Friday, November 29, 2013

Grateful

I am so lucky in so many ways.     I have a sad enough past to be truly blessed to have moved beyond it.   I live alone and am not crazy about that, but I know enough to know that living with someone can be even worse.    I have a good education, a lovely family, a job, and pretty good health.   I have enough money to get what I need, but not so much to take away my pleasure at little things.    I have long lists of things to do that keep me busy, including my fly tying and my first ever rag quilt-in-progress.
I had a non-traditional Thanksgiving, shooting with a friend, playing a dice game with him and his son, eating the worst thrown-together meal ever.   
Imagine cream of mushroom soup accidentally cooked with french vanilla creamer and mixed with hamburger.    Oh gag.    
I begged him to let me cook from now one.    My pecan pie only added to the too-sweet experience, but we laughed about it all.   My son's family will come on Sunday and we will have the usual turkey and dressing and all.   Hopefully that will banish the remembered taste of french vanilla beef.

Today is my house cleaning day and I have, not to my surprise, done everything I can think of but clean.    I have a dozen half done projects spread throughout the house, and a bunch of cooking-adventures-in-process on the kitchen stove and counters.    It is the last day in my life to be 63, and I am not a happy camper, so not inclined to be too tough on myself today.    This is a good day to start a gratitude jar.  Life is good, and worrying about it being too short does nothing to make it better.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Quince

My cooking adventure this week was Quince -- something I'd heard of but never tasted.    I heard a piece about the fruit on NPR, and so did a friend, so we discussed it and both thought it would be fun to try.   So when I saw it at my local supermarket, I bought a dozen (despite the considerable expense!) and went to work.
The fruit is hard and dry when it is raw, with a very woody inner core.   But it softened nicely after cooking for nearly an hour.   I made half of the quinces into paste, and the other half into sauce.    I spent hours -- yes, hours -- stirring the steamy pot at the stove and, since I didn't start with very many fruit, I also didn't end up with much to show.   Four small jars of sauce, to be exact, and a small log of paste.

 
So it was a lot of work and, I thought, not worth it.   Until I tasted it.   This stuff is good!    The sauce was okay, like applesauce but tasting a little like a combination of pear and apple, only better.   But the paste, which is more intensely flavored, is my favorite --  absolutely delicious.   I've been eating small cubes of it with cheese and nuts, and can't wait to try dipping little squares into dark chocolate.   I gave a slice to my son's family, ate a (couple of) slice(s) myself, and am trying to save the rest until my friend can come over for dinner so that I can share the experience.     Don't you just love trying and cooking with new foods?!     I know I do.  :)

Saturday, November 23, 2013

First Snow

It snowed last night.    It has snowed a few times already, but this time it seems to be staying on the ground and there is more snow in the forecast.     A clear signal that this year is coming to an end.     This was my self-declared Best Year Ever, and it has been a fun and good one, overall.   I came close to love -- or at least, I had a lot of fun and came close to feeling like I had a shot at it again, although that feeling sort of slipped away again, at least on the part of one of us.   Still, what a gift.  I had forgotten how much I love that feeling of promise, that hope that someone might care as much as you do.     I learned and tried a bunch of new things -- amateur radio, Morse Code, search and rescue -- and I was reminded that learning and trying new things is absolutely deliriously delightful.    I made a bunch of crafty projects, and even got a little better at some of my crafty skills, including putting in zippers, tying flies, and basic quilting.   I learned a lot from the people I work with and for in Hospice.   They reminded me over and over (and over) again to keep my heart and mind open.  I spent time fishing and target shooting and walking and training.    No regrets.
At the same time, I started to feel old.  Really old.   Like a building that still shows the lines of what it once was, but now peeling and probably damaged beyond repair.    I am pushing my body, but nothing about it is effortless anymore, and I am always aware that it hurts.   I remain foolishly hopeful for love some of the time, but my wrinkles jeer back at me like an overdue expiration date.    Worse, the decrepitude is making me feel self conscious, and it is never good to be wondering how you look, if your turkey chin is showing, when you are trying to relate to people.     It's a mixed time of life, I feel better mentally and emotionally than I ever have, and just wish I had the time and energy to take full advantage of it.  

But for sure I am thankful for many things.      I am thankful for good friends, for warm hugs, for healthy children and grandchildren.   I am grateful to be learning new things, both for the opportunities and for the discovery that I am still capable of learning.   I am thankful for the basic comforts of life, the warm house and utilities, for too much food where my biggest problem is choosing what to eat, not whether to eat.    I am thankful to be healthy enough to complain when I don't feel as good as I wish.   I am thankful for aching feet and a tired back that remind me that I need to get off the couch and keep moving.    I am thankful that I have enough money to be comfortable, but not so much that I don't appreciate little luxuries.    Life is good, and if this has been the Best Year Ever, I am already daring to hope that next year will be even better.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The weekend is nearing to an end, and it's been a hectic couple of weeks  -- it's funny, two weekends ago I was busy busy busy at a search and rescue field training.  
Last weekend I was busy busy busy at a search and rescue classroom training, and there were tons of meetings and appointments the last two weeks at work.  We made adorable crafts in one of my grief groups, and I tied 70 flies -- with a goal of 100 -- for a charity.

I spent time with friends, drove down to see my sister, and celebrated my grandson's 9th birthday (where DOES the time go?!)   I won peanut clusters from sweet Maggie at Just Between Me and You, and ate myself silly.    In self defense I started walking again, usually only a mile or so, but one day made it to 3 miles just to try to burn off that chocolate!   I made some more zipper bags, finally pieced together a quilt top from fabric someone was throwing away, wrote letters, and practiced Morse Code.    
But today there is nothing special to do, and so I am feeling whiny and alone.    I am such a spoiled child inside myself, wanting company and amusement all the time.    I hate to have to say it, but I might finally have to break down and clean this house!