Friday, April 30, 2010
Years ago, when the girls were little, we used to go with my in-laws to Arkansas for the annual family reunion. While Heber Springs and Drasco were totally rustic when the folks grew up there, the area has spruced up. We always stayed in a lovely condo, with a long deck overlooking trees and a gorgeous lake.
Every morning, my mother-in-law would chide me, "Stop fussing around. I'll watch those girls. You go outside. Enjoy the deck." I'd go outside with a cup of coffee, plop in a deck chair and do nothing -- just sit, sip my coffee, and watch the sun play on the water. Then, just as I started getting hungry, Mom would magically appear, bringing me peanut butter on toast.
There are a lot of ways to say, "I love you." This weekend, try peanut butter on toast.
P.S. I found the photo here. Mom just spread the peanut butter, which was perfectly fine. She wasn't a "draw cute pictures in the peanut butter" kind of gal. I cut the toast in half and then make it into a butterfly. I even do this for myself. (You're not surprised by this, are you?)
P.P.S. Were you hoping for a fancier recipe? Check this out. Peanut Butter and Banana French Toast. Sounds good ... I haven't tried it.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
This Sunday is World Laughter Day, an event Lance at Jungle of Life pointed out to me. Lance and friends are launching The Levity Project. As a first step, they're taking it to the streets of New York City this Sunday to create "playfulness and fun, with the idea that through joy, we can all experience a bit more peace in our world."
If you're in New York, go party! The event is free, but you need to register.
By the by, I will be in Manhattan on Sunday. Manhattan, Kansas. For international CI team members, I couldn't make this up.
Oh! Almost forgot. This is Poem in Your Pocket Day! I decided to go with Cascando, an old favorite by Samuel Beckett. It's in a poetry book so beloved it's now held together with tape. I've lost track of Joel, the boy who gave it to me, but I still have his book!
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
During the past few months, a small group of us spent a lot of time with Duana -- at her home, in the hospital, and then at Hospice House. Did she need us? Absolutely. But our caregiving wasn't purely altruistic. We needed her too. And we knew our time with her was limited.
So, when people lavish praise on us -- and they have -- here's my response: All we did is what friends do. We showed up. We helped. Each in our own way, we helped.
It will take a long time to fully comprehend the gifts Maureen, Mary Jo, Janey and the rest of us received by being with Duana during her final days. I already know this: I wouldn't have missed a moment.
I also know that the whole "live like you were dying" concept is a helluva lot more romantic when it's a song than when it's real. There was no sky-diving at Hospice House. Take the meaning of the song to heart: Go Rocky Mountain climbing now.
For my own creative sanity, I need to write a long piece about Du -- not a blog entry. So I will. But, for now, I'm moving on. Which is exactly what she would want me to do.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Thursday is Poem in Your Pocket Day. It's a simple idea: Select a poem you love, write it down or print it out, and carry it with you on Thursday. Share it with people throughout the day. Or, just feel better, knowing it's there.
I asked the hubby which poem he'd choose, and I love his selection: Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost.* Our daughter Kate did this painting, inspired by Frost's poem, in 6th grade. She had a wonderful teacher, Mrs. Hannah, who had the kids memorize and recite poetry. Sigh ... makes me happy just to think of it.
But, I digress. I'm telling you about Thursday's event now, so you have time to participate. What poem will you carry?
*Oh, sure. There's a classic poem with "harness" right in it. Try to find one with "Sokoloff."
Monday, April 26, 2010
I don't know chords from cords, but the video cracked me up. And laughing is always a good way to start a week! Thanks, Bud!
Friday, April 23, 2010
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Because April 22 is my birthday!
Very good. And here's my theory on birthdays and other important issues. If something matters to you, don't expect/hope/worry that people will realize that and come through for you. Even people who love you cannot always read your mind. (And isn't that fortunate?)
Birthdays matter to me. Thanks for being part of my celebration!
P.S. A lady never tells her age. I'm 55. Ugh. Celebration aside, that looks relatively hideous in print. At some point, I may have to claim middle-age. But not yet. Not yet.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
The Red Coat
by Idris Anderson
It's sleeting when we walk from the white church,
the ground frozen, the brown grass brittle.
I am somewhat back in the long black line of mourners,
behind my sisters, their husbands and children. I see it
all as it's happening as though it's not happening.
The roses on the polished oak of my father's coffin
are sheeting with ice and I know the red coat
is too thin to keep my mother warm. She's not shivering.
She walks across the breaking grass behind the coffin
slowly and with great dignity—without her oxygen tank,
her mouth open, a rose filled with snow.
She's walking toward something silver and mechanical,
like a fence around the grave. There's a canopy imprinted
with the logo of the funeral home, Herndon and Sons,
and four rows of white plastic chairs and the artificial grass.
A blue tarp covers a red clay pile of earth. We aren't supposed
to notice these things. Bits of color in wool hats and scarves
and the red coat. My mother was determined to wear the red coat
which I'd bought for myself but gave to her because she loved it,
because it is the color that he loved on her,
because I could not bear her not having anything she loved.
"The Red Coat" by Idris Anderson, from Mrs. Ramsay's Knee. © Utah State University Press, 2008.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Monday, April 19, 2010
Jack Lousma, the main communications link between the ground crew and the flight crew, told the Kansas City Star he was "dumbfounded" when someone asked him later, "What if the astronauts hadn't made it?"
"It never entered my mind," he said. "We were all positively focused on getting those guys back."
And that, my friends, is the way to generate productive, creative energy. It's a new week. Let's shoot for the moon.
P.S. If you've never visited the Cosmosphere, it's amazing. I highly recommend it.
Friday, April 16, 2010
Since I have shared Duana stories with you in the past, thought I'd also share a bit of the service today. We're starting with Ben Harper, Waiting on an Angel. (She did not go alone.) And we're wrapping it up in perfect Duana style with Louis Armstrong.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
I presented a creativity session this past weekend and my young buddy Ellie attended. She promptly grabbed my props and started playing ... drawing pictures, writing in the journal, wearing the crown.
I've never told anyone NOT to play with the props. But the session is generally filled with adults. You know, well-behaved people who seldom make history.
My tip for today? Follow Ellie's lead. Until you're told otherwise, assume you have permission to play!
Amuse Amber Update: Amber is home from the hospital! Thanks to everyone who sent links, ideas, etc. I'll use some of the remaining ideas in future posts. Let's wrap this series up with an amusement courtesy of Andrew. He's a 6-year-old friend of Neil's son Jackson. Again, kids know fun.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Yes, I'm talking about taking 10 minutes for an actual pen-to-paper, look up their mailing address, find a stamp, lick-the-envelope communication. It's a tad more effort than an email, IM or text. And the lucky person who receives your missive will know that.
P.S. It's also International Twit Award Month. Don't make me go there ...
Amuse Amber #16: Check out the Online Sketch Pad!
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
So, you can imagine my horror when I recently saw a bumper sticker announcing: "Women who behave rarely make history."
- It's fine to steal an idea and make it better, make it your own. It's not fine to steal someone else's words, make them worse and then sell them.
- "Well-behaved women" is a precise description. "Women who behave" is not. We all behave. Some of us just behave a tad more outrageously than others.
- Yes, I realize that taking a red pen to random bumper stickers is a sign that I've been a writer/editor for too long. It's a sickness. You gotta love me anyway.
Monday, April 12, 2010
Write for Charity is accepting submissions for an anthology of poems and short stories on parenting. Proceeds from sale of the anthology will benefit children's charities. Deadline for submissions is April 15, 2010.
Oooh. Tax day, for those of us in the U.S. Are you ready?
Amuse Amber #15: Check out Shit My Dad Says. Is it vulgar? Absolutely. Is it funny? You betcha.
Friday, April 9, 2010
No Knead Hot Rolls
2 pkg. dry yeast
2 cups warm water
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup shortening
2 eggs, beaten
6 to 6 1/2 cups flour (I spelled that "flower" at first. That would not work.)
a little vegetable oil
Dissolve yeast in mixing bowl in warm water. Add sugar, salt and about 1/2 of the flour. Add eggs and shortening and beat by mixer two minutes. (You probably do need a mixer with those bread hook dealie-bops.)
Beat in remaining flour gradually.
Grease the top of the dough with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until double in size -- about one hour.
Grease your baking pans. Stir dough down, shape into rolls or two loaves of bread. Put in greased pans. Cover again with damp cloth. Let rise until double, another hour or so.
Take the unsalted butter out of the fridge and let it get soft so you can spread it easily on that scrumptious bread after it bakes. You do have unsalted butter, correct? Surely I've taught you something by now.
Before baking, you can brush the tops with egg whites or milk. Or egg whites and milk. (I keep experimenting with this part. Let me know what you think works best.)
Bake at 400: 10-15 minutes for hot rolls. (It takes a little longer in my oven, but this is what the recipe calls for.)
Bake at 375: 50 minutes for two loaves. (I've never made the loaves, only the rolls, but this is the time Lynn wrote down.)
Stand back so you're not trampled in the stampede for hot bread and butter!
Amuse Amber #14: The perfect video for Food is Love day. I dare you to watch this and not smile. And you'll be doing the dance. Thanks for the link, Bud!
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Amuse Amber #12: I love coffee. I love MahJongg. So playing Cafe MahJongg is a natural!
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Post your haiku version or email it to me. You can change the title, whatever. Just use my poem as your starting ground:
After the Affair
The biggest lie
we tell each other
is everything's all right.
Amuse Amber #10: Hey, Amber! This is a creativity exercise day. So we're turning the tables. Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to post something that will amuse us! That should keep you busy and out of trouble for a while ...
P.S. Why do people think poetry is autobiographical? Do you think every short story you read is autobiographical? Get your mind out of the gutter, people. I mean, really ...
Monday, April 5, 2010
If you're not accomplishing what you want, consider the accountability factor.
My sister Eva and I had been doing great on losing weight and maintaining our weight loss. Then, we stopped the monthly weigh-ins. (Before, we each weighed on the last day of the month. Then, Eva would call me and we'd have to report the results.)
Turns out, that teeny tiny bit of accountability made all the difference in the world. Fortunately, we figured that out before too much weight crept back.
Want to succeed? Set a measurable goal. And have someone hold you accountable!
Amuse Amber #9: Speaking of Eva, and our food issues, here's a link she suggested: Cake Wrecks!
Friday, April 2, 2010
Enjoy the "Peeps Show" and I'll see you back here Monday!
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Moving from your beast to your brain, an email from TED yesterday reminded me that I hadn't looked at Jill Bolte Taylor's famous Stroke of Insight talk -- she's a brain scientist who analyzed her own stroke. The presentation is about 18 minutes long and it flies by. I love the part where she's telling herself she doesn't have time for a stroke ...
And I think we'll just consider this entire post part of the Amuse Amber campaign!