Thursday, August 29, 2013

Christmas in August?

While at Costco today, August 29, 2013, I saw Halloween candy and costumes.  I thought it was pretty early to be displaying Halloween stuff, after all, it was still two months away. The costumes were neatly hung and the candy was all in order. I remembered being at a store after Halloween last year and costumes were on the floor, spooky toys were scattered all over and everything was reduced by 75%.  The moving displays, like hands in bowls or talking tombstones, were no longer working and everything looked like a pile of junk! Maybe shoppers with children do need to do their shopping early but I wondered how long everything will continue to be so neatly displayed!

And then, what should I encounter on the next two aisles?  Christmas candles, Christmas wrapping paper, Christmas decorations, Christmas cards, and Christmas music playing over the speakers.  A lady stopped in front of me, looked at me and rolled her eyes as she said, "Can you
believe this? Am I really hearing Jingle Bells?  In August?"

I replied with, "I remember when the day after Thanksgiving was when all the Christmas things came out. This is the earliest I have ever seen Christmas advertised."  She shook her head, and I shook mine as we continued our shopping!

I went up and down the Christmas aisle looking for something to show me the real meaning of Christmas. Baby Jesus was no where to be seen.  The thought that Christmas did not mean the birth of Christ to many people, saddened me.  I wondered how many children even know the true meaning of Christmas. Even Dr. Seuss in How the Grinch stole Christmas says, "Christmas doesn't come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more."
 "How many observe Christ's Birthday!
How few his precepts!
O 'tis easier to keep holidays
than commandments!
Benjamin Franklin

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I Feel Cheated

The other day I saw where the bottled hand pump soap was on sale for $.88 and bought four of them.  When I got home I found a bottle I had purchased a few months ago and was I surprised to see the size difference!
Makes me wonder how many other things I have purchased,
thinking I was getting a bargain!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Lady With Many Names

Our Lady of the Assumption, Our Lady of the Rosary, La Conquistadora (Our Lady of Conquest), Our Lady of the Conception, and Our Lady of Peace are names she is called or has been called. I know her as La Conquistadora but a few years back I was told that the name brought back memories of wars and unrest so she would be called Our Lady of Peace.

Whatever she is called, the wooden statue of the Blessed Virgin is the oldest Marian statue in the United States. She  was brought to New Mexico from Spain by a missionary, Fray Alonzo Benevidez, in 1624. At that time the statue was called Our Lady of the Assumption.  In those early days there was friction between Native Americans and the Spanish settlers. In August of 1680 the Indians revolted and chased the Spanish settlers out of Santa Fe after killing twenty-one priests out of the thirty-three who lived in or near by Santa Fe. The settlers were driven out of Santa Fe and the city was burned. Somehow, the statue was rescued and she ended up, along with the fleeing settlers, in what is now known as southern Texas and Juarez, Mexico. There they would live until Don Diego de Vargas was sent by the King of Spain to resettle New Mexico.

Don Diego de Vargas, under a banner of Our Lady, was able to enter Santa Fe without any bloodshed. Well, there was some fighting but not as bad as it could have been! Don Diego gave credit to the Blessed Mother and named her La Conquistadora. He placed a military baton in her right hand and to this day she still holds it.  Sometimes, I have seen the baton removed and baby Jesus placed in her arms or a bouquet of flowers. In 1712 it was mandated to have a Fiesta in Santa Fe every fall and, as far as I know, there is a week long fiesta along with a procession with La Conquistadora every year.

A friend of mine is the madrina (godmother) of the statue and she dresses her for certain occasions.
Our Lady's wardrobe consists of gifts from people who have had favors granted. The outfits are elaborately sewn from silk, satin, velvet, and brocade. Her wardrobe includes jewelry, a crown and a diamond and emerald cross. I have heard she has over 300 outfits all kept under lock and key at the basilica in Santa Fe. Her wardrobe is extensive with new items being presented to her by faithful followers.

When not in a procession, she is in a side altar at the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe and she is always dressed in her magnificent outfits!

Note: Photo of Teresa Garcia, the sacristan,(or as I like to call her, the Godmother),  was taken from the Internet.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Blast From the Past

I stole the title of this blog from the ad of the Denver Modernism Show.  The show at the National Western Complex - Expo Hall featured a variety of  photography, paintings, furniture, lamps, clothing, jewelry, records, hats, magazines, toys and other vintage items. I found myself becoming depressed at the thought of how many things I had sold at a garage sale that possibly could have gone for more money!

Chrome dinette and chair sets just like I grew up with, were selling for over $300.  I remember seeing the black ceramic leopards but it wasn't in my home. I just remember seeing the slinky cat sometime in my past!

Jewelry like my mother used to wear, large gaudy pieces, seemed pricey to me.
I had sold a lot of her costume jewelry for ten cents a piece and here they were selling for fifty dollars and up.  End tables like we used to have, radios my dad would have around the house to work on, and simple lamps brought back many memories.  The red shoes and red purse reminded me of how, when we dressed up, we had to be color-coordinated.

Silver, metal Christmas trees were the in thing while everyone seemed to have a skinny-legged end table.

The cars looked beautiful with their sleek lines and leather upholstery but we never owned the kind of a cars in today's display because they would have been too expensive.  It was fun looking at them and hearing people comment on how "they had one just like it, only it was blue." Or, "I really had a good time in a car just like this one." The Rolls Royce was impressive and since this was probably the closest I would ever get to one, I took a picture of the hood ornament.

Looking at all the "stuff" was a pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon and to reminisce on the past!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Green Worm's Feast

While visiting a friend the other day, I was fascinated by the different types of tomatoes she had growing in her yard. The extent of my tomato knowledge was large red tomatoes or cherry tomatoes--both red.  Her garden had a variety of small tomatoes and a few large tomatoes. My favorite was a beautiful small yellow tomato known as a yellow pear tomato or a tear drop tomato. It also reminded me of hot air balloons or light bulbs.

A Black Cherry tomato that is a bit larger than a purple grape and almost the same color has a sweet flavor and I found the skin to be thicker than a red tomato. The Red Cherry tomato tastes like a large red tomato yet easier to eat! The large dark purple tomato I did not taste but when sliced the inside is also purple.
It's called a Cherokee Purple and over a hundred years ago the Cherokee people gave the seed to their neighbors. Amazing that the tomato has been around for so many years and I had never seen one.  My friend gave me a bag filled with the many different tomatoes and I plan to prepare a colorful salad.  That is, if I have any left because it is so easy to pick one out of the bag and pop it into my mouth.  Before we finished gathering the tomatoes, she spotted the green caterpillar. She told me that the worm destroys the plants and the tomatoes and I told her it looked "artsy" with the lime green color, yellow spots, and white lines all in symmetrical order!  The horned tail looks dangerous but I hear it is just for show!

I found out that planting Marigolds or Dill around the tomato
plants helps in keeping the horn worm away from the plants.

"Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit,
wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad."
Miles Kington

Friday, August 23, 2013

Faithful Love

Never having met the man, how could my love last for over 59 years? The warm sensuous feeling that comes over me when I see him in a photograph or in a movie is still as strong today as it was in the 50's. In those days I wanted to watch my idol on t.v. but my mother would not allow it. Ed Sullivan, a favorite variety show of the time, was turned off when it was announced that he would perform. To my argument that "everyone I knew would be watching him" her response was:   "He is nasty. Que cochinadas. It is a sin to watch how he moves."
Years later, on a repeat show, I did see him and I did not think he was nasty.  In fact, I loved him even more! His sideburns, his crooked smile, his voice and his eyes.  How it would frustrate my mother when I would put a 45 record on to play the same song over and over again.  My favorite song was I Want You, I Need You and I Love You. Many times, my mother would enter the room and turn off the record player with "ya basta!"

A regret I will always have is that I never went to see him in concert.  He came to Denver a few times and I would read how generous he was with some of our police officers by giving them brand new Cadillacs! A friend of mine had two tickets and invited me to one of his shows when he was in town.  My excitement could barely be contained, until the night before the show when she told me that her sister wanted to go see him and she had given her my ticket.  She tried to make it up to me by bringing me a large poster of Elvis.  I put the poster up and enjoyed seeing his handsome face. His entering the Army and having his hair cut off saddened me, yet he never lost his striking good looks. I saw most of his movies and even though the acting wasn't the best, I still enjoyed seeing him.

On one of his last appearances, I watched him on television and was surprised to see how puffy his face looked and how he had gained weight. He did not look good and I believe it was the last concert he gave.  Soon after that concert the news reported his death at 42 years old in 1977. Prescription drug overdose had stopped his heart.  Often, I thought, like many others, that maybe he had not died and one day he would sing again.  I'm still waiting! He would now be 78 years old!

In 2010 I went to Los Angeles, California to see a traveling museum of Elvis' photos, clothing and music.  His songs played over speakers as people enjoyed seeing the many mementos.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Ezekiel 4:9

Who would have thought that I would be buying bread named after a bible verse? And, paying $4.99 for about twenty slices. The makers of Ezekiel 4:9 do not use flour but instead follow the bible verse of: "Take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt; put them in a storage jar and use them to make bread for yourself." I had to look up millet and spelt and found out they are grains with health benefits. Millet is small seed grasses producing edible seeds and spelt is a grain from the wheat family with a nutty flavor and rich in protein.

The saying of "monkey see, monkey do," is quite true because while visiting my California family I noticed they eat Ezekiel 4:9 bread.  At first I did not like the bland, or maybe it was the different, taste. But then, while my granddaughter stayed with me for two weeks, I grew accustomed to eating the bread and now I like it.  Smearing peanut butter on a slice of toast tastes great to me and I have come to crave a grilled cheese sandwich made with the Ezekiel 4:9 bread.

"Here is bread, 
which strengthens man's
heart, and therefore is 
called the staff of life."
Matthew Henry

Friday, August 16, 2013

Moving On To Different Pastures

Okay, so life on earth is one big pasture. When I die, I go from my pasture on earth to my pasture in heaven. This is what Christians believe; there is a place called heaven where I will no longer be troubled with earthly problems.

This morning I attended a funeral for a lady named Kay.  I did not know her but she had belonged to my Young At Heart group at Spirit of Christ. There were about one hundred persons at mass.  Some had come for daily mass, but the majority had come to pay homage to their friend, Kay. For the past three years, she had been in a nursing care facility and from what I had heard, "she was not doing well." Now she was gone.

Along with the usual rituals for a mass for the dead, the priest spoke on dying. He mentioned that he had seen the play of Les Miserables and described the dying scene. I don't have his exact words but this was the gist of what he said.  "The stage is darkened, all goes black.  A bright light appears and from the light walk the dying man's friends and loved ones.  He is happy to see them and gets up from his death bed and walks into the light with his friends and the stage goes dark again."

"This is how death must be," the priest said,  "when one dies, one leaves all the suffering of earth and goes to meet  loved ones that  are already gone. Those that have gone ahead, wait patiently to take their loved one into their arms"  What a beautiful way of putting death as a happy occasion and not as a fearful step that we must all take. I, for one, would love to see my parents, my brother and the many friends that have gone before me. What a joyful reunion it will be because I have so much to tell them!

I was told that Kay's husband had died a few years ago but at every gathering she always spoke of him. She kept his ashes and now their ashes will be buried together. For someone who had no family, she would have been happy to see her many friends gathered around and telling stories about her. One of her friends gave a short eulogy about Kay.

On a table, there were some carved elephants.  I asked about them and was told she collected them. From what I was told, she collected many things. There were angels on the table and she would give angels to her friends. She was a member of a social group called the Baker's Dozen and they circled her photographs as they all said good-bye; each with her own memory of Kay. In one of the pictures she is wearing a red hat and I was told she belonged to the Red Hat Society. 

"When you were born,
you cried and the world
rejoiced.  Live your life
in a manner so that when
you die, the world cries
and you rejoice."
                                                                                                                                   Native American Proverb.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


I remember going out into the yard with my mother and picking a certain weed she called verdolagas.  It was a succulent, small leaf weed that my mother would prepare for us to eat.  Yesterday, in my very own yard, I found a weed patch with some verdolagas growing. My heart warmed as I remembered the good tasting weed but since I have sprayed the area numerous times to be rid of the weeds, I will not be picking the verdolagas out of my yard. Yet, it brought back a lot of memories.

It was fun being out under the hot sun and running ahead of my mother. I would pull a weed out of the ground and with my four year old voice would ask, "Is this one?"  "No, mi hijita, it looks like this." She would hold the bunch in her hand out for me to see and off I would run to try and find the wild weed!

Chopped onion sauteed in a small amount of grease, garlic, a few cooked pinto beans and the greens made for a tasty dish. Sometimes, cheese would be sprinkled on top of the prepared dish. Wild spinach, another edible weed, was something else we would find in the yard. I recall going for Sunday drives through the country side and my mother telling my father to stop the car so she could go pick the wild plants.

I looked up the word "verdolaga" on the Internet and it came up with lots of pictures of the plant. Recipes accompanied the pictures and I found out another name for the plant is "purslane."

"Despite the gardener's best intentions,
nature will improvise."
Michael P. Garafalo

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sand Dunes

I took my Colorado grandchildren on a mini-vacation to the Sand Dune's area in July of 2008. I invited their grandfather and his wife to go along with us because I feel it is important for the grand kids to know their grandparents. We left Arvada around nine in the morning and stopped in a park in Pueblo for a picnic lunch. We went over LaVeta Pass and to Alamosa where we would spend the night. The next day we would go to the sand dunes.

The sand dunes cover a large area as they slope and ripple making interesting looking hills. There are 19,000 acres of sand piled up along the side of the Sangre de Cristo mountains. 

My grandchildren were not too excited about going to see "a pile of sand" but when they saw the magnitude of the dunes, I heard "I've never seen so much sand," from Nicolette and Zach said, "Whoa!" They enjoyed playing, hiking and sliding down the sand slopes.

Grandfather Mico hiked up a large dune with the kids while Mary Ann and I took a nature walk led by a ranger. We learned that along with the fine sand, there is also volcanic bits and black magnetite. The magnetite clings in a fuzzy bunch on a magnet. 

Medano Creek was a fun place to cool off our hot feet. The creek makes tiny waves and only flows during the summer.

We hiked a trail called Zapata Falls but stopped when the river needed to be crossed and it was too deep. It was a rocky climb but Zach and Nicolette were like two mountain goats leaping and running over the rough terrain.
Mico and Maryann left  the following day to return home while the kids and I continued our mini-vacation by going swimming at the 150 foot Splashland Pool of geothermal water.  The water was too hot for us but we did enjoy a few hours of swimming and snacking!

We visited the Colorado Gator Farm where we saw snakes, lizards, iguanas, turtles and other reptiles, different kinds of fish and over 300 alligators. There were even some ostriches wandering around! We watched a worker wrestle an alligator and we read a sign on the fence. "Persons throwing items at alligators will be asked to retrieve them."

On our way back to the motel, after our interesting day, we stopped at a go-cart park and raced around a few times! As usual, Nicolette thought I drove too slow so she opted to ride with her brother who loves to speed. I hope when they get going in Car #5 they don't run over the cute kitten!

The rental car  we are using is "old-fashioned" and windows need to be rolled down by hand and when locking the car we  push the buttons on the door.  They nick named the car "The Big Rolling Turd."

We saw Journey to the Center of the Earth at a theater near our motel and the next day we were heading home via Ft. Garland.

At Ft. Garland we wandered through the fort, saw replicas of the Battle of Glorieta, civil war uniforms and guns and rifles of past times. The walking museum had a bison, goats, horses (they liked Partner), and chickens. The artifacts were in a village with a tee pee. The reenactment of a fight between gunmen was fun to watch. I enjoyed watching Zach and Nicolette on the stage pretending to play air guitars!

Our short vacation came to an end with a beautiful sunset.

Note: I remembered a wonderful and fun time until I read my journal. Arguments because they would not  go to bed, bickering, not coming out of the motel pool when I asked, threats, time-outs, and one notation was "they push my patience to the limit." One night I cried because I found it difficult to understand how they could be so naughty when all I tried to do was to make them happy and to please them.  The odd thing, before I read my journal, is how I only remembered the fun we had and not the discipline problems! I wonder what they remember!