Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Pastry Observation

Cinnamon rolls.

They take a bit of time and patience, some kneading and punching, buttering and slicing. A watchful eye to be sure. Timing is everything.

Christmas morning - rolls are eagerly separated, warmed or not, and eaten by an expectant - yet grateful - family of six. Quickly. Gone. Poof! Like that. Leaving contented smiles on sticky faces.

Just like the whole Christmas season.

What new creation of life awaits in 2009?

Can't wait to find out!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


What do you do when you've got a houseful of kids - er, um, young adults - who are hungry and giving you that look?

You get out the pizza ingredients and put the hungry people to work, that's what. Cassie taught Ben how to toss a pizza crust. He got the hang of it in short order.

Caroline observes Cassie and Ben's differing styles.

Cassie adjusts her dough...

...then layers on the sauce and cheeses.

This summer-grown ingredient punctuates the flavor.

Cassie's finished product! Voila!

While the chefs gleefully play with their food, I mean prepare supper, Joe relaxes, happy he doesn't have to make his own supper tonight.

Holiday from ordinary days, reconnecting, making memories.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter Solstice

Sunrise: 7:44
Sunset: 4:36
Length of visible light: 9 hours, 59 minutes
Length of day: 8 hours, 52 minutes
Tomorrow will be 4 seconds longer

Today marks the Winter Solstice, an event often overlooked and generally undervalued.

Marking the reversal of the gradually lengthening nights and shortening days Winter Solstice brings comfort, for I know it marks the beginning of the return of energy and vitality to me. While I treasure winter's rest, tedious grows the challenge to fill dark hours with purpose - however pleasant and meaningful - and the effects of enforced semi-hibernation takes its toll on my emotions. Hope for gray-darkness to endure just long enough to offer recharging before politely stepping aside for Spring clarifies my fuzzy mind.

According to Wikipedia, "The winter solstice occurs at the instant when the Sun's position in the sky is at its greatest angular distance on the other side of the equatorial plane from the observer's hemisphere...The word solstice derives from Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still)."

So, 'stand still' sun for a moment this day. I pause in my spirit to acknowledge the shift occurring on this amazing orb we inhabit.

Head lifted, torso straightened, countenance freshened, I shall endure, open to possibility and surprise.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Old Folks

In her wheelchair she rolls her 85 year-old self out of her bedroom and down the hall of her loving son's home. Naked, she sits, arms pushing the wheels, her adult diaper on her head. Smiling. Her son and his wife's hearts weep.

Would she, at 45, have wanted it so?

She was fine until the doctor gave her some new meds. Then she, 'Went crazy,' her son tells us. 'Just changed almost overnight.'

Is there such a thing as living too long? Wouldn't it be better to die naturally, with dignity, than to exist in a body drugged and strung along? Isn't old age hard enough on all of us - those who have arrived at that stage and those who watch and help - without turning it into an unnatural, massive, soul-wrenching science experiment?

I'm reminded of lyrics, which may be recalled incorrectly, but the sentiment is there.

Makes me sad. Compassion wells up for us all.


Old Folks

The old folks don't talk much
They talk so slowly when they do
They are rich they are poor
Their illusions are gone
They share one heart for two

Their homes all smell of pine
And old photographs
And an old fashioned song
Though you may live in town
You live so far away
When you've lived too long

Have they laughed too much?
Do their dry voices crack
Talking of things gone by?
Have they cried too much?
A tear or two still always seems
To cloud the eye

They tremble as they watch the old silver clock
When day is through
Tick tock, oh so slow
It says yes it says no
It says I wait for you

The old folks dream no more
Their books have gone to sleep
The piano's out of tune
The little cat is dead
And no more do they sing on a Sunday afternoon

The old folks move no more
Their world becomes too small
Their bodies feel like lead
They might look out a window
Or else sit it a chair
Or else they stay in bed

And if they still go out
Arm and arm, arm and arm
In the morning's chill
It's to have a good cry
To say their last good-bye
To one whose older still
And then they go home
To the old silver clock

When day is through
Tick tock, oh so slow
It says yes it says no
It says, I wait for you

The old folks never die
They just put down their heads
And go to sleep one day
They will hold each other's hands
Like children in the dark
But one will get lost anyway
And the other will remain
Just sitting in a room
Which makes no sound
It doesn't matter now
The song has died away
And echo's all around

You'll see them as they walk
Through the sun-filled parks
Where children run and play
It hurts too much to smile
It hurts so much
But life goes on for still another day
As they try to escape the old silver clock

When day is through
The clock goes so slow
It says yes it says no
It says I wait for you

The old old silver clock
That's hanging on the wall
That waits for us all


The life cycle.

I ache.

And am reminded...

..."We simply dare not waste our youth." ~~ Keith Green

Monday, December 8, 2008

Food as Medicine

In an optimistic effort to maintain perspective about the unfortunate gift some of our Thanksgiving guests left for us - sneezed and coughed-out germs that create a nasty bout of cold/bronchitis - I prepared food for my family that not only nourishes the body but brightens the spirit as well. Afterall, wellness begins in the mind, right? It may not end there, but it begins there.

Chicken soup made with lots of vegetables including roasted yams and parsnips bubbling in homemade chicken stock not only lent its aroma to our home, but soothed sinuses and bellies all around.

Norwegian Kringles offered holiday warmth and comfort. Part bread, part biscuit, and part cookie these little gems seemed to drive the fog away.

My daughters are getting well. Tom and I are keeping the illness at bay - so far. We can feel our bodies fighting that ominous tickle at the throat and headache behind the eyes.

After I made and served this meal I went back to bed to watch Simon Birch while I sipped orange juice and spring water in a candlelit room, on a bed with lots of fluffy pillows, thick wool socks around my feet.

It all helps.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

'Bread and Roses'

As we go marching, marching
In the beauty of the day
A million darkened kitchens
A thousand mill lofts grey
Are touched with all the radiance
That a sudden sun discloses
For the people hear us singing
Bread and roses, bread and roses

As we go marching, marching
We battle too for men
For they are women's children
And we mother them again
Our lives shall not be sweetened
From birth until life closes
Hearts starve as well as bodies
Give us bread, but give us roses

As we go marching, marching
We bring the greater days
For the rising of the women
Means the rising of the race
No more the drudge and idler
Ten that toil where one reposes
But the sharing of life's glories
Bread and roses, bread and roses

~~ James Oppenheim (1912)