Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Morning

Ascension into heaven.

"Tomb, thou shalt not hold him longer.
Death is strong, but life is stronger,
Stronger than the dark, the light,
Stronger than the wrong, the right."
Phillips Brooks, An Easter Carol

 After debating on whether to go to the 7 a.m. mass or wait until a later mass, I decided, since I was awake, to get ready and attend the first mass being celebrated this Easter morning. As usual, as it is on Easter and Christmas, the parking lot was filled to capacity but I was able to find a spot.  The first thing I noticed as I walked into the church were all the white Easter lilies and the walls covered by large white banners.  The second thing was seeing so many men in suits and ties.  The men looked so professional and handsome dressed up.  I have gotten so used to seeing men in jeans, shorts, t-shirts, etc. that seeing them in a suit, a white shirt and a tie impressed me.

The choir, which I had never heard before, had two soloists with voices that touched me.  The music did not leave any doubt that Christ had risen! The priest, who was lending a hand to the regular priests, gave a moving sermon.  I liked when he said, "As the stone was removed from the tomb of Jesus, who will move the stone from in front of our heart?"  Yes, I thought, how many times do we keep Christ buried behind a stone of disbelief, anger or sin? The priest ended his homily with everyone repeating after him, the prayer  of St. Francis of Assisi.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
where there is hatred, let me sow love,
where there is injury, pardon
where there is doubt, faith,
where there is despair, hope,
where there is darkness, light,
where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love
for it is in giving that we receive,

it is in pardoning, that we are pardoned
and it is in dying
that we are born to eternal life.

Three dots of Holy Water!

The repeating of our baptismal vows and the blessing with holy water was part of the morning ceremony. I think the priest enjoyed sprinkling the congregation with the holy water and seeing how many he could actually splash! Some of the water landed on my forehead and glasses.  When I removed my glasses, I saw three distinct dots of holy water, the Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit. The three spots of water would not shake off so I had to use the end of my blouse to wipe the glass clean. I find it interesting that there is always something different to impress me or move me.

Seeing families together touches me and brings tears to my eyes.  Maybe it is because my family is so small and one lives far away and the other does not attend mass, but I get a pang of loneliness when I see parents with their grown children all sitting in a pew.  I guess holidays are when I miss having my small family around me.

People were still receiving communion and it was 8:20 a.m. I wondered how the 8:30 mass could possible begin on time.  I left early and the parking lot was jammed with cars making it difficult for parked cars to get out and arriving cars to park.  A man in a car asked me where I was parked and followed me so that he could take my spot. I was glad I had attended the early mass.  The feeling of contentment and happiness filled me as I left the church and my thought was that everyone should enjoy this glorious day of Easter!

"The year's at the spring,
and day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hill-side dew-pearled;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in His heaven--
All's right with the world!"
Robert Browning
Sunrise




Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Older I Get, Does Time Go Faster?

 Snow in Greeley in 1946
When I was a child, summer vacation seemed like a year even though it was only three months long.  Winter snow lasted from November to February. Back then, I felt as if the snow stayed on the ground all winter. Now, it snows and within a day or two the snow has melted away.  I have always heard that in Colorado, the sun will come out daily. School used to seem longer than nine months.  Now, school breaks seem to come more often than I remember. My grand kids tell me they are on Spring Break and before I know it they are on Thanksgiving break. Snow can fall in May (spring) or begin in September (fall.)  I notice how the time flies more with my grandchildren.  It seems like just a few years ago, they were kids and now they are young teens!


Maybe it is the perception of how things were that confuses me.  The older I get maybe the mind just speeds up so things appear to move faster.  Not too long ago, a friend told me about a great-grandchild that was born.  Within, what seemed a few months, I was told the child was celebrating his first birthday. How can that be?

Some of the literature I have read about why time seems to move faster as one gets older is that when we have first time experiences they seem to last longer.  As a child, everything appears new so it would seem to last longer. As we age, happenings are more or less routine so time appears to go faster. Now, every Tuesday, when I take my trash out, it feels like I do it every few days even though I know it is once a week!


Winter in 2013
Other research states that the older we get, the more involved and busy we are and that gives a feeling like we don't have enough time and therefore, it appears that time goes by faster.  Small children feel like time takes forever to arrive for a certain activity like waiting for Christmas or going for a drive.  When I was a child, my family would drive the seven miles from Greeley to Kersey and it felt like we traveled fifty miles.  As an adult and I lived in Denver and when I drove the seven miles to work it did not seem far. After I moved to Denver and I would return home covering the fifty-two miles in less than an hour, I wondered why, when I was a child,I thought it took most of the day to get from Greeley to Denver!

In trying to understand why time seems to move faster the older I get, I lean toward a quote by Albert Einstein:  "Time is an illusion."

Saturday, March 23, 2013

You CAN Teach Old Dogs New Tricks!

At times, we were forced to go 
through a history of dependence, 
unable to determine our own destiny. 
But today, we are at the threshold 
of a new turning point.  
Roh Moo-hyun
 
In my past, I have tried making homemade flour tortillas.  I have never been able to get the dough just right. The dough which seemed simple to mix, would either turn out too sticky, be stretchy so that no matter how much I rolled it, it sprang back to its original size or it was hard and leathery.  I would end up throwing the dough away and swearing I would never try to make tortillas again. After all, grocery store shelves had plenty of tortillas to sell!

Today, it is snowy, windy and cold and after watching television, being on the computer and being bored, I decided to try those elusive homemade tortillas.  Laugh if you want, all of you professional tortilla makers,
but if I can get them to turn out I will have them for dinner tonight.

Mom mixing the dough while grandson peeks!


In a Mexican cookbook, I found a basic recipe that called for flour, salt, baking powder, shortening and warm water.  I tried to recall what my Mother would do and remembered she used her hands while I was using a fork, could that make a difference? She would shape the dough into small burger size patties and line  them along the wooden cutting board. She would roll them out into perfect circles and always used her fingers to flip the tortilla.  Those tortillas were the perfect thickness. On the other hand, my aunt made them thick and I could pull them apart (like an Oreo cookie) and my grandmother made them thin and crispy.  The last tortilla my Mother rolled out would be left on the stove until it hardened like a tostada chip. I liked sprinkling salt on the hard toasted tortilla and hearing it crack as I ate it.

I tried to follow my memory and felt proud when I rolled the dough out (okay so it wasn't quite a circle but better than I had ever done in the past) and placed the thin dough on the hot griddle. To prevent my fingers from getting burned, I used a spatula. My tortillas were tasty but next time I will add a bit more salt and with a bit more practice I  know I can get a rounder tortilla.

Dough made into balls.

Patties and rolled out dough.
Tortilla on the griddle.








My lopsided stack of tortillas!
I know that if you know how to make tortillas, you are probably shaking your head, but today I feel as if I have crossed a threshold. Who would have guessed that at 74 years old, these would be the best tortillas I have ever made!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Knight in Shining Armor


From The Boy's King Arthur and is copyrighted by Charles Scribner's Sons
...................
The first time I read Don Quixote I enjoyed the story of the "crazy" old man fighting windmills and Miguel Cervantes moved up on my list of favorite authors. When my Mother and Father celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary, the Aladdin Theater on Colfax was showing a rerun of Man of La Mancha and I took them to see the movie.  My Mother's comment was, "Los caballos tenian unas nalgas grandisimas!" (The horses had huge rears!) When my children were small I took them to the play of Man of La Mancha at Bonfils Theater on Colfax.  And when the play came to Denver, I saw the play at the Auditorium Theater.

During this time while I was in the Don Quixote phase, I was given a beautiful brooch of Don Quixote and the windmill.  Knowing how much I loved the story of Don Quixote, a friend went to a jeweler, explained the story and together they came up with the original pin. When I dressed up, I would wear the brooch and receive many compliments on the sparkly pin.  It was a one-of-a kind pin but sadly, when I ran into financial difficulties, I had to sell my Don Quixote pin.

Don Quixote fights the windmill!

Tomorrow  I will be going to the Arvada Center to see another version of the play.  I know memories will rush in as I hear the music and see Don Quixote and his antics with Sancho Pancho. To Dream An Impossible Dream continues to be one of my favorite songs.
 



For those that don't know the story, I will give a short synopsis:  During the Spanish Inquisition, Miguel de Cervantes, the author, puts on a play mocking the Spanish government and is jailed.  While in jail, his belongings are being stolen by fellow prisoners and he suggests doing a play for them if they will not take a manuscript he hopes to publish. His play is about an older man that leaves his home to right wrongs that he sees.  His side kick, riding a small donkey, is Sancho Pancho. Together they attempt to fight the evils of the world! Don Quixote fights windmills thinking they are the enemy, meets Aldonza who he calls Dulcinea. Even though he is ridiculed, he only sees the good in people.  He does not see the scullery maid who Dulcinea really is, but instead he sees a fair maiden.  When he asks for a memento to take into battle, she scoffs and gives him an old dishrag.  He acts as if she has given him a silk scarf! The ending is sad but the audience knows that he is not seeing things in a dream but actually sees the world as he would like it to be.

"Too much sanity may be madness.  And maddest of all, 
to see life as it is and not as it should be."
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A New Mexican Cookie

My Mother used to bake a sugar-like cookie with a faint taste of licorice and cinnamon.  She called the cookie a biscochito.  I used like dipping the semi-hard cookie in milk.  For Christmas I have tried making biscochitos but they seldom turn out being either too hard or without the special taste I remember. I have looked on the Internet for recipes but most seem too complicated for me.   I tried to get recipes  from friends and hear things like, "you have got to use lard and not shortening, look on the Internet, it's how you mix the ingredients, and so on.

In April I will be presenting Bless Me, Ultima at our book club and would like to have Biscochitos representing a bit of New Mexican culture. This morning I decided to bake some of the New Mexican cookies and if they turn out I will bake a new batch for the book club. Following is the Biscochito recipe taken from the Internet and cut in half. I picked the easiest recipe I could find!

Biscochitos

3 cups flour
1/8 t salt
1/2 t baking powder
1 c shortening   (my Mother used lard)                                                                                                      
2/3 c sugar
1 t anise (I only had extract but seeds work better)
1 egg

1/8 t. sugar
1/2 t. cinnamon

Sift flour, baking powder and salt.  Cream shortening, sugar and anise until fluffy.  Beat in egg.
Mix in flour until well blended.  Turn dough onto a floured board.  Roll 1/4 -1/2 inches thick. Dust
with sugar and cinnamon.  Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

Dry Ingredients
Creaming shortening, sugar, anise and egg.
The dry ingredients reminded me of mountain tops with white fluffy snow. When I creamed the remaining ingredients it looked like vanilla icing or mashed potatoes.  The hard part was combining the dry with the wet and trying to get a ball of dough.  Mine looked more like pebbles on a sandy beach. I added a small amount of water until I was able to form a mound of dough.

I made smaller balls of dough and rolled them out on a floured board. I used a juice glass to cut the cookies and placed them on a cookie sheet. I sprinkled the tops of the cookies with cinnamon and sugar and placed them in 350 degree pre-heated oven.
Ready to go into oven.

I am not sure if the recipe is wrong or if my oven doesn't heat up enough but after twenty-five minutes I took the cookies out.  They did not look brown but seemed done.  The second sheet to go into the oven I put the oven to 375 degrees and the cookies were done after fifteen minutes.

Care for a Biscochito?


Thursday, March 14, 2013

From Cardinal to Pope

Loved this picture someone sent on Facebook!
On March 13, 2013, a new Pope was selected by the Cardinals in Rome.  He is from Argentina and is the first Pope to come from outside of Europe.  Watching the white smoke billowing out signified that a new Pope had been selected and hearing the cheers of so many persons gave me a satisfied feeling that history would continue as it always had! I thought back to the Popes I knew or remembered and was surprised that from 1958 to 1978 I did not remember anything about the three Pontiffs during that time.

In 1978 when Blessed John Paul II became Pope, I began to pay more attention to the man who is supposedly infallible. (non-erring, incapable of making a mistake, certain not to fail, reliable, trustworthy and steady.)  After his death, I followed Benedict XVI and was aware of what he was doing and of his retirement.  Now, Francis will follow in their footsteps as our next Pope.

When my brother was in the service and traveling through Europe he picked up a coin from the Vatican with Pope Pius XII on the coin's face.  I wore the medallion for many years and then lost it.  For over forty years I wondered what had happened to the coin.  After the death of my father, I found it among his belongings and I was happy that he had kept it safe for me through the years!

Vatican Coin

Growing up, Pope Pius the XII was the only Pope I knew and when Blessed John XXIII (1958 - 1963), Paul VI (1963-1978) and John Paul I (1978) became Popes I knew nothing about them. I did hear rumors that one had been poisoned since he only served as Pope for thirty-three days! 

Blessed John Paul II traveled the world and he became well known and loved by many. Among other states, it was a big honor when he came to Denver, Colorado. He was a Polish Pope after a long line of Italian Popes. Pope Benedict XVI, a German, was selected to follow Blessed John Paul II.  I read that he was to be a transitional Pope but he continued to serve for eight years before retiring due to his health. And now, we have a Jesuit Pope from Argentina.  I told an Argentinian friend of mine that now when I think of the Pope I will picture him in his white robe doing the Tango!

Picture taken off of the Internet of
Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the new Pope Francis of Argentina



Friday, March 8, 2013

Ode to Michael Jackson

At seventy-one, I fell in love
with a fellow who wore one glove.
Most of my life I'd seen him around
and had enjoyed his certain sound.
I moved my dancing feet
to the rhythm of his special beat.
To me his life was tragic,
though many thought his life was magic.
 









Then, one day he was dead,
never to rise again from his bed.
News bulletins every day
announcing his death began to play.
View after view, from young to old,
he blazed new trails, never following a mold.
Masked children with their famous Dad
would now be feeling lonely and sad.

So much I did not know
as scene after scene began to flow.
The more I watched and heard
I realized his life had not been so absurd.
Words like weird, odd, freak strange and out of his mind,
erased giving, kind, generous, sensitive, thoughtful, one of a kind.
Described the King of Pop
who made it to the very top.

Hours before his demise
no longer hiding behind a disguise
he was on stage once more
and would do fifty shows galore!
He pranced, danced and sang,
the upcoming concert with greatness rang.
Instead of what was going to be
a black hearse and a casket is what we'd see.












A childhood he never had
as he grew into a man but never a lad.
His life was out there for all to see,
A prisoner in life and never free.
I listened to the words in his songs
where he tried to right so many wrongs.
His quiet manner of speaking
as if he'd lost something he was now seeking.


He retreated where he could hide,
yet, his talent could not be denied.
His moon walk turned a tide
as across the stage he did glide.
In his death, his talent shown bright,
to millions of fans for their delight.
Yes, the more I heard about this man
I found myself becoming a loyal fan.

I don't know when I fell in love
with this man in a sequined glove.
I fell in love with his kindness, his pain,
his innocence, his life so insane,
his special star, his music and him.
Michael Jackson in my heart will never dim.


E. Moscoso
July 7, 2009


Thursday, March 7, 2013

When Is It Time?

When is it time to say good-bye to your old car and make room for a new one?  For months I had been thinking about getting a new car but just never got motivated enough to go look for one.  I would see cars on the road and two cars impressed me.  One was a Honda Civic and the other was a Subaru Impreza. I had purchased my 2000 Subaru Outback in September of 1999 and it was getting old and sick!
The day I drove off in my Outback

My license plates were expiring at the end of February and on February 28 I took my 2000 Subaru for an emissions test.  It failed.  I was told to take my car to a mechanic and get the problem corrected.  I took the car to a mechanic that works on my car and almost fainted when he told me that repairs would be around $1500 for a front sensor, rear sensor, catalytic converter, front gasket and rear casket plus labor. Of course, I have no idea if what he tells me is true and an even less idea of how those parts function on my car!  Knowing how mechanics (so I've read and seen on television) are so ready to fake repairs, especially to a woman, I decided to get another estimate.  I took my car to a Subaru dealer. 

The Subaru dealer gave me a list consisting of a knock sensor, A/F sensor, radiator hose, rear brakes, alignment, a tie rod and rack boots and tires. He informed me that the rear light was out and it was not a bulb as he suspected, but something to do with the wires which would cost about $300. He mentioned that my ties were in need of repair which added another $900 since on an all wheel drive all four tires need to be replaced! The total bill came to $3269 plus labor. I made a comment that all I needed was for my car to pass the emissions so I could get my now expired plates. He told me that if I drove my car a long distance, that maybe I would pass the emissions test because the catalytic converter needed to be hot when an emission's test is done.  I drove from Golden to Arvada and waited my turn in line to have my Subaru tested. Once again I failed the emissions test.  This was all the motivation I needed.


I headed to a Subaru dealer to look at the Impreza.  When I sat in one I liked, the seat was not comfortable.  They did not have the color I liked and after hiking through ice and snow in a back lot, I could not find one that spoke to me.  The salesman tried to convince me to lease a car.  I let him know I was just on a looking spree and still had other places to go.

I named my car Jazzy
Passing Nisson, Kia, Hyundai, and Toyota dealerships I kept going until I saw a Honda dealer.  When I told the young salesman what I was looking for, he went to the lot and got it for me.  The minute I sat in the seat I liked it. The color was black and I told the salesman I would prefer another color. Before long, a dark grayish-brown was brought to me.  It had more bells and whistles than I needed or wanted but the price was right and I could almost hear it saying, "Buy me, buy me!" In 4 1/2 hours I was driving home in my new Honda Civic.
 
Now, not only do I have a new smart phone to learn how to use, but I will have to learn all about my new car!    It seems a bit noisy and it is not as big as my Subaru but I believe Jazzy and I will get along fine!


                                                                                          

 Sometimes, one knows when it is time.  My time was today and now I have a new car.  I traded in my Subaru, said good-bye by cleaning it out, and never looked back! Today I saw a green Outback, just like what I used to have, and a pang of sadness pierced my heart.  But, only for an instant, because just then the phone rang and on a small screen on the dash of my Honda, I could see who was calling.  "Hi," I said and continued talking as I drove. I didn't even have to get the phone out of my purse! Wow, what luxury!!

Hi from Jazzy