Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day...




I don't know why it came about, but I have two American casket flags in my possession.

I don't know the names of the men or women who died to earn these flags, or where they served... but I thank them from the bottom of my heart.
They died for me.
They died for you.
They died for a country and a cause that they believed in... and no tribute that I can offer, can ever do them the justice they deserve.



I've tried to track down who the recipients of these flags were, but with no luck.
I was told that unless there is actually a letter with them, there's probably no way to ever track them down.
But as a way of honoring the men who died, it was suggested that I fly these flags with pride today, as a way of honoring them... and showing them and the world that these men didn't die in vain.


And today, I'll be doing just that.



I looked and dozens of Memorial Day tribute videos this morning, and the comment on one in particular, touched me deeply.

"I'm not American, I'm English, but I know several serving Marines and a very good friend of mine has her fiancee currently serving, and I know you don't get much gratitude from us over here, but please let me thank you on behalf of my country. I'll honour every one of you brave souls who are fighting for our freedom, each and every serviceman and woman is a hero.
Once again, from the bottom of my heart, thank you."







Thank you all... And may God Bless you

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

There's an upside / or Am I just nuts?

I've been wishing someone would put an ice pick through my head stoically enduring a migraine for the last several days, and last night while laying in bed and praying for the life-saving pain injection to kick in, I realized something...

While a multitude of brain cells are busy dying from the agonizing pain - or at least going on an extended holiday to a land far far away ... the other brain cells, freed from their chronic over-crowdedness, kick into high gear.
And I think stuff.
Deep stuff.

Like I ponder the meaning of Grateful Dead songs.
(Which keep running through my brain like an old 8-track tape... and it brings back memories of John Pierce who kissed like an angel, but he only owned one tape... so I had to leave him. Fickle 16 year old that I was, I left him for a guy with missing teeth, but who had a GTO with a killer stereo, and an extensive 8-track library.
(So now you know how incredibly shallow I was in my youth. Not to mention how old I actually am.)

And in the depths of my deep thinkin', I wondered if Jerry Garcia actually wrote "Truckin'" just for me, somehow knowing that in the years to come, it might somehow strike, or re-strike a chord, and help me make the decision to move back home....
Well, I've already made that decision, (to move back home, I mean) and I've already set things in motion, with cheaply upgrading the kitchen and bathroom, and getting some outside work as well as landscaping done, so I can get the best price for this place.
Because the more I make, the better off I'll be.

So since the whole "Truckin" thing was kind of redundant, with me having already made the decision and all anyway... it kind of lead me to thinking about Cherry Garcia ice cream.

And since the nearest purveyor of Ben and Jerry's is miles and miles away from here, and I have no hope in he** of getting any any time soon...in my migraine pain and drug-induced stupor, my mind turned to other foods.

Namely blogs that feature food.
Lots of food.... as in recipes for a large family.

Like Pioneer Woman Cooks.
And Modern Day Ozzie and Harriet.

And I had an epiphany.

I've tried recipes from all over the place and have found a lot of favorites... but when it comes to 'down home cookin', I always seem to gravitate back to those 2 women on a semi-regular basis.

And those 2 women frustrate me.

Because, in spite of the yumminess and deliciousness of their recipes, and the prettiness of the food they cook... and no matter how much I may love them... I always wonder how anyone could cook and eat some of those foods, and still have the bodies of 18 year old girls.

And then the penny dropped.
They cook for crowds.

With PW, it's 6 people, plus the occasional guest or two or six...
And with Marjie, it's 11 all up... When all the kids are all home at the same time anyway.

So stuff like heart attack potatoes, fried mozzarella sticks, or cakes and pies isn't really as bad as you think, when the recipe or meal is being divided up a dozen ways.
And those gals would be lucky to get a mouthful at a time, so it's no wonder they look like they do.

Unfortunately, when I cook, there's just me, and occasionally the Old Guy... so I end up with a lot of leftovers that I really don't want, but which I feel morally obligated to eat over the course of a few days.
Or toss 'em in the freezer for later.
And since the freezer is outside.... well, you got it.

I eat it.

See, I taught my kids to cook at an early age.
They were told to find a recipe in one of my 1,000's of cherished cookbooks, give me the list of ingredients - which I would then buy - and then once a week, they each would cook dinner for the entire family.
Which meant that after me working 2 jobs, 6 days a week, I could have at least 3 nights off from preparing dinner. And they would gain necessary life skills.
Smart woman, eh?

Now with the recipes, they were always told that they needed to follow the recipes exactly - at least the first time. After getting an idea of how the recipe was actually meant to be, they could later tweak it a bit to suit themselves.
Exchange ingredients... add less or more of something... cut the recipe in half, etc.
I mean I drilled this into their sweet little developing heads.
And they got it.

However, I completely forgot about that rule... so when I make Chicken Spaghetti or some such, I still make enough to literally feed an army of hungry eaters. Even if it's just me and the Old Guy.
And I never think to cut the recipe in half.

So the thought of too much food led me right back to thoughts of Ben and Jerry's... and appreciating the fact that Cherry Garcia comes in cute little one person sized tubs.
Even if I can't locate any.

Which led me right back to the lyrics of "Truckin'.

And then wonder of wonders... on Face Book this morning, Robynn's (Robynn's Ravings) update was:

Sometimes the lights all shinin' on me,
Other times I can barely see,
Lately it occurs to me......What a long, strange trip it's been.

Which explains where my missing brain cells went to.

Robynn, could you send them back?

I might need them again...
Eventually anyway.

Feel free to use 'em in the meantime though... okay?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Breaking bread


Bread for myself is a material question.
Bread for my neighbor is a spiritual one.

While we were in San Francisco last month, I was bound and determined to have some clam chowder in a bread bowl... because I missed out on having it the last time.
And I kicked myself for months afterwards, because last time, I had acquiesced to popular opinion, and had fish and chips instead of what I really wanted.


But this last time?
Nothin' doing!


I love sourdough.
I love clam chowder.
I love Fisherman's Wharf.
What better combination... the worlds best sourdough, filled with rich and creamy made-on-the-spot clam chowder, in one of the most beautiful spots on earth... and all shared with the people I love best?


This time, there were several 'takers' when it came to the bread bowls, so after we had gotten our food, we wandered around the corner to sit on the benches, and to watch the seals and seagulls as we ate.
And it was good.


Only it was filling.

So I found myself only eating less than half of it... and I almost decided to do what the grandsons were doing, and throw pieces of the leftover bread to the seagulls.


But something told me "no".
Something told me to just place the leftovers - in the paper bowl - on top of the bin.
So I did.


And within less than half a minute, an old homeless man wandered over, picked up that leftover bread bowl and he proceeded to eat it.
Every last bite of it.
Clam chowder all over his whiskers and face, and even some in his eyebrows.
And a look of such pleasure on his face, that it would almost break your heart.


He then came over to me, smiled, and said "thank you for sharing the bread with me mam... That was surely delicious.
Do you have a cigarette you can lend me?"


So I gave him 4, (all that I had left) thinking that he would have one for now and then have some spares for later, you know?
And then I thought, well, what good are the cigarettes, if he doesn't have a lighter to light them with?
So I offered my lighter to him as well.


But he declined, saying
"thank you mam, but I'm going to go give these ciggies to a few of my friends, because I don't smoke, ya see.
May God bless you mam... because you've made an old man and our Lord very happy today."


And he wandered off.



But to this day, he hasn't left me.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I finally got SOME photos!


Well, they aren't exactly my photos, but my friend Jen came by yesterday and graciously (graciously? HA! I had to bribe her with my private stash of Columbian coffee!) allowed me to download a couple of her memory cards.
So I figure even if these aren't exactly the photos that I wanted to share, at least they're somethin'... you know what I mean? The others will come. Eventually.
Especially if Josh reads this and takes pity on me.

So now, for your viewing pleasure...




My son Josh's and DIL Becky's place.

You see that swing up on the front porch? Well, Josh went and got the cushions out for it after the rain stopped, and then he invited his mama to sit down and take a load off.

Now, I have my own garden swing here at my house, and my springs seemed to be a little more heavy-duty than these springs, but Josh assured me that these would hold up to 600 pounds. 600 pounds Mom, so these will hold your weight - sit down!.

So I sat down. Gingerly. But Josh said "C'mon Mom, just relax". So I did.
Because I trust him. Then the Old Guy came along, saw me sitting there and just plunked his arse down.
And Kaboom!

The whole seat part crashed to the ground, scaring the living daylights out of me! I was laughing and shaking so hard that I was doubled over, and it took both Josh and the Old Guy both to get me up off the porch. So Josh decided to double-check the weight limit on the springs... SIXTY pounds... not 600!
Lawdy Mercy Son... you could have killed me!


Our little home away from home.

Josh and Bed converted the 2 car garage on their property into living quarters, and man, did they do a good job! We had everything we needed, it was warm and cozy, and the best part was that Draven Griffin and Brandon were constantly coming down to spend time with Grummie and Grumpy... and Jen too, of course. Because those boys took to Jen, like a duck takes to water. But they love me better.

Sherri? This will be your "home away from home" next month... Cool, huh?

Becky's lilac bush. The poor thing took a real beating with the snow, so we were out there constantly, shaking the snow off so that it wouldn't break. I checked around while we were there for another lilac for Bec - she wants a white one as well - but I didn't have much luck. So if anyone in that vicinity knows where I can find one for her, please holler out. Bec doesn't ask for much... so I want to find her one!

Ahhh... I decided that in order to save the kids the cost of drying our clothes in the drier, I would ask Josh to put up a clothesline for us. Smart move, eh?


Josh and Jen at Murphys Park

My youngest grandson Brandon, (aka Mr. Clean) with 2 of my dear friend Chris' beautiful grandchildren in the background - Noe and Kenia.


Bec, Josh, me and the Old Guy at Big Trees.
And if you think I look "round" in this photo, just wait!

Me (the one with the double chin), Jen, Bec, the Old Guy, Brandon and Josh in Mercer Caverns. We got there on a slow day, so our tour guide - Monique - (not pictured, but Lordy, I've known that girl since she was just little!) took us on a personal tour, and she did a fantastic job!


Murphys Hotel.
Yep, the same one in the photo at the top of my blog, except this one shows the new neon sign, which is a replica of the old neon sign in front. The old neon sign was originally attached to a tree that stood out front of the hotel, but when the tree blew down years ago, the county wouldn't allow it to be replaced... Until townspeople petitioned to have it returned.

Murphys Historic Hotel website says: In continuous operation since 1856, the Murphys Historic Hotel is a quaint and charming piece of yesterday in the heart of the picturesque California Gold Rush town of Murphys in Calaveras County. This registered National Historic Landmark has hosted such notable historic figures as Ulysses S. Grant, Mark Twain, Horatio Alger, Susan B. Anthony, JP Morgan, John Wayne, Sunny Ficus, and Charles Bolton, a.k.a. Black Bart the “Gentleman Bandit.”


Baby face... you've got the cutest little baby face...
LOL! We were sorting through some old clothes and came across baby stuff. I put this headband on the Old Guys head, and told him to smile...


And this one? This is my oldest and dearest friend Chris and I.

Chris and I hadn't seen each other since Parkside Junior High - 42 YEARS ago - but it was like no time at all had passed! I recognized her straight off, and man... I love her dearly!

Now... Okay,I know that you're looking at my fat stomach.
Admit it.
But it isn't what you think. I had a beach ball under my shirt. Ermmm... a birthday present. Yeah that's it... a beach ball birthday present for my grandson, and I was hiding it from him.

Or maybe it's just all the birthday cake, blue cheese dip, and other nibbles that I stuffed myself with all day.
Yeah...That's probably it.
Unfortunately.
Okay, so I'm well-padded, okay?
Deal with it.
I've learned to.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

R.I.P Clarissa...


I heard today, that Murphys beloved mascot "Clarissa", has gone on to greener pastures.


She was such a huge part of the community for so many, many years, and she will be truly missed by several generations of Murphys kids and visitors alike...


When my kids were young, we used to make a special point of taking carrots to Clarissa and her companion Cass every time we were in town... and they always seemed so happy to see us, coming over to have their ears rubbed or their backs scratched.


Cass died some years ago, and it was always heartbreaking to see Clarissa "out-standing in her field" and all alone... except for her constant stream of human visitors.


R.I.P. dear friend.
And thanks for the memories...

Monday, May 17, 2010

WHAT A COMPLETE LET DOWN !!!

I've been waiting and waiting for my memory card to arrive, so that I can share photos of our trip home with all of you.
And photos of the wonderful 'get-together' as well.

Because, see, I have the posts almost all ready to go, but I want those photos, so that I - and you too - can put faces to the names.
Names like "Connie", and "Robynn" and "Linda" and "Chris"...

Because you may not have been there, but I want you to feel like you were.
And if you were there, well I want you to be visually reminded of how red my damn face was, because hours in the sun had me looking like a freaking tomato.
(which also started a lupus 'flare', but we won't go there... hmmm? Because honestly, it was so worth it!)

So yesterday, I saw the mailman arrive... and he had a package in his hand! Wooo Hooo!

I ran to the door, kicking aside tripping over cats and toys in the process... threw it open before he was even halfway across the porch, and almost tackled the poor guy, just so I could get that precious, precious package into my happy little hands!

I think I babbled incoherently for a minute or two while stroking the box lovingly... explaining to him just how MUCH I had looked forward to getting this particular package, mainly because I so wanted to share what was inside with all of my friends!!!

I swear... I repeated that "I really really want to share this with my friends!!!" several times.
Maybe even numerous times.
I can't remember now.

And while I was blathering, he started backing away slowly... and looking at me like I was a complete and total nut case. Which was extremely strange, because John is usually so friendly.
So, I finally came in, ripped the wrapping off .... and then got the shock of my life!!!

Because I got this...




Which is so NOT the memory card I was hoping for...

But, as long as it's here, I'll use it...

Because at my age, I guess it's one of those things that may be high on the "ick" scale, but it's a good thing to do anyway ... you know what I mean?

But I seriously doubt that I'll be sharing the results of this particular package with y'all.
(You're very welcome.)

And... I figure that since I won't be sharing any of my memorable holiday photos with you today, I'm gonna cunningly turn this "I seriously humiliated myself in front of the mailman" and my sad tale of a complete and utter "let down" post, into a public service message... and remind you to:





Wednesday, May 12, 2010

They saw right through me...


Yep, I have discerning friends, alright!
The dictionary defines "discerning" as:
"exhibiting keen insight and good judgment; perceptive."

Now when it comes to my friends...
Keen insight... Yep.
Good judgement... Yep.
Perceptive... Yep, that too.

Well, they see right through me anyway! There's no pulling the wool over their eyes, that's for sure!

See, in the photo challenge the other day, I specifically chose bloggers who either:
1. Hadn't posted in a while. To sort of get them moving, so to speak.
2. Who were new to me. Because I believe in sharing the wealth, doncha know.
3. Who are new to the bloggy world. Because I was trying to drum up a little business for them. Like as in trying to get folks on over to their blogs and get them some followers.

And it worked! Sort of...
But sort of not.

Thanks to all the folks who took the challenge on and who participated, but I have one more little challenge for you this morning.
It's like homework... only more fun!

Regarding all those " photo challengees" from the other day, I would like for you to go over and check out their blogs.
Seriously.

Now, maybe you already did.
But then again, maybe you didn't.

And they all deserve a 'look-see' as far as I'm concerned. Because I only surround myself with the best. As y'all know.

So just to jog your memory a bit, I'll list them again, okay? Or you can just go here...

1) Sherri from Just Me
2) Alison from Edelweiss Cowgirl
3) Karen from Fresh Fixin's
4) Momlady from Bright Blessings
5) Diney from Older mums are fun
6) Becky from Becky and her babies
7) Joolz from Simply Joolz
8) Sue from Home to the World


Please check them out, and if you like what you see, why not become a follower!

(Hey guys... I'm not pulling the wool over your eyes with this post either, am I?
See, I told you that you were discerning!)



Sunday, May 9, 2010

Two for the price of one...


Well, I'm still waiting for that memory card with our holidays snaps to come in the mail, but I had a real "light bulb moment" this morning... and decided to grab a couple of photos off my son's face book page. At least he's a little more organized than his mama is.

So this way, you get to see some photos of our trip, as well as me getting to celebrate "Mother's Day" by looking at my dear family at the same time.
Holiday memories and Mother's Day.
How clever is that, eh?


My son Josh, and my beautiful DIL Bec, at Melones Lake.

It was a bit cold, but Josh - like his mama - has "No sense, no feelings". We both run around barefoot, or as close to barefoot as we can... 365 days out of the year.
At least I put a jacket on, though.

Here's lookin' at you, kid.
Or here's "Looking at me, looking at you, looking at me."
Bec, Josh and the Old Guy, standing at the at the lookout at Melones Lake, Calaveras County side.

California Poppies


My gorgeous, "never-ending-source's-of energy" grandson's... Draven, Griffin and Brandon, running on the beach at Vista Point... just below the Lone Sailor memorial.


“The Lone Sailor” Memorial at Vista Point, at the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge.
I hadn't seen this before, (it was erected in 2002 and we missed it the last time around) and it's an amazingly touching memorial. You can read more about the statue HERE, or just google.


Josh, Bec and Brandon sitting on the wall at the beach at Vista point.
Which some people might say is a much better photo than this one below, but you had to be there.
Honestly.

There's a story behind it, and I would tell you the story, but then again, I always vowed to never embarrass or humiliate my kids in public.

And I'm stickin' to it.


So... I may not be there with the ones I love today, but I have plenty of warm, happy memories to look back on.

So... here ya go... holiday photos and Happy Mother's Day!

(the poppies and The Lone Sailor photos are stock photo's but I'm sure you'll forgive me.)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Joining in on a Photo Tag Challenge...



Okay... I'm doing my level best to avoid tidying up around here, as well as putting off putting everything away where it belongs after our 3 weeks vacation...
So I've been just catching up on blog reading and relaxing.
As you do after a vacation.
You rest from all the resting.

So anyway, I came across Nancy's blog post over at Southern Blessings, and I decided to take part in her "photo tag" challenge, and at least give you something to look at while I'm still working on the draft of "My vacation Part 2".
With pictures.(which are coming from California soon... because my son swears that the memory card was mailed yesterday. He also swears that he never touched my 2 bags of Reese's miniatures, but there ya go... He fibs when it suits him.)

Now, Nancy didn't exactly invite me to participate in the photo challenge, and I wasn't one of her chosen 8, but in spite of my lack of ambition around the house this morning, I want you to know that I'm what you might call a "self-starter" when it comes to stuff like this...
Like jumping in when I haven't even been invited to jump in, but I'm sure Nancy wouldn't mind anyway. Because she's so sweet that way.

Anyway, here are the directions...

1) Go to your photo files, select the 8th photo folder.
2) Select the 8th photo in that folder.
3) Post that photo along with the story behind it.
4) Then challenge 8 blogging friends to do the same!
Easy peasy!


Port Campbell

"The Bay"

We had gone to Port Campbell for a weekend away with our friends Miz K and her husband Mr. R... and because my new camera was still brand new to me, I went more than a little snap happy. I took pictures of seaweed and moss covered rocks... Seagulls and cliff faces. The ocean and sky and sidewalks and cars and pine cones and stray dogs and people sitting outside cafes... as well as the accommodation that we stayed at and lobster that we bought to share. I swear that I took about 100 photos that day, and I had a ball doing it.

And as luck would have it, the 8th picture in my "Port Campbell" folder was at least recognizable and "shareable". Because if Nancy had asked for picture # 9 in folder 8, you would have gotten a photo of a dismembered lobster with his brains hanging out. Which - for some reason - is not something I would have wanted to share with y'all.

Now this is the part where I'm supposed to tag 8 people to play along. And I'll do that. But just in case you want to join in, just do it, okay? Because sometimes rules are just made to be broken... ya know what I mean?

Now here are the 8 people I'm tagging:

1) Sherri from Just Me

2) Alison from Edelweiss Cowgirl

3) Karen from Fresh Fixin's

4) Momlady from Bright Blessings

5) Diney from Older mums are fun

6) Becky from Becky and her babies

7) Joolz from Simply Joolz

8) Sue from Home to the World

And if you want to join in? Just GO for it !

Rules are made to be broken, and you know that you want to!







Thursday, May 6, 2010

I'm getting there. Slowly but surely.

Okay... well it seems that my little foot stomping, full blown tantrum did me a world of good yesterday.
Gettin' it off my chest and all.
Either that, or the home made enchiladas that I made for myself last night - and which I didn't have to share with anybody.
Especially any turned-up noses, non-Mexican food loving philistines.

And the beauty is, I slept like a proverbial baby.
Like for almost 7 hours.

So here I sit this morning in my jammies, just as the sun's coming up... with a fresh hot cup of Folgers by my side, all ready to share the next little bit of my vacation with y'all.
And my mind's a blank.

Dammit.

Have you ever had one of those fantastic dreams where everything is just so perfect, so wonderful... and just as you're waking up, you think "Nooooo... I don't want this dream to end"?
But you wake up anyway and lay there for a while basking in the glow of that dream... and then 10 minutes later, you can't remember a single solitary bit of it?
You know that it was good, and you still feel the essence of it, but it's all jumbled up and gone with the morning light but there's enough left in your heart and mind, to light up your day and to keep you smiling?
That's me right now.

I know that I had a wonderful time and I know that it was pretty nigh perfect in every way, (well, except for the shopping bits and not getting Mexican food of course) but I just can't get it all ordered in my mind.

See, I can still feel Brandons' little feet as he stood on my lap, breathing his wicked burning dragon breath in my face, while I pretended to pass out from the scariness of it all...

And I can still feel the weight of Draven curled up in my lap stroking my face and arm while he talked about this and that and voiced his worry about me living in such a dangerous place...

And I still feel the tears on my shoulder as Griffin sat in my lap and cried his little heart out at the thought of us leaving... days before it actually happened.

Being fed "dipped in the ashes" gritty toasted marshmallows. Burned marshmallows so hot I could barely stand it, under-cooked and rubbery marshmallows... until I thought I was gonna chuck.
Then moving on to S'mores.
Burned ones... crispy ones... perfect except for the burning lava chocolate ones... Even a few made with Reese's miniatures that had been cut in half.

Holding those boys in my lap and wrapping them in my sweater to keep them warm as we sat around the fire pit, with burning faces and numb frozen bottoms... with Grummie having pride of place in the only decent recliner/rocker and everyone else teetered on plastic chairs.

These are my grandsons... not born of my son, and already complete and formed and making their tentative way in the world before they ever came into my sons life...
And mine too, for that matter.
But mine.
All mine.

Could it be possible that I could love them more, even if they were my own flesh and blood?
I doubt it.
They have my heart. My whole heart, and I would lay down my life in a heartbeat, for each and every one of them.
I would even eat ashy gritty marshmallows for any of them... and swear they were ambrosia.

Maybe that's why I'm having such a hard time getting thoughts to paper. (So to speak, anyway. Lord knows I can talk... and I can talk the hind leg off of a donkey, but it doesn't always come out like I want it to.)

Maybe because it's all about love.

My grandsons... my son Josh and daughter in law Becky... friends old and new... family and extended family...
You can talk about it, and you can feel it in the air, but you can't always just put your finger on it or hold it in your hand to show off to people.

Because it's like a dream you never want to wake up from.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A little sniveling between parts 1 and 2...

Today's Thursday. We got back from California (home sweet home) on Monday, and to tell you the truth, I thought that in spite of the jet-lag, that I would be feeling a lot better by now.
But I'm not.
I feel like crap and I've been feeling sort of angry for some reason.

And this morning, (at 3am - thank you, jet-lag) I realized why I've been out of sorts.

Now... when I said that I had a fantastic trip home, I was being honest with you.
Well... 99.5% honest, anyway.

The trip was fantastic in so many, many ways... and it did my heart a world of good to be back home where I belong. To be back with my son, my beautiful DIL and grandsons, and to just revel in the heart-warming homeyness of it all.

To watch the oak trees unfurl their rust colored baby leaves, quietly turning to the most gorgeous, soft, uplifting green, in just 3 short weeks...
To watch and listen to the blue jays scolding one another and anyone who dared get in their path...
To watch the snow flakes fall and cover everything in sight with such beauty, that even the ugly is transformed...
To listen to the rustle and snorts of the deer in the woods, and to watch the squirrels scampering around with simple forthright aliveness.
To cook for my family and to watch my son eat just about anything set before him.. and a lot that wasn't.

See, Josh is an eater. He eats to live, and he lives to eat... and he can cook, right along with the best of them. And he stays fit with it all, because his job is such a physical one.
But with things the way the are in the US right now, his little family is struggling, and they've been just barely getting by on the basics.

So when mama starts in buying treat-y stuff like graham crackers and Cheerios and a couple of bags of Reese's miniatures, and the fixin's for S'mores... and stocking up on grocery staples and then cooking 3 huge pans of lasagna, or making green onion cakes and biscuits and cinnamon rolls, he thought all of his Christmas's had come at once.
So he ate.
And then he ate some more.

That part was heavenly. That was what I went for.

But... the worm in the apple was that I took the old guy and a friend with me.
Not that I regret doing it, and to be completely fair about it, I did enjoy having them with me.
But still...
(Not that either of them could ever be compared to worms... I'm just using that as a metaphor.
Probably a really poor one, but there ya go... Didn't I tell you that I'm still jet-lagged?)

It just seems to me, (and yes, I'm sort-of-whining-like-a-spoiled-child... So just deal with it.) that this was supposed to be my trip.
This was my family and my home ... and I seriously needed the breather as well as spending some time doing exactly what "I" wanted to do.
At least part of the time.
I needed to recharge my batteries before the year or so ahead of me, before I go back for good.
(Because I will be going home again, no matter what Thomas Wolfe may have said about it. And who in the hell decided that Thomas Wolfe was the end-all and be-all of quotation utterer's anyway, eh?)
I wanted to be able to visit with friends both old and new, I wanted to eat Mexican food until I popped - or popped off - whichever came first... and I wanted to just sit back and soak up the joy that my family and "home" brings to me.

Yet somehow, it just didn't work out that way.
Well, it did, but then again it didn't.

Jenn wanted to shop.
The Old Guy wanted to shop.
Then they wanted to shop again the next day.
And the next.
And I understand that. I really do.
Because the prices in the US are so much cheaper than they are here in Australia. Things that are considered a luxury here, are commonplace and affordable in America.

But sadly, both of them turned their noses up at Mexican food, and opted for McDonald's or Burger King or Chinese...
And see, the thing is... we have McDonald's and Burger King here in Australia. (well BK is called Hungry Jacks, but it's owned by Burger King - don't ask me why. The food is the exact same thing, anyway.)
And we have Chinese food here in Australia as well.
Everywhere.
What we don't have is easy access to decent Mexican food, without driving for hours and hours.
And who can justify driving 2 hours just to fill up on semi-authentic enchiladas or tacos (I use the term "semi-authentic" very loosely, believe me), and then drive 2 hours back home again?

And see, what I wanted, and what I craved... was to have the foods what I can't ordinarily have.
Foods that are a part of who I am, and that make me feel more connected to my California/Okie roots.
Family foods.
I wanted foods and experiences that I've had a serious-a** craving for, for the last 2 years.
Now was that too much to ask?
Was it?

Okay you can call me silly, ( feel free, because I've been called a lot worse in my time, believe me.. and "whiny bi***" may very well be one of 'em - and you're free to call me that too, if you want) but doesn't part of the experience of going to a foreign country include stepping outside your comfort zone just a little bit?
Trying new foods?
Going new places?
Doing new things?
Not doing the things that you would ordinarily do at home?

Now don't get me wrong, I'm glad that Jenn and the Old Guy has such a good time.
I really truly am. Because I love them.
They both had such a good time that they both agreed that they want to go back again... And it does makes me feel good that they had such a great experience.
And I'm happy for them.
I really am.

But while they're feeling happy and content ... I'm left feeling a bit let down.
Childish, in fact.
I want to pout and stamp my feet and say "it isn't fair".
But I won't, because I'm not made that way.
(well, I probably am, but I'm real good at putting on a brave face and sucking it up most of the time. I have an image to maintain, and the Lord knows, I maintain it well.)

See, I feel sad that I well and truly missed out on spending more time with Connie from Over Good Ground, who lives just over the hill in Amador County. She even took down the "Trespassers Will Be Shot" sign, in my honor, because I was supposed to come over for some quality time. So Connie could home her social skills (her words, not mine. I thought her social skills were perfectly honed, in every way) And her sweet little Carl was even going to do some dog tricks for company and all.
But we didn't make it.
And it hurts my heart.

And I missed out on spending more time with my best friend Chris, from junior high school (we hadn't seen one another in over 42 years, but we fell right back into being "best friends" again, just like I knew we would!)

As well as missing out on spending more time with my cousins Linda and Bill ... close family that I hadn't seen since about 1974 ... which is way too long, in my book.
And Linda even brought me some old family photos that I had never seen before, of my Mom and her Mom and other dimly-remembered family members... Photos that made me gasp in wonder.
( Now before you start stressin', don't worry... you'll get to meet Chris, Linda and Bill, as well as the oh-so-lovely-platinum-haired Robynn and Grizzly and the Wild Man from Robynns Ravings, in Part 2, okay?)

So, I missed out on spending time with old and new friends... and long-lost family.
I missed out on filling myself up with Mexican food and Pulled Pork sandwiches...
I missed out on cooking up a mess 'o greens with fat back and cornbread, simply because of a few turned-up noses...
I just feel like I missed out, almost all the way around.

Except for the family time and cooking up a storm time for hungry belly's, of course.
And except for watching spring and nature unfurl in all her glory, right before my eyes... while the grandsons did the exact same thing. I swear, I could sit and watch them grow and change, if they only sat still long enough! Frantic, hungry squirrels have nothing on my boys when it comes to scampering around!

So okay... there you have it.
I'm a whiny, ungrateful woman... and I'm not proud of it.

I'll try harder with the next post - Part 2 -, okay?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My trip home... Part 1.

I'm still pretty jet-lagged and my mind's a big mess of jumbled thoughts, but if I don't get this down now, I'll probably have an even harder time once I start back to work.

The trip home was fantastic.
It was a bit more cluttered with shopping and sightseeing than I would have liked, but I guess that was to be expected, taking along my friend Jenn and the Old Guy like I did. I just wanted to "be"... if that makes any sense, and just sort of revel in the days... the scenery... the "one-ness" of being home again.
I would have been perfectly content to just veg out and just hang around the house and property and spend some quality time with my son and sweet little family... ya know what I mean?

But even though it kind of sounds like I'm complaining, I'm not. It was a perfect visit, and it was so perfect that I decided that I'm going to start making plans to move back permanently, just as soon as I can tie things up here.

Anyway... before I get carried away and start in on the why's and wherefores, let me tell you about the trip itself.

The weather was perfect in every way... and it was kind of like California was showing me everything that I've missed about her.
We had days of rain, we had days of gorgeous spring-like weather, we had a couple of days of snow, as well as soft, warm summer days... and I loved every bit of it. The rainy days were spent shopping, the snowy days were spent sitting around the fire, the spring days were spent exploring and taking long drives... and the warmer days were spent visiting with friends and family... So it was heavenly, in every way!

I didn't realize that the day I had planned for the *get-together* was my middle grandson's birthday, but everything slotted in with the get-together, perfectly. I managed to spend the day celebrating my grandson Griffins birthday, catch up with old friends and family, as well as getting to meet for the first time, some ladies who are near and dear to my heart. And after having met them, they're nearer and dearer to my heart than they were before. If that's even possible...

We met up at the little local Murphys Park on Saturday April 24th, and Connie from Over Good Ground was the first to show up. Well, to tell you the truth, she was there before I was, and I guess she spent some embarrassing time walking around the park and asking total strangers "Are you Kate?" before I even got there.
And I don't know about her feelings on her end of things, but once we finally met, it was "instant" for me... you know what I mean? I felt that we just "clicked" - and I wasn't surprised at all.

Connie is as warm and caring and thoroughly lovable as I've always imagined she would be. With her living just in the next county, her posts and photos have always touched me, and there have even been times when she's gone out of her way to email me photos of 'local stuff' - just because she understands just how much I miss being home.
Meeting her was a pure joy, but she even brought me some gifts...
The most perfect gifts imaginable... and she put a lot of thought into them, knowing somehow exactly what I needed to have. She had handcrafted a beautiful necklace for me, with shells from 'home', bits of wood from the area, buttons and beads... and all put together with love and meticulous attention to detail.
And to tell you the truth, I haven't taken it off yet... and I have no intention of putting this one in the jewelery box. It's that perfect... and so completely and utterly evocative of "home" and Connie's thoughfulness.
She also brought me a rose from her garden, as well as a small bunch of lavender, and a couple of small pieces of local manzanita wood and and lichen... knowing somehow, just how much it would touch my heart.
And as much as I appreciate and love the gifts that she gave me, it was the simpler - and greater gift - of Connie's hand in friendship that truly touched my heart.
But that's not all...

She also brought me a 'oh-so-amazing and humbling' gift from another blogging friend of ours, who couldn't make it to the get-together.
See, Ros from Ros-the-quilter and I share some of the same heartaches - with the losses of her son Matthew and my Jenny and Jake - and we've developed a wonderful email and blogging friendship... But this lovely, warm and caring woman put a lot of time and effort into crafting a gorgeous quilt just for me - sending it to Connie to pass along.
Me... a woman she's never met before in her life!

I was simply gobsmacked when Connie presented it to me, and I'm afraid that I did an awful lot of babbling and sniffling, and I probably didn't express myself like I wish I had... but I was just overwhelmed with the thoughtfulness of this wonderful woman, and the utter perfectness of her gift to me.
A woman that I've never (yet) had the pleasure of meeting... yet who still put her heart and soul into a quilt that well and truly touched my heart.

Unfortunately, even though I took a lot of pictures, somehow in the downloading, copying and whatnot at my sons house, I inadvertently left my memory card behind and I can't share any of the original photos with you yet...
I'll be going out today and getting another memory card (Josh is sending mine in the mail just as soon as he finds it) but I don't want to wait that long to share some of the photos, because I need to share with you what these two lovely, warm and thoughtful women did for me. How much they touched my heart, and put a smile of contentment on my face.

I'm going to leave off now, rather than make this post into a humongous novel... but stay tuned for the next installment of "My trip home.. part 2"... or even 3 or 4. Hey, maybe even more...
Because once I start talking, it's hard to shut me up.
And I promise... there will be pictures.

Besides, I need to go find the tissues and wipe my eyes right now.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Hi honeys... I'm baaaack !



For just a second there, I was going to say " Hi honeys', I'm hooome"... but that would be lying. I'm back in Oz after 3 beautiful, eventful, jam-packed with experiences weeks at *home*, but unfortunately I left my heart and half of my mind behind when I left California.

My heart is soooo full right now, and I have so much to share.. but jet-lag has honestly got the best of me right now... so sharing is gonna have to wait until I'm fully functioning again.

I had a fantastic time and met some lovely, lovely blogging friends for the first (but not last) time, but y'all please just hang in there, until I can get my thoughts in order and can get around to sharing it all with you, okay?




I left my heart behind...



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