Make yourself at home. Put your feet up. Grab your favorite beverage and prepare to enjoy the reads.



Sweeping Out the Old Year

Shirley stood in the doorway, broom in hand, fiercely shouting out into the 15 degree night, her dogs jumping excitedly about her feet. "BE GONE! BE GONE!" I was absolutely sure that whatever or whomever she was shouting at, most certainly had high-tailed it out of there. Still, it felt weird to observe this elderly gentile lady turn into a New Year witch.

Though she was a practicing Episcopalian, I knew she also had "aulde ways" about her. I couldn't quite join the two together in my mind, but she was fine with it. There had been times when she seemed to glow with with lunar light, or sprinkle the stars over a room full of people with her exuberance and wisdom. I remember the time we sat against the tree trunk and I felt enfolded by it as she introduced me to her own special source of strength.

When I think about it, I realize that her ways were little different from anyone else. As a society, we make a lot of noise celebrating the New Year. We leave the past year and all the mistakes we made in it behind us, sweeping it out of the way to make room for the fresh future with a new freedom in our hearts.

As I wrote about last year in this blog, my mother, raised in the hills of Pennsylvania, sent me out in the snow on New Years day clanging pot lids together to scare away all the bad luck from the previous year. Later that day, she scoured and cleaned the house from floor to ceiling. Another form of sweeping out the old year. From an early age, I learned about resolutions, promises we make to ourselves for self improvement. I asked myself how I could stop myself from being a naughty girl throughout the whole year, not just through the Christmas season, and I made a list of things I wanted to accomplish. Some of which was not always so high minded.

I know many people do not observe this old practice of resolutions, but I do. I take stock of my life. Like the ancient pagan God, Janus, I look back over the year and contemplate how it unfolded. Sometimes I am disappointed that I didn't achieve a certain goal. But, I don't allow myself to dwell on it as I am always pleased about some aspect of my life that turned out well. And like Janus, I look forward to the future with eyes open to possibilities.

When Shirley slammed the door against the night demons, she turned to me with a fire in her eye and said,  "No regrets! Just go out there and live it with determination and spirit!"

Breakfast Treats

Cinnamon coffee cake muffins and mini donuts. That's what I bought before getting ready to drive to Los Angeles. There would be many family members and friends present. I was sure breakfast would be forgotten. And, it was! I forgot to bring the many boxes of muffins and mini donuts. Because they were sitting there waiting for me when I arrived home, that is why I threw it all in the garbage yesterday. Oh, I could have eaten them. I could have eaten them all, given enough time. I could have scarfed them down in a matter of days. But, after the plethora of sweets and treats laden upon the table during those Christmas days, and the nauseated, heartburn pay-back of my innards, I knew eating them would be the worst thing I could do. Still, being the junk food junkie, I knew I would be tempted to make myself sick again. Therefore the toss into the garbage. They sit there now beneath other garbage, there insidious vibrations mocking me.

At least I have the presence of mind to NOT go digging down to fetch the "treasures" in a rescue attempt. Even the Lindt chocolate truffles still in their wrappers are laid to rest. I will not tell myself it is a sin to waste them. I wish it would stop raining long enough for me to haul it all to the outside trash, as it sits here in the house smoldering in angry rejection that they will not be eaten. "Too bad" I say. My new sweets and carbohydrates are going to be the kind Mother Nature has prepared for me! Yes, yes. I know. They are still sweets and carbs. But, if I'm going to crave them, better they be fresh. Eh?

I remember the first blood orange I ever had. Charles and his wife had a dozen shipped to them from Florida to California at great expense. Someone they knew owned one of the first productive orchards. Marlys held one in her hand as if it were a precious baby chick. "Guess what I have." She seemed to shimmer with anticipation or was it just the odd winter light behind her from the window? Before I could hazard a guess, she turned to the counter, grabbed a large knife, and with one precise quick slash, it was open. Blood orange is a good name for it. Blood red, the juice leaked onto the counter as Marlys quickly lapped it up with her fingers.

She handed me half, cut in thin slices, keeping the rest for herself not even asking if I wanted any, or even if I could eat oranges. What if I were allergic? But, thankfully, I am not. It was the most delectable thing I'd had in a long time. Afterwards, I enviously eyed those other oranges sitting in the bowl wondering if I would be offered more. But, alas... no.

So today, when I bought spinach salad makings, irish cheese, a chicken breast, some apples, bananas and blackberries, I turned in surprise when I saw them. Blood oranges!

Guess what I did next!