Alone

Posted: January 6, 2012 in Death, Family, Life, Love, Memories, Poetry
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My gut wrenches with the thought that I don’t have you anymore. You are gone from me for now. Shall we some day be reunited? Each breath I take is taken with that purpose alone in mind. Your last ones were not mine to hear. I left you in the care of deep love and comfort. You weren’t alone.

Nobody knows how this feels inside. I’m empty without your smile. Always a good word you spoke. You spoke the truth. You taught the truth. You loved deep. You fulfilled your responsibility while on earth. You followed the footsteps as spoken by The Word. The foundation beneath many is there because you cared. You took me by the hand. Yes, you cared. You never left me alone.

Many are foolish enough to convince themselves into believing that the changes you made throughout the years didn’t impact who they were. I am here to state that they are quite wrong. We loved and learned to love through the changes you made in your life. For this I am very grateful. He drew you and I followed your lead. They have made a choice to walk alone.

You were so strong. Frequently I ask myself from where did you draw your inner strength? Ah, but I know. You didn’t do it alone. You were a success through many failures. But no, indeed you didn’t do it alone. Neither shall I. For when I am weak, indeed it is true, for that too is when I am also very strong. Never alone.

Who shall take your place? The lines on my face are deepening with this concern. Did you think anyone could? Was that your expectation? Many times you told me how much I was like you. I am happy you told me, but were you saying this in preparing me for the journey which you already knew so well? Daily I look at myself and know I have the responsibility of making this choice. Since I am so much like you I shall never be alone.

I saw it in your eyes on that last day. You couldn’t speak anymore  but you were telling me with your eyes. It was the expression in them that caught my heart and took my breath. I give way to tears even today when I think of how you looked at me. Did I truly understand? Did I read your expression correctly? Was I helping you through your last day in a way that brought you the comfort you so needed and deserved? If I did it wasn’t I alone.

I whispered his great name into your ear and told you he was there with us. He had your right hand as I stood on your left. We all three had a very special bond in those minutes. Even those around us who couldn’t see him standing there saw the affects his love imparted upon us. They even remarked upon it. Your breathing was calmer. You were peaceful. I hope it touched their hearts. Most certainly it touched mine. For I knew we weren’t alone.

I too shall take the road less traveled. But never alone.

 

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The Same Love

Posted: December 24, 2011 in Love, Thought of the Day
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The same love can leave you breathless in ecstasy and take your breath away in pain

The same love can send you soaring to the stars or drive you to the edge of ever after

The same love can promise you forever or give you less than half of that

The same love can speak softly from the heart or speak without thinking at all

The same love can heal all the wounds or leave you with nothing at all

The same love…the same love

 

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It's Not a Tattoo. It's Art

Original and designed especially for my sister and I who met for the first time a short time ago and decided to boast matching foot art. Some day we shall visit Italy and savor olives and cheese while sipping wine under a bella luna in our barefeet

Image  —  Posted: December 21, 2011 in Art, Experiences, Family, Life, Travel
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Seriously!?! It had to be the chicken. I mean come on an egg can not create itself. And on top of that an egg would have to be incubated to become a chicken. Right?  I used to live on a ranch and learned that an egg that sits for any length of time without a little tlc from a willing hen becomes rotten? It just isn’t feasible to think the egg came first.

To appease you skeptics lets just say for the sake of argument that the egg came first. Where did the egg come from? Did it just mysteriously appear out of thin air? Poof!!! “Let there be egg.” And there was egg :p ?

While it’s true that this is a controversial issue for many I opt to believe the chicken preceded the egg. I think I just exposed my inner realist. Ha! Don’t tell anyone.That being said let us move on to the real question. Which of the two would you choose to make yourself a yummy sandwich?

There are an unlimited number of great sandwich recipes in my pantry:

Chicken

  • BBQ chicken with lots of sauce on a sweet soft French Roll
  • Chicken with cranberries, stuffing and mayo on Sliced White Bread
  • Bacon, chicken smothered in jack cheese on warm Focaccia Bread
  • Chicken, red onion, avocado and mayo on sliced Sour Dough Bread
  • Grilled Chipotle chicken with lots of chedder cheese on Garlic Bread
  • Chicken Parmigiana and melted Mozzarella on Panini  Bread with olive oil and balsamic for dipping
  • Chicken salad on Whole Wheat or White

Egg (stick with me now…don’t run off for a snack yet!) 

  • Fried Egg with American cheese on Sliced White Bread
  • Egg salad on Sliced White Bread
  • Scrambled Egg with Bacon on Sliced White Bread
  • Egg and Tuna Salad on Sliced White Bread

Oh my! A little boring. But, are you noticing a trend here!?! There are a variety of things you can do with Chicken and a very limited and boring number of fun and interesting sandwich recipes using Eggs. This brings us back to the original topic. Chicken or Egg? Don’t be chicken to walk away with a little egg on your face. Gotta love chicken!

  1. Don’t fall in love. True love brings true HEARTACHE.
  2. Don’t veer from the recipe. The cake will FAIL.
  3. Don’t leave the store without that really cute purse. When you go back for it it will be GONE.
  4. Don’t EVER dry shave your legs. You will CRY.
  5. Don’t post that really good essay you just wrote on the other class website trying to kill two birds with one stone. Someone will plagiarize it and you will end up defending your greatest WORK.
  6. Don’t forget to have a spare key made for your car. You will pay many times more for a LOCKSMITH.
  7. Don’t leave the toilet roll empty when you are finished. You will be the next one back and CURSING yourself.
  8. Don’t buy that package of Oreos at the grocery store when you are depressed. You will eat the entire thing and feel WORSE.
  9. Don’t miss the opportunity to tell your family you love them. Some day you will WISH you had.
  10. Don’t forget to come back and read my next blog. It will make you LAUGH.

Steak on Saturday nights! Sounds good doesn’t it? A trip to the most famous steak house in town for a delectable dinner so Nana could close the kitchen and take a much needed rest on a Saturday night. Warm sour dough bread wrapped in white linens snuggled into woven baskets with slabs of cold, creamery butter in a silver bowl as its companion awaited our indulgence. This would be followed by juicy melt-in-your-mouth rib eye steaks, mounds of ravioli, perfectly cooked green beans and pot shots at the staff. On a light note the sundaes were great!

Nana would begin her Saturday night out routine early in the day and in a somewhat predictable manner. Since the house was always thoroughly cleaned on Thursdays, the only thing she needed to focus on was getting herself ready for that night. It started with a leisurely cup of coffee with biscotti, an hour of tv aerobics, and a quick sweeping of the front porch. Next she and mama rounded-up us kids up for the more important stuff. Two errands. Shopping and the beauty salon. We knew better than to complain or she would snap a twig off of the old weeping willow tree in the backyard and give us a gentle swipe across the legs as she herded us into the car. Complain? Not on your life!

Our first stop, a saunter through Joseph Magnins with a lovely purchase from the saleslady whom I believed to live there since she was ALWAYS at the counter to bid nana an over-rehearsed “Have a happy day”. Did she know something about our Saturdays? Hmm, obviously she didn’t. I’m thinking it had more to do with her commission. The next stop was for nana to wrap her already well coiffed self into strict order at Bella’s on 6th Avenue. Nana’s hairdresser Isabella was indeed very pretty and did the same for her clientele. From her perfect eyeliner to her high-heels she had a way of turning my already pretty nana into a raving beauty with her handy tools, brushes and hair products. In awe, I knew that one day I too would be her client. Then it was back home for hot bathes, dress in our nice Saturday duds, and then wait for grandpa to get home and whisk us off to eat.

Grandpa took pride in his bride of 30+ years and she loved that he did. He loved carrying her on his arm knowing they didn’t get any prettier than her (or spicier for that matter).  He was an extremely hard working man who kept a rigid schedule. Always up before sunrise and home before sunset. He took very good care of his family including us grand kids who had moved into his home at his prompting when mama and daddy separated. He wanted us there with him and it was the best feeling in the world. Being wanted, loved and well cared for made for a sturdy and happy life. That’s not to say he didn’t have expectations for us. He did. And was very rigid on how they were carried out. We never questioned him! We did just so. Oh but how we loved him for his strength and direction. He was an entrepreneur and taught us the game just as planned. We were a tight family because we played by his rules. His long arduous work week always ended in our Saturday night outing. Any physical expense it may have cost him to shower and get ready we were all there together walking to the car like little soldiers headed for the steak house.

As I look back to those nights I feel confident in saying the restaurant scene was always somewhat rehearsed because somehow it always played out the same. We were always greeted by the same Greek Goddess who no doubt only moonlighted as a hostess on Saturday nights in her gold lame and stilettos to get my grandmother’s goat. Then off to the table we would go. By this time I would have heard a snicker from behind. Nana was somewhat (okay, very) jealous of other women smiling at grandpa or saying hello to him by his first name and would never let it go until addressed. Not a good way to start dinner but weekly non-the-less. Next was the waitress. Her “hello” to grandpa along with a gentle pat on the shoulder was certain to more than raise my grandmother’s eyebrows and cause pointed darts to fly in his direction instantly. How we continued to share family dinners at the steak house week after week still amazes me. Grandpa would sit there and smile while nana made certain that everyone within hearing distance knew good and well how rude and inappropriate the staff were. Her biggest complaint being that they new her just as well as him, but never even attempted to greet her in such a comfortable, shall we say, fashion. As an adult I can’t imagine how or why they did this week after week? Perhaps this explains why I very rarely eat out! Mystery solved.

The sun is shining through the gray clouds. I love it. After all, we are in sunny California. The sun is supposed to shine. Right? Some people think it’s always beach weather and that Hollywood is right around the corner. Not always so. I spoke to a friend who lives in another state the other day and has never been to California. She asked if I had been to the beach since returning to California. Although it might be tolerable there, I would rather venture that one hour drive when I know without a doubt I can lay back in the soft, warm sand without inhaling a salty, mouthful of the gritty stuff. Winter in central California doesn’t typically inspire a trip to the beach. Oh, how I look forward to a ride to the coast when the weather warms. Soon, I tell myself, very soon. Perhaps only one more month.

A brisk walk has been on my agenda all day. I must fulfill my need for the outdoors before sunset, which is about one hour away. It was in the 50s today. And, a faint southerly breeze reminds me that summer is still but an illusion. And, it’s not an entirely pleasant wisp of wind, since the town I live in is surrounded by dairies. Lots and lots of cows. I would venture to say there are no less than ten of them within a five mile radius of my home. So, regardless of the country beauty that surrounds our housing development, the scent of the cow poop shall be a contender for my attention as I vigorously stroll the avenue. I am happy to say this scent is in no way toxic.

As I set out with my little dog on her leash in one hand, and a doo doo bag in the other, I surrender myself to the exhilaration of the moment. A half block away I turn the corner which leads out of the neighborhood and onto a paved path that is flanked by freshly plowed fields with old redwood barns. There is also a creek and barren trees that have given way to the wind and list to the south. I feel their pain.There are more clouds rolling in from the south-west that are darker than those through which the sun currently peeked. Perhaps there is more rain on the near horizon. Not a bad thing, I think as I walk vigorously to combat the chill.

In the field across the street are prolific patches of lush green weeds everywhere the tractor could not reach, and inspired by the recent rains followed by spurts of warm, nurturing sunshine. As I look a little closer I spot a culinary treasure! The wild greens I grew up eating every year during the spring. Mustard greens! I get excited, pick up my pace, and decide I will return with a knife and bag to gather some for dinner.

As a child I had the unique opportunity to eat many things that the kids down the street never knew were eatable and did not particularly like. The mustard greens were one of these. My grandfather, a first generation Italian-American, plowed fields in the early spring and brought bunches of them home for dinner. Although, Nana would usually cook them, on occasion he would take on the responsibility. He was gruff and extremely down-to-earth in all aspects of his life. Including his cooking. His preparation of the greens was basic yet delicious. After he boiled them he would fry them with bacon and garlic. I too will pass on the grand tradition of teaching my sons the art of cooking from what the earth so willingly provides.

Once I reach my intended destination, and turn-around point, I realize I must hurry. I feel the threat of an impending down-pour, yes, it begins to sprinkle. As I turn back I am treated with a spectacular sight. The sun has graciously provided me vivid purple reds as she makes her decent in the west on the fair side of swaying palms. Tonight the sun will set and lure the willing eye of every artist and picker of wild greens. I shall return to pick them tomorrow.