Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Could Paul Gauguin's Blood Run Through My Kids?

When my daughter visited Colorado last month, her Dad showed her an article about Flora Tristan y Moscoso.  Neither my daughter or I had ever heard of the woman but our interest came alive when we read how she was a feminist in the 1800's. The blurb on Amazon describes her as: "Flora Tristan was a socialist writer and activist. She wrote several works, the best known of which are Peregrinations of a Pariah (1838), Promenades in London (1840) and the Worker' Union (1843).  Tristan was the grandmother of the painter, Paul Gauguin." She believed oppression of women was directly related to oppression of the working class. I was surprised that a woman would be fighting for the rights of women, workers and trying to unionize them before women began fighting for their rights in the United States.

Thank God for the Internet because I found out that Flora Tristan was born on April 7, 1803 in Paris, France.  Her full name was Flore Celestine Therese Henriette Tristan Moscoso. She died on November 14, 1844 in Bordeaux, France.  As I delved into the life of this interesting woman who was so ahead of her time, I found a novel written by a Peruvian author, Mario Vargas Llosa. Mr. Llosa received the Nobel Prize in literature in 2010. He wrote The Way to Paradise a novel about Flora Tristan and her grandson, Paul Gauguin.

Descriptions of how Flora lived in poverty, of how she set up meetings with workers who most of the time did not want to hear what she was saying, of rude men, of how the down-trodden lived, of the many hours  workers were forced to work, and the attitude of how men thought about women are clearly explained by Mr. Llosa. Flora did not let anything get her down and continued plugging away at trying to get the well-to-do to see how society could be helped if working conditions were better. In The Way to Paradise, Mr. Llosa devotes a chapter to Tristan and then the following chapter to Gauguin. Flora did not know her grandson because she died before he was born and yet, as I read chapter after chapter it seemed as if both of them were dissatisfied with their life and wanted to change the world they lived in!

Mujeres de Tahiti, 1891
I did not know much about the post-impressionist artist, Paul Gauguin. Didn't even know how to pronounce his name! (Go-gan) I found out that he left everything he knew in France to settle in Tahiti to live as a native.  He did some of his most outstanding painting while he lived in a hut of twigs, had sex with native women and shocked himself by having a homosexual experience.   I found Llosa's choice of words to be on the vulgar side, yet, he got his point across. His descriptions are vivid and leave little to the imagination.

Tristan and her fight to change society for the better lets the reader see what a strong woman she was and how she did not let disappointments knock her down.  She was not afraid to speak her mind during a time when women stayed in the background and obeyed a male way of thinking. She had been married to a cruel man and thought marriage was men's idea of keeping a woman subjugated by forcing her into submission. She believed that children kept women tied down. She argued with religious leaders, political figures and leaders.  The lives of both grandmother and grandson are similar. They left their spouses and children to travel. "Both preferred independence of travel to a life of family and stability," pretty much sums up how they thought. She traveled by herself in a time when women did not.  Both lived in Peru for a time and Gauguin preferred speaking Spanish to French.

Reading the book and looking at Gauguin's art, left me with a feeling of wanting to travel to the places where Gauguin had lived. I found out that there are cruises that travel to the beautiful, tropical islands on a ship named The Paul Gauguin.

For her Dad's birthday, my daughter sent him the book titled, Peregrinacion de Una Paria and as he read about Tristan's life, he was impressed by her life. He mentioned it to me and I thought the book sounded interesting so I ordered the same book in English along with Paul Gauguin, His Life and Art. Who knows, maybe Flora Tristan Moscoso could be a relative connected to my ex-husband's family.  Until someone does a thorough genealogy search on the Moscoso name, we will never know. In the mean time, it is fun to imagine that maybe there is a possibility that my children may have Paul Gauguin's blood running through them!

As I continue to read, maybe I do not want Tristan-Moscoso or Gauguin blood running anywhere near my children!  She was not an honest person who told lies to get what she wanted and he died of syphilis.  Even though he knew he was ill he continued having sex with young native girls and became an alcoholic picking fights in taverns!   Maybe it was the times that made them be the way they were, but I found myself not liking either one of them! Yet, I do find myself admiring their talent.  He as an artist and she as a fighter for rights of women and the poor.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

An Artist At Work

A few weeks ago, as I was driving home from Flatirons mall in Broomfield, I saw that the sky looked different.  As I drove, the swirling, colorful clouds seemed to change color.  A pink, orange, black, gray, and lavender floated above me.  Luckily, I had my camera with me and I began taking pictures of the unusual  looking clouds.  At one point, I had to find a place to park so I could enjoy the magnificent sky.
Don't forget: 
Beautiful sunsets need cloudy skies.
Paulo Coelho

The only thought that entered my mind was that God had picked up his paints and brushes and was having fun creating a beautiful painting for us to enjoy!

When I admire the wonder of a sunset
or the beauty of the moon, 
my soul expands in worship of the creator.
Mahatma Gandhi

Friday, December 21, 2012

A Bearer of Bad News

Today, because it was on sale, I purchased something that I am beginning to think is a big mistake.  I am able to see things that have been hidden before.  I have been able to merrily go along with the belief that everything was fine.  Now I am not too sure!

The Natural Daylight Dual 1 x 8 x magnification lighted vanity mirror has shocked me. No, not an electrical shock, but a big surprise shock.  The ad tells me that I will see my face in a whole new light but it does not warn me that I will not like what I see on my face. 

The first thing I saw as I looked into this true-to-life color and glare free mirror was a whisker about a forth of an inch long.  One long hair sticking out of my chin. I plucked it out with tweezers.  Then, my upper lip is covered with itzy-bitzy hairs.  Okay, so it is time to put some hair removal goo to be rid of my "mustache" even though I thought I could go another two weeks before using the hair remover.  On my cheek I also see scattered whiskers.  How could that be?  I turned the mirror around and the whiskers disappeared. If I look in a regular mirror, there are no hairs but when I look at the magnified side, there are quite a few. Now, I am very curious to see what else I have missed as I look in my regular mirror.

A few hairs coming out of my nose but when I looked deep into the two caves I could see grey and black bushes growing inside. How could I possibly breath with all that growth? On my face, more wrinkles than I remember having. Giant pores on my chin and nose. Beauty marks I thought I had on the side of my face turned out to be old age spots or as I have heard them referred to --liver spots. The wart I have over my right eye and have had for years, sported a light-colored hair growing out of it.  I never saw it and still cannot see it without looking into my magic mirror!

Plato once said:  "The spiritual eyesight improves as the physical eyesight declines." I know my eyesight has declined so now all I have to do is wait for my spiritual eyesight to improve!  I can't help thinking that if I were to let the hair on my face, nose,  upper lip and chin grow without doing anything to remove it, I would soon have more hair on my face than on my head!
Now, that I am thoroughly depressed I suppose I should thank the makers in China for such a mirror. As I go through life, do other people notice all these flaws?  Or are they as blind as I am without the magnifying mirror? The next time I go out in public my face will be hairless and I will try to cover the spots with makeup.  Maybe no one will be able to tell the difference, but I sure will!

Bearer of Bad News

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Better Late Than Never

I worked with a young man who loved marijuana.  He smoked it daily, yet it never seemed to effect him.  He spoke a lot about some book called The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.  Some story about another world within our world.  Sometimes, I would hear a few of the attorneys and paralegals discussing the book and they enjoyed using quotes from the book.

To me, it sounded like a fairy tale of little people.  I thought that pot smokers probably liked to hallucinate while reading the story. Later, The Lord of the Rings, became a popular movie in three parts. The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and the Return of the King and all three won academy awards. I was still not interested. 

This year, 2012, a new movie,The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, came out and I skipped over it as I looked to see what other new movies were showing.  Then, I happened to be at Target and saw the trilogy of the Hobbit being sold for $4.95 each.  At 74 years old, I decided I would watch the three DVD's and find out what everyone had seemed to enjoy in my past.

After almost ten hours of getting involved with the characters, I knew why awards had been given.  The story is fascinating as it takes you through wars, unusual fighters, heroes, wizards, wild scenery, weird animals, and characters you end up hating and characters you cheer for their success!  Names that become familiar are Bilbo Baggins , Frodo, Aragron, Gollum, Saruman, Gimli, Eowyn, Legolas, Samwise, Pippin, Merry, Elrond, King Theoden, Sauron (eye of fire) and Warmtongue, to name a few of the many characters. Peter Jackson, the director of the movies, kept the suspense going so that I just had to keep watching to see what would happen next in the outrageous tale!

The clerk at Target, an avid Hobbit reader and movie watcher, informed me that the new Hobbit movie is the beginning, the first before the trilogies and he told me it would  give me a better understanding of the three DVD's I had purchased. The story of adventure and fantasy is probably better in book form, but for now I am satisfied with the movie version. Today I will go join other Hobbit fans at the theater!  

Note:  I am so glad I watched the trilogy of the Lord of Rings because I was able to understand the new movie by knowing most of the characters.  The ending was a let down, yet I understand why it ended where it did. The ending is the beginning of the next chapter of the Hobbit! 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Unanswered Questions

Today at church, every time I saw a child's  face I felt like crying. While shopping I'd see little children with their parents and I would get an ache in my heart. On television when a commercial shows an innocent young face smiling, tears run down my cheeks.  The sadness I am experiencing is because of the tragedy of what happened in Newtown, Connecticut. If I feel such sadness who did not know anyone from that town,  there is no way for me to even understand what the parents of those children, killed in their school by a twenty year old, are feeling.

Six and seven year old children are so trusting and look at everyone with innocent eyes.  What did they think when then saw someone in dark clothing shooting a gun.  What did they think as friends went down. What did they think when bullets hit their own body.   What could the killer have been thinking?  Could he not see the sweet faces, possibly frightened, looking at him?  Did he feel remorse?  Did he think it was fun?  Did he feel sorry for what he was doing? Did he think it was some sort of video game?  Did he think about his mother that he had shot four times in the face?

These are questions that will never be answered.  A parent sending a child to school would never, in a thousand years, think that the child would be in danger. On December 14, 2012 their child was in danger and though the teachers and principal acted to try and save the children, six adults lost their lives. Twenty children were also killed.  Our church prayed for the children, for the parents, for first responders, for teachers, and for our country.  Would stricter gun control have saved those children?  I read an article that leaned toward  more help for those with mental problems and I wonder if that is the route our nation should take. President Obama spoke tonight and said that something has to be done to stop the killings.  Yet, I wonder how that can be accomplished.

It seems as if we do not have to worry about terrorists from another country coming to do us harm, we seem to have lone persons causing a lot of destruction.I find it difficult to think about how so many people will be able to function and get their lives back to some sort of normality.  Is it even possible?

My heart is heavy as I write, as I think of those children who are gone, as I try to understand how parents can handle such grief, and wonder if a crazy will play copycat and try to do something even worse to top the Newtown massacre.  I pray not.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Silence in a Classroom

Small innocent
faces looking
into a metal
tube that shoots
out flames
that will cause
Loud cracks
mingle with
as bullets fly
like a hurting

One class
then two,
before they
can understand
why their best
is in a puddle
of blood.
Searing pain
and then

E. Moscoso
December 14, 2012

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Fairy Tale That Wasn't

This article was published in the Denver Catholic Register on December 8, 1999.

It was five in the evening and I did not want to go to my grandmother's house who lived across the alley from us.  My mother had sent me to take a basket of warm bread to my abuelita. As I opened the door, I could hear a murmuring coming from one of the bedrooms.  My grandmother, my aunt, my cousin and anyone who cared to join them, were on their knees in front of a large dresser.  The top of the dresser was covered with statues of every saint imaginable.  There were large statues, little statues, medals and religious prayer cards. Tiny flames swayed and sputtered above the different colored candles and the room smelled as if something sweet was burning.

I poked my head in the room and motioned to the bread.  My grandmother, or as we knew her, Mama Tito, spoke no English and whispered, "Pon el pan en la mesa, y ponte de rodillas." (Put the bread on the table and kneel.") She motioned to a spot next to her.  This was why I did not like to visit Mama Tito around five on any given day.  I was around six years old and the daily ritual of praying was in Spanish. I knelt down and wished I could be somewhere else!

The droning went on and on. Rosary beads sparkled in the candle light.  I watched the flames.  I looked at the statues.  If I relaxed and sat back on my heels, Mama Tito never missed a word of a prayer but nudged me with her elbow so I would straighten up.  This was my introduction to group prayer. I can still remember the relief I felt when Mama Tito would get up, take my hand and together we would blow or squeeze the flames with wet fingers. The flame would go "psssst" as the smoke curled upward.  To this day, a burning candle reminds me of those daily prayer sessions.

I enjoyed visiting Mama Tito when I could crawl into bed with her under a soft, blue, fluffy and silky comforter. She would hold me in the crook of her arm and tell me stories as she rubbed my head.  I would fall asleep feeling safe comfortable, content and happy. During one of those visits Mama Tito told me a story.  A fairy tale about a poor Indian man who met a beautiful lady in the mountains.  It was winter and there were no flowers but when he went to a priest he was able to show the priest fresh red roses and a picture painted on the Indian's cloak.

That was my introduction to Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Through the years I would hear her name and about the miraculous apparition, yet it was still like a fairy tale to me. In 1980 I visited Mexico City and Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine.  The faith of the people surprised me.  How could they move over rough cement on their knees before entering the church? This was devotion like I had never seen before.

In 1995, I realized, or more accurately, felt the miracle.  I had been volunteering at an orphanage in Colon, Mexico, during the celebrations to Our Lady of Guadalupe.  For weeks people celebrated with music, dances, plays and prayers.  Every morning around four in the morning, a soft, tiny tinkling bell woke me up with its gentle sound.  I peeked out the window and saw a group of men and women ringing the bell and carrying a banner of Our Lady of Guadalupe. They were the "wake up" crew alerting the faithful for the mass and rosary at 7 a.m.  The church would be packed and overflow into the large patio outside as they all prayed the rosary. Our Lady was so real to the whole town. I saw processions of hundreds of persons headed for the shrine in Mexico City and I finally stopped thinking of the Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe as a fairy tale.

Our Lady of Guadalupe
On December 8, 1999, I joined 200 other pilgrims to visit the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico.  I have returned to celebrate the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico a few more times and each time I am amazed at the devotion of the twenty million or so persons visiting the shrine.

Now, in the year 2012, I notice that many local parishes are celebrating Our Lady of Guadalupe and San Juan Diego feast days.  My parish will celebrate by having a mass, praying the rosary in different languages and serving hot chocolate. Another parish had a Mexican dinner and served Margaritas!  I enjoy watching the festivities in Mexico City on television as popular artists sing Las Mananitas to Our Lady. In California I read where some parishes celebrated with parades. Some of the parishes will begin celebrating the evening of the 11th and at mid-night a mariachi band will play Las Mananitas to Our Lady.

What I thought was a fairy tale has turned out to be the beautiful story of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Note:  I have shortened the original article and added a few paragraphs.

Sometimes Things Are Not What They Seem!

On my daily errands around Arvada, I noticed that construction for a new park is going on near Arvada Junior High School.  One day on the grassy area I saw two German Shepherd dogs standing at attention. The thought crossed my mind that probably policemen were training the dogs.  Those dogs stood at attention and never moved.

A few days later I saw the dogs again but thought it weird that they seemed to be in exactly the same position as I had seen them three days ago.  Today, my curiosity got the best of me and I parked my car, walked into the park and saw the dogs were flat metal dogs.  Now why would these pretend dogs be put in the park? Could they be scaredogs to chase away any geese that might decide to land in the park?  Were they for decoration?  Was the park going to be a doggie park?

Pretend dogs.
I have tried in vain to find out why those pretend dogs are in the park.  Up close they are not so realistic and not very artistic.  I will continue trying to find out why four metal dogs are in the park. Maybe by the time construction is completed, I will know the answer!

From a distance the dogs look real!
I have heard these cut out coyotes are to scare the geese away!
 Driving through the neighborhood, somewhere on 52nd Avenue, I saw another "pretend" wild life cutout.
Makes me wonder if Arvada is becoming a make believe of wild animals. After posting the photo on Facebook, I got some questions asking if it was a real bison.  One person told me she had seen the herd near Genesis. I had to inform her that it was not the real thing! Though I do have to admit, they do look real!

Make Believe Bison in Arvada

Keeping Christ in Christmas

The only blind person at Christmas time
is he who has not Christmas in his heart.
Helen Keller

What better way to keep Christ in Christmas than collecting Nativity sets.  Ever since I was a child there was special feeling when Christmas rolled around and I helped set up a small manger with Mary, Joseph, an angel, a few sheep, a donkey, a cow, a shepherd, three wise men, and three camels.  Through the years, the camel's leg broke but I still prop it up to complete the picture! An angel would be placed above the figures, overlooking the peaceful scene. As I grew older, I began to purchase Nativity sets that appealed to me and before long I had accumulated over fifty sets made from cardboard, pewter, ceramic, resin, wood, acrylic, or porcelain. I thought I had a large collection until I read about a woman who had 1300 Nativity scenes. I saw a video about her collection and when she passed away in January of 2012, her husband decided to display the collection in her memory.

A friend and I visited Deacon Gordon Hudec on December 10, 2012, and were greeted by two flat displays of Nativities on his lawn.  On entering the home he showed us works by Hummel, Llardo, and other artists on different bookcases and walls.  A large tree with many lights was decorated with ornaments depicting the birth of Christ. A large tablecloth covered the table and it had a beautiful lace Nativity scene.

As we entered the downstairs display room my eyes must have grown in size because there were shelves, walls and tables filled with Nativity sets.

Mexican Dough Nativity
and Peruvian Clay Figures
This is only half of the room!

Every Nativity was different.  He told us stories about some of them.  Told us how many were purchased on their travels.  How his granddaughter, an artist, had added to the collection. Many were purchased on e-bay. Some were gifts. Many materials were used to construct the sets. Some were pricey while others were not.  I liked a leaf from Mexico and  he explained how the artist peels the top layer of the leaf to make the picture.
One set was made from St. Helena's ash, another from strips of pop cans, one from salt mines, and a tiny one we had to look through a magnifying glass was made from grains of rice. We wandered slowly enjoying each display and he pointed out that finding a Nativity with St. Joseph holding the baby is rare and they had four of them. While we looked, Angel, a white cat followed us around.  It surprised me how well behaved the cat was, leaving the displays alone and not bothering them. I could tell the cat wanted attention and knew how to get it!
Angel places herself in a display case!

In the animal section, Deacon told us that his wife felt uncomfortable placing animal Nativity scenes until someone told her that "everything in creation comes from God." The animal displays were of dogs, cats, and bears. I liked the penguins.

Gourd hangs on wall.

Crochet Ball

Left: Corn Husks
Right: Pewter
African display made from
strips of pop cans.


Tapestries, t-shirts, puzzles, ties, books, aprons, and anything one could think of had a picture of when Christ was born. Such a variety of Nativity scenes and no two were alike! Even my collections of Nativities are different.   Every year I make up my mind to stop buying Nativity sets but then I see one so different that I just have to have it.  This year I purchased an acrylic one that looks like an ice carving.
My latest purchase!

Monday, December 10, 2012


Troll Car

When this car pulled up beside me, I was amazed!  Not only that the person collected trolls, but that she had them glued all over her car! I noticed many of the trolls were like mine, but there were others I did not have.  I love the little dolls and have a collection of trolls. The last time I counted there were about seventy squatty-faced little dolls. It is rumored that if you stroke their hair it can bring you good luck!  Before my granddaughters came along, depending on the holiday, I would place the appropriately dressed trolls on my bookshelf. Christmas and Hanukkah in December, pilgrims and Indians in November; vampires, witches and skeletons in October; baseball time brought out my Rockies troll and later my Bronco dolls.  My trolls represent  places I have visited like Estes Park, Las Vegas, Hawaii, and military bases. At first glance their faces look alike but when you look closely, each one has a different personality! They range from ten inches tall to less than half an inch in size.
Some of my trolls in different sizes.

And then my three granddaughters asked to play with the trolls I could not deny them! The trolls became a favorite of all three of my granddaughters.

My trolls wear Christmas, Halloween, different sport's teams, Thanksgiving, medieval times, doctors, nurses, dentists, brides/grooms, military, teachers, and different hobby outfits. One of my favorite was a photographer troll with his small camera! How my granddaughters loved to undress and dress the trolls. Once I found all the trolls naked and lined up like dominoes. Some of the trolls have a  jewel in their belly button and on top of their head the messy hair stands up in bright colors of green, yellow, pink, blue, orange, purple, white or black.   When my granddaughters visit, they always ask to play with the trolls.

A skateboarder and troll bus in front of some of the trolls!
I found out that trolls were created in the 1950's and that people like to collect them. It surprised me to find out that in the 60's trolls were big sellers coming in right behind Barbie dolls. The owner of the troll car will bring back many memories to those of us who have collected the dolls.

Truer than ever!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas Past

A five year old should have some memories of celebrating Christmas.  As a child I do not remember decorating a Christmas tree, opening gifts, Santa Claus, or a special dinner at home. What I remember is hard, colorful candy that looked like a ribbon and purchased at Woolworth or Kress, (5&10 cent stores),  a variety of nuts on the kitchen table and my family cracking the shells of  hazel nuts, walnuts, peanuts, pecans, almonds, and Brazil nuts.  Even though it was harder to break a Brazil nut (my father would crack it open for me with a hammer,) I liked the large edible part. The most difficult nut to eat was the walnut because of the pieces of the nut hidden in all the tiny crevices.

By the time I was around ten I recall buying gifts for my mother.  It was strange that my brother and I seemed to always buy her the same gift.  For three consecutive years we purchased the same gifts for her.One year we both bought her a plant, another year it was a small corner knick-knack holder, and once we both bought her a pin.  Luckily the pins we picked out were not alike! I don't recall ever choosing a gift for my father or brother and hope my mother bought presents for all and put our names on the packages!

Those early years on Christmas Eve we would take a nap for a couple of hours.  Around ten, Mom would wake us up and we would get ready for mid-night mass. The church would be decorated with boughs, trees and lights. The manger would be at the front of the altar and I loved to look at all the figures in the Nativity scene. The choir sang Christmas hymns and we would sing along with them.

After mass we went home and and opened our presents. Paper would be strewn all over the floor and we would admire our new clothes or set up a board game. Monopoly was a favorite. I always picked the little dog. Mom would prepare a big breakfast of potatoes, beans, red chili with pork, eggs, bacon, tortillas and hot chocolate with marshmallows floating on top. After eating, if we had enough energy, we continued our game or some of us went to bed. We slept in on Christmas morning and got up late.

Around noon on Christmas day we visited my Aunt Maria (Mere) and Uncle Casimiro's home (my father's older sister and her husband) and she prepared delicious blue corn cheese enchiladas. She stacked them up like pancakes! I'm sure she had other food, but I only remember the tasty enchiladas. She would give us a box with peaches, tomatoes, jelly and green chili that she had canned. My Dad and my uncle would drink an alcoholic drink, maybe wine or maybe something stronger, and my Father would get a bit tipsy. I do not remember talking with my cousins who were a few years older than I was. When we got home, we opened a jar of the peaches and enjoyed the sweet treat.
Richard, David and me in Greeley with our
Christmas Tree.
 I was in high school when we bought our first Christmas tree. My father must have gone out to buy the tree because I do not remember going with him. My Mother and I would decorate the tree and sometimes my brother would help.  We must have exchanged gifts but I do not remember what I received. I believe that clothes were main items for gifts.  I do remember being shocked that a family who lived across the street from us would wrap their gifts in newspapers so we must have wrapped our gifts in popular Christmas paper. When my Mother passed away, I inherited most of the decorations including the star that we put on top of the tree. I continue placing the star on every Christmas tree I put up in my home. It is almost 60 years old and still works!

After my children were born, I continued the tradition of having a dinner on Christmas Eve. After eating we opened our gifts and in the morning, Santa's gifts would be under the tree for my children to open.  I hope they remember more than I remember about Christmases past!

As I think back, there was a family closeness and of doing things together. Even though I can't remember gifts I received, I do remember the feeling of spending warm and happy Christmases surrounded by my family.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

What's In A Grocery Cart?

I happened to be at the grocery store this morning and saw many elderly persons shopping. Some carried oxygen tanks, some were on walkers, a few had mobile carts, and they all moved slowly, picking their way down the aisles.  Since I am not too far from those shoppers in age,  I looked into their buggies/carts to see what they had purchased.  My surprise came when I noticed the majority of the carts had sweets.  Cookies, cakes, ice-cream, jelly, pies, donuts, candy and canned fruit.  None had meat, vegetables or fresh fruit. I wondered if at their age, did they go for what they liked and not what was good for them?

The majority looked reasonably healthy.  Had they eaten sweets all their lives?  Was this a habit acquired after a certain age?  I asked the clerk why there were so many elderly people shopping and she informed me that a bus brings them on Wednesday from various homes so they can do their shopping.  Sure enough, as I wheeled my groceries to my car I noticed an RTD bus was waiting in front of the store to return the elderly shoppers to their homes.

Arriving home, I began to put away my groceries.  First, I placed the Lemon Meringue Pie and the ice-cream sandwiches in the freezer, put away two dark chocolate bars in the pantry, the cinnamon-raisin loaf went on top of the refrigerator, a bag of Fritos (they were on sale) and a bag of chips went into the cupboard, a container of rice-pudding and a jar of jelly went into the refrigerator and the sweet potatoes I placed in a bin. Oh my goodness, I shopped exactly like so many of the shoppers I was scrutinizing! I will have to admit I am now, and have been for awhile, in the category of Senior Citizen! Not that all older persons eat just sweets, but some of us do!

"Seize the moment.
Remember all those women on the Titanic
 who waved off the dessert cart!" Erma Bombeck

Even though I did buy some veggies and fruit, I know why so many shoppers lean toward sweets!  We enjoy them!  Even though I know what I am supposed to eat, what is healthy to eat, what would be best for me, I continue to feed my sweet tooth!  Maybe it is a habit acquired growing up.  We always had dessert after our meals.  Apple pie, cookies, ice-cream or anything sweet.  If we had nothing sweet around the house, peanut butter whipped with syrup would suffice. The best way to end this blog is with a quote by Jason Love: "I want to have a good body, but not as much as I want dessert!"

Sunday, December 2, 2012


"In three words I can sum up everything
I've learned in life.  It goes on!"
Robert Frost

Through the years I have suffered loss.  I remember the sadness I felt when my childhood girlfriend, Roxanna moved away.  We had vowed to each other to be friends forever and then she was gone.  Then my grandmother's stroke and twenty years later her death. The realization that my marriage wasn't working. When my son almost lost a leg and when my daughter joined the Peace Corps.  Somewhere in those losses my Mother died and for the first time I knew what loss really meant.  That empty, dark space between mind and heart.  Five years of mourning her loss I was able to speak about her without bursting into tears.

Friends and family have died and I have felt sadness but nothing like losing my mother.  I thought nothing could or would effect me like her loss.  Years went by and one day my supervisor said, "Can you meet at two today?"  I told her I could and went out and had a wonderful lunch with my co-workers.  Returned to work and my supervisor asked, "Are you ready for the meeting?"  It wasn't quite two but I followed her to the conference room.

I sat across from her near the corner of the large table.  She burst into tears.  I reached over and patted her arm and she kept saying, "I need to..." Then she would begin sobbing again.
My mind was like a neon sign flashing thoughts:  One of her children has cancer, she is getting a divorce, someone close to her has died, something happened to her family in Spain and as my thoughts toppled over each other trying to figure out her grief, she said, "Oh, I might as well get this over with," and in between sobs she said, "your job has been abolished and you no longer work here."

Then it was my turn to cry. How could this be?  All my evaluations had been above-average.  I had never been given a hint that my position would be abolished. I do remember having been asked more than once when I planned to retire and my answer was always that I did not feel it was time for me to retire even though I was a few years over retirement age.

As if choreographed, no sooner had she finished speaking, the personnel person waltzed in carrying a large envelope.  She sat down, told me how much they valued me and my work and handed me the envelope.  Severance pay, vacation pay, sick day pay and a letter to the effect I would not fight my dismissal. I was in shock. I signed everything and with a horrible feeling I almost puked when I was told, "You don't have to leave right away, you can stay until five when we close." I did not answer, just kept on walking, picked up my purse and drove home.

My heart was heavy.  Tears would not stop. My throat ached. Breathing was difficult. I felt anger and sadness. How could a Catholic organization treat an employee in such a cold manner? When a door shuts a window opens kept running through my head.  God knows what is best for you.  God does not give you more than you can handle. Then zeroing in on who I thought was responsible for my pain filled me with a nasty hatred. I blamed three people for my unhappiness and if I believed in voodoo, I knew which dolls I would cover with pins.

For ten years I had been a loyal employee.  I worked hard and received many compliments. I liked everyone and thought they liked me.  Maybe if I had been warned before hand it would not have hit me so hard. I now knew that others that had been let go before me had suffered as I was suffering. I now realized what they had gone through. Walking in somebody else's shoes was so true!

To help ease the pain, I did what always gave me pleasure. I flew to Puerto Vallarta
Looks like her job has been abolished!
 to lick my wounds.  When my mother had died, I packed my father, brother and two children into my Ford and took off to Mexico for a month. I thought it would help ease our pain. My father and brother only lasted a week and returned home.  I stayed the month and tried not to think about my mother. At the end of my sad vacation,  a friend flew down to Mexico to help me drive back to the states. Then, upon my return, I suffered the stages of grief.  Now, after being forced into retirement, I returned to a place that had always brought me peace. 

A Puerto Vallarta Sunset
In my bungalow by the ocean, I did a lot of thinking, praying, and trying to figure out what I would do  for the rest of my life. Walking along the beach I tried to figure out what the rest of my life would be like. I completed one album with pictures and my prayers.  I thanked God for my health and for allowing me to be in such a beautiful place. Asked that he guide me because I had no idea what was in store for me. By the time I left PV I thought I had come to grips with my retirement.

How wrong I was.  My good intentions, my talks with God and my resolutions went out the window (maybe that same window that supposedly had opened for me) and I still felt sadness, anger, wanted revenge for those that had hurt me, and had no desire to see or speak with anyone from the office.   One day I happened to see one of the persons I thought was responsible for my agony and I did an about face so I would not have to meet her. I knew I was supposed to let go of my loss and get my life back on track but somehow feeling sorry for myself seemed more important. Maybe the office would realize they could not get along without me and call me back was a wishful thought!

I received calls from friends and somehow the conversation always went back to that final day.  I loved to hear my friends act shocked and amazed at how I had been treated. I kept myself busy, joined a church group, traveled, volunteered at a food bank and my retirement became more tolerable. I had worked for over fifty years and I had to retrain my body and mind to a different rhythm.



Five years later I was at mass and the priest gave a homily on forgiveness. I thought about the three persons I blamed and felt nothing.  Before when either or all would come into my mind, I would feel a seething anger.  If I happened to see a picture of them in a newspaper I would get a tight feeling in my stomach and would crunch the paper in my hand and throw it into the trash with a few choice words.  Now, during the sermon,  I thought about them and felt nothing.  In fact, I wondered how they were all doing.

I figured I must have finally forgiven them.  I wonder if forgiveness has to be a conscious effort or if the problem just fades away, will it still count as forgiving? I can now remove the pins from those dolls in my closet and move forward with my life!

Recession is when a neighbor loses his job.
Depression is when you lose yours
                       Ronald Reagan

Saturday, December 1, 2012

My Christmas Muse Visits in 2002

Spirit of Christmas
Pushing and shoving trying to get the eye of a saleslady,
an elbow hits my ribs and a foot hits my knee.
I growl, "I'd sock you in the face if my hands were free
and get that box out of my back," this I yell quite clearly.
Faces all around me look mean, hard and angry.
"I'm next!" "Wait on me," is every one's plea.
I think:  How disgusting Christmas shopping can be,
as I look and see people tired and weary.
This is not fun. Buying gifts can be so dreary.
Not one face looks happy and no one acts cheery.
And then, behold, what is this I see?
A child, looking up as if to say, "Can no one see me?"
He holds up a golden coin sparkly and shiny.
Standing amidst all the hustle, he looks so tiny.
People stumble over him, and look at him cruelly.
With big, sad eyes he looks at me,
                          and smiles.
The Joy of a Child
Two days before Christmas
a mother and child leave a thrift shop.
The young boy can not contain
his excitement,
for he knows that in one of those
plastic bags, a gift for him is hidden.
Mother and son trudge
through the dirty slush and snow.
They wait at a bus stop
but the boy does not feel the cold
as they wait for a bus to take them home.
The boy keeps looking at
the plastic bags
and wonders which bag
holds his special gift.
Two days before Christmas
a mother and child leave an exclusive toy store.
The boy is excited.
He knows that inside the packages
wrapped in gold foil and tied with red satin ribbons
his gifts await.
A valet brings their silver Lexus
and as mother and son
drive away
the boy keeps looking at the packages
and wonders what surprises
he will find inside the wrapped gifts.
On Christmas morning
which child will enjoy his gift the most?
As water finds its own level,
so does the joy of a child
on that blessed Christmas morn.
Intervention From Above
On the day before Christmas
I rushed around.
Baked, cleaned,
hurried to the credit union,
went to the grocery store,
finished decorating,
purchased one more gift,
got ready to attend
the three o'clock mass,
and then as I  rushed off to a party
cars became a blur
of rushing, rushing, rushing.
And that's when God took over--
I came upon a flashing light,
a sign, slow down to twenty miles
or face some consequences.
School was out
why the light?
Cars slowed down
and for three blocks
we all seemed to crawl.
Moving in slow motion
I began to think.
What is the meaning of Christmas?
I reflected on the
birth of Christ,
and why he had come
into the world.
I looked across and saw
another slow car.
The driver smiled and nodded at me.
Had he also received a secret message?
shouldn't be a hectic time of rushing.
Life should be taken slow and easy,
to be able to contemplate about
what Christmas is all about.
What Christmas really means,
and to remember the real
reason Christmas is celebrated.
The speed limit went up to 35
and as I stepped on the gas,
I knew God had intervened.
In his all-knowing way,
he slowed me down to 20 as I rushed at 50,
to let me know I
should take it easy,
to enjoy the moment
of when Christ was born.
All three poems were written by
E. Moscoso on or about
December 24, 2002