grown ups are like that....

Thursday, December 17, 2009

12 days of christmas music

I love Christmas songs. LOVE. THEM. I love them a little too much for my husband's taste. But, I tell him, singing along to "White Christmas" at full volume is part of my charm!

Anyway....I thought that I would share some of my favorite Christmas songs with you through the magic of You Tube. I'll spare you the sing along.

White Christmas is the best Christmas song ever. Do not argue with me, because you will never convince me other wise.

Now this is a classic, of course. Care for a chestnut?

Another classic by Judy Garland. I am cracking up right now because yesterday my mother lipped synced this song on Skype to my son. HAHAHA!! Trust me it was funny. Yeah, you had to be there.

This song reminds me of a friend in college who made me soup and bread and copied The Charlie Brown Christmas music to a cassette for me, which I have since lost. I hope she is well now and is still making warming, yummy soup for her friends.

This one gets me right in the heart. Ever since I moved East, away from my friends and family, I can't hear this song without bursting into tears. Oh no, here come the waterworks...

Now the King will croon...

I used to listen to this song as a kid and dream about life in The Big City.

I remember listening to this song on my tiny clock radio while wrapping Christmas presents for my grade school friends. I don't remember what the gifts were, but I can guess that they may have been florescent socks or big plastic earrings. I was probably wearing stirrup pants.

This one is for my son who when asked what the most common winter holidays are said, "Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, and Feliz Navidad."

This one is all about nostalgia for me. I remember learning this song at school when I was very, very young maybe 1st or 2nd grade. I hear it now and instantly feel like a small girl eagerly awaiting Santa's arrival.

This one is for my daughter who thinks this is the greatest Christmas song EVER.

Another one that reminds my of being a little girl....When I was young my parents had lots of Christmas albums, but the album I enjoyed the most was the Perry Como one. I loved to sit by the tree with his record on softly in the background.

So there you have it--12 songs for the 12 days of Christmas. Have a joyous holiday my friends!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

secret society

It's like a club. There isn't a secret handshake or a special password, but there is a unique look, a shifting of the eyes, a softening of the mouth, that will give you a clue. You'll be talking to someone, and when the word "father" comes up in conversation you'll see it and know before they say the words:

"He died."

Oh yes, you understand. You step a bit closer and ask, "When?" The answer is different every time, of course.

"Last year."

"In September."

"When I was in high school."

But you know in your heart that it doesn't matter how long it has been. You are all lifetime members of the same, sad society.

There are rituals, of course. On Father's Day, you may run into a fellow member in the store or on the street. A squeeze of the hand or a simple, "How are you?" takes on a special meaning. You don't need them to respond to know that they miss him today.

The birthday ritual and the passing date ritual are, of course, more private. Everyone has their own specialized routine. For some it is quiet prayer in church. Others crawl into bed and have a good cry. Some look at old photos or wear his old flannel work shirt around the house.

But you don't have a particular rite that you perform. Some years you simply think of him in passing and go on with the day as planned. Other years you are floored with grief.

So you write.

You write private thoughts into messy journals that no one will see. Or maybe you pen a birthday letter and share it with the world, your family, your friends. Sometimes you write thinking it will make it hurt less. You write and pretend it isn't real.

But no matter what you do, write, or say, you can't terminate your membership in the club. You may smile and say to the world all around, " I'm fine," but it is a lie. You are not fine. You have no father.

Your daddy is gone.

So you turn to the members of the club and wordlessly plead to be understood. They know you want to be heard but that you don't want to talk. They will let you feel what you have to feel without pushing you to share or heal or move on. Knowing they are near, that they will be there to hold you up when you just want to crumble under the sadness, buoys you.

for Karen, Barb, Veronica, Lorraine, Sue, Sandy, and all of the daughters out there without fathers.

by christine green, member for 15 years

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

when all else fails post a recipe

I am having a hard time finding my words right now. I look at the blank computer screen and panic because nothing comes.


Part of it is sheer busyness. I am just whirling in circles with the kids, work, volunteering, etc. I hardly have time to breath much less write. Part of it, though, is simply self doubt creeping in. I see wonderful writers and artists around me every day. They are writing brilliant blogs, penning novels, winning awards, and publishing.

And I am not.

I know, I need to just get over it. If a writer's life was what I really wanted I should have aimed for a degree in English rather than Anthropology. But I didn't take that route, and I have to live with my choices.*

So to fill the space and to make me feel a little more accomplished I will post a recipe. Here is my favorite Lemon Pie recipe, adapted from the Fannie Farmer Baking Book.
1 9-inch pre-baked pie shell
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups water
1/2 cup lemon juice
3 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
grated rind of 1 lemon (both white and yellow)
whipped cream or cool whip for topping

Blend the sugar, cornstarch, and water in a saucepan. In a separate bowl beat the egg yolks with the lemon juice then add to the sugar mixture.

Cook over medium heat while stirring constantly. The mixture will become translucent and thick. Cook three minutes longer while continuing to stir.

Remove from the heat and cool for at least one hour. When the mixture is cool spread in the pie shell and top with whipped cream or cool whip

Refrigerate if not serving immediately.


*Please, please, PLEASE don't leave {{hugs}} and "I get it" or "You're a great writer!"in the comments. Just say something about how yummy this pie looks. Or, better yet, tell me what your favorite pie recipe is.

Monday, November 23, 2009


*Holiday traditions, for many people, revolve around food. My family is no exception. Every year at Thanksgiving we make this recipe. It is perhaps the best cranberry bread I have ever tasted. Rich with butter and tart with fresh cranberries, it makes the perfect breakfast on any winter holiday. We tweak the recipe just a bit. . .we substitute fresh cranberries for the raisins, and we don't bother chopping them at all. The recipe also makes delicious muffins or mini-loaves. It is best served with whipped cream cheese.

The recipe is originally from the book Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin. I still have the copy I had when I was a young girl in California. This is my favorite passage:

"What a great full dinner that was--with everything cooked with crisp edges and tender centers.
'How delicious!' said Maggie.
'How exquisite!' said. Mr. Horace.
'How about some more?' said Mr. Whiskers."

from Cranberry Thanksgiving, page 15

I can only hope that the holiday meals I prepare this year will meet with the same, loving praise.

*originally posted November 2008

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

the winner is...

Kelley at Craffing Out Loud! She won a copy of Mother Muse by leaving a comment at my last post. I very scientifically wrote each name on a piece of paper then had my son draw a name out of a hat. :-) And when you have a chance do go read her blog--she is is a lovely writer and I so enjoy reading her blog.

I am battling a cold and a very busy week, so I don't have much more to write today. I promise to get a real post up next week. Until then enjoy the musical interlude....

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Lynda Barry is really asking me to work now. Last week I listed ten cars from my early life and wrote about my memory of just one of them. The exercise continued this week with other topics: other people's mothers, pets, houses, etc. It doesn't sound terribly difficult, but it is hard work in that she 1) asks you to do the exercises by hand, and 2) that you do it without stopping for seven straight minutes. Sounds easy enough, right? But in this day and age of computers and texting very few people write by hand any more, and I found it challenging in surprising ways.

First, I scrabbled to find lined paper among the plain, white printer paper. After I found some and got started, I found my forearms tightening up and my back tensing. I was constantly thinking about how legible my work was (not very) and if I should be using a pen instead of a pencil. I couldn't believe how much physical effort was going into this.


When I was in college and grad school, I wrote all of my formal papers by hand before typing them into the computer. I had to have a large yellow legal pad and several sharpened pencils, though a pen would do in a pinch (ball point, not felt). My friends thought I was crazy, but writing like that felt good. It allowed me to write anywhere at any time. It was a primitive laptop, I suppose.

And I was a letter writer. Oh, I loved to write "real" letters to my many far away friends. For years my grandmother and I wrote to each other constantly. One friend and I wrote to each other at least once a month. We'd swap long rambling stories about my grad school work and she would tell me crazy tales from law school. Then we wrote to each other about getting married, then about our babies, and now. . . nothing. We are "facebook friends." We just leave quick comments on each others status updates, but we no longer send hand written letters except at Christmas.

Yet despite the fact that I rarely write letters anymore I still collect stationary. I have a large treasure chest shaped box filled with it. I love to open it and breathe in the papery smell of envelopes and note cards, post cards and thank you notes. But for the most part they go unused.

I also used to have several very nice heavy pens. They were given to me as gifts when I graduated from college. I can't find them now; they seem to be long gone. I suppose I don't really need them much anymore since I do most of my writing and correspondence on the computer.

As I sit here thinking of stationary and pens (with the computer screen glowing in front of me and "qwerty" spelled out on the keys beneath my fingers), I feel sad. I miss writing by hand. The act of writing by hand, I have realized, is quickly becoming a lost art.

In What It Is Lynda Barry says that there "is a state of mind which is not accessible by thinking. It seems to require a participation with something. Something physical we move like a pen, like a pencil" (page 106). I think of this as I remember back to the days when "real" letters and hand written paper drafts were the norm for me. The whole act of writing wasn't simply a cerebral activity. It was a whole physical and mental practice. Writing required not just my mind to be active but also my body. That is, I believe, why so many people can do their best thinking while walking or running. When we move our arms and legs and ask our bodies to physically engage in the act of writing and thinking then we literally get the creative juices flowing. Blood pumps through our veins invigorating our hearts, air fills our lungs as we quicken our breath to match our movements, and our muscles contract and stretch while our pens fly over the paper or we think through that problem that has been plaguing us.

Yet for so many of us (particularly those in the academic world) writing and intellectual thought is completely disconnected from the physical body. Our bodies get in the way of our "work." We have to stop to eat, use the bathroom, or stretch the kink out of our neck. We have to schedule time to work out so our bodies can be healthy and thin. The body is a block to creativity and intelligence rather than a tool that can be used to achieve higher levels of thought. Rarely do we move our bodies in conjunction with mental thought processes and intellectual pursuits. Our fingers sweep over a keyboard, or we walk from one class or meeting to another, but in general physical movement and intellect are often unconnected.

Our society also often has a hard time believing that those who do physical work can also be intelligent.* We have all heard the term "dumb jock." There are many people in the world who look at their housekeepers or nannies as "just" maids or babysitters. When I became an aerobic instructor, two of my dearest friends actually laughed at me. They openly confessed to thinking fitness instructors of any ilk must be unintelligent.

(*Classical dancers and artists are often given a break by the intelligentsia. I say classically trained because street dancers and self taught artists are often not considered "serious" in the academic community.)


The work Lynda has asked me to do this week has made me re-think how I write and made me re-focus on the link between my body and my mind. Maybe I'll get out some of the old stationary and try and find another sturdy pen. Do they even sell them anymore? Are they next to the cellphones and lap tops? Or are they by the ever shrinking stationary aisle?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Powder Blue

This post has been removed by the author.  Publication pending.

Sunday, August 30, 2009


these are memories that i carry with me and that i will remember when i am old and tired. these are windows into my heart, my soul. thanks goes out to jen at sarah for asking.

1. the moon shines bright on the river where we swim, and the water glistens on our bare skin. we are just a year or two into college and we have traveled what seems like a world away from our homes to work for the summer under the hot southern sky. but when night comes we relax and and play and swim in the dark waters of the James.

2. lawrence welk conducts a waltz on the television as i sit next to my grandma, my hand in hers. her skin feels like tissue and she smells of chantilly lace. i age a bit this hot midwestern evening because i know it won't be like this forever.

3. my kindergarten year is hard on me, being shy and small, and a bit young. but to my surprise i win a little plastic giraffe in class one day. it is multi-colored but also transparent, and the effect is one of rainbowed oil on water: shimmery and changing. it slips behind my mattress and i can just barely see it. i am reaching, reaching under my bed and yet i cannot grasp the little toy.

4. my boyfriend paces back and forth while talking on the phone with someone from my home. why won't he give me that damn receiver already? suddenly, i know: a death announcement waits on the other end of the line and i fight the urge to flee into the breezy december night. instead i clutch the arm of the couch and wait.

5. my son is barely two months old and i decide we need an outing to the mall. my daughter, three, behaves well and because of this i decide to buy her a burger king lunch. i look at her with her paper crown askew eating french fries while watching a trapped bird flit around the ceiling of the food court. for some reason my heart floods with a fierce love mixed with a sort of grief that overwhelms me. she is growing too fast. she will be gone in the flash of an eye.

6. about a dozen red deer raise their heads as i run by. behind them a snow capped mountain peak juts unexpectedly into the warm and cloudless morning. i look at them and know that i am the only one to see this. i am the only one here to witness a moment so lovely yet so fleeting and i am excited to know that i alone will have this picture in my mind forever. no one else will share this serene irish image, and i am fine with that. this is all mine. all mine.


and you, dear reader, do you have a a memory, a window, you'd like to share? leave your reply here in the comments or if you write your own post let me know and i will post a link to your story here. make sure you link back to jen, sarah, and myself.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

journey to wonderland

A dear, dear friend has a brand new blog. Please go give her some love. . .

Down the Rabbit Hole to Wonderland

Friday, July 10, 2009


I first got glasses in high school when it was getting increasingly hard to see my friends across the courtyard and in the halls, and the chalkboards grew cloudy. I wouldn't wear them much at first, only in class. But soon enough it became clear that I needed them all the time. I begged contacts out of my parents and suddenly the world was clear.

A couple of years ago I decided I would save a buck or two by getting glasses that weren't made with the fancy thin-lens material. The optical guy laughed, and basically said I was nuts. My silence told him that I had no idea what he was talking about. He showed me a lens that would be my prescription strength without the fancy plastic. I was horrified at the thickness, the weight, the weird yellowy color. I went with the thin lenses.

At night if I get up to go to the bathroom I put on my glasses. The bathroom is only feet away.

If I take my glasses off now the keyboard would look fuzzy, the monitor a blurred mess.

When I moved into my house I could not stand the idea of white, colorless walls. Every room was instantly painted in a splash of deep color. I don't remember all of the names from the paint chips, but I know the greenish color in my bedroom is called "Bunch of Cloves." Something about it always makes me think of Casablanca. Like Humphrey Bogart's room would have been painted with this strange , cool green. My kitchen is a sunny yellow, as is my daughter's room. My son's room is purple and the living room a deep brown called "Common Ground." Like dirt. But it is vivid, and I love it next to the classic red in the dining room. We have no white walls. To me it would be like drinking luke-warm water to have to look at Cream or Antique White or Eggshell. I need a little ice, a slice of lemon, a spring of mint. Every wall is food for the eyes.

My house is filled with pictures. On the walls, the tables, the kids rooms. I have stacks of photo albums. I don't scrap book, but each album is carefully labeled with the events and dates of the pictures. I am obsessed with my photo albums. I regularly take them out and mull over the old friends, the big parties, the little moments. I so often want to dive into the scene, make it happen again, re-live that moment. I cannot look at my pictures enough. And I take new ones all the time. Even the digital ones are carefully uploaded and stored on-line. My photos have always been tremendously important to me, even if they aren't particularly exciting to anyone else.

My dreams are so vivid I can remember patterns from dresses, the color of someone's eyes, the position of the furniture. My dreams are literally like vivid color movies. The best ones are ones in which I am swimming or flying above water. The water in these dreams is so blue. So blue. I can see for miles either from the air or from the body of water in which I float or swim. The horizon is endless.

But I always wake up feeling for my glasses, disappointed that my daytime eyesight is never as clear as my nighttime visions.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

What It Is part 5

"Once upon a time I had a little rabbit. . . ."

Lynda Barry (What It Is page 87) says that you can start any type of story with this one line. A mystery, a romance, a a thriller, etc. could all potentially start with this simple beginning.

Though not very "meaty" I am going to tell you a real life tale of a little rabbit.


Once upon a time I had a little rabbit that had been found outside of my dorm. The big lop eared bunny was nibbling grass in the quad and my suite mate scooped up the furry friend. The idea was that we would care for the rabbit until we could find a proper home for him. I suppose I liked rabbits well enough, but I wasn't exactly thrilled to be living with one, even temporarily.

You see, I was the Practical One. I drove everyone home when they had too much to drink, and I was the one who held back long hair while a roommate leaned over the bowl the next day. I straightened the common room and set up study sessions. I kept my room clean, and called home just about daily.

So I guess you might say I was also the Good Girl.

In any case, there was a rabbit to deal with right in the middle of finals. A rabbit who crapped everywhere and hopped almost faster than it crapped. Of course, pets were not allowed in the dorms, so this little guy had to be carefully hidden if a resident assistant came by.

One bright afternoon, the housekeeping staff came to clean the common bathroom, and I had to hide the rabbit under my desk. I had no idea how much rabbits liked to chew, until I saw the cords to my little Mac Classic power chewed to bits.

Stupid bunny.

Friday, June 19, 2009

What It Is Part 4

I've read more of What It Is by Lynda Barry, and it continues to be rich with color, texture, and image. As before, she asks the reader question after question in order to get their thoughts flowing and encourage them to think about their past, particularly the childhood years.

There are many, many questions put before the reader, but this week I would like to focus on one in particular:

"When did you first notice you were bad at something?" (page 74)


To be honest I can't recall the exact moment that I felt like I was truly bad at a particular task or skill, but I do recall the first time someone made me feel bad about myself, my abilities.

I was in second grade and we had been assigned a book report, and we could pick a book from the library about an animal. I was in my "I'm gonna be a marine biologist" stage and carefully chose a book about whales.

I worked tirelessly on my paper, and I felt proud to put it in a little blue report cover.

When the teacher handed back the graded papers to everyone I was shocked to find, "Next time don't copy!" scrawled in red across the back page.

It stung more than any other insult had up to that point in my seven years. There was no anger at the assumption or indignation at the accusation. I only felt sadness that I was presumed a liar. I hadn't copied anything. I simply was a good little writer and a good student with a clear understanding of the subject. My teacher, whom I loved, simply couldn't believe that I was capable of what I had achieved. And it hurt.

I had thought that paper was good. I thought it deserved recognition and praise. After that, though I continued to work hard, I never expected to be congratulated on anything I had written. Even through college my A's were always a surprise. When I left an exam confident, I soon became deflated and despondent believing that it was only a matter of time before I was called a fraud or a cheat. Compliments of any sort are hard for me to digest now, and though I may smile and politely thank a person for their kind words, I never truly, really believe them.

I am not blaming my adult lack of confidence completely on my second grade teacher, but her actions, her work of a moment in red ink, did leave a mark on my self esteem. To this day I guard my writing carefully, sharing it only with those who truly love me and will give constructive advice and loving suggestions. This blog was a step that was difficult to take. I am putting my writing out there in the world, and it has been interesting to see the different reactions I've had since creating it. Some friends read it and comment or talk about it with me. Others comment here or email me their thoughts. Most ignore it completely, which hurts more than it should.


Visit Rachel and give her some blog love, my friends.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I'll will postponing my work with What It Is for a week as Rachel is out of town and I am preparing to leave for a long weekend away.
I'll leave you with an old favorite. . .

Friday, June 5, 2009

What It Is Part 3

It is week three of my exploration of Lynda Barry's What It Is, and like the first part of the book, she asks the reader a multitude of questions interspersed with brief tales from her childhood. Her discussion of fairy tales, myths, toys, and play all inspired me not to write but to create something wholly different. Please forgive my digression, but this week's post is not in the form of words. . .

Go visit Rachel and read her post about What It Is.

Friday, May 29, 2009

What It Is Part 2

"Is a dream autobiography or fiction?" (page 21)

This question starts the second part of Lynda Barry's What It Is. The questions come hard and fast after this. . .

"What is an experience?" (page 22)

"Where do we keep bad memories?" (page 23)

"Do memories have mass? Do they have motion?" (page 36)

In between these questions about image and memory she discusses her childhood which was a lonely place illuminated first only by the glowing television and later by fairy tales and books, and, of course, her blinking cat.

It is images like that of the cat, images of what never-was, that I want to explore further in this post along with "What is an imaginary friend? Are there imaginary enemies?" (page 29)


When I was a little girl I had both an imaginary enemy as well as imaginary friends. My innocent, loving imaginary friends came into my life first. I cannot recall at what age I first started to play with Larry and the Two Kids, but I was very, very small, perhaps about three.

I can see him clearly. Larry wore a yellow shirt and at his sides were two small children--one boy, one girl. On there faces there was just a skein of flesh colored blankness, like a Little People doll with the features rubbed off. The picture seems disconcerting, but it really wasn't. As I picture them in my head the feeling that washes over me is that of peace, protection, love.

They traveled with me everywhere--in the car, to the store, to restaurants. They were my constant companions. My friends that never-were.

I do not remember when Larry and the Two Kids left my life, but their exit was painless, easy, natural. Not like the entrance of my imaginary enemy.

This man, this never-was dream phantom, was not faceless. Indeed his scarred, terrifying face loomed large in my childhood dreams. I was older, perhaps about ten, when he first came to me. Unlike Larry, he only visited in the night, in my dreams. He was a spiffy dresser, this haunting character. He usually wore light color clothes--tan, beige, cream colored, old fashioned suits with high collars and bow ties. He wore small, round spectacles and had gleaming, perfect white teeth. The skin on his face was a shiny, tight red as if he had been burned or slashed across the face and gruesome scars replaced true flesh.

I can see him now in a long ago dream (one of many): He is walking into an old fashioned school house. Alone in the countryside, the little school stands white among green meadows. The sky is steel gray and crowds of children push by him to enter the building. Books in hand and freshly washed, they are eager to start the school day. He stands tall and ominous above them. I know, just know that he will enter that school and hurt every child in there. No one will escape whatever evil he is about to do. He turns toward me and flashes a toothy grin as he shuts the door behind him.


Come back next week for more light hearted fun and frolic with the Blog of Seriousness and Doom when I'll be talking about the next section of What It Is. ( I promise not to scare you further with creepy nightmare men :-)

Check out Rachel's place, too, for her discussion of the second section of the book.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

What It Is

What is an image? When is the past? What is memory?

These are all questions Lynda Barry asks the reader to explore in her book What It Is. The book is designed as a creative tool or workbook for anyone interested in writing or exploring their past. The text is a mix of handwriting and typeface on legal paper and is illustrated with collages, sketches, and photos. The pages are literally saturated with color and texture.

They are, it seems, alive; alive with pictures and words that grab you, haunt you, humor you, and push you to dive into your own mind and thoughts.

The first part of the book has to do with, as noted above, notions of memory, the past, and image. Right off the bat she delves into the connection between imagery and memory. She begins by telling us of a game she played with her dolls as a child. In the game she pretended to be as still and as silent as the toys and pictures in her room so as to be privy to their secret world. In this world they could move, talk, breathe. . . live. She clearly remembers seeing a picture of a kitten on her wall blinking its eyes as she watched.

"Why," she asks "would an image of something, which never happened, travel with me for all these years?" (page 12).

This leads into bigger questions about the nature of images themselves and how the images we live with in our minds are products of a past that may or may not have ever happened.

For me, dream and imagination have always worked together to create memory both real and exaggerated:

I remember driving though Napa valley one spring night chasing a brilliant moon.
Was the moon really full?

There was a face on my wall as a child. The face looked at me with a crooked, ragged smile and winked at me every night.
But wasn't that only a pattern of cracks in the plaster?

I held my father's hand as we walked to a carnival in downtown San Jose. I can see his white shirt and feel his hand in mine.
But wasn't that actually a dream I had once?

Was any of it real? Or, more importantly, does it matter?

To me these images are alive. They are as real to me as the keyboard I am typing on right now or the glasses perched on my nose. Only that crazy enemy of creativity, logic, makes me question their true, living nature as images that speak of and to my life.

They are "Alive in the way thinking is NOT, but EXPERIENCING IS, made of BOTH memory and IMAGINATION. . ." (page 14)


Come back next week for further discussion of What It Is. And go over to Rachel's place and read her take on the first section of the book.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

prom night

on the porch steps,

swaying, iridescent flowers


bees lap at the nectar
as they flutter around the bouquet.

the night is spread out before them

waiting for their heady scent to fill the dark air.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

bobby's birthday

This is the story of an ordinary man with an ordinary life. A simple story but a good one.

Bobby was born on March 27, 1941 to a young farm woman who had moved to The Big City when she married. His father was the cheating type, and he was long gone by the time Bobby came along.

Bobby and his mother lived a hard but good life in St. Louis, she working in a war plant while he spent the days with a kindly neighbor in the same apartment building. Later, when he was in school and the war was over, she took a job as a secretary in a flower seed company.

Like all boys he grew and explored and learned, and by the time he was old enough to deliver a paper he was working, too. Pet shops, the Steak & Shake, the green grocer's. . .the list goes on and on. He was never idle.

Yet, he always had time to read. His mind could not rest, and many of his leisure hours were spent among books.

Bobby grew up and became Bob, and he left home to go to college and to explore the country and the world. His travels eventually took him to Denver where a long haired waitress with gorgeous eyes and a beguiling dimple won his heart.

Bob's heart was full when his first born, a girl, came into his life in 1973. He bought a 10 pound box of chocolates for his wife which was so huge she had to split it with all the other new mothers in the maternity ward.

Time moved on and a second girl was born, and his heart swelled with love and pride once again. Like daddies across the nation, and indeed the world, he danced with his precious daughters in the evenings as they watched the fading light of sunset. Patsy Cline, Hank Williams, the Mamas and Papas, and Glen Miller all played softly from the old reel to reel player while each lady in his life took turns dancing with him, faces buried in his shirt so that Old Spice scented the dance.

He was a engineer now, working on satellites and computers in an age when few even really knew what a computer was. Yet, his love of reading never fell by the way side. Books were piled beside the bed and under it, they were in the family room and in the garage. They littered the foot wells in his car and were stacked next to the wires and electronics on his office desk.

His girls grew and life marched forward. It was when they were teens, they think, that he began to write. A Short Story was published in a magazine once. Innumerable notebooks were filled with short hand, his novel in progress. His greatest piece though, in his oldest daughter's eyes, was a letter he wrote to her when she went away for a week on a high school retreat. Too precious to share with others, it sits neatly in a wooden box he made for her once upon a time a million years ago. She only takes it out on occasion, when her heart feels strong and she thinks she can handle it.

Often she cannot. The words, as sweet and full of love as they are, remind her that he is gone.

Gone because he left this world at the young age of 53. He collapsed from a fatal heart attack at a book store, clutching a novel by Edith Wharton.

At least, they tell themselves, he was in his favorite place.

Happy birthday Bobby.

March 27, 1941 - December 2, 1994.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

paper flowers

There are no crocuses poking green sprigs through the soil yet. There are no snow drops blinking white eyes as we stride by. The earth has yet to give up it's first spring shoots.

To bring a little spring to our lives we make coffee filter flowers.

You'll need:
white, flat bottom coffee filters, water based markers, a spray bottle with water, various pipe cleaners


When I was in second grade I made my first communion,and my parents threw a huge party in my honor. I was very shy so the attention was hard for me, and I spent much of the party hiding on the side of the house avoiding the dancing and presents and cake. I remember that my mother made beautiful tissue paper flowers to decorate the fence in our yard. They also decorated the lattice work arch under which folklorico dancers entertained the guests who ate enchiladas and beans and Mexican rice.


Have your child draw various designs on the filters then spray one or two sprays of water on each one. The colors will spread, tie-dye fashion, into hazy, water color patterns. Lay flat to dry on cookie cooling racks or hang on a clothes line with wooden clothes pins.


Once my family drove to Tijuana on a whim while visiting Southern California. After quickly discerning that it wasn't really a family friendly area the we drove to, we turned around without ever getting out to walk around. A multitude of vendors approached us as we waited in our hot, steamy car to re-enter the U.S. We bought a large bouquet of colorful tissue paper flowers, a souvenir of a not-quite-vacation.


After the filters dry pinch the middle of one and twist to form a flower. Wrap the very end of a pipe cleaner around the nub of tissue to create a flower. Repeat with the remaining filters and pipe cleaners until you have a full bouquet.

Once, when I was a teenager, my out of town cousin sent my Nana (my mom's mother) a box filled with flowers made from blue Kleenex. My Nana treasured these sweet mementos from a far away grand child. When she passed away we found them safely tucked away in a shoe box in her bedroom closet.

Take the finished coffee filter flowers and decorate your house, give to friends, or pin them behind your ear. Spritz with a light perfume, if you like. Scent, they say, helps seal a memory.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Christine's Coconut Banana Bread (for Rosa)

I've recently discovered the yummy goodness of coconut oil. If you haven't tried coconut oil you really should. Make sure, though, that you by only virgin, unrefined coconut oil. Unrefined coconut oil retains a lovely coconut flavor and a pearly white color and is excellent for cooking, baking, skin care, and hair care.
1/4 cup coconut oil with
1/4 cup brown sugar (dark is best)

1 beaten egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Then mix in:
1 cup of raw, rolled oats
5 mashed bananas

In a separate bowl sift together
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon ground flax seed
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened is best, but sweetened will work, too)

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix just until combined. Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake in a 350 degree oven about 1 hour or until it tests done. Cool on rack before slicing.

This is great with cream cheese or a little coconut oil spread on top.

Friday, February 13, 2009


We are sentimental fools around here.

Valentine's Day requires candy and hearts and flowers and cards in my house. Commercial? Yes. Forced upon us my the greeting card industry? Absolutely. But I've come to the conclusion that life is short and often dreary, so a little extra celebration in the most difficult part of winter is fun and even necessary.

Every year my husband makes True Love Coffee Cake. His mother made it for him when he was a child, and I imagine his grandmother made it as well. This sweet, moist breakfast bread will warm any heart this February 14th.

Paul's True Love Coffee Cake

1/4 c. warm water
1 c. warm milk
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 melted butter

Add two packets of yeast to this mixture and proof

when cool add:
2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 tsp. salt
4 cups flour

Mix the liquid and dry ingredients together to form a soft dough and let rise one hour. Punch down and form into two parts; rest for 10 minutes. Roll out into rectangles and spread the following mixture over each one:

1/2 c. powdered sugar
a few drops of red food coloring
1/2 soft butter (more if needed)

Roll up each rectangle, cinnamon roll style, then shape each log into a heart. Split tops and let rise another 1/2 hour.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Enchiladas are one of my favorite dishes from my childhood. They are a bit time consuming, but worth it.

2 Tbs. butter or shortening (butter really is the most flavorful, I think)
2 Tbs. flour
prepared veggie or chicken broth
chili powder (New Mexico Style is best)

Combine butter and flour in a large sauce pan to make a roux. Slowly add broth (about 3 cups, maybe--it isn't an exact science so you'll have to just feel when it is the right consistency) and simmer. Add chili powder until you have a nice, thick sauce and the flavor suits your taste. Add a dash of cumin or cinnamon if you like. Keep sauce warm on the stove top while you prepare the tortillas.

about 20 (more or less) corn tortillas
shredded cheddar cheese though I suppose Monterrey jack would be nice, too
diced onions
whole black olives

Put a ladleful of sauce in the bottom of an 8 x 13 casserole dish and set aside. Prepare the tortillas by either frying in hot oil or microwaving a small stack with a wet paper towel covering them until soft and pliable. When you have a small stack of warm tortillas ready dip one in the warm sauce and lay it on a plate. Fill with cheese, onions, and one olive (this is where you can get creative--try adding spinach, sauteed sweet potato, shredded chicken, etc.) Roll the enchiladas and lay them in the casserole pan. When the pan is full, ladle remaining sauce over the enchiladas and sprinkle with cheese.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until heated through and bubbly.

I have so many memories of eating enchiladas with my family over the years, but my favorite memory is from my early twenties. It was the morning after my engagement party and my mother, my girlfriends, and I sat in lawn chairs in the back yard. We each had heaping plates of leftover enchiladas and rice from the previous night's party. We felt happy and girlish and excited as we talked about my upcoming nuptials. To this day the taste of enchiladas makes me think of being young with the future full of possibilities and the sun warm on my face.

the feel of color

As I reach my hand into the bottom drawer of my desk I pull this out:

rice candy
sun room

honey bear
autumn spirit
october leaves

fall song

and this:

blue overtones
a few brave men
movie star
independence day

Paint chips are some of my favorite little objects in the world. I love the matte, powdery feel of the sample. Like just sanded pine. Soft and smooth, their book mark shape fits comfortably in the palm. The one (and I have many) labeled with names such as submarine, swamp fog, and fizzle has maroon crayon marks all over it. I can close my eyes and feel the transition from chalky pigment to waxy, bumpy lines. I can sit for hours running my fingers over these bits of color that please not only my eyes, but my fingers, too.

In this same drawer I have a small wallpaper sample book from 1978. Like the paint chips, the pages are not just food for the eyes. These sheets are rich with texture. The page called Williamsburg Fruit is durable and thick. They even suggest taking a hard brush to the orange and green fruits "It's Scrubbable!"

Some are so heavy and the designs raised so much that they actually feel like linoleum rather than wall paper. Maria is a favorite of mine with big pink and yellow posies that look like they are made of tissue paper on a creamy background. The texture is not of embossed flowers, though, but of raised little goose pimples all over the page. The kind you can''t help but run your fingers over again and again.

Barkley is the absolute best, though. It is a traditional decorative floral pattern that is almost Victorian in its ornate quality. With a milky background the pattern itself is a greenish gold. Every time I touch it, though, I am a little sad. It looks so much like a wallpaper that hung in our hallway when we were children. But the wallpaper of my childhood was velvety to the touch. Remember those funky types of papers? I loved, loved, loved this paper and to me it just felt rich in the way pure cream is rich. Or decadent the way strawberries are in January. Completely too much and out of place, but also very, very right. And fun. I look at Barkley and I want to feel that richness again. I want to run down the hall with my hand trailing the walls behind me.