Kingsolver
95. Reading Lolita in Tehran -- Azar Nafisi
96. ***The Red Tent -- Anita Diamant
97. The River King -- Alice Hoffman
98. Sanctuary -- Wm. Faulkner
99. ***Seabiscuit -- Laura Hillenbrand
100. ***The Secret Life of Bees -- Sue Monk Kidd
101. The Shadow of the Wind -- Carlos Ruiz Zafón
102. The Shape of Snakes -- M. Walters
103. **Shipping News -- Anne Proulx
104. Sixteen Pleasures -- Robert Helenga
105. Skeletons on the Zahara -- Dean King
106. Small Island -- Andrea Levy
107. Snow Falling on Cedars -- David Guterson
108. ***Snow Flower and the Secret Fan -- Lisa See
109. Song of Solomon -- Toni Morrison
110. The Temple Dancer -- John Speed
111. ***A Thousand Splendid Suns -- Khaled Hosseini
112. These Is My Words -- Nancy E. Turner
113. A Thread of Grace -- Mary Doria Russell
114. T***hree Cups of Tea -- Greg Mortenson, David Oliver Relin
115. To Kill A Mockingbird -- Harper Lee
116. Transplanted Man -- Sanjay Nigam
117. Traveling Mercies -- Anne Lamott
118. The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters -- Elizabeth Robinson
119. Tuesdays With Morrie -- Mitch Albom
120. ***Water for Elephants -- Sara Gruen
121. Welcome to the World Baby Girl -- Fannie Flag
122. The Whistling Season -- Ivan Doig
123. White Teeth -- Addie Smith
124. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf -- Edward Albee
125. Wolf Totem -- Jiang Rong
126. A Year In Provence -- Peter Maille

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

How it feels to have a stroke

A Stroke of Genius

Some of you have heard me say that if I had it to do over again I'd do brain research. I'm fascinated by the workings of the brain.
I found this book to be an extraordinary read. Dr. Taylor, Harvard trained as a neuroanatomist, tells the story of her stroke when she was 37 years old. She begins with easy to understand descriptions of how the left side, 'doing', side of our brain works in tandem with our right side, the 'feeling' side.
Then she describes exactly what happened when her brain hemorrhaged, and the left, analytical, speaking, moving, side of her brain shuts down completely. She becomes what she calls a 'fluid', at one with the universe, no longer having or filling space. She lives in a nirvana state, totally in the moment, no longer hampered by the worrying, nagging side of the brain. Tempted as she was to stay in that state, she realizes how impossible the reality is and fights to get her whole brain back. The most interesting part though is now she can choose exactly the type of person she wants to be, shedding negativity and anxiety, by working only on the positive. It's years before she gains full mental faculties, but her success makes fascinating reading.

During much of the reading, Eckhart Tolle's manta, we can learn to live in the now, not in the agony of the past and future, shines through.

Hopefully some of you will read this and we can compare thoughts! I would highly recommend this book to anyone who knows someone who has a stroke. If it ever happens to me I hope my family will heed this and read it!
Also let it be known I want my brain to be donated to the Harvard Brain Bank!
Dr. Taylor is also know as the singin' scientist. She has written and sings this jingle:
Oh, I am a brain banker,
Banking brains is what I do.
I am a brain banker,
Asking for a deposit from you!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

keep those photos comin'!

Thanks to both Katie and Derek for giving me a close up of Lila's life!

Sunday, March 1, 2009


This might count as my greenie task for the day.
How simple is this?
Slip a photo upside down in a 'what shall I do with this jar', turn the jar over and voila! instant picture frame.

This tip is courtesy of photojojo

For dog-lovers

True or not, it's such a sweet story.

'Watch out! You nearly broad sided that car!' My father yelled at me.
'Can't you do anything right? ' Those words hurt worse than blows. I
turned my head toward the elderly man in the seat beside me, daring me
to challenge him. A lump rose in my throat as I averted my eyes. I
wasn't prepared for another battle.

'I saw the car, Dad. Please don't yell at me when I'm driving.' My
voice was measured and steady, sounding far calmer than I really felt.

Dad glared at me, then turned away and settled back. At home I left
Dad in front of the television and went outside to collect my
thoughts. Dark, heavy clouds hung in the air with a promise of rain.
The rumble of distant thunder seemed to echo my inner turmoil.

What could I do about him?

Dad had been a lumberjack in Washington and Oregon .. He had enjoyed
being outdoors and had reveled in pitting his strength against the
forces of nature. He had entered grueling lumberjack competitions, and
had placed often. The shelves in his house were filled with trophies
that attested to his prowess.

The years marched on relentlessly. The first time he couldn't lift a
heavy log, he joked about it; but later that same day I saw him
outside alone, straining to lift it. He became irritable whenever
anyone teased him about his advancing age, or when he couldn't do
something he had done as a younger man.

Four days after his sixty-seventh birthday, he had a heart attack. An
ambulance sped him to the hospital while a paramedic administered CPR
to keep blood and oxygen flowing. At the hospital, Dad was rushed into
an operating room. He was lucky; he survived.

But something inside Dad died. His zest for life was gone. He
obstinately refused to follow doctor's orders. Suggestions and offers
of help were turned aside with sarcasm and insults. The number of
visitors thinned, then finally stopped altogether. Dad was left alone.

My husband, Dick, and I asked Dad to come live with us on our small
farm. We hoped the fresh air and rustic atmosphere would help him
adjust. Within a week after he moved in, I regretted the invitation.
It seemed nothing was satisfactory. He criticized everything I did. I
became frustrated and moody. Soon I was taking my pent-up anger out on
Dick. We began to bicker and argue. Alarmed, Dick sought out our
pastor and explained the situation. The clergyman set up weekly
counseling appointments for us. At the close of each session he
prayed, asking God to soothe Dad's troubled mind. But the months wore
on and God was silent. Something had to be done and it was up to me to
do it.

The next day I sat down with the phone book and methodically called
each of the mental health clinics listed in the Yellow Pages. I
explained my problem to each of the sympathetic voices that answered.
In vain. Just when I was giving up hope, one of the voices suddenly
exclaimed, 'I just read something that might help you! Let me go get
the article.' I listened as she read. The article described a
remarkable study done at a nursing home. All of the patients were
under treatment for chronic depression. Yet their attitudes had
improved dramatically when they were given responsibility for a dog.

I drove to the animal shelter that afternoon. After I filled out a
questionnaire, a uniformed officer led me to the kennels. The odor of
disinfectant stung my nostrils as I moved down the row of pens. Each
contained five to seven dogs. Long-haired dogs, curly-haired dogs,
black dogs, spotted dogs all jumped up, trying to reach me. I studied
each one, but rejected one after the other for various reasons; too
big, too small, too much hair. As I neared the last pen a dog in the
shadows of the far corner struggled to his feet, walked to the front
of the run and sat down. It was a pointer, one of the dog world's
aristocrats. But this was a caricature of the breed. Years had etched
his face and muzzle with shades of gray. His hipbones jutted out in
lopsided triangles. But it was his eyes that caught and held my
attention. Calm and clear, they beheld me unwaveringly. I pointed to
the dog. 'Can you tell me about him?' The officer looked, then shook
his head in puzzlement. 'He's a funny one. Appeared out of nowhere
and sat in front of the gate. We brought him in, figuring someone
would be right down to claim him, that was two weeks ago and we've
heard nothing. His time is up tomorrow.' He gestured helplessly. As
the words sank in I turned to the man in horror. 'You mean you're
going to kill him?'
'Ma'am,' he said gently, 'that's our policy. We don't have room for
every unclaimed dog.'
I looked at the pointer again. The calm brown eyes awaited my
decision. 'I'll take him,' I said. I drove home with the dog on the
front seat beside me. When I reached the house I honked the horn
twice. I was helping my prize out of the car when Dad shuffled onto
the front porch.
'Ta-da! Look what I got for you, Dad!' I said excitedly.

Dad looked, then wrinkled his face in disgust. 'If I had wanted a dog
I would have gotten one. And I would have picked out a better specimen
than that bag of bones. Keep it! I don't want it!' Dad waved his arm
scornfully and turned back toward the house. Anger rose inside me. It
squeezed together my throat muscles and pounded into my temples.
'You'd better get used to him, Dad. He's staying!' Dad ignored me.
'Did you hear me, Dad?' I screamed. At those words Dad whirled
angrily, his hands clenched at his sides, his eyes narrowed and
blazing with hate. We stood glaring at each other like duelists, when
suddenly the pointer pulled free from my grasp. He wobbled toward my
dad and sat down in front of him. Then slowly, carefully, he raised
his paw. Dad's lower jaw trembled as he stared at the uplifted paw.
Confusion replaced the anger in his eyes. The pointer waited
patiently. Then Dad was on his knees hugging the animal. It was the
beginning of a warm and intimate friendship. Dad named the pointer
Cheyenne . Together he and Cheyenne explored the community. They spent
long hours walking down dusty lanes. They spent reflective moments on
the banks of streams, angling for tasty trout. They even started to
attend Sunday services together, Dad sitting in a pew and Cheyenne
lying quietly at his feet. Dad and Cheyenne were inseparable
throughout the next three years. Dad's bitterness faded, and he and
Cheyenne made many friends.

Then late one night I was startled to feel Cheyenne's cold nose
burrowing through our bed covers. He had never before come into our
bed room at night. I woke Dick, put on my robe and ran into my
father's room. Dad lay in his bed, his face serene. But his spirit had
left quietly sometime during the night. Two days later my shock and
grief deepened when I discovered Cheyenne lying dead beside Dad's bed.
I wrapped his still form in the rag rug he had slept on. As Dick and I
buried him near a favorite fishing hole, I silently thanked the dog
for the help he had given me in restoring Dad's peace of mind.

The morning of Dad's funeral dawned overcast and dreary. This day
looks like the way I feel, I thought, as I walked down the aisle to
the pews reserved for family. I was surprised to see the many friends
Dad and Cheyenne had made filling the church. The pastor began his
eulogy. It was a tribute to both Dad and the dog who had changed his
life. And then the pastor turned to Hebr ews 13:2. 'Be not forgetful
to entertain strangers.'

'I've often thanked God for sending that angel,' he said.

For me, the past dropped into place, completing a puzzle that I had
not seen before: the sympathetic voice that had just read the right
Cheyenne 's unexpected appearance at the animal shelter, his calm
acceptance and complete devotion to my father, and the proximity of
their deaths. And suddenly I understood. I knew that God had answered
my prayers after all.

Life is too short for drama & petty things, so laugh hard, love truly
and forgive quickly. Live while you are alive! Tell the people you
love that you love them, at every opportunity. Forgive now those who
made you cry. You might not get a second time.