Peace of Pie

blackery pie 3I am not sure if it is because I have not had sugar since that delightful personal crème brulee for my birthday in May, or if I just thought of the moment so long?  I had been dreaming about, thinking about, judging everything against it for months.  “THE” pie.  The slice of thick, deep & intense color, aromatic, mouth-watering (even before I tasted it), the heavenly scent of Blackberry Pie.

Every time in the last few months, I would spy a dessert or a candy or have a mini meltdown over not being able to have what I wanted, I thought of Blackberry Pie.  A friend gently told me, that maybe a piece of pie or a Bliss bar once during the season would be a lovely treat and not a terrible thing.  Maybe a tiny indulgence would be a good thing.

I may have forgotten the words “tiny indulgence” while on vacation.  Over the course of a week, I INDULGED with FOUR generous slices of pie.  I was a member of the clean plate club each time.

My sis in law, is amazing.  Not only does she bake like an angel………oh those flakey crusts…………..they melt in your mouth……….the flavor, rich, buttery, slightly crisp and if lucky you get a tiny piece of the crust that is baked a minute or two too long and it is toasty and light brown……………

Where was I?  Oh yes, my sis in law.  I could not have made it through the last (2 days shy) of twelve months without her.  She has listened to me cry, rant, rave, SWEAR, sniff my snotty nose, beg for answers, ask a million and one questions.  She has listened and listened and sent cards and goodies and little presents.  She has answered the phone every single time, I needed help.  She has helped me heal.  She has walked over the hot coals and not complained once.  She has agreed with me when I said some medical person was mean and nasty.  She has listened to me complain and grumble and sob.  Although she may not have agreed 100% with my “kooky” ideas, she never once let on.  She supported me and continues to do so, every single step in this jig.  She goes to the gym daily, I think of her when I am biking.  She is an amazing wife and mom and friend.  She has taught me so much.

She made me a promise of a blackberry pie.  Yes, that is what it took for me to keep working every single day.  To take all 47 supplements daily, bike four miles a day, get fresh air, get sunshine, do my yoga, think positive, research and more research, drink my green juice and avoid all the bad stuff out there.  The carrot (yes, I eat at least four a day) dangling at the end of that wooden stick…………………a slice of homemade blackberry pie.

blackberry pie sliceThe small round table was set, the forks were placed in their proper place, the drawer was pulled open to get a knife to cut into that beautiful, marked with a “B” in the crust, pie.  (Mr. Right says it is for him, Bruce, I say it is for Blue Ribbon, she giggled and said it is for Blackberry)  That first slice was gently placed on a plate and served.  It was the longest 2 minutes to wait I have ever sat through.  Being polite and waiting until all have been served was almost more than this fussy girl could handle.  I can smell the cups of coffee, swirling with a dark, rich scent all around us.  Waiting, just waiting to compliment that slice of goodness.  Pure goodness.

The moment the fork at an angle, pierced the point of that slice of heaven.  The weight of it on my fork.  Bringing it to my mouth. Closing my lips around the fork and sliding the triangular piece off the fork and onto my tongue.  Letting it sit there and melt in my mouth.  The chewing, the flavor, the tart, the sweet, the savory crust…….my mouth is watering right now as I type.  blackerry pie taste

I earned that bite of pie.  I earned every single bite of that slice.  Actually I earned every bite of the four slices I had while on vacation.  Yes, I was willing to pay for plane tickets and fly from one side of the country to the other, rent a car, drive four hours, wear boots, live through -8*, have my hair go insanely “joyful” for a few days, blow my nose until it looked like Santa’s, act like a goofy girl with the time change (I still haven’t reset my watch, now that I think about it), one dead battery, one missed wake up call, endure one freshly painted elevator in a hotel that stunk to high heaven……………………all, all of that for a piece of pie.  Well, and I got to hug my family and say thank you in person for helping me back on the road to wellness and health.  I worked hard everyday to make that journey.  It was worth it, oh was it worth it.

For some reason, I got incredibly lucky.  I got a sister out of the marriage deal.  She is the real thing.  She is intelligent, funny, kind, loyal, sews amazing Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls, is a wonderful wife and example for me. She doesn’t judge and here is a very girly thing………her nails………………she does and takes care of her nails almost daily.  They look pretty and cared for and beautiful on a daily basis.   AND, she has the best laugh in the world.  It makes you feel like everything is going to be okay.

Man oh man, do I LOVE her and her Blackberry Pie.  I tell you, it could inspire Peace on Earth and Harmony across the world.  Yes, that good.

One time years ago, together we wrote a cookbook.  On the cover, we wrote, “Chance made us sisters, Hearts made us Friends”.  It is my good fortune and a privilege and honor to call her friend.

boy germs

I grew up with two sisters.  We had oodles of girl cousins and neighborhood girlfriends and girlfriends from school.  We wore dresses and pretty shoes that my father always shined Saturday night for the next morning’s Sunday School attire.  We fussed over our hair.  Lots of hair.  Long, beautiful, curly hair.  Hair ribbons and bows and dippity do and pony tails and braids and tangles and tears.  We attended “White Gloves and Party Manners” classes.  We were taught good manners and how to walk like a lady by practicing with a broom stick and a book on our heads.  We walked outdoors on the patio with our fancy high-heeled shoes while wearing shorts and rolled up play pants.  We were learning to become young ladies.

Somewhere, sometime, it happened.  Boys.  They sure were a different breed.  They were messy and dirty and rumpled and sweaty and THEY DIDN’T care.

I grew up in the great state of Washington.  Clear across the land and in a different country, two brothers were growing up in Quebec.   Little did I know that they rough housed and fought and wrestled and poked at each other.  Those two guys did not have a Blue Ribbon upbringing.

However, somehow, they figured out the good stuff.  They figured out how to buy gorgeous jewelry  and buy pretty flowers for the ladies in their lives.  They figured out how to treat their wives with pure goodness.  They figured out how to find a career and stick with it and rise to the top.  Somehow without any guidance, they figured out the words, patriotism and loyalty.

I doubt you will find two brothers who will talk about it less, ignore the amazing bond they have, not mention what they have built and joke more.

The men in my life are faithful as the day is long.  They are both intelligent, funny, honest,  competitive with themselves and have an amazingly strong sense of right and wrong.  It is crystal clear to them.  No matter what others think, they know the path they are walking.    Sometimes their mannerisms or actions are so similar it is spooky. Both have a love affair with being on time, (to them that means 11 minutes early to everything).  Both stomp the snow off their boots they same way.

When my sister-in-law and I married our guys,………..we each got a brother as well.  Gosh, I can’t tell you how much I love those guys.

When I am in the same room, restaurant, building, classroom, kitchen….. as those two men, I feel safe and protected and cared for, adored and loved.  It is this strange, shimmering, almost glimmer of a bubble that protects us, in that very moment in time.

Decades later,  I scratch my head and ponder, just how on earth did those two, boys with germs, grow up to be men of honor?

You can actually feel the respect they have for one another.

They give each other space.

They have each other’s back.

One drives a truck, the other a car.  They root for very different Hockey teams. Yesterday, one awoke to -17* and the other to 41*.

They have been playing the same golf board game for over 30 years.  DSCN2841

They’d lay down their lives for each other.

Boys Germs – Brothers……………. it takes my breath away.  

beautiful nails and clean hands

When I was a little girl, I loved elementary school.  I loved my friends and being in a classroom.  I loved my own desk.  While mine was not nearly as neat and tidy as the other girls, I did keep the pencil tray completely clean.  When the teacher was not looking, I, along with some of the other girls, would run a squirt of Elmer’s School Glue down the little groove where you were suppose to keep your pencil.  We would be careful not to bump it or touch it with anything.  Then come tomorrow, and we would peel out the set glue and make fake “fingernails” to trim and “press-on” to wear.  It makes me giggle thinking of it today.  We were so creative and cleaver.  We thought the teacher didn’t know.

While on vacation, we had the privilege of visiting our niece’s Fourth grade class room.  She teaches at a private school in Barton, Vermont.   It was a wonderful treat to see her in her element.  Those elementary school kids adore her.  She is not the old-fashioned, dull, sensible shoes wearing, fourth grade teacher we all had.  She is slight, and pretty and has gorgeous blond hair.  She wears silly pins and necklaces.  She has pretty clothes and fancy shoes.  Her appearance is important to her and you just know those girls are watching her every fashion move.   She piles her golden locks up on her head with fancy ties and the day we were there,  she used curly que Christmas ribbons.  She does not command authority.  Somehow, when you watch her, the children hang on every word she says.  They respect her.  Weather it was looking closely at “Twilight” their classroom hamster or while she gave instructions about the next project, you could hear it in those children’s voices, see it in their eyes.  She is their teacher and they admire her and wait for her to lead them.  She is marching forward with intelligence and a positive attitude and those students are following right behind her.

While standing in the back of the classroom, after looking at all the wonderful and inspiring decorations and brightly colored walls, I began to notice a couple of the young ladies fussing near their desks.  I could smell a sweet scent.  Just so happens, I was sneaking a peek at sweet and silly fourth grade girls mixing “flavors” of antibacterial hand wash.  They each had their own personal sized bottle….Vanilla with apple,  sour something with lemon and so the sneaking and mixing went on.  They kept an eye on their teacher to make sure she didn’t see them.  You could see the smile in their eyes.

We were so lucky to be able to see our niece as a teacher.  Those children and the school are lucky to have her and the support her parents give unconditionally to the students and staff.  While walking through the halls, you are instantly transported back to the days when you were tripping on your own shoelaces and trying to cram things into the lockers.  One student told us, “Miss Wilson, had to put air fresheners in each of our lockers.”  Gee, could it be the damp wet coats and boots and more that fourth graders have with them?

We are all worried about the state of our educational system in America.  As we should be.  However, I just wanted to share, that in a little remote corner of New England, Miss Wilson’s Fourth Grade class is alert, attentive and eager to learn from their teacher.  There is respect in the air.  There is pride in the uniforms they wear.  It made me happy to watch, listen and learn.  It gave me a sense of hope.  Hope in the future of our educational system and the students.

My wish is that every fourth grader across the land has the privilege of having a teacher a remarkable as Miss Wilson.  I hope every student across America has to write a thank you letter to a Veteran and address an envelope.  I hope they each have to listen with both ears because their teacher never shouts at them.   She is the kind of teacher, whom the children will remember.  ….oh, my fourth grade teacher was tough, smart, fair, honest, kind and considerate.  Oh, and every single day, she  wore a little cat pin or jewelry or sweater of some sort with a cat on it.

What those students don’t know………………………. when Miss Wilson earned her teaching certificate, she was also given a special set of eyes.  She wears them in the back of her head.    When she came home after teaching that day, she said yes, she could see and smell the girls mixing the antibacterial hand wash.

My heart did a happy dance when I saw her name outside of her class room, Miss Wilson.

Yes, she is one of the “good” teachers.  I just bet she is the kind of teacher that would not have scolded me for making “press on nails” out of Elmer’s Glue.

Those students (with very clean and sweet-smelling hands)  are indeed themselves in very good & capable hands.st paul's

“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”  Albert Einstein

Happy Harmonica

There once was a time in my life that I was surrounded by men.  One husband, two boys, heck even the dog was a boy.  (R.I.P. Quincy).  I was the only girlie in our group.

Then something wonderful happens as a reward for hanging out and matching up all those dingy, white, socks.  Sure they had their initials on the bottom with a sharpie……….still not that fun to match up.

The boys, move away, go to college and bring home beautiful, smart, sassy, fun, saucy, creative, wonderful GIRLS!  Our youngest, brought home one of those intelligent, gorgeous, California girls.

As part of the reward, we get to celebrate more birthday’s in our family.  Our circle just gets bigger and bigger with more goodness.

Happy, Happy, Birthday to our little harmonica! Monica & Gabe, birthday Hockey game Happy Birthday, Mrs. Monica Wilson!  We are so lucky to have you add more “girlie” to our group.

One of the cool things about our amazing daughter in law….. she LOVES Hockey and embraces it with PASSION. This picture is the two of them last night at the Ducks game.

Here’s to you and all that you love!  Today, we celebrate you and all your goodness!

That smile…………….for all the legos and match box cars I stepped on (right in the middle of my bare foot), all the track meets, cross-country meets, football games, golf lessons, tennis lessons, t-ball & soccer games, all the driving to skate parks, and the never-ending sound of a basketball smacking the pavement outside my kitchen window………………… her smile makes him smile….WOW, a great reward!

Love ya, girlie!  Hope your day and many more to come are all AMAZINGLY HAPPY!

a sassy two step of gratitude

Yesterday, I did a happy jig in my very own backyard.  First, I said thank you to both girls, then I did a sassy little two-step (yes, while living in Oklahoma, I managed to get Mr. Right to take country western dance lessons, another post for another day).  I very gratefully, collected two eggs.  I always (well the egg count is now at 8) but each time, I find one glorious egg, I say thank you.  I am grateful.  The chickens came to live here on June 18th.  Everyday, I have fluffed and puffed and fussed and offered treats.  While the fresh blueberries and watermelon of summer were a huge hit, the banana the other day was a fail.  The hanging Brussels Sprouts “tree” was a hit, as was the cabbage on a string (similar to soap on a rope, but you can eat cabbage).

Today, they discovered snow for the very first time.  It was wicked trying to get their little, teeny, tiny gloves on.  geesh.  DSCN2681

The chickens and their needs were given to me by a very intelligent friend.  She knew I would accept the gift and take on the challenge.  She knew I would go out every day.  I would feed and water and fluff and puff.  She knew I would get off the sofa and stop “playing” sick long enough to take care of my new friends.  At first, I couldn’t move the coup alone.  Mr. Right, had to help me with the chores.  I couldn’t lift the bag of bedding.  I am lifting about 75% full bag now.  I cringed when they pecked at my painted toenails and glitter covered flip-flops.  Now, I wear boots and actually take off a glove and pet them each day.

Yes, I decorate their chicken condo appropriate for the season. DSCN2666 Yes, it gets moved and cleaned weekly.  However, they are not pets.  Yes, I love them and enjoy having them live here, but they are not family pets.  They actually produce eggs.  They are working animals.  I am friendly and talk to them, yet, I respect them and they obey the rules of the land.  “in the summer months, NO, sitting on lawn furniture, geesh”.

What if everyone had to raise their own chickens for eggs?  I know Mr. Right is teasing (half heartedly) about the cost of each egg.  Over the weekend, I bought more scratch and decorations for their little palace.  I added $8.00 to the cost of fresh eggs.  When you drive by a small family run farm and they sell fresh eggs for $4.00 a dozen, STOP.  Go in, buy them, thank them for the fresh, hormone, chemical  free eggs and use each one gratefully.  What if by using fresh eggs, we became a more grateful people?  We said thank you and meant it.  Yes, I know, lots of people say they are “busy” they don’t have time to raise chickens or stop and buy fresh eggs.  They are already at the mega store and pick up a couple dozen, pure as the driven snow, white, eggs.  They are each matching in size and shape.  Does anyone else think this is a bit odd?  Is everyone out there proud and happy to use factory produced eggs for food for their family?

DSCN2648What if every one of us had to raise our own chickens to eat?  Raise our own cows to eat?  Clean our own water?  Would we be more respectful?  Would we appreciate the hard work, effort and time it takes to raise and provide clean, healthy products?  While I would love to aim towards “99 cents a dozen” for the cost of eggs, it just isn’t going to happen with such a small flock.

I am guessing that if each one of us had something to offer, we could barter fresh eggs for fresh apples.  Fresh eggs for fresh herbs.  Trade fresh eggs for raw honey.  See?  It could actually work.  By sharing our gifts, the actions alone would help us to be more grateful.

My way of thinking has changed, flipped, done a switch a roo.  I am very grateful for each egg.  I take pictures.  I share the photos with the grandgirlies and the world (well face book).  I value what “eggactly” (couldn’t help that)…………..went into the “making” of each and every egg.  DSCN2672

I am providing (albeit a small amount) to the nourishment of our family.  I am helping.  I am grateful to be doing so.  I am proud that I am contributing.

When you hand quilt your very own quilt, somehow you appreciate and feel a deeper warmth while sleeping under it.  When you raise your own chickens and they lay eggs, you value, appreciate and are very grateful of the process.

A friend of my son’s raises chickens and was kind enough to give me some tips on how to garner more eggs……….I thanked him kindly.  I am just learning.  I am reading everything I can and am listening to advice anyone and everyone will share.  He then said  the best tip ever to get more eggs………………..have more chickens!  haha

family table

One of the big reasons that I removed my blog postings from Face book, is the ugly or less than stellar remarks.  While I am open to a brisk dialog if we disagree, being mean and ugly just doesn’t work for me.  I have an entire post to write about the social media and how we are not being kind to one another.  Saving for another time.

This is a book review.  Nothing more.  NO politics are involved. The book was written by a mom of 6 boys, one husband, 6 daughter in-laws and oodles and oodles of grands.   This book is about getting the family meal on the table, picnic table, tv trays, blanket on the beach………..you get the idea.  It is about celebrating and favorite traditions.  The photographs in this book are glorious and will make you smile.

Some of the recipes are old favorites, not all are healthy.  The overall view is trying to get a meal put together for twenty plus something every single time they gather.  It is about connecting as a family and feeding their souls as well as their stomachs.   Some recipes are simple reminders like:  oh gee, a Caesar salad sounds good.  Some are more time involved.

romney family tableIf you are in your local library and come across the book “The Romney Family Table” by Ann Romney………..check it out.  If you have someone on your list this holiday that is a cookbook lover, or a mom of many or few, buy the book, give the book.  Yes, that lovely of a book.

You learn about the backbone of a huge, working family.  Instead of listening to what the media has to say about people in the public eye, I thoroughly enjoying reading and learning for myself.

I must say, from the time, I cracked open this beautiful book, drooled over food pictures and laughed over food and family antics and traditions, until the very last page, I felt like I had been graciously invited to share a family meal with a very nice American family.

It was a book well worth my time.  Somehow after reading this offering, I felt like I could and want to do a little something extra at our next family gathering.

Happy Reading, cooking and picture-taking!  Enjoy.

help me trade

DSCN2650I am one of those people who can’t seem to gracefully ask for help.  So when I spot that same character trait in another, I get all tingly.  I know the feeling very well.  You need help, but you do not want to ask for it.   Life is crumbling around you and yet, for some weirdo reason, you can’t swallow your pride enough to ask for help.   Sometimes, life is way too big, and you have no other choice but to ask for a hand.

When a tree fell across our driveway, we needed the help of friends and a chainsaw and a truck.  Could not have cleared the mess with out help.  We stop our mail when gone on holiday, drive ourselves to the airport and park our car there.   It is easier to ask a family friend to watch our dog while we are gone.  They really seem to love her and we of course take a huge “Thank You” basket for babysitting.  Actually, our up coming holiday includes a first for us.  We have had to ask a friend for help in looking in on our chickens.  We are trading babysitting for a coffee card.  Give ’em what they want! Trading is so much easier.

I have traded Salt & Vinegar potato chips for a ride to and from physical therapy.  I have traded a coffee gift card for a ride to physical therapy.  I came to the conclusion that I have an easier time trading than I do asking.

I have had to ask for oodles and oodles of help these last couple of years.   After my knee replacement, I had to ask Mr. Right to keep track of all the medicine for a few weeks, I had to ask him to make all the meals and to clean the house and to fluff my pillows and for someone to drive me to Physical Therapy, to be honest, I had to just give up and let him do it all.  I had nothing to trade.   This last year, has been more of the same.  It has all been so overwhelming, I just stopped asking.  He is a very smart cookie (a snappy Snickerdoodle, sounds like him) and he doesn’t need for me to ask.  He knows what I can and cannot do.

At some point in the calendar, Mr. Right has to return to his normal work schedule and life somehow has to stumble along until you can get back on track.  Sure I can drag the chicken bedding and bag of straw to the chicken palace for fluffing and puffing.  Yes, my brain is a bit more clear and I can resume, banking duties.  Some things, I still need to wait until he gets home to manage.

Recently a friend had surgery.  She will not be able to drive herself to all her Physical Therapy appointments. She really is more of a “doer and giver” than an “ask for help” sort of gal.  We live several hours away from each other.  While yes, I have sent her silly jokes and funny emails and goofy cards, I wanted to help her.  It is a hard thing for some folks to ask for help.  Instead of her wasting time fretting and feeling bad, I wanted to come up with a plan to help her “trade”.

The light bulb went off……….most likely in the shower………….best thinking place ever!  I love this idea and I wanted to share it.  I wanted to give people an idea of how to help someone while they are under the weather.  moustashesSure sending fake stick on moustaches is good for a laugh…………laughter is the best medicine.  Sending dehydrated chicken soup through the mail, when you can’t take your own……………equally funny and thoughtful.  I think this idea is a great one.  You help the person, help themselves.  You enjoy doing it and then they get 6 TIMES the happiness when they use your offering.

Okay, so I bought a 6 packet of cocoa packets.  I happen to have to go cups at home.  I also, just happen to have baskets, baskets, bins, totes, stacks of fabric just waiting to be used.  The life of a quilter, there is always pieces of sassy, cute fabric you just can’t throw away.  I have a gorgeous, clear, heavy, glass brick, with an opening in one end and a stopper.  I store all my extra buttons in there.  So pretty, so handy.  I mention all this to tell you (& and I am guessing my friend will read this)………….I spent a total of 73 cents on a 6 package of cocoa.  period.  She will feel super happy that I used what I already had.  I completely enjoyed the sewing and it was fun to use some happy fabric. DSCN2651

“Sew” I whipped up some cozies and tossed each a package of cocoa.  I mailed them (well actually Mr. Right mailed them this morning) to her.  So now, instead of asking for help, she just has to say…………”would you be interested in a trade?  I have some cocoa to trade you for a quick trip to my appointment”.  DSCN2653

Trading is so much happier, easier and admit it…………….WAY MORE FUN!   Happy = Healing

Here’s to all our happy, good health and healing!

ps. and may I say, a huge heartfelt thank you for those who have helped me along this long journey.  Some of my girlfriends earned gallons of hot cocoa!  Mr. Right, well Mr. Right deserves the factory where they make all the cocoa ever produced on earth.  The end.