No Car

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​We are on Day 39* without a car. Our car’s engine died the third week of January. Our trusted mechanic told us it wouldn’t be worth putting in a new engine with the body our 2002 minivan had; just too much rust. We knew this day was coming, but it still left us in a numb kind of shock. It’s been our only car for several years now, and we just can’t afford a car payment. There were also some new payroll deductions so for now our salary has been reduced, significantly, and we’re not really sure how we’ll get through that. However, that is one too many problems for this discussion.

Day 39. Continue reading

November – Gratitude – Photo/Art

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Traveling to Vermont for Thanksgiving with family. (c)2018

Fireplace on a cold Thanksgiving night. (c)2018


Thanksgiving Dinner. (c)2018

November – Gratitude – Reflection

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The last two years have been clouded with so many political things, and the next two will also have much more to come, but I am grateful for the outcome of the election, the blue wave, and the thoughts that maybe we can work our way back to where the country not only should be, but where the majority of the country wants it to be. I’ve been inspired by so many new faces and listening to many intelligent voices on my new passion of podcasts that I feel cautiously optimistic that we can get through this time.

While I haven’t written that much for Nanowrimo, I have still done a lot of writing for my space here, reading my good morning journal as often as necessary, and have some other ideas and writings plotted out in the bare bones.

I went on a beautiful retreat for Thanksgiving reflection and am looking forward to another on Mary the day after my birthday. 

I am grateful to be hearing better than I have in a few years. The number of times that I say “what” have gone down exponentially thanks to a pair of hearing aids. I’ve also gotten a lot of medical things taken care of with more to come in the coming weeks, including at a ridiculous early time tomorrow. I am still seeing my therapist and trying to use all the tools in my basket; my mental health is definitely stable and good. My kids are healthy and happy in school, and we have a home, heat, and food and with the snow starting early that is indeed appreciated. Whatever else we may want, our needs are well taken care of.

Looking forward to Thursday with our family and thinking about the family not there, whether too far away or no longer and especially that whether together or apart, we are still a we.

Wishing you many blessings at this holiday season, and grateful that you are all in my life.

November – Gratitude – Recipe

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The original of this recipe was as a pie, directly from a colleague who was born and raised in New Orleans. Sweet Potato Pie is a traditional Southern dessert, very similar to pumpkin pie, although I think a little bit sweeter. I was on a trip to Virginia a couple of years ago, and was ecstatic to find a sweet potato pie in the local McDonald’s alongside their apple pies. It was amazing! Even years later, I miss it in my northeast home.

My mother could not grasp the idea that this pie was dessert or that it is typically eaten chilled. For her, it was a side dish and that’s what it became in our house for Thanksgiving.

Over the years I’ve changed it, and sometimes when I can’t find the extra large Keebler graham cracker crust I will make it as a casserole. That is the recipe that I’m going to share with you this November.

I know that this is a fall type food, but I will eat this all year round.

​Sweet Potato Casserole

This started out as a pie, but then I got a little lazy, and it became a casserole. It is still pretty awesome!

Ingredients:

1 lg can of yams or sweet potatoes

1 stick of unsalted butter

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 bag of mini marshmallows

Directions:

1. Cook the yams on the stovetop. When hot, drain and return the yams to the saucepan and mash.

2. Add the stick of butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and mix thoroughly either by hand or with a mixer.

3. Transfer the smooth yams to a casserole dish. Cover with the marshmallows.

4. Bake in an oven at 350° for thirty-five minutes or until marshmallows are golden brown.

5. Serve as a side dish. Yummy.

November – Gratitude

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November begins with the Solemnity of All Saints and finishes with the beginning of the liturgical year and Advent. In the middle are parent-teacher conferences, Veteran’s Day, Morning of Service volunteering, church breakfasts, health insurance open enrollment, medical procedures, a court appearance for a traffic ticket, the premiere of Fantastic Beasts, and  Thanksgiving.

I’m sure I’ve left things out, and I can hear all of you readers going over your lists in your heads and groaning. I know, I know. I’m sorry I brought it up.

First and foremost, November is about colors. We’ve been very slow at leaves changing colors. They seem lazy and slow to change, and they seem muted with the grey, cloudy, dreary-ish days that have started today, but they’re still beautiful, and mesmerizing as well as introspective.

Second for November, is gratitude. We need to slow down, and remember how lucky we are, and in reality, while things aren’t perfect for anyone, we are still very lucky in so many ways. Now is a good time to think on our blessings and remind ourselves of what we have and simply be grateful.

Third, November is National Novel Writing Month. I have signed on to participate again, and I’m hoping to settle into a rhythm of both updating this website and writing for Nanowrimo, and other writings and creative plans. Look for my daily, 30 Days of Nano column, offering suggestions and tips for a successful writing experience for Nanowrimo or your own writing endeavors.

Be (in) the Present

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I’ve had so much trouble writing this. I must have started it three or four times. Whenever November rolls around, there are more than enough graphics, journaling prompts, and memes asking us what we’re grateful and thankful for. I won’t suggest that we should be thinking about gratitude all year long, but… 

Yesterday was Thanksgiving. For many of us, this is a time to gather with family, some of whom we don’t see all the time, put away our “issues”, gather the cousins, set up the kiddie table, and eat good food.

This last Thanksgiving and this upcoming one have probably been a little bit harder for some, after the election and all the baggage that came with it. Whatever side you are on, one thing that has proven itself is that we feel strongly about our thoughts and beliefs. 

For some of us, losing loved ones makes this holiday all the more harder. We lost my mother-in-law last summer. Last Thanksgiving was not easy. This one won’t be either.

I was just gathering some thoughts and went to Facebook for a breather from the keyboard. Trust me, this is (somewhat) relevant.

David Cassidy died yesterday. He was a favorite of mine and despite knowing that his death would happen this week, it doesn’t make it any easier. His daughter, Katie was on one of my favorite shows, Supernatural, and is currently on Arrow, both on The CW. Jim Beaver, another actor from Supernatural, posted a condolence to her, and that’s where the internet showed off its empathy. But not really. What about his son? No condolences for him? He and Katie didn’t even have a relationship? Why does she need condolences?

Wow.

It’s like we can’t turn off the self-righteous manufactured anger anymore.

I can say with certainty that Jim didn’t suggest no condolences for the rest of the family; he was simply talking to and about his dear friend, Katie.

Sometimes, we need to simply slow down, think before we speak (or send), give the benefit of the doubt, leave cynicism at the door, and have a little faith.

On Tuesday, my friend celebrated her mother’s life. She died from cancer at age 58. I didn’t know her mom, but I knew my friend, and I know how close the two of them were. I can see her mother in her, through her actions, in the way she treated people, with kindness and love, with empathy and positivity. They both had a strong faith, and believed in their salvation through Jesus. She’s sad that her mother’s not a phone call or a short drive away, but she knows where she is, and for the rest of us, who didn’t know her mother, we will continue to know her mother through her.

On Tuesday, at around the same time, I was attending the funeral of a friend from my church, who also died from cancer. She also had a strong faith. The last time I saw her was her fiftieth wedding anniversary. She was in a wheelchair, but she was happy and positive, looking forward to her evening with her entire family, to recovering. When I went to wish her a happy anniversary, I reached my hand out ot hold hers, and she wouldn’t have it – it was time for a hug. She pulled me in, and it was lovely. She was lovely, very simply just a wonderful woman. She always had a kind word for me. She asked about my family and our holiday plans or about the kids’ schools. She welcomed me without hesitation into the church family, and was always available if I needed anything. We participated in some of the same ministries, and from her, I saw how to act in committees that I was unfamiliar with. She was a role model and a mentor.

These two women, separated by different cancers and fourteen years, five kids between them, one in New York and one in Arkansas, and both pillars of their families, the rocks that hold their people in tandem, that teach the faith, the “rules” of life, and they bring people into their orbit and make them better for it.

I’m thankful that I was able to know and to continue to know people who make a difference, not just in my life, but in others, to be an example of who I can be, who push me with their spirit and their being.

Look around at the family this weekend, tell them how their lives impact yours in the good ways, ignore the politics for a couple of days, and be there, be present, and give and share the love.