Letting the cynic loose

29 Nov

I’m not really into Christmas, y’all. I’ll just say it. So, now that I’ve said it, I’m sitting here thinking too much about the WHY, and analyzing my grumpiness. Why do I get so grumpy about Christmas?

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I like Christmas lights. I do.
However, I like them up ALL year round- decorative, twinkly, mood lights. You know what I mean. So why the stress about putting more up in December (or mid-November?) And then I got to take them down in a month? Is this the real reason Christmas is starting before Thanksgiving now? That you get to leave your lights up longer? Well, I wish. I guess we all know it’s more about the selling/buying thing. They call that marketing, right? So, there’s that…

I like to give gifts, I do!
I don’t like the constant urge to BUY EVERYTHING.
I mean, who does? Do you? Do people like it? I was in Target yesterday and toys were crowding the aisles. There were the stacks of Barbie cars, and the Big Bouncy Balls, and other things that I almost ran my cart into. Several shoppers with carts full of toys. Literally full. Literally as in- an actuality.
Maybe it’s the excuse to buy things? I can get that. But you still have to spend money on it. And then when you have it, in your house, you have to clean it, find a place for it, put it away, look at it, etc., etc., etc. If you’re buying it for someone else, then I guess you don’t have to look at it, or clean it, right? So maybe it’s the excitement of buying things but not having to take care of them… ok, it’s starting to make sense here. Maybe.

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There’s Giving Tuesday now. Is it odd that it’s a thing now, right after Black Friday, and Cyber-Monday? BUY LOTS OF STUFF ON SALE, and then WHOOPS, OH WAIT, hey AMERICA, you like to spend money, make sure to give a little too. Make sure to take ONE day out of the year and give to some non-profits, charities, and orgs that deserve it.
I mean, giving is good. Giving is a real necessity, and we should give money to non-profits, charities, and orgs that deserve it, on a regular basis. Giving Tuesday makes me panic somehow, I don’t know who to choose… just skip it and give every month instead. To be honest, I shouldn’t complain so hard about any sort of giving, and the matching funds thing is great. I’m just letting the cynic loose tonight. I hate the forcefulness of it, the pressure, I guess. That’s the main thing.

I enjoyed Christmas before I had children (what else could I say THAT about…hm…). Any parents feel me on this one? I think I would love to buy the kids lots of toys and gifts if I thought it was really great for them. I mean, yes, there’s the looks on their faces when they open that gift they wanted. I started getting that last year with both the kids in the room tearing at their gifts. Okay. Fun. BUT. Am I just teaching them to want things? Yes. And… kids WANT THINGS. ALL. THE. TIME. How will this help the constant wanting? Do they need all the things?? I do think that a good toy is worth its weight in gold. Kids are made to play, and that’s the best thing for them to do… probably for a lot longer than we think. But HOW MANY toys do they really need? And who gets to organize and sort where they will go?? My kids just forget about all the toys when they have so many (great time to plug one of my favorite reads of this year: “Simplicity Parenting” by Kim John Payne). I guess it’s the INFLUX of stuff at Christmas… robs all the joy of looking at twinkly lights… and drinking hot chocolate. I do like to drink hot chocolate.

I suppose I could list some things I like Christmas, now that I’ve ranted my rant.

My 7 year old’s excitement with the season (is this why we need young people as we grow old- to continue to enjoy things?)
All the dessert recipes floating around
Hot chocolate
Twinkly lights
Making dessert for breakfast
the smell of fir trees
seeing family
all the cookies
Advent at my place of worship (they make great kids advent activities, it’s true).

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“Clouds parting my heart”

1 Oct

My brother Joe passed away in January. Eventually I found myself writing this poem. I want to cry over losing Joe everyday. But I don’t. I want to keep feeling the deepness of loss for him, everyday. But I don’t. It’s called healing, but sometimes it just feels like forgetting. So, I can write about him. Or about who I am, as he affected me in every part and way of who I am. Special people have a special way of doing that.

 

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Joe and Sue and me, 2014

 

“Clouds parting my heart

Opens. Gold pink yellow

Are the colors

Ripening. As I sit

And see the sight.

 

As we ask

Where we are

And why we are

Here. On this earth

Somewhere, golden pink

Light filters through

Dropping down a soft

Glow for you.

 

Geranium blooms red

Rising a musky scent

Ants dig open dirt

And here we sit as they work.

Cicadas may shriek,

But for the birds there

Is silence on our ears

Deep, perhaps a well

Or my soul, or the heat.

 

The flowers fade.

The roses dry.

The ragweeds have found out.

The gate overgrown with creepers

I can’t part

Here, stones lead the way

Through, we come

Pushing, as cicadas may shriek.

 

Our mountains sit in shadow

Clouds loom, whispering

Loud, about to shout

Our stories with rain.

 

But rain in desert

Is an anamoly

And we keep pushing

Through the gate

Past the ragweeds

To get there, where

We are going today.”

 

 

***

Slightly cold weather calls for split pea soup

15 Nov

You know, I’ve been waiting for it to get a little colder here, so I can feel nice and cozy in the kitchen with some cornbread in the oven. I make cornbread at least once a week when it’s cold. We missed it over the summer. I’m trying to hone my biscuit making skills as well, so we can add those to the weekly menu.

We found this kids cookbook by Tina Davis at Half Price Books a couple of years ago, in Ohio. The split pea soup is one of my favorites, and it’s easy to add some ham. I’ve been cooking for about 5 1/2 years now, and just starting to figure out what the husband really likes. He’s into meat. I can’t blame him. I am finding that it is pretty easy to add stew meat to most any soup recipe. We didn’t add meat to the soup today, but it was totally good anyway.

I start craving chocolate and pudding when the weather gets colder, as well. I like my pudding warm, so maybe that’s why. I usually follow a recipe on Simply Recipes for chocolate pudding, but tried this one in Tina Davis’ book today. It’s totally good, and faster as it doesn’t call for tempering the eggs. Faster equals better in my book these days, so there you go! I used almond milk instead of cow’s milk, and I do like using more cocoa rather than chocolate chips, so I wrote in the amounts from the other recipe. I am thinking it would also be super tasty with a chopped up Valrhona chocolate bar in place of the chocolate chips.

Today was also my first time making conchee, and although I think this is a fairly Americanized version, it was yum. I chopped up an acorn squash and the onion in the morning and let it cook while I took Sue to the dentist, so I could have some for lunch when I got home. Of course I had to look up some other conchee recipes, and I know I’ll be making more in the near future.

Another good cold-day meal.

Book Shelves, mostly read.

25 Oct

I took a look at my bookshelf today. It’s really full. I’ve mostly read all those books on the bottom shelf, and all the books BEHIND the books. I’ve read those too. Mostly. Some of the top shelf I have read too, like Barbara Kingsolver, and “Teach Your Own”, and “All Art is Propaganda”. I read that on the beach last year. Orwell and the beach definitely mix well together, although I’m not sure how. But that middle shelf! It’s mostly unread. Time to get crackin.

I know some folks make a habit of reading at least one chapter a day. If I get really into a book, I have to say to myself “ONLY one chapter a day”, do you feel me? Otherwise I feel like a sloth of some sort, while I sit around compulsively reading. But let’s be honest, that’s the best kind of reading there is. The last book I compulsively read was “The Mare” by Mary Gaitskill, and just before that it was “The Bone People” by Keri Hulme. That last one was especially compulsive (my synonym for “excellent”).

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Lately I’ve been involved in my college copy of “Bystander: Street Photography”. It’s fun to finally crack it open to read it, rather than just to look at the images, and skim some of the info. I’ve rekindled my love for Cartier-Bresson, and Kertesz. I am also in the middle of Anne Dillard’s “American Childhood”, and I’ve been looking to start either “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men”, or Barthes.

But what I really want is a juicy novel, because there’s nothing like losing yourself in good fiction. The ultimate escape-adventure.

SUMMER IS OVER

6 Oct

Homemade (vegan) Key Lime Pie Ice Cream!

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Jack in the grass!

Homemade (vegan) Cherry Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream!

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P I E S !

Street Photography and Barthes…

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Homemade pizza & crust (not vegan) = VERY YUM

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