Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Thanksgiving That Rings Hollow

Though I always love Thanksgiving, and it is my favorite Holiday . . . . even more than Christmas . . . . as I make my traditional Thanksgiving foods and prepare to gather with family, I am grateful for many, many things, but most of all, for the blessing of having a Grandmother, Ferne, who passed away this summer, on July 4th.   She was 98 years old, she lived a very long, full and amazing life.  In her years, from 1915-2014, she witnessed many of the richest times in American history.   But most important, she was a vital part in so many people's lives.  She was undoubtedly the most loving, giving, smart, gifted and creative person I ever met . .. also the single most interesting person I ever met.   Here she is, in 2009, in her nursing home, watching me spin. 

She also was a knitter, spinner, weaving and phenomenal seamstress.   She stayed mentally sharp as a tack her entire life, even when her arthritis left her immobile.  She was the single biggest gift in my life, and I miss her terribly this Thanksgiving. So as I find myself struggling to recreate a few of her recipes, and share them with the family I have left (many have passed away in recent years), I feel her invisibly lingering over my shoulder and guiding my hands and squeezing my heart. 

Love you, Grammy. 

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Getting Back to Gray . . . A Slow and Painful Insight

This topic should otherwise be titled “Why???? Why, oh why, did I cave in and dye it again?” Ever since that first trip back to the dye bottle, and the colorist, in January 2014, after having spent 14 L-O-N-G months growing it out, why did I cave into some insecurity within myself and color it?
I could just kick myself. After enduring the natural and frumpy root grow out, I have finally come to the hard-won and sickening conclusion that I really messed up. And now the only thing to do is to do it all again … . yes getting myself back to gray.

So now I start the journey AGAIN from going from this

To this (photo taken of me in October 2013 at 14 months grow out RIGHT BEFORE I lost my middle aged mind.
October 25 2013 Right Before and After Haircut 011.jpg
Ironically, I start the journey in August - before I started in August 2012, now I start in August 2014. I swear, it’s so annoying. And it’s going to be awkward at work since I’m in a profession (sales) where I need to maintain a “professional appearance.” Have 3” long roots isn’t going to be pretty OR professional, and I could just kick myself.

But I need to do it. And do it I will. This post is a reminder to myself, and a caveat to others, that if you ever have that insecure moment or period of days, weeks, etc. about your appearance, try to talk yourself out of it, or at least wait a few days, weeks, months, before you pick up the dye bottle again. Unfortunately, there is no easy or fast way back. It’s slow and painstaking, but so worth it.

Monday, May 26, 2014

A Long Overdue Update

Wow, has anyone missed my blog?  I sure did, but had trouble for the past 4 months logging into it!  Blogger has sold to Google some time ago, and now they've made it next to impossible (at least for a non-techy person like myself) to easily figure out how to sign back in if you use anything but Google.  Shesh!  If not my highly-tech husband and us both devoting over an hour to the effort, I would have perhaps NEVER gotten back in.

At any rate, here I am, and here is my "new hair."  As you can see, once I finally grew the gray totally out,  I decided, in February of this year, to return to coloring it again.  Ha! I know, that seems crazy considering it took me 14 months to grow it completely out, but I'm not quite ready for gray hair yet. I was completely sick of the fake-looking red I had for so long, so now I have some light brown with blonde highlights.  What do you think? 

Also, as you know, my long-devoted and dearly loved dog, Domino, passed away in early February.  In fact, that was the last blog post I was able to make.  But now we have a 2 year old rescue dog named Charlie.  He's nearly three years old, and has already had 2 previous owners.  We are the third.  Hopefully third time is a charm for him? 

He's supposedly a LARGE Boston Terrier (28 pounds) but in researching the breeds, and having him out and about, many people have suggested that he looks more like a French Bulldog/possibly Boston Terrier mix.  I don't know what he is, but he's as cute as a button and by far the smartest, funniest dog I can imagine.  He's such a clown and constantly keeps us entertained.  In the photo here, it appears his eyes are bright blue but that's not the case, they are deep brown. It just must have been my flash that changed his eye color. Doesn't he bear a striking resemblance to this dog on the Pledge floor cleaning container?

Sorry to make this such a long blog post, but I'm thrilled to be able to get back on here again.  In spite of finally getting a Facebook account, let me just say that Facebook is not my "thing."  If you want to keep up with me, this blog is the best way, and I swear I'll update it more now that I've found my way back in.

Happy Memorial Day for those Veteran's who sacrificed their lives for us.  My family went to the cemetery yesterday and decorated the graves of all our loved ones.  That's such a special tradition, one of the few left in my family that has too FEW family members left living, and those of us who are alive are spread across the country.  But going to the cemetery with Bob, Emily and my Mom to decorate the graves is always very moving for me.  I miss those we've lost so much.  I also wish I had a bigger family.  I miss my brother, Casey, who was a military man, so much.  Can't believe he was gone at age 45. 

I'm still trying to lose weight (that is a never ending battle).  I'm still working a lot of hours, but absolutely LOVING my job as a headhunter/recruiter and I've been doing it for just over a year now.  What a blessing it was that God brought that career into my life.  It's late in life to start, but I've never done anything as soul-satisfying in my entire life.  I actually LOVE going to work every day.

Well, I guess I will end this for now, but promise to be back with you all again VERY soon.   

Ta ta! 

Friday, February 07, 2014

A Sad Ending to a Sweet Dog Story

This is a story of a girl (my girl) who picked a Shih Tzu puppy out of a small litter 14 years ago.  The girl picked the puppy and picked his name, too.  She called him "Domino" because he was black and white just like . . . . a domino.  What else?  She couldn't resist the puppy who actually selected HER by walking right up to her and making himself comfy in her lap, slathering her with happy puppy kisses.

He was born on February 2, 2000 and he immediately became her closest friend.  He was a tiny puppy who looked at her with adoring big brown eyes and used to ride around on her outstretched arm like a stuffed animal.  They adored one another. 

Unlike many puppies, he was easily house trained and destroyed very few items around the house.  Even in his teething days, he was a model puppy, chewing on his own toys and leaving our shoes, our furniture and OUR toys alone. His favorite toy was an Alf stuffed animal that we picked up from a thrift store.  He loved to play "tug of war" with that Alf and would be very protective of the doll if you teased him by pretending to take off with it.  It was a running game to find his Alf and get it back. 

Domino grew into a loving, quiet dog.  He barked so seldom, in fact, that when he was just 8 months old, we took a fall weekend trip to the Lake of the Ozarks where we rented a cabin.  When we were ready to go, the puppy had disappeared and couldn't be found anywhere.  We knew he was on the leash, but he'd slipped away while we were busy loading the car and we couldn't find him anywhere.  We searched, we called for him, and even searched down at the lakefront, worried he'd gone into the water and drowned, but couldn't find him and all of us were worried sick.  Then, just as we were at our wit's end, our daughter spotted his black and white fluffy tail wagging at the vacant cabin porch next door.  His tiny black and white body was surrounded in autumn leaves where he'd gone to play, but only his tail was visible.  His leash had gotten tangled and stuck on a piece of wood on the porch so she'd been unable to respond when we called.   My daughter spotted him and we all shouted with relief.  Our little dog was safe and back in her arms for the ride home!

During the years as my daughter grew up, the dog grew too, and they both grew to love one another more and more with each year that passed. As a child, he was her constant companion, her closet Confidante when she was lonely, sad, happy, playful  . . . . . whatever her mood or activity, he shared in it.  She often said that since she was an only child, Domino was like a little brother she never had.  They were inseparable! 

All her friends that came over to the house also played with Domino and nearly everyone loved him, because he unconditionally liked and welcomed everyone into our home.  Even those who didn't normally like animals seemed to take a liking to our dog.

When Emily was about 10 or 11, she had just a little spending money from her allowance, but she made a point of buying Domino a dog bed so he could lay close by the fire which he LOVED to do.  Since his hair was often kept short and easy to style, he wore dog sweaters during every fall and winter.  He loved to snuggle by the fire in his bed or be close to family members, following us from room to room around the house.

As Emily got older, and Domino did too, he always looked for her, waited for her to come home from school . . . . then later from work . . . . . from outings with her friends . . . . . from wherever she'd been, he settled right at home with her again and so happy to have her back.

He adored food, and his one bad doggy habit was begging for tablescraps, which we sometimes gave in and gave him some. 

Domino thoroughly enjoyed looking good and getting groomed.  He was a dream at the groomers and the he always put up with whatever it took to come home looking spiffy and cute in his latest dog scarf and enjoyed an oatmeal bath that they gave him.  He KNEW when he looked good and would often prance and run around the house with delight when he came home.

He loved car rides  . . . . and vacations with the family.  So we often took vacations based on hotels, cabins and motels that allowed dogs so we could bring our favorite member of the family.  He really got a kick out of going along for the ride.  At hotels, just like at home, Domino was the PERFECT hotel guest.  He never soiled the carpet and allowed us to tuck him into our arm and take him along wherever dogs were allowed.

As his gotten older recently, he's suffered from arthritis, his eyes were growing a bit dim and his hearing failing, but his sweet little self just kept right on going.  He'd struggle to get up and down the stairs, but he always climbed into bed with us at night or sat close to use in the livingroom, or climbed into the lap of whoever most needed cheering up.  The dog had a sense of who needed love the most and always gave of himself and his never-ending affection.

So it was with great sadness that yesterday, right at noon, with my husband sitting in the livingroom with him, Domino stood up, walked over to Bob, then collapsed at his feet and died, letting out just a faint sigh as he fell.  He passed as peacefully and as quickly as anyone could . . . . but he was definitely gone, just 4 days after turning 14. 

We are saddened, but grateful that this dear little dog shared our lives all these years.  We will miss you, Dom.  We sure will.   

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013 Reflections

I can seldom remember a four-day weekend where I've experienced as much NEEDED relaxation, comfort and reflection as this one.  Ironically, we didn't leave town, but elected to have a very quiet and small, almost tiny, celebration here at home with just the three of us.  Bob, Emmy and myself.  We thought about just going out to dinner at a restaurant, but decided to go ahead and cook the whole traditional dinner, though in lesser quantities than usual.  It worked out very well, but it led me to reflect on Thanksgivings past where we had many more family members present, and more family dysfunction, but also more of a feeling of being part of an extended family that we all really miss.

When I was growing up, we went to my maternal Great Grandma's house - it was a large house FULL to the brim with my two brothers, our parents, grandparents, many cousins, aunts and uncles . . . . many of them probably inwardly feuding, but still present, which was the most important thing.  Though I often look upon my past with nostalgia, I am also a realist enough to know that my family, like most were really dysfunctional in many ways and weren't anything like the old 1970's Walton's TV show.  Even from afar, I can recall that there was a lot of family tension, brooding hurt feelings, resentments, disappointments as well as joy, bonding, family ties  . . . . but most of all there was a part of belonging to a family in a way that I haven't experienced in a long, long time.  Part of the new reality is that many of our relatives have moved to far-flung places, and many have passed away  . . . . even one of my brothers died five years ago at a very young age and the other, lost to me in a way that gives me twinges of regret . . . . but helplessness.  Very sad.  This feeling of disconnect is probably largely because we've gone into our own little "family unit" and haven't kept up with the cousins and close family friends who we've managed to lose touch with.    Part of the problem, too, though is from smaller families. As the older ones pass away, the middle aged and young ones don't have as many loved ones to hold onto.

Bob and I have both said, in retrospect, that we wished we could have had more than just one child so that Emmy wouldn't feel as alone and would have brothers and sisters to give her a sense of family.  With only children, no matter who well-intentioned you try to be, there's a triangle relationship that always feels a bit "off kilter." 

But at any rate, this looking back hasn't been all maudlin as I'm painting it. As I said, the weekend was relaxing and gave me a chance to veg out, sleep, read and get my energy level back and my head on straight. 

A few weeks ago, we went to St. Louis and visited Bob's Aunt Eve whom we just love so much and admire the way that she has kept up with her own large family and kept them all together with that sense of HOMEPLACE no matter how far her four children travel or move.  They still are close and part of her.  The photo at the top of the blog entry is a photo of one of the dressers in the guest room where we stay when we go there.  The whole top of the two dressers in that room and just covered with family photos of all her kids, grandkids, friends and extended family.  It warms my heart every single time we come there.  I feel warmth and love, and it radiates onto us. 

Someday, even though I have only one grown child . . . . . . is she really going to be 22 in a couple of weeks?  Shesh, but I do hope that she manages to find a life partner who is part of a BIG, happy or unhappy, but thriving and growing family that manages to get together each year for Thanksgiving no matter what else is going on.  And if she manages to have that family, in whatever way she accomplishes it, I will BE THERE, cooking, cleaning up, and experiencing that family in whatever way I can.  Not from afar, but across the table.

And if I still have a house myself when that happens, I hope to have a place on my own dresser to place many photos that other generations can remember and enjoy. 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

It Took 14 Months of Patience

But I've finally grown all the old haircolor out and am in my natural gray state.  So over time I've gone from this:

All reddish colored hair:

To This:

To This:

To This:


To This:

And finally this  . . . . all gray or pewter or whatever shade one chooses to call it . . . it's me at 53

Monday, September 02, 2013

Maybe It's As Simple As Salad?

I've been trying lately to do as much as possible with as little resources as possible.  Though I started a job as a headhunter four months ago (and I love it) . . . . things for me, as for so many other people, are still really financially challenging. 

Times seem hard for everyone (or certainly for most), and nothing is making me more aware of the financial pinch than the fact that I work, every day, with job candidates who are either out of work and desperately looking for a job . . . . or with those who already have a job, but perhaps have been underemployed or unhappily employed for a long time, but are either unable to find a better, more stable position, or afraid to leave a job they dislike becausee of the tight economy.  So I totally get the financial squeeze situation, and am trying to reign in my spending too. 

I am also, as the blog will attest, constantly trying to lose weight!  That middle age spread is not easing up.  In fact, I was hoping that with the hysterectemy I had last winter that my body would settle into some kind of new (but better?) normal?  Ahhhhhh   . . . . . . it's settled, but mainly on my stomach and behind.  So I'm trying really hard to diet and keep a journal of my food, but am trying to save money by not spending it on a weight loss plan such as Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig or the slew of other plans that I've invested in the past.  The thing is . . . . I know what I should eat, I really do.  And for the most part, I DO eat that way, with occasional emotional eating binges.  But even so, my weight just seems to gradually creep and creep upwards on the scale and I'm traveling to my largest size in the closet, and finding even that size too tight.  Eeeks, what's a middle aged girl to do?  It's very frustrating, but I'm not giving up.

But here recently, I found this book Joy's Life Diet: 4 Steps to Stay Thin Forever, at a thrift store and it is a wonderful compilation of nearly ALL the best dieting foods and methods that I've participated in over the past twenty years.  Joy is featured on the Today show a lot, and her eating plan is very practical, easy and brings together all the healthy foods we've known all along help us to maintain our weight and improve our health.  It includes a soup that is very similar to the old WW Vegetable Soup recipe that is an "oldie but goodie" that I have made and turned to for many years as one of the easiest and tasiest of the low-cal soups. 

At any rate, another thing I've been doing lately is making these wonderful mason jar salads  . . . . with homemade honey lime dressing.  Yum!  You go out and buy a 1 quart set of about 12 mason jars for around $10 at your local farm supply store, and yes most cities and towns have that type of store, though city folks like me probably haven't been in them often lately.  You buy a set of those jars and you stack your salad ingredients, with dressing on the bottom, and the lettuce or green elements on top. Then you prepare them all at once.   I make 6 salads at a time, and keep them in your refrigerator until you are ready to eat.  They are wonderful to pack as my go-to work lunches.  Once you're ready to eat lunch or dinner, you just shake the mason jar to mix all the ingredients and dive in to a very tasty and healhty meal.  Yum!

As far as crafts go, I haven't been buying yarn, fiber or spinning, knitting or weaving equipment for so long now.  I'm rather proud of myself for not indulging constantly in craft purchases.  I've been, again, making do with what I have and being grateful with the wonderful equipment and supplies I was able to buy in better financial times.  It's wonderful to appreciate what you have and make use of those things.  Probably really hard on the yarn shops in town, because I suspect that many other crafters are doing the same thing.  But I just can't and don't need to buy anything right now.

In fact, I am going through my whole house and getting rid of stuff.  Last week, I finally decided that it wasn't practical to keep a beloved and cherished piano that Bob bought (used) for me for me 20+ years ago.  We decided that we could use the living room space and that the piano could go to a home that needed it more and it would be played.  In spite of wanting to play it ourselves, we've never really learned and hardly touch it anymore.  So now two little girls who are actively playing now have a piano in their home and it will be put to good use.

Finally, I am off today, it is Labor Day, and I'm lucky to have been able to relax and enjoy a three day weekend at home.  I haven't done much, just relaxed and reflected on these and many other things.

I miss blogging, and though many people now prefer Facebook, this old girl will always love to blog and hope it never goes away!  I'm still here, hanging in . . . . as the blog says, sometimes hanging by a thin thread, but still hanging in there . . . .  and hoping you are too.