Being Thankful

We are moved into our new home. We aren’t quite settled but that will come soon enough. Max rides the elevator with us without qualms. Poor Lilli the cat, escaped out the door twice, but came back quickly once she realized that she’s in a different place and there might be monsters who hate cats around every tree and shrub.

We still have workmen around doing last minute touchups and hopefully they’ll be gone very soon. Our main floor is the most settled and in the evenings we enjoy lazing in front of the gas fireplace knowing we’ve worked hard and long to unpack more boxes. We are still purging. Figuring out what we have space for is continuing, sometimes with a twinge of regret, but we get over it quickly and are thankful for what we do have.

We’re extremely happy and feeling much lighter as we find our way into living with less. I do miss my big studio, but once the new one is unpacked I know I’ll be ready to get back to work.

Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving.
I’m grateful for all of you and am happy your part of my world.

Food And Cooking

My Christmas cactus always blooms at Thanksgiving!

My Christmas cactus always blooms at Thanksgiving!

I love to prepare meals and nourish my loved-ones with simple, delicious, healthy food. And I’m always happiest when the ingredients are local and organic. I especially enjoyed putting together our Thanksgiving meal last week. With my daughter, her partner, and the grandkids here, I found it especially rewarding to share the bounty of our local and organic gardens and farms.

I was first introduced to good food, when I was just a little kid. At the time I didn’t really appreciate the then yucky flavors that would one day become the those that are are my favorites. Take spinach for example. Once when I was about four years old, my mother warned me that there would be no dessert unless the spinach was gone from my plate. I hated spinach. When she wasn’t looking, I squirreled away of the dreaded green stuff by the forkful under the cushion I was seated on. I got my dessert that night, but she discovered the sticky mess the next day. I got into a bit of trouble.

These days, however, I adore spinach, especially cooked in a bit of olive oil and laced with lots of minced garlic. I also regularly add raw spinach to salads, frittatas and soups. You can never have enough leafy greens. I add garlic to almost everything I cook. When Bill and I eat out, our first critique of the food is often, “where’s the garlic?”

I haven’t cooked a huge holiday meal in many years. When it’s just  Bill and me, I prepare a lovely meal, but usually without the dessert and the multiple side dishes I like to prepare. Since we both have some weight issues, one of the house rules is that if you want a something sweet after a meal, you have to go out and enjoy it at the ice cream shop, or one of the fine bakeries nearby. And only one serving, please. If we brought home whole cakes, a dozen cookies, ice-cream by the pint, or any other tempting sweet, they’d be polished off within a few eye blinks.

This year I prepared my famous pumpkin pie which includes a few secret ingredients and is loved by all who take a bite. Being gluten free, I tried a piecrust made with coconut flour this year. Though everyone else liked it, I prefer the delicious nut crust I usually make. The secret ingredients include a layer of tart orange marmalade spread onto the crust before adding the pumpkin filling, to which I have added several tablespoons of brandy. Oh my, what a treat. I think I’m going to make it for Christmas dinner as well, just because we love it so much. Then back to no dessert in the New Year.

I also managed to prepare a knock-off of our favorite stuffing with dried Gluten free bread cubes I picked up the grocery store. The great taste comes from adding butter sautéed turkey giblets, onions, and again garlic. I also add diced apples, pecans, dried cranberries, homemade bone broth, an egg or two, and fresh cut sage, thyme, and parsley from my garden. We just finished off the leftover stuffing on turkey sandwiches that we also smother with homemade cranberry sauce. Oh, my gosh, YUM!

We’ve been eating high off the hog and we’re just finishing up the leftovers. I think I’m going to make the remaining sweet potato puree into muffins or a creamy soup to which I’ll add whatever grabs my fancy at the time. To the muffins I might add some walnuts and dried cranberries, or a dollop of cream cheese. To the soup, I’ll dilute the puree a bit with bone broth or coconut milk ing add some curry powder. Chick peas would give it bit of crunch, and a handful of greens of some kind, would add more color.

Ready to make turkey bone broth!

Ready to make turkey bone broth!

Yesterday I made bone broth from all the turkey bones, leftover skin, and whatever else remained. There is enough sliced turkey left to make a warming soup, a few more sandwiches, and we’ll finish off the bits and pieces with turkey fried rice.

For me preparing food is much like making art. You take your givens and make something beautiful by adding whatever else you find in the pantry or fridge. It’s a creative act and loads of fun. Along with writing, painting, and working in the garden, I do love cooking.

Do you like to cook and experiment with different ingredients in your kitchen? What kinds of things do you enjoy preparing most?

I hope your Thanksgiving was as wonderful as mine.
Guess what? There are more holidays just around the corner!

Giving Thanks


I just recently celebrated a birthday and the day after tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  I have much to be thankful for. First, is the fact that my sweet   husband came through two joint replacement surgeries successfully this year.

The second, is the publication of my memoir, SCATTERING ASHES, A Memoir of Letting Go, this past September. I am especially grateful to the women at She Writes Press, for their support and direction, my writing coach, Kevin Quirk, all of my wonderful beta readers, my editor, Annie Tucker, and my publicist, Caitlin Hamilton Summie. They have all helped me to find my voice and bring my story out into the world. I will never be able to say thank you enough for all of their hard work.

I am excited and thankful that my daughter, Lisa, her partner, Deena, and my grandkids, Zoe and Noah, will be joining us around our dining room table to share in the celebration. It’s been a long time since we have been together for this holiday together.

I am also grateful for you, my dear readers, and wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving.

I will be back next Tuesday with a regular post. If you are traveling this week go carefully. If by chance you are heading north into the snow, please make a snow angel for me!

Giving Thanks

IMG_1251“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

– John F. Kennedy

This is what it looked like Saturday on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Bill and I were there for a three day retreat. I wrote for two days without interruption, visited a few family members, walked on the beach, and enjoyed the quiet peace of the shore when only a few other people are around. It was blissful and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be there.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday and that your lives will be filled with simplicity and the grace of gratitude.

On Trauma, Triggers, And Thanksgiving

IMG_0934You’d think that by age seventy-one things would be different.  But, no, there are triggers that still get me wound up so tight I could burst.  Take Friday evening for example. I was on the phone talking to my friend, Sharon.  We started having weekly conversations back in 2010. She lives in Florida and I live in Virginia, so we can’t talk over the fence the same way I can chat with my neighbor, Harmon, who is also a dear friend.  Sharon has been traveling of late and we haven’t talked in almost a month.

I was sitting in my new chair (an early Christmas gift), enjoying Sharon’s musings about her travels. Both of us agree that life is tempestuous and both have a growing number of people we know who have been diagnosed with cancer.  It just doesn’t seem fair to either one of us, but then no one ever said that life would be fair, or a bed of roses, or without pain and unhappiness.

I’m at the age where I know better and have decided that I can’t worry about what is going to get me …an asteroid falling out of the sky or being hit by a dump truck full boulders, rendering me paralyzed from the neck down.  Life is what it is.  It has cancer, asteroids, boulders, dump trucks, along with a gazillion other things that could kill us or make life totally miserable.

Mind you, I always have and will probably continue to cry, carry on, and complain with all my might if and when something awful does happens to me.  But I’m working hard at being grateful for everything that I have, including the best family and friends in the universe.

So it took me by surprise that as I sitting in that cozy chair, talking my heart out, that I was being triggered by Bill’s sudden dash through the living room and out to his car. He looked befuddled and mad. He tore out of the driveway as if there were an emergency.  I started feeling my old companion, anxiety, arriving on the scene. My gut started feeling jittery and filled with rocks. Though I was still listening and talking to Sharon, another part of me was trying to figure out what I had done wrong to make Bill so mad.

Then I realized that Bill’s behavior had brought on a reaction in me that became ingrown years ago. My father was a tyrant.  To him, talking on the phone for more than two minutes was wasting time.  Staring into space was a mortal sin and taking naps was not acceptable.  When my dad was around, my brothers and I always had to be doing something “constructive.” If he caught us doing nothing, his face would become hard and frightening.  He would  yell at us and quickly gave us jobs to do. We were never relaxed when he was at home and it got to the point that one of us was always on the look-out, warning, “Here comes Dad.  Look busy.”

Had I been ten or twelve as I chatted with my friend, I would have quickly hung up the phone, charged into my bedroom, and pretended to be doing homework.  We all got pretty good at pretending and I’ve always been amazed that none of us ended up acting on the stage.  But it sure developed into a pattern in our lives. I’m beyond thankful for being able to recognize when I’m being triggered. Most of the time now, I may feel some anxiety or fear at first, but can quickly acknowledge that I’m safe and that no one is going to hurt me or tell me that I’m doing something terribly wrong.

Bill popped back in the house waving a bag of fresh Italian parsley in his hand. He was wearing a wide grin on his face as if he’d been out fishing and caught the biggest fish in the pond. I was still talking to Sharon and by then had calmed down.  I hadn’t hung up and hidden in my room. Bill had been preparing our dinner and when he discovered we had no parsley he went out without interrupting me to get some.  And yes, he had been a bit mad when he realized we didn’t have what he needed. But it wasn’t about me. It was about the inconvenience of having to rush out during traffic hour.

Life is all about things like that. I don’t enjoy being slammed back into my childhood by someone else’s behavior, but I’m accepting and grateful for being able to recognize when my cells and nervous system are simply reacting to something they remember from long ago. If you’d asked me five or six years ago if I thought I’d ever recover from the trauma in my life, I would have bitterly said no. But working with a therapist brought me back to my senses and I’ve learned to be mindful of my own behavior.

So yes, I have changed. Life is all about typhoons, tornados, friends dying, and not getting what I want. But it’s also about red roses that fill the air with their sweet essence, dear friends, and a husband who shares the cooking of meals and holds me tight when I’m scared.

 This Thanksgiving I’m especially thankful for you, dear readers, for the sun that rises daily, and my wonderful family.  May the holiday find you all filled with peace, love, and happiness.

And if you’re driving watch out for the weather along the East Coast.