Monday, December 29, 2014

THE CHRISTMAS COLD

The main reason I fell behind in blogging is this wicked cold.


I am so tired and stuffy and crabby, I locked myself in my room yesterday.  All day.  The kids brought in food and liquids but that's it.  I do feel a bit better.  I don't think I caught it from my neighbor's dinner party.  Most likely from being trapped on an airplane with lots of coughing people and a small air supply, twice during the past two weeks.

Hard to believe I'm heading to Maui on Wednesday morning!  I'm gonna miss all of this happy chaos ... but just for a short time.  I'm flying back for Deacon's first birthday (March 5).  Then returning to Maui until May.

Back to bed for me .....

TEETH WHITENING for WIDOWS

I spent my first morning in Oregon at the dentist.  Three hours worth!  Thankfully I had coffee on the way over.

First, I had my teeth cleaned so the whitening would have a good base.  It was so comfortable I almost fell asleep!  Headphones with classical music, a blanket and a neck pillow certainly helped.  

Despite having my mouth open with a dam inserted, it was not the least bit uncomfortable or painful.  As predicted, my teeth were a bit sensitive the rest of that day but then back to normal.

They seem to be about four shades lighter.  Enough for me to notice but for others to simply think I don't drink coffee or red wine.

Now ... if I can do weekly at home sessions, I don't think I would need to invest $200 in another year or two.  But if I don't keep up with it, I think it was really worth it!


Excuse the wild hair and no make up ....



CHRISTMAS DAY

We had to wake Braeden at 10:00 am to open gifts!

And gosh were there gifts to open!  We have our own toy store here.  It was fun to watch the excitement, including simply ripping open the packages (Deacon's favorite thing).

I had made overnight cinnamon rolls and that is all the cooking I did that day.  Jesse baked sweet potatoes, made stuffing with fresh herbs, stuffed the bird with lemon and herbs and carrots and made a fabulous cranberry/blueberry sauce.  Needless to say, I was still in my jammies when his Mom and Grandma came.  


My dinner plans were not until 5:00 pm, with Mary Beth and Gary and their friend Fred, so I nibbled a little with the kidults at lunch.  Very very tasty!  The two Moms had a glass of wine and did a bit of chatting.  I try to keep my distance from her because she is very negative and voices her opinions out loud.  I have opinions on every topic imaginable, of course, especially the kidults and the grands but I would never utter them aloud, in front of company.  Even if asked.



Fade into Christmas Night dinner ... smoked prime rib, scalloped potatoes, salad, oven roasted root vegetables with fennel and lemon, followed by apple galette.  Oh.  My.  Gosh.  We talked, we laughed, we overate.  I felt bad leaving at 9:30!!  I'm liking these new traditions.  Although I wavered a bit when Jesse's Mom didn't let him know until noon that they were coming ....

CHRISTMAS EVE

I know, I know.  I've not been putting this blog as a priority.  Life just happens sometimes.

Every year for the past ten years, Jesse's paternal side of the family has a big get together.  I made plans with neighbors to go over for dinner.  That day I find out that there isn't going to be a Booth get together.  And for some reason, his Mom is being very pouty even though they invited her over on Christmas Eve night.

She texted me to ask if I knew "I" was hosting Christmas Eve AND Christmas Dad (including her Mom).  I said I didn't know about the second one but we were celebrating the day after so the kids are welcome to do whatever.  I was tired of the last minute stuff.  Turns out she had a fight with her oldest son, where everyone goes for Christmas day.

Apparently, that angered her (???) so she threw a little fit with all the drama of "I guess I'll just be alone for Christmas from now on"  despite Jesse inviting both his Mom and his Grandma over for a full fledged turkey dinner.

I headed over to dinner only to be greeted by the hostess flushing with a full on fever and her husband half dead with the same cold.  Two other widows were also invited over and even though we ALL suggested we go home and return in a few days to enjoy the dinner ... she insisted.

Life happens!

Monday, December 22, 2014

MONDAY, December 22, 2014

It's hard to believe just three more nights til Christmas morning.  

As usual, I don't know what Kate and her little family have planned.  I've been invited for dinner on Christmas Eve with a condo friend and her family.  And another invitation for Christmas dinner with condo friend and her boyfriend ... and a long time friend of theirs.

I land about 6:30 pm tonight (9:30 body time ...) and tomorrow I'm giving myself a gift ... teeth whitening!  All that coffee and red wine have done a number on my smile.  I'll be interested to see the difference.  I've asked them to take photos before and after!  (They think I'm nuts).  I wonder how long it will last.  This physical upkeep is getting expensive!  It's time to have my eyebrow tattoos darkened.  Also time for blonde-ing my hair and I'm this close to saying let it go grey and give it some shine.  It needs coloring every month.  Some suggest that I use a semipermanent for grey color at home.  Might be worth a try.  Ugh.

So I have a lot of wrapping to do.  Some groceries to buy for my contributions and hopefully, a warm and cozy day some time this weekend with my kidlets!

4% chance of snow in Portland.  Good thing my sister gave me indoor snowballs!!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

TEARS ... AND TALES OF CHRISTMAS

Saturday night all six siblings, and lots of their children, got together for Christmas celebration.   Food, fun, gifts and memories.

We started later than usual so those who work could attend.  But it didn't give me nearly enough time to chat with everyone.  I'm hoping next time we can have a few get togethers ... we didn't get to play any games this time.  Since there are FOUR brothers in the area maybe we could do a progressive weekend!  Food and fun galore.

Janet had to drive me and Tahlia 3.5 hours each way, dropping T off at the Cincinnati airport.  We then had two parties to attend but Dr. J is on call and had to go in.  So we had to miss the first one.  I am kinda melancholy and decided to not attend the winter solstice bonfire.  It's getting a bit harder to keep my tears in check today.

I sure do miss Mr. Ralph during these warm and cozy family times.  Thank goodness for this ....


Friday, December 19, 2014

FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD!

I've led a pretty sheltered life when it comes to food.  Most of my adventures have been led by my sister.  She is a Foodie Extraordinaire.  

Open a kitchen cabinet and you will find a dozen kinds of oil.  More than a dozen kinds of vinegar.  Her cheese drawer has only one commonly noshed cheese ... cheddar which was sent as a gift ... and many others whose names I've only glanced at while walking by the gourmet cheese section.

Mr. Ralph was not a fan of eggplant.  I am becoming a fan.  My first love is baba ganoush, mainly because I can buy it already made.  It is a creamy, smoky flavored concoction that you can use as a spread or a dip.  AND so low calorie!



One day for lunch we went to a Persian restaurant to try Shiraz Eggplant .. a wonderful blend of eggplant, tomato and egg with amazing spices.  Turmeric being the most prominent, I think.  Another eggplant dish that would make a nice dinner.  And guess what?  My next door neighbor is Persian and LOVES to cook so I can get some tips.  We also discovered Persian "Crack" ... a crispy delicious side dish made from the bottoms of the rice pots!  Called Tah Dig it is perfect to dip into ANY of their dishes or just tzatziki (which I also love).

Last night we delved into Indian food.  I'm 62 1/2 and have never had any Indian food, except maybe Naan.  Every dish was good and my two favorites were an eggplant dish called Baingan Bharta and a nice warm gooey spinach dish called Saag Paneer.  And I think I can make them both at home.  May have to buy all the saucy condiments they provided ...

Eggplant is going to be my new best friend.  Goodbye white potato ....

Have I mentioned how much I love my sister?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

JUST SEVEN MORE NIGHTS!

This probably was not the BEST time to be away from home for two weeks.  But I think my Christmas celebration is pretty much together except for wrapping ... and one last thing to pick up.  Thank goodness for online shopping and free delivery.  And a little family at my condo to accept packages.

Tonight here in Louisville we are having a low key, stay in for dinner, enjoy a fire in the fireplace and watch a holiday movie kind of night.  We may even bake a few cookies.  I have a Hanukkah gift to wrap for each of these three for tonight.  Since I won't be here for the final night!

Most of our running around is complete.  We have our ingredients for our Saturday potluck contributions (three hour trek to Columbus) to be with brothers and families for Christmas.  It's been about five years since we have all been together.  Somehow it doesn't seem to be a big deal to the four brothers.  The two sisters communicate almost every day and see each other at least twice a year.  

It just is what it is!  AND ... it's just seven more nights!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

MENORAHS, LATKES and DRIEDELS

I am learning a lot about Hanukkah this year as I observe the celebration with my sister and her family.


Last night they made latkes which were amazingly tasty.  A mix of white potatoes and sweet potatoes.  As many as we wanted with a huge green salad and a nice glass of red wine.


The Dr. did not get called out so we played a long game of driedel with high end chocolate coins.  It is so much fun, I'm going to bring home some little ones and teach Braeden.  (He is loving games these days)  Since birth, Janet has bought each family member an annual driedel.  Some are works or art!  All of them work to spin.


Hanukkah is not a big holiday yet there are so many components to celebrating.  I love learning the meaning behind each of them.  Last of all, we lit our own menorah ... and let it burn all night!


She also has many menorahs so we each have one to light!

Now if we could simply have peace on earth ....

Sunday, December 14, 2014

AWKWARD VEGAN

My sister is fixing a divine beef tenderloin with roasted root vegetables for dinner tonight.  Two of her friends are joining us and niece Tahlia.

Ordinarily this wouldn't seem like anything blog worthy.  Janet and Jonathan both eat to live, rather than my philosophy of living to EAT!  For years they were vegan (before it was popular).  The past 20+ years vegetarians who also eat fish.  Tahlia who is now 21 has NEVER ever had meat or fish.  

The family enjoys fruits and vegetables that I have only looked at and wondered "who on earth would eat that?"


Rambutan was the latest test taste on my part.  Dr J peeled them for us.  I tried one but it is pretty tasteless and the texture was like a lychee.  Personally, I don't bother to go through the work.  I'm sure this fruit has special magic powers but I'm not there yet.  I still think pomegranates are too much work for too little taste.  (Who eats just the seeds of a fruit???)

I digress.  About a year ago Dr. J had some medical issues similar to Crohn's Disease which his father had and his son does have.  Horrible stuff.  My sister set herself on an internet search to see how life might be altered by diet and other natural means.  Their plan is called Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD).  VERY strict with no grains.  But after just two months, they both noticed a big difference in how they felt and their energy level.  And they made the conscious decision to add flesh to the menu.  Still mostly fish but for Thanksgiving she baked a turkey!  

And tonight a giant piece of beef.

I love how they change their lifestyles to better their health.


Saturday, December 13, 2014

ON THE ROAD AGAIN

My sister drove me to Birmingham, Alabama to visit a Maui friend who had to move back home for health reasons.  Janet had met Leilani and Gary in Maui also and we all just seem to hit it off.

We had a wonderful visit, a great Italian dinner, played with the cutest kitties (my and Ralph's namesakes) and got caught up on world gossip.  We spent a few hours on Thursday night and a shorter visit on Friday morning.  Leilani is an amazing photographer, just as a hobby.  She specializes in birds and animals but has captured the essence of lots of humans as well.  Especially Mr. Ralph.

They now live on a rustic lake and their new home backs up on the largest State Park in their state!  Luckily for us, she often puts together coffee table books of collections of photos.  This year it was photos of tiny birds at her feeders dudring a snow storm.  Exquisite little guys who puffed up to ten times their normal size to try to stay warm.  I think I may have to buy one of those!

She gave each of us a wonderful photo of a dragonfly, perfectly framed for my new bedroom.  Now I think I am going to plan a trip in late spring or early summer to see the view when the trees block everything!  Just to see HOW she finds these elusive creatures!!!

Friday, December 12, 2014

WHERE IS CUSTOMER SERVICE?

Grrrrrrrrrrr.

Everyone makes mistakes.  I'm human.  I understand.  Sometimes it's even me.  But it bothers me when I dig up all the facts and information to reassure someone I did pay my bill ON TIME, and the continue to say ...  send your payment plus late charge by the 20th.

I belong to an HOA in Maui.  $39/month.  My bank is set up to send a check to arrive on the first of each month for that month.  Late penalty is applied to payments not received by the 20th.

Recently our property management company was purchased by a larger concern and our favorite property manager has moved up the ladder, we now deal with another lady.  My mail is delivered to my Maui address so my friend/neighbor opens everything then asks what I would like forwarded.



Last month the HOA sent a letter saying I was delinquent for the past four months.  I checked my bank and yes, my payments were sent on time.  I double checked the mailing address thinking maybe that had changed and I had not updated.  HOA asked for proof.  I learned that I can't look up and print front/back of electronic checks so I had to call my bank.  Yes, they had all been cashed and they sent me copies.  The HOA then called the next day to say never mind, accounting had straightened everything out.  

This week I got another letter saying I am delinquent!  Again, I checked my bank, the check was cashed on December 2.  Non-customer oriented lady said no, that was for November AND IT WAS LATE and I better pay by the 20th.

My friends are laughing and calling me Deadbeat Widow.  All the while I am emailing this person from my phone as my sister is driving us six hours to Alabama.  Thank goodness for technology again.

Tonight I went online via computer, got a list of every payment to this HOA for the entire year.  Yep.  TWELVE payments all mailed on the 27th or 28th of each month.

I just can't wait until tomorrow ....

Thursday, December 11, 2014

SISTER SWEET SISTER

I feel like I am at an elegant bed and breakfast (and all meals!).  

Last night I arrived at my favorite sister's house in Louisville.  An hour late at 10:30 pm.  Why is traveling so exhausting?  Having her waiting at the curb was wonderful!

My sister is Jewish yet she decorated my bedroom at her home with a tiny Christmas tree, an artistic non-animal gazelle with white Christmas lights and a perfect poinsettia in the bathroom.  A million pillow with a ton of blankets.  She always makes me feel so welcome.  Even a bottle of water and a chocolate on my night stand.



She let me sleep in til 8:30 (5:30 body time) and shared some coffee time chat when we departed to meet her friend for a trip to the outlet mall. This, in itself, is amazing as she hates shopping at big brand name stores.  We spent a couple of hours and had a nice lunch together, followed by a tour of Rhoda's condo (bigger than my old house!).  

I got caught up on Janet's remodel in NYC apartment (what a process!) then she brought out wine and almonds as she prepared Pad Thai for dinner.  Made with spaghetti squash!  FABULOUS!

I want to move in here ....

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

AWKWARD FAN MAIL

I'm SOOOO excited!

Today I got my first piece of fan mail!  This is amazing.  I started this blog because of all the awkward situations that first year of widowhood.  Who knew anyone else would even read the words.  It didn't matter.  It mattered that I got things off my chest.


Somehow blogging is now my hobby.  (Secretly, I always wanted to keep a diary but it never lasted more than two weeks).  Why it is sticking now is beyond my thinking.  I was always encouraged by one of my favorite bloggers, The Misadventures of Widowhood.  She still leaves a comment every day.  Through her I've met a great group of widow bloggers whom I follow and read every day.  I've become friendly with them outside of blogging (email and Facebook and online games).

To receive a complimentary email from a total stranger has just made my day!  My year!!  Nothing short of another grandchild!  Thank you Judy from Venice.  




Tuesday, December 9, 2014

BLOGGING FROM 30,000 FEET

I'm in the air about an hour from my first stop (Dallas) on my journey to the midwest.  Internet from an airplane!

Business people use this service because their company will pay for it.  I decided to splurge just to try it out.  A hi tech Gramma!!!  $20 well invested just for the sheer fun of it!

I land tonight about 9:30 pm Louisville time.  I hate to make people pick me up at the airport that late but it was a great fare and I know my sister will take a nap when she gets old.  Thanks, Janet!

Nothing new to report!  Deacon weighed in at 22 lbs and mesures 31 inches long...at 9 months.  He is so curious about everything within his sight.  He's less cautious than Braeden was at that age ... so he has a few bruises here and there.

More from Kentucky, Alabama and Ohio!


Sunday, December 7, 2014

PAJAMA PARTY

Ooops!  I forgot to post yesterday.

I got busy getting groceries and cooking for a gal pal dinner and overnight visit!  Sharon and I have been friends for over 30 years.  Off and on, as our lives went separate ways.  Her children are older than mine which means carpooling and teenagers were at different times.

I made crockpot chicken with carrots, celery, onions and mushrooms ... and the ubiquitous Campbell's Cream of Chicken soup.  My now "almost famous" loaded smashed potatoes and asparagus.  And a teen tiny lemon bundt cake that I bought at the holiday bazaar that morning.  She drinks white and I drink red.  We each had our own bottle.

We chatted and played with her little pup, Brody, who is a long haired chihuahua with a wonderful personality.  It was a grey grey day and I felt like I could have gone back to bed throughout the day.  So at 10:00 pm, I finally said goodnight.  I had a pile of magazines (recycled from neighbors) to give her and off I went.  She's more of a night owl.

Good to know!  Yes!  We each finished our bottle!

Friday, December 5, 2014

AS OF TODAY, NINE MONTHS OF BLISS

Wow.  Another mile marker this week.  Sheer bliss.


Deacon Lee Booth is officially nine months old today!  Happy fun little baby with his own distinct personality.  He is eating people food but still getting all his nutrition from Mother's Milk.  Kate exclusively pumps for bottle feeding (because he was a lazy latcher!) and any excess is frozen for the future.  They even bought a small freezer just for milk!  He probably has enough to last until college!

We've been practicing using FaceTime so he will see me and hear me once a week while I am away.  It does my little old heart good to see him light up when he hears my voice!

If only Poppa was here ....



Thursday, December 4, 2014

MY NEW MEANING OF CHRISTMAS

Yesterday I had to sit back and gain perspective on my first world problems.  It helped.  I think most of us do this automatically ... because our lives are really just not that bad.  Yeh, we have financial worries.  Yep, arthritis is a big bother.  Eating healthy is ALWAYS an option (that sometimes we do not take).

There's an ad on Craigslist in Maui.  A young college student is asking for help for her four younger brothers to have a bit of Christmas.  Single Mom and she is working fulltime to pay for her studies.  She was looking for gently used games and trucks.

And then I saw this post on a friend's Facebook page.



Sums it all up, doesn't it?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS

Two nights ago my movable bed FROZE in the reading position.




I was pretty mad as I just purchased this in March!  I changed batteries in the remote.  I unplugged the unit for an hour.  Then I called the retail outlet who said to call the manufacturer.  I left a message there with no response.  Then I sent an email.  It's hard to coordinate repairs when I am leaving next Tuesday.  The kids will have to live here (which they love!).

It's pretty cold here which made me wish I had purchased the next car package UP from what I bought ... so I could have a heated steering wheel.  And remote start so the van would be warm when I got in.

At dinner, I wanted something other than what I have on hand.  And that's when it hit me.  These are all first world problems.

I have always had a bed (to myself unless I wanted to share).  Some families sleep on the ground.  Or many to a bed.

I have never gone hungry (except on purpose).  And some families are so grateful for $50/month to feed their family of four.

I have always had reliable transportation and the money to put gasoline in it.  I can't even imagine walking and carrying water on my shoulders.

Today I am prayerful.  First world problems are not really problems at all.  Minor blips in an upper middle class world.  At worst.  I am thankful.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

DEATH DAY ANNIVERSARY

December 2, 2014.

I allow myself a lot of remembering and a little crying.  Nineteen months and counting.  That's progress, I guess, as I am not counting the days any more.

He would be in his glory during the holidays.  The food.  The festivities.  The Christmas movies.  The Christmas commercials!  The older he got, the more sentimental.  Kate and I would tease him ... "Dad!  Come quick ... here's an aluminum foil commercial for the holidays"  Ha ha ha!!  Back in the day, those AT&T commercials and Hallmark commercials got him every time.

Last night I was invited for dinner and made his famous (only) dessert.  This couple had never met him ... but based on eating the dessert (after a FABULOUS turkey left over Shepherd's Pie) wish they would have!


Famous Chocolate Wafer Icebox Cake.  It just wasn't as wonderful as when he would make it ...

Monday, December 1, 2014

DECEMBER ALREADY???

Yikes!  The Christmas season is coming on so fast.  Why on earth did I decide to take two weeks out of state?  It's really December already????


Thank goodness for technology.  The hardest part of gift giving is deciding WHAT to give.  So that part is finished.  Today I just went online to Amazon and got 'er done.  Gifts for my sibling gift exchange and for my Hanukkah visit with my sister were shipped directly to her house.  Hopefully arriving before I need them.

The other stuff is heading this way and the kids will live at the condo while I am away, so they can bring them in and hide the boxes.

They spent the night last night as Jesse wanted to put together my three Ikea pieces for my bedroom.  They look just perfect.  Now to organize my stuff and two rooms will be finished.

Braeden spent a lot of today rearranging my Christmas knick knacks.  And when Dad put together the shelves, he had to move a few in there.  It looks rather nice!

My whole day was devoted to simply playing with the little ones while they were here.  Now that my shopping is finished .... time for a glass of wine!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

SUDDENLY SUNDAY

Today I am cooking a traditional Thanksgiving dinner ... for five!  It is 32 degrees and very sunny.  It just couldn't get any better.

Here's why:


Saturday, November 29, 2014

THE CLOSENESS OF FAMILY



My kidult and her little family and big dog spent three nights here at the condo.  It was constant noise and clutter and meals and snacks and games and laughter and laundry.  And I loved it.

Little boys just grow up too fast.  I need to have these special relationships in my life right now.  And I'm actually thinking of starting a Grandson Blog!  Out of the mouths of babes.  They soak up so much knowledge while they are young.  So by golly if Braeden doesn't want to spend the night alone at Gramma's ... I'm inviting them all.  

Braeden and Dadda are learning how to geocache.  Apparently there is a website that lists map coordinates so you can use a compass to hunt for treasures.  Sometimes buried, sometimes in a tree or pole and sometimes under a rock.  He loves getting dressed in his camo costume for this man job!!!



Mr. Little Guy just keeps me smiling.  He gets so proud of himself when he overcomes an obstacle or finds another way to crawl under the end tables even though I've blocked them.  This is my REAL elf on a shelf .....







Friday, November 28, 2014

AWKWARD AFTERMATH

Thanksgiving Day was fun for me.  Even though I did overeat during my second meal.

Gary is an extraordinary cook.  Every single item was gourmet to the nth degree.  Including my stuffing.  It was actually a recipe from The Pioneer Woman blog.  Modified a bit on the herbs in favor of ones I like better.  Oh my goodness it was even better than my Mom's.

Needless to say the rest of the evening was a comatose state of carb overload.

And watching some cute boys ...




Thursday, November 27, 2014

FAMILY, FRIENDS, FOOD

Thanksgiving was Mr. Ralph's favorite holiday.  


He loved entertaining so our home was filled to the brim at Thanksgiving.  Many folks were from his office who were new to the area.  Young friends, old friends.  Occasionally friends from other countries who do not celebrate this food filled day were included!  It's an odd holiday to explain ... and of course now we shouldn't even BE celebrating.  Poor Christopher ... how did he go from being so hailed he had his own holiday?  Where did people find the information to dethrone him ... 500 years later ... oh, that's another blog ....

Today I am thankful for family, friends and food.  I am lucky to have five siblings.  Fortunate to have my one and only kidult at age 34...and happy to have two sweet grandchildren who live nearby.  I have a wide circle of friends.  All kinds of friends.  And lots of friendly neighbors.


Happy Thanksgiving to each of you!


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

SECOND THANKSGIVING WITHOUT HIM

God has blessed me far beyond that for which I am worthy.  

A friend wrote this one sentence on his Facebook wall.  With permission, I copied it word for word.  Because it is just so true.  Despite having such a huge loss in my life, I have been blessed by two little boys who are filling that hole part way up.

We have been having a family sleep over all week.  My days are numbered with an upcoming two week trip out of state ... to visit some of my BEST Maui pals who now live in Alabama, my brothers and sister, return for a week at condo then off to Maui for five months.  My heart is just not into heading to Paradise this year.  

It's busier here for me.  The family and especially the little ones keep the healing going strong.  My 30+ years of friends is coming back together.  My 95 year old buddy is not going to last forever.  Just know there is so much MORE here ... retail therapy, restaurants, movies, bookstores, road trips, scenery.  From Portland I can be at the Coast in 90 minutes or on top of Mt. Hood or in high desert country.

Maui was OUR special place.  So I'm just not sure how this will play out.




Tuesday, November 25, 2014

THANKFUL FOR THANKSGIVING


This year my little family and I are starting new traditions.  We will celebrate holidays before or after that "actual" date.  They have other family and friends and it was just too much last minute planning for this Awkward Widow.

Which puts me in the enviable position of weaseling my way in to other peoples "on the day" festivities.  Thanksgiving has worked out perfectly.  Mary Beth invited me to her fabulous manfriend's for a gourmet dinner.  All I have to bring is stuffing (my favorite!).  She visits her Mom in assisted living for an early turkey luncheon so our gathering will be a sophisticated 5:00 pm.

So when I got a last minute invitation to join Grandpa George for an 11:00 am turkey lunch, I could do both!  He is still trying to adjust to his new, more dependent assisted living.  His son and wife live in Denver and had planned to come but her father died so they have more urgent commitments.  Bendy, his daughter, was disappointed that it would be like any other day ... just her and her boyfriend and her Dad.  

While he needs the physical help of living in this wing of his retirement center, he is not at all happy about just staying in his little studio room.  He is the epitome of social.  I'm going to pop over early this evening to join him for his dessert ... and maybe a sip of Scotch.

It's getting harder and harder for me to think about being in Maui for five months.



Monday, November 24, 2014

GROWING


Being part of a village is so amazing to me.  The more involved I get, the more great people I meet.  Sometimes the red tape bothers me, as well as the S-L-O-W progress.  I forget that most of these people have other outlets for their community volunteering.  

We do have a tiny Facebook presence now and I saw this on another Village page.  It touched me.  Sometimes we just need a positive connotation to change our whole outlook.  Growing, not just getting older.

The past week I spent more time with people younger than me.  I think we all need the intergenerational friendships to help maintain perspective.  This morning it was very exciting to get a text from a former neighbor who is a sophomore at college and home for Thanksgiving.  She wanted to take me to lunch!  We got together once this summer as well.  It's so curious to me because she seems so shy.  And she was one of Mr. Ralph's favorites!  Friendship that is just meant to be.

I like to watch others growing!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

MISSING MY MAN ....


Close friends often ask me about dating and moving on and finding another soulmate.  It's still not even entering my mind.

Today I began setting out a few Christmas things.  And had a crying jag over a swan music box that plays Amazing Grace.  I collected swans while married to Mr. Ralph ... because they mate for life.  He loved the song.  That one small, beautiful object hit my heart.  

It is just us.  Always was and always will be.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

IT'S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE ...

Christmas!


I can't believe I haven't blogged for THREE whole days!  In fact, I have barely taken time to use my computer.  

It's Christmas Bazaar season and I'm trying to add an item or two to my lost collection of favorite things.  Last night was the Plucky Maidens vintage Christmas.  It was like going to my Grandma's house!  The old plastic Santas that light up.  Old jewelry made into Christmas wall art.  Antique sleds decorated with ice skates similar to blogger Cul de Sac Chronicles (https://culdesacchronicles.wordpress.com/) is making for her front entry.

In addition, since I have just a few weeks left before heading to the sunshine, I've been booking coffee or lunch or BOTH every day!  Hosting a soup supper on Sunday.  Had the handykid take TV off the wall over the fireplace (no easy trick .... eight million wires ...) and move it to the wall in my bedroom.  Now I have to do some touch up painting there.

Love this time of year!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

OLD FOGEY WIDOW

I've officially seen it all.

Do you remember your grandparents or parents saying that? Oh, that younger generation!  Now I've seen it all.  That hair.  That hemline.  That makeup.  That tattoo.

No one these days mails a Christmas card.  (Well, I did always send one to my Mom and Dad).  When the annual letters became popular, I copied photos of the year and made color copies to mail.  Then I started doing a jazzy Christmas email.

This is just perfect for 2014.



I have to admit I am probably one of these people.  I prefer email.  Or text.  Instead of a phone call.  In my mind, it is less bothersome to the receiver.  They can read my note on their own convenient time.

But I hate when my kidults never answer their phone.  Or email.  And now they rarely respond to text.

Yep.  Definitely Old Fogey!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

ENTERTAINING 101

Whew!

I'm starting this blog BEFORE my guests arrive.  Because I need to sit down and rest!  My plan of action always takes a few days ... planning, cleaning the house, getting the groceries and then cooking.  I like to have entrees that are make ahead with only a few last minute things to do.  So I can enjoy the party as well!

The table setting turned out better than I had planned.  Who knew a single carnation would look so good with sprigs I cut from my front yard.  Lots of lights and then candles at the last minute.



Dinner got pushed back until 7pm as Jody had to meet with a VIP at her wine department.  Remember when nothing started before 7pm?  Now, a lot of the time, the invitation is for 5pm!!!  I sometimes look at these meals as a late lunch!

It was fun, interesting and delicious!  Part of "Entertaining 101" is the table.  The other part is the food .... and how you  talk about it, as well as present it.  I could have said fish, vegetables and potato.  Starting out with nuts and olives.  But when you call it walnut vinaigrette salmon, oven roasted colorful vegetables, Marcona almonds and Kalamata olives ... just sounds so ... gourmet!

Kerry ended up not feeling well enough to attend but he sent the most wonderful curried squash soup.  Gary brought an old time, long in the family, home made spice cake (I kept a piece and had it with my coffee this morning).

Conversation was lively.  Fire glowed perfectly.  Lots of wine glasses used.  And finally had to ask Jody to leave at 11:30!  Success!


Saturday, November 15, 2014

KIDULTS

I was lucky enough to be blessed with one child, a daughter.

When I married at age 21, having left a tiny house filled with eight people, we decided to not have children.  My Dad was a carpenter and the sole wage earner.  In Ohio that meant usually not much work in the wintertime.  Our "vacation" each year was to eat out at a Chinese restaurant ... where we could order anything ... as long as we ate it all.

But you know, I never felt "poor" because my Mom made everything so fun!  My Barbie doll got new (homemade...and some were the same fabric as MY new dress!) clothes at Christmas.  She would help me design the cardboard box house complete with wrapping paper wall paper.  A cigarette carton was wrapped in fabric for a sofa and we sewed tiny pillows.  We also made salt clay food items.  Actually, my friends who had their own bedrooms and ten times more Barbie stuff ... preferred to play at my house.

Anyway, when my biological clock began to tick, I changed my mind about wanting a kidlet.  Husband No. 1 could not be persuaded.  I came home from work one evening to discover he had had a vasectomy (without discussion)  so that was the end of that.  Then meeting a great older guy who already had teenagers, I figured oh well.  And then surprise.

These past months here in Oregon have been so much fun.  We get together about once a week.  Jesse loves to cook.  And then Kate cleans up.  Last night was rump roast (which I have never had before!)(big pieces of meat are daunting to me), cooked medium rare.  With carrots and celery and I taught him to make gravy (or "dip dip" as Braeden calls every sauce).  Garlic bread and then I practiced the crash smashed potatoes.  Everything was a hit!

Kidlets who grow into Kidults are pretty awesome.  Of course, adding a couple of grandsons sure hasn't hurt either!

Friday, November 14, 2014

THE ENTERTAINING WIDOW

I've finally spiffed up the condo enough to invite friends over.  Tomorrow night two couples are joining me for dinner.

One couple, Jody and Kerry, are former neighbors.  She is a renowned wine steward and he is a chef by training, now running the Food Services department for the most chic of our retirement communities.  VERY chic.  

Gary and Mary Beth are new friends.  She manages the local amusement park ... for the past 30+ years.  Because she is still just a kid at heart!!  Gary is her beau who loves to cook and pair with good wine ... so I'm a little under the gun here.

Mary Beth's Mom lives at Mary's Woods where Kerry develops the menu.  The wine steward and the wine aficionado should have a lot to discuss.  Her customers all followed her when she was approached to leave the chain she had worked with (unappreciatedly so) for the past ten years.

I took the easy way out and asked Jody/Kerry to bring soup or salad.  Gary/Mary Beth are bringing dessert (interesting how both of the MEN in these couples are the cooks?).

Appetizers ~ 
Marcona almonds, Kalamata olives and toothpick Caprese salad bites.  With Prosecco!

Dinner ~
Salmon with walnut vinaigrette
Oven roasted butternut squash, green beans and red bell peppers (COLOR!)
Crispy Smashed Roasted ... boiled red potatoes that are then smashed and broiled and topped with cheddar, bacon bits and a dollop of sour cream.


I've never made them before but gosh do I love potatoes!


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

WIDOW CHRISTMAS No. 2

Honestly, it's hard to believe this will be my second Christmas on my own.  Last year was with girlfriends, in Maui.  Great food and wonderful company.  And did I mention Maui????

This year I decided to spend holidays here in Oregon while the boys are young.  I don't have room for a Christmas tree indoors (especially with a crawler/climber ... and a dog with a waggly tail) but I will put one up outside in front of the dining room window.  Then just a million do dads all around the condo.

Unfortunately, when we were downsizing in a crazy hurry, we accidentally took the boxes of Christmas treasures I had weaned down to keep ... to Goodwill.  Ornaments from every country we had traveled.  Ornaments we gave each other every year for 28 years.  Sad, sad, sad.  I do still have a few things from my Mom and Dad.  And what the heck!  We will just start collecting all over again!  (hinting for an invite to Michigan blogger country ... in the spring or summer though!)

Today a neighbor invited me to a Christmas Bazaar and oh my gosh I'm in the mood.  The Canby fairgrounds organized amazing vignettes with lots of room to simply gaze and dream.  It was well attended but not overly crowded.  Lots of homemade items (my favorite) and prices were very affordable.




You've probably heard about the new fad that replaces the "Behavior Chart" my Mom used during December.  Elf on a shelf.  Parents move an elf (who is often mischievous) and he/she keeps an eye on the children.  Braeden really "gets" it this year.  He named his elf Dora (last year ... watched some Dora the Explorer, I think).  I figure Gramma needs an elf to help her remind him to mind his p's and q's ...

Meet David!


Monday, November 10, 2014

iPHONE APP FOR NOVEMBER

This is crazy.  I use this one so much that I don't even think of it as an app!  My Starbucks button!

I've been using this for years now.  Mostly to pay for my purchases and get those reward points.  Which I save to try one of those fancy girl drinks!  Typically I just get a tall coffee in a grande cup (for room to cool down a bit).

Lately I learned that you get a point for each transaction ... not by dollar amount spent.  So if I'm getting something more than a cup of coffee to run somewhere else, I buy things separately.  First the coffee and find my cozy little spot.  Then maybe the newspaper.  Or a food item.  Or coffee beans.  When Mr. Ralph was with me, we each bought our own drink and we each got something free every month or so.

Having the app on my phone makes these freebies easy to remember.  Also, I have it set up to automatically reload when my balance goes below $25.  The app also has a feature to find the Starbucks closest to you!  Which I used last week when I brought GrGeorge a great pumpkin latte (his request).  

It probably does way more than this .... try it!


Sunday, November 9, 2014

I WAS DYING


Isn't this true sometimes?  I'm glad I made it to this phase of life.  Where I am dying to just live happy and healthy, and give back to my community.  Family and friends are what really matter.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

MY FRIEND GEORGE

When his wife, Pat, passed away he couldn't even come to her funeral ... he was having heart surgery.  When he got settled back at home he said "there isn't any way we could just meet for coffee once a week, is there?"  And thus our friendship began eleven years ago.

He thought maybe we'd run out of things to talk about but we still haven't.  He got a little miffed when I went back to work part time.  But managed to drive out to meet me for lunch once in a while and we invited him over for dinner and parties. In fact, he was probably 82 or so when we played charades at a New Year's Eve party.  He and I were partners.  He got down on all fours sticking out his tongue ... Night of the Iguana!!!  Heck!  I don't think I could get up off the floor at 62!!

He and Ralph had lots of fun also.  They bought season tickets for the Opera and enjoyed a night out once in a while.  He had a gal pal for many many years and we were sometimes his accomplice.  We invited them to the beach overnight and were convinced to tell them there were not enough rooms so they would need to share.  We thought it was two queen beds but unfortunately, it was one king.  He was ecstatic with all the snuggling!

Once Ralph retired, he would often go with me for our weekly visits which somehow morphed into lunch.  When we bought the Maui house and then were blessed with Baby Braeden, I had to cut back on our visits.  This year we went back to morning coffee at his Retirement Living tower downtown.  But not every week.  Health issues have been a nagging concern since about June.  I should have paid more attention to our lack of email and phone calls.  

After a month long stay in the hospital for pneumonia and congestive heart failure, he is now in a nursing rehab facility to gain his strength.  He's mostly in a wheel chair to get places and needs help getting in and out.  His daughter (my age)(who moved back from Boston when her Mom became more frail) lives about 40 minutes away and since her Mom's death, has been spending weekends with him ... grocery shopping, cooking, laundry, etc.  With enough meals to last the week.  She even made up sandwiches for the week!

Tomorrow they are moving GrGeorge to assisted living at the same complex.  I hope he gets his mojo back!

Friday, November 7, 2014

WATCHING END OF LIFE PROCESS

Over twenty years ago, I befriended a woman whose children lived out of state.  I was paying back for the fact that Ralph's mom was able to live at home because of all the help she received from friends and neighbors and church.  And a few paid helpers.

Pat had Parkinson's Disease and just needed a gal pal.  I would visit once a week.  Fortunately, she lived just a mile away.  After a bit, we got together as a foursome and the men hit it off as much as we did.  The best part?  Kate had "local" grandparents who ooooohed and aaaaahed over her.  Their condo had a pool and every week in the summer, she could bring a friend.  GrPat and GrGeorge provided snacks and sodas.  We oldsters would chat while the girls played.

In the beginning, she could  accompany me out and about.  I bought a minivan with leather seats so she could use a step stool then slide right in.  We had great fun!  Shoe shopping and she would have me "hide" the shoes at my house and sneak them over when GrGeorge was away.  Need I tell you she was the Imelda of the neighborhood????

As her disease progressed, she went to care homes a few times.  They would build up her strength and she would be well enough to come home.  Until it was permanent.  I continued my once a week.  Her every loving husband went EVERY DAY.  For several years.  EVERY DAY.

We celebrated so many holidays together.  I'm just missing her and Ralph today as I plan Thanksgiving.

And worry about GrGeorge who is being moved to assisted living today at age 95.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

CALL THE FIRE DEPARTMENT!

Fortunately, I have never had to call the Fire Department.  What brave fighters they are.  They are usually the first on the scene ... I can't imagine the horror some have seen.  Burning buildings, auto accidents, cars smashing into pedestrians (yes, that happened here on trick or treat night).

One of my uncles retired as a Lieutenant in the Fire Department.  So glad he LIVED til retirement!  A few years ago I worked with a consulting group who specialized in helping fire departments grow and change.  Analyzing data to determine where to locate a new station.  Training fire fighters for management positions.  Helping retired fire fighters to find jobs at smaller departments who cannot afford typical chief pay (win/win there!).

A young friend trained and studied to become a fire fighter which is how I learned how tough it is to get in!  Hundreds of people try for one spot.  I think most people have to be on a volunteer department and work their way up.  The benefits are outstanding and a lot of the benefits are for life.  And I don't begrudge them a single penny.  

In an effort to broaden Braeden's career passions ... we are now doing a lot of fire fighting around here ....


In fairness, he wants to be an Army fire fighter ....


Monday, November 3, 2014

DEATH, DYING and DETERMINATION

Sunday was a farewell gathering for a long term condo owner.

I didn't know her well enough to say she was a friend, but she was always friendly.  And helpful.  She was the first HOA president and was on the Board many times after that initial year.  Jan was a lawyer which was very helpful going from a developer owned apartment complex to a condo conversion.

The last half of her short life (she was 63) was a struggle with alcohol.  She was also a big time smoker.  Very sad no matter the person's potential.  Her two friends here put in joint effort with champagne, sparkling cider, hot coffee and each attendee provided some nibbles.  Those who wanted to recall a Jan story stood up to speak ... I learned how influential she was in those early days. 

Her idea to turn the rental office into a Clubhouse room.  She started our lending library (which is now five bookshelves large and also has games and puzzles) which has both books and magazines.  Comfy furniture donated through the years.  It is a great place to go when you get tired of looking at your own four walls.

Our community is not a designated elder complex or even an over 50 neighborhood.  But mostly we are both.  We've lost two long term owners in the past three months.  There are several who are suffering with arthritis and diabetes and other age related conditions.  Yet we have also attracted a few younger families with children.  A baby even!

Determination to keep this place intergenerational.  It's hard not to smile when you hear the laughter of children!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

LAUGHING OUT LOUD

Since my summer road trip with my Sister and JEH, I've been listening to books.  Audible allows me to use my iPhone which is great to plug into the Grandmothermobile.  AND ... I can put in my earbuds and put the phone in my pocket and do household chores!  My oh my can I get a lot done when my mind is occupied.

I'm now listening to Bossypants by Tina Fey.  Narrated by Tina Fey!  Books are always better when read by the author.  They know exactly where to pause or what to emphasize.  Her book is HYSTERICAL!  After dropping off my little firefighter back at his parents, I was listening for the 10 minutes on the way home.  I laughed out loud!  Alone in a car!!  It's getting harder and harder for me to turn it off.

There are some pros and cons to Audible books.  You can choose whether you think any of these are pros or cons!  Addictive. Can't hear people knock at the door.  People may wonder about my laughing or crying with no visible clues that I'm listening to a book.  Some books are free from the library but often I hate to wait.  It's a little cumbersome to load but I guess I better get back at it.  I've been spending $15/month to have a good time!

P.S.  I'm naming my Taj Mahal of a vehicle Louise.  Because the new travel trailer in Seattle has been named Thelma.  I'm going to follow them around next summer ....

Friday, October 31, 2014

CRYING and COFFEE

At 8:30 am, as I was considering getting out of my nice warm bed, I got a text from a neighbor saying she was just putting on a pot of coffee ... wanna come?

Combed my hair, found comfy clothes and trotted over in the rain.  Her hubby is out of town so we gathered around her seasonally decorated dining room and shared coffee.  Somehow we got on the topic of Ralph and how much she missed him.  And the tears just started flowing.  From both of us! They only knew him for two years ...  half of that time we were in Maui.  It was touching the things she liked and remembered about him.  And that she sees a lot of him in Braeden as well.  Not just looks but personality.

It was good to get some crying out.  Which left the rest of the day on a good note.  A few errands (having a birthday dinner for Braeden on Saturday), treated myself to lunch, laundry, rounded up some treats to bring to the Orange and Black party.  We had about 15 people show up, everyone in black and/or orange and wonderful finger foods.  Deviled eggs with "spiders" on top (ripe olives), chili con queso dip (my big weakness!), oranges, orange cheese spread, Cheetos Bag o Bones, pumpkin cheese cake.  Singing pumpkin songs to Christmas tunes!  Just Delightful.  Several went on for hot tubbing.

This place just fits me.  There are people here to suit any mood I have going.  We are really a community.