Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Corned Beef & Cabbage at a Mexican Restaurant

The traditional Irish corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick's Day was eaten at Ophelia's in Old Town Arvada. It surprised me that a Mexican restaurant would serve the Irish dish, yet, thankful that I could enjoy the corned beef, cabbage, carrots, and potatoes today. It seemed to be a hit with all the customers because I saw many corned beef and cabbage plates being served to customers.

I have lived in Arvada for over 36 years and have seen the restaurant on the west side of Old Wadsworth many times, but have never eaten there. Today was the first time I went into the bar/restaurant and it probably will not be my last.

It reminded me of an old neighborhood bar with booths, tables and a long counter. One waitress took care of the fifteen or so customers.

"The big thing here is corned beef and cabbage.
In Ireland, you'd have to go looking for it.  
It's not served on St. Patrick's."
Dermott Reid

Once A Year Tradition

Most of my close friends and family know that I do not like to cook. I very seldom prepare large meals. In the past when I would invite family or friends over, I was never satisfied with what I had fixed though everyone told me it was good. But then, I thought, who is going to actually say that the food tastes bad! Every once in awhile, I do enter my kitchen with a recipe in my hand. I may begin all gung-ho but before long, I wonder why I ever started cooking. Especially when I see all the dirty dishes in the sink after I have made something I thought looked interesting. I wish I could enjoy cooking like some of my friends. They seem to love being in their kitchens and preparing different foods while I much prefer to buy something already made.

My sister-in-law whips up delicious meals all the while chatting with a visitor and drinking a glass (or two) of wine. If anything needs to be cut up, my brother will do the chopping of whatever for her. She presents salads in an attractive way and I have never had a bad meal at their home.

Today, was one of those days I decided to cook. I baked an Irish Soda Bread for St. Patrick's Day. It's become a tradition since this is the third year I have baked the bread. It's a bread with a bit of sweetness and when I add raisins it's even better! Tonight I fixed the large, round loaf and can honestly say that I'm glad I only do this once a year.

"It is impossible to think
of any good meal, no
matter how plain or elegant,
without soup or bread in it.
MFK Fisher

Four and One To Go

A few weeks ago I went on a reading binge. One of our book club selections was titled  Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer. The story ended abruptly with no answers to the mystery. I was very disappointed and mentioned it to a friend. Her reply was, "It's a trilogy and you have to read the rest of the books to find out what happens to the Clifton Family." I ordered the next two books and when I finished the third book I was left hanging as to what was going on. I looked up Mr. Archer's bio and among his many books, the Clifton books are in a five book series. I ordered the fourth book and will order the fifth book once the price comes down. I was able to get the first four books for $3.99 each but the fifth book is around $27.00. I either have to pay the extra or wait until that fifth book also comes down in price.

The Standly library in Jefferson County had good news and bad news when I checked to see if they had the fifth book. "Yes, we have 25 books that are out, and we have 28 persons waiting for it."

For the past two weeks I have been reading non-stop. While I eat my kindle is in front of me, if I go to the bathroom I take my Kindle with me, if I go on errands I take a few minutes to read before the light changes, and even at a movie, I do not watch the previews because I am reading. I figure I have read 1537 pages so far and by the time I finish the Clifton mysteries I will have read 1952 pages!

Archer has a way of writing that has me addicted to the story. Page after page I think I know what will happen and then a big surprise pops up. I like how he separates each chapter by different members of the family. The fourth book is covering his twenty some year old son Sebastian. Many other characters are in the stories and some you hate and some you love. Archer calls the five book series, The Clifton Chronicles.

If you decide you want to read the interesting and exciting stories, begin with the first one which is Only Time Will Tell. Followed by The Sins of Our Fathers, Best Kept Secret, Be Careful What You Wish For and the last one (I hope) will be Mightier Than The Sword.

In some respects I am a very patient person, but not in this case. I need to find out what happens to the Clifton Family and today I have ordered the fifth book through Amazon for $12.99 (a bargain) and in a few seconds it will be on my Kindle I will find out, once and for all, what happens to the Clifton Family!

My assumption of the Harry Clifton series ending was so wrong. As I finished the fifth book I was informed that book number six would come out in 2016. A whole year to wait to see what happens to all the characters I have come to know so well.


Growing up my Mother did all the cooking for us. My Father worked outside the home and in his garden. My Mother took care of my brother and me, cooked/baked, cleaned house, did laundry, ironed and kept the house clean. There were three things that I remember my Father "cooking" in the kitchen. One was a flat bread that he baked. I remember it was thicker than a cracker but it didn't rise like bread. I used to love to smear jelly on it and liked the crunchiness of the "pan." (bread)

Dad would thinly slice beef and place it in the red coals of our stove. The meat would get toasty black and my guess it was like our modern day jerky. The flavor and the smell of the meat made my mouth water as we stood around the stove waiting for the sliced meat to cook. The third thing I remember my Father fixing came in a rectangular can with the word "sardines" on the top. The tin was filled with six small fish, about 3 1/2 inches long. I did not like the odor of the fish but when he chopped up onion, green pepper and cheese and mixed it into the fish I liked the combination. We would put the mixture on saltine crackers.

The other day I was at the grocery store and purchased a can of sardines in his memory. I don't know if I will like them now, but maybe it will bring back those memories of when my Father would have us eat the sardines because "it was good for us."
When I Googled Sardines I found out that there are many nutrients in sardines and they support cardio- vascular health. Sardines are loaded with Omega-3 Fatty Acid and they are a good source of Vitamin B12.
I sure hope I like eating sardines because it sounds as if they are good for me, just like my Dad used to tell us!

The Party That Wasn't

For the past three days I looked forward to attending my friend's sixteen year old daughter's birthday party. This friend knows how to throw a party with super delicious food, interesting friends and lots of music. My favorite is when her two daughters entertain with one on the guitar and the other one on the violin. She sometimes has mariachis to entertain her guests!

Saturday I did not do much other than hang around the house and I kept thinking about the party on Sunday.
Sunday I got myself ready for mass and the day was so warm that I decided to come home after mass to change into a summer outfit. I made sure I had my camera and a card for the birthday girl and knowing how I always arrive early, I was about 45 minutes late. There were no cars on the street or in the driveway. The husband was working in the yard in a t-shirt and khaki pants. The dog was with him. He did not look as if he was ready to party.  My first thought was, here I am again, early for the party. At one party in the past, I arrived on time while her guests showed up three hours later.

We greeted each other and I said, "Am I early for the party?" He looked at me with a sadness in his eyes, and said, "The party was yesterday." The shocked look on my face prompted him to say, "I'm sorry but let me call my wife." He got his cell phone out and dialed a number. He told her I was at the house and ready to party and he put her on the line.

She apologized and said she was shopping with her daughters and that she had missed me at the party on Saturday. I told her, "That's okay, I wrote it on Sunday on my calendar.  I must have gotten the day wrong."
We decided to get together soon and I left.

I kept thinking that my age had something to do with putting down the wrong date. I realize that I am going to have to focus more on times and dates. How could I have made such a mistake. I beat myself up all the
way home and got on the computer to see how I possibly could have gotten the wrong day. There, in black and white was written: Sinday. All of a sudden, I felt good. Well, good and bad because I wish I could have been at the sixteen year old's party and  good that it was not me that had the wrong day!

Through A Mother's Eyes

On Friday 13, 2015, I went to the Stations of the Cross at Spirit of Christ Catholic Community. These Stations were not what I had grown up with, but the Stations were about how Mary, Our Blessed Mother,
must have felt as she saw her son being condemned, tortured and led away to be killed. There were seven readers, two deacons, and members of the congregation at the special Stations. It wasn't a very large crowd but those in attendance must have felt, as I was feeling, the sadness of Our Blessed Mother.

In front of each Station, everyone repeated: "We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, because by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world." At each Station, new pain was felt by Mary. As she saw him condemned to die, carrying the large wooden cross, falling down, looking into his eyes, seeing a woman wipe his face, watching a man help her son with the cross, feeling the pain as every nail was hammered into her son and watching her son die. These are pains that none of us will ever have to experience but our imaginations can allow us to think how it must have been. As I heard the words of what she was going through made me feel sad that my sins had helped to put Christ on the cross.

There were many sentences that moved me, but the one I remember most is, "A deep sorrow engulfed my being. Yet, I also felt a deep joy. Life had ended cruelly for my son, but it had brought life to all of us."

The Marian Stations are beautiful because they show the agony Jesus' mother went through during the Passion of Our Lord. They made me see that it doesn't have to be a big sin, but how little things can also cause pain. All of the prayers touched my heart, yet the one that I believed hit close to home was:

Lord Jesus, I beg you to forgive me for the many times 
I have added more weight to you cross by closing my eyes
to the pain and loneliness of my neighbor. Forgive me for
gossiping about others and for always trying to find excuses
to avoid certain people who wish to talk to me. Help me be 
like Mary, always seeking to enlighten the crosses of others.
Please forgive me.

Fish Fry During Lent

A few years ago I went to a Fish Fry at one of our local churches. The hall smelled like fish, which I did not like, and the tiny piece of white fish on my plate was dry. I decided to forgo any other fish fries put on by a church.

Yesterday I went to the Fish Fry at Spirit of Christ Catholic Community and was treated to a delicious meal of baked potato, coleslaw, macaroni and cheese and my choice of salmon, tilapia or hoki. The lines were so organized that people went through the  line getting their food and then  moved on to another table where butter, tarter sauce or malt vinegar could added to their plates. Another area  had drinks of water, ice tea and  lemonade. I noticed a large bowl of onion rings at the table where the pastor and his assistant were sitting.

Over 410 persons attended the fish fry and I was told by one of  the Knight of Columbus personnel that he had purchased 125 pounds of tilapia, 120 pounds of hoki and 100 pounds of salmon. I ate the salmon and tilapia and marveled at how well they were prepared, especially for such a large group.

Not only was the meal prepared in a tasty way but the servers were pleasant when asking, "Would you like more?" Everyone I saw in the hall seemed to be enjoying themselves and the friendly people attending the fish fry made the atmosphere one of joy and happiness. The Knights of Columbus, who sponsored the dinner, do a tremendous job of putting on a great dinner!

Erasing Parts of Your Brain

Every time I can't remember a name or a word, I wonder if it is the beginning of Alzheimer's. It seems that the more I try to remember something the more it eludes me. Sometimes, after a few minutes or hours, I will recall the word or the name. Many times I go through the whole alphabet to see if one of the letters will jog my memory. Other times, I look it up on the Internet and save myself the frustration of trying to remember something. I often wonder if having the Internet handy doesn't make my brain lazy knowing I don't have to remember, all I have to do is hit a few keys! When I mention my fears to others I am told, "Hey, the same thing happens to me. The older we get the more we forget!" And then I don't feel so bad.

Still Alice with Julieanne Moore (2015 Academy Award best actress winner) is a movie that shows the progression of Alzheimer's, even though this is happening to a young woman and it is a very rare form of the disease, I could see how she slowly began to forget things. She has a loving family that helps her along and a husband (Alec Baldwin) who loves her.The movie, which I thought would be very sad and depressing, isn't. It's mostly about a family dealing with Alice and how she deals with the beginning of Alzheimer's.

The disease is a scary one, almost as bad as cancer. I remember a neighbor who at a young age developed symptoms and would wander off into the neighborhood. Sometimes she was found miles away from her home. She was put in a facility where she became aggressive, violent and angry until her husband had her moved to another home and her medication changed. She lived for about fifteen years before she died, somewhere in her early 60's.

I've read where working crossword puzzles, reading, a good diet and exercise helps keep the disease away but once you have it, I have never heard of anyone getting better.

"No matter who you are, 
what you've accomplished, 
what your financial situation 
is -- when you're dealing 
with a parent with Alzheimer's,
you yourself feel helpless. 
The parent can't work, 
can't live alone, and is totally
dependent, like a toddler. As the 
disease unfolds, you don't know 
what to expect."
Maria Shriver

The Way It Was

Today, after mass, I cornered Ollie, a member of the Young At Heart group of Spirit of Christ Catholic Community so I could hear the beginnings of the group.  She mentioned that she and Fulva Pass are the living  founding members. I told her I had a picture from 1987 and she told me that the Young At Heart Senior Ministry began around October of 1978.  "Joan Kohut was the president and there were about 25 persons in the group. When a meeting was held with about twelve members, they were asked to bring a brown-bag lunch." It did not take long before "chefs" began preparing meals. At a past meeting, I met Jo Palozzi and she told me she prepared the first dinner by making pots and pots of spaghetti in her home to later bring to the church to feed the members. "Of course, it was a much smaller group than now," she said.

Ollie remembered doing a lot of recruiting, "If I sat next to a person who looked like a senior, I would start talking to them and invite them to the YAH group."  She laughed when she recalled the fun activities they used to do; a fashion show, a crazy hat day, a day at the horse races, and holiday themed activities. In listening to her talk, I figure that there must have been four or five presidents before I joined the group.

Touch Committe began when the group realized that many of the originators of YAH had passed away and no one seemed to remember them. As they remembered those who were gone, it slowly evolved to other
deaths in the parish. Caring Hearts began when a person she knew was in a nursing home and a few of the YAH members would go visit. When it was seen the joy brought to those being visited, it expanded to more than YAH members. The Crafts group began to make things for the nursing homes and continues to this day.
Baby showers for unwed mothers was another fun activity but the current group does not do it anymore.

Times have changed as the group became larger and she has seen the club evolve to what it is today. The roster shows about 400+ members. For nineteen years she put out the Newsletter and also wrote a history of the YAH group. There are a few copies of the history of YAH floating around and I hope to get a hold of one soon.

I mentioned that the photographs I have put into albums begin around the year 1987 to 2015.  I told her that I have about six thick albums of all the activities with Young At Heart. On April 16, 2015, my intent is to show a slide show with some of the pictures. I figure that before I became the photographer for the group in 2012 there must have been about six other photographers before me. Doris Thompson and Suzanne Fountain were mentioned. Both Ollie and I agreed that it is important to have a photo and written history of the YAH group.


The other day, a friend sent me a slide show of an American couple who lives six months in Mexico and six months in the United States. As I watched the hour long slide show of beautiful and interesting pictures of Mexico, it brought to mind the many times I spent in Mexico and  I felt a sadness that I no longer traveled to Mexico on a regular basis. I also remembered seeing the work of Huicholes on my visits to Mexico.

How I admired the beaded figures on one of my visits to Mexico. I was told it was the work of the Huicholes and that they are Native Mexican Indians who are descendants from the Aztecs. I saw artisans in most of the states in Mexico though Huicholes are predominately in Nayarit, Durango, Zacatecas and Jalisco. These artisans work in yarn, beads, wood, and metal.

While in Ajijic, near Lake Chapala, a tourist area not too far from Guadalajara, I watched as a Huichol worked on placing tiny beads on a wooden mold until a beautiful figure emerged. Even though there were all sorts of animals, I purchased a few turtles to bring home as souvenirs.

Later, while in Nayarit, there was an open market of Mexican artists and again I saw the work of the Huichol. When I admired the beautiful work, my friend asked me which I liked, and I told her I liked the crosses. "I have a collection of crosses on my wall at home but these are pretty pricey." We continued looking at all the different works of art in the many booths. Later when we got to the condo where we were staying, she said, "Feliz Cumpleanos para mi amiga." She surprised me with the beaded cross I had admired at the open market.  When my friend came to the United States to visit me me, she again surprised me with another beautiful, beaded cross for my wall.

The one thing I was told by the artist was to keep the beaded work out of the sun because they use beeswax to stick the beads on and the art work could melt if placed in the hot sun!

Never, Ever Have a Car Accident

I know not having an accident is something that can be planned. If you are one of the unfortunate few, like I happened to be on that fateful day when a small Mazda truck plowed into me, your problems are just beginning! After fifty some years without having a car accident, when it happened to me, I could not believe it. In my mind I can still see the truck coming toward me as I tried to get out of the way. The actual crash I can still hear and that sense of moving uncontrollably across the street is still with me.

All right, the accident happened. I received a citation. The district attorney plead it down to a faulty light. I received one point on my license. I called my insurance. They sent an appraiser. My car was towed to the AutoNation Honda Collision Repair Shop. I rented a car, a 2015 Hyundi Accent. And then my headaches began!

Six weeks and my car is still not ready. Even though the insurance paid for a rental from Enterprise for thirty days my out of pocket expense came to $139. Included in that price is one extra day and  taxes. Gas for the rental car came to $31.00.  When the collision shop informed me that further damage was found I was told that another estimate would be needed. More calls to the insurance company. I was told that  the insurance covered my repairs and if there was a discrepancy between the appraiser and the collision company they would need to settle it between them. They could not extend my car rental agreement. It would take about another month to get my car back. My insurance told me that other than my deductible I should not need to pay anything further.

I found a rental car at Hertz for less than $21.00 a day but even the $288 for two weeks that I will need to pay makes me ill. If my car is not repaired, I will need to rent the 2014 Toyota Corolla for two more weeks.

When I returned the Hyundai at Enterprise I was told that I would drive the car back home and a non-hearing handicapped person would go with me and then he would drive the car  back to the office. When the fellow came out, he reminded me of  Eddie Redmayne in Theory of Everything. He got in the passenger side and I smiled and said, "Can you hear me?" I pulled on my ear. He shook his head. Made a sign as if he were signing. I said, "Oh, you sign?" I moved my fingers as if I was signing and he nodded. The ride from Enterprise to Hertz was quiet. When we arrived at the Hertz parking lot, I thanked him and he shook my hand. Evidently his hearing does not keep him from driving.

The end of my accident saga, I hope, will soon come to an end.

Pictures vs. Words

I have often wondered about which gives me a better understanding of a situation. Can words describe something better than a photo? What about the old saying, "A picture is worth a thousand words? Today, I finally understand how a picture shows reality while words lets one imagine the situation.

My car was hit over a month ago causing damage to the left rear side. I had named my car Jazzy because it was compact, sleek looking and to me looked jazzy. I hated to see Jazzy's side all mashed in but once the Honda Collision Shop got a hold of it, I had no doubt that Jazzy would be returned to me as perfect as a brand new car.

Yesterday I received a picture of what Jazzy looks like waiting to be repaired. It literally made me sick.
I do not know what the Collision place has been doing for over a month, but as far as I can see by the pictures, not much!

Now I am told it will be another month before I see Jazzy "as good as it was." There is not much I can do but call my insurance, call Honda Collision and call car rental companies. My advice to all drivers. Be very, very careful when you drive, be alert, and if you do have an accident, I would suggest not taking your car to Auto Nation Honda Collision because you may never see your car again!

If I had to describe what I was seeing in the photos, it would be: A junk yard with parts scattered around.
But does that really give the true picture?

A Memorial Bus

When a dear friend of mine passed away in December, many memories swirled around in my head. One memory was how he and his wife had traveled with me on a pilgrimages to the Santuario de Chimayo. Every year, for ten years, this devoted couple joined others to enjoy the three day trip.

After I stopped doing the pilgrimages, my friend would call me and ask me if I would consider doing another trip. I regret to say that I told him I wasn't planning any trips for the near future. And now he is gone. At his funeral reception I spoke to members of his family and suggested having a memorial trip for him to the place he so loved. Many agreed and asked if I would plan a trip.

In January, I began calling and e-mailing priests, the bus company, restaurants, hotels, and tours to get tentative prices of what a three day trip would cost. I could see that the prices had gone up from when I had arranged a trip in the past. I also figured a two day trip instead of a three day one and will discuss with both the widow and the priest to see which they prefer doing. To put the finishing touches on the journey, I need to know how many persons plan to go because this determines how much each person will need to pay. Once I come up with a price, I will call the places where we will be visiting to firm up the prices. For a trip in August, payment would have to be completed by mid-June.

The Itinerary is that we would travel to San Luis, Colorado to see the almost life size stations of the cross, to Taos, New Mexico for Native American dancing, to Chimayo to see and gather the dirt that for some is considered miraculous, to Santa Fe, New Mexico to see the Spiral Staircase, San Miguel Church one of the oldest churches in the United States, the Cathedral and the many outfits of La Conquistadora, and a trolley ride through Santa Fe.

The bus would be filled with my friend's family and those who knew him as we travel to those places he loved so much. Either a three day or a two day pilgrimage would be a nice remembrance for a wonderful, generous, kind and full of fun man.

Disappointment after Disappointment

How long does it take a collision repair shop to fix a car?  My car was hit by a Mazda pickup truck striking my rear left tire, smashing the left door, fender and bumper.  An estimator came out to check my car and sent his estimates to my insurance company.  My car was towed to the Honda Collision repair shop and I began driving a rental car. The collision shop would call me every three days to let me know how the repairs were progressing. Marcus and then Leah gave me favorable reports. All the calls sounded to me quite positive and as if the repairs were moving along. At one point, after my car had been at the shop for a couple of weeks, Marcus told me that further repairs would be needed. He told me not to worry, they would contact the insurance company and I did not have to do anything. When I asked about a completion date, it was hinted, because nobody could say for sure, that I might have my car fixed by the first week in March.

Today, the second of March, I called to find out when I might be getting my car back this week. I was told: "When they went to work on the body we found out the all the car was welded on to one piece of metal so now we have to put on a new roof to complete the repairs."  My first question was why did they wait until now to let me know something so drastic needed to be done? The response was: "We found out when we got to this part of the repairs. We will contact the insurance company to let them know."

I remembered when the estimator had looked over the car he had mentioned that it might be totaled, yet when he gave the report to the insurance company there was nothing about my car being totaled. He did mention that once the car was pulled apart, at that time they would know if further damage had been done because he was unable to see all the repairs at the initial estimate.

A feeling of helplessness has come over me. I am at the mercy of the repair shop. There is nothing I can do other than call my insurance to find out what will happen from this point forward. The person I was speaking to at the Collision place did say that the car might be totaled but it was up to the insurance company as whether or not they decided to total it. I placed two calls to the insurance company and left messages.

Six weeks later and I am about at where I was right after the accident. Makes me wonder why I was called every three days with updates on how the work was progressing. Now I wonder if any work was being done and the calls were a bunch of bull-shit!

This morning I spoke with the insurance company and was informed me that the estimator had been contacted on March 2 by the collision shop to come out to do another estimate. After the estimator sends in his report, the insurance company will know how to proceed. The insurance person  also said he did not know why it was taking so long to repair my car when it was supposed to be an eleven day repair.

The hardest thing for me is to sit and wait. Something like this makes it very difficult to trust and have faith that people work in a spirit of honesty and integrity. I certainly believe that the Honda Collision shop does not.

On March 4, 2015, I received a letter from the insurance company along with another estimate. The good news is that the car is reparable and the bad news is that no one seems to know how much longer it will take!

A Feel Good Movie

On February 25, 2015, I saw McFarland, USA. I debated on seeing Still Alice or Whiplash but decided to see the movie about a coach who does wonders with young men who work in the fields. It was the best decision I could have made because the movie, to me, was an excellent one. I guess what I liked that it wasn't just a movie about a miracle performing coach with downtrodden kids, but instead it was an eye-opener for how people react to stereotyping.

The football coach, with a temper, has been let go from various schools and gets a job in McFarland, California. As the coach's family drives into McFarland, one of his daughters says, "Are we in Mexico?" Not sure if they want to stay they decide that there is no place to go, so they stay.

The story centers around six high school students who help support their families by getting up at dawn, working in the fields and then running off to school. In the process, the coach who wasn't sure if he wanted to be in McFarland because he saw many Mexicans as trouble makers. Seeing the boys run, he did see potential in the boys and decided to train the boys for cross country running. It wasn't easy but the coach got to know the boys, their families, shop keepers and soon the family settled down in the town of McFarland.

I cried and I laughed and when my emotions become involved in a movie, I know it is a good movie.  Slowly the stereo types were erased and people began to see each other with open eyes. Remarks made to the boys from the "white" runners made me wince. "The only way they run, is if a policeman is chasing them,"
and "Or if there is a Taco Bell is in front of them!" Then when a Mexican man kept waving the Mexican flag in front of an Anglo-Saxon, that bothered me too. The Quincienera brought tears to my eyes and the chicken scene made me laugh. In my seat I rooted for the boys to run faster and when they lost I felt sad.

Seeing the coach get up at dawn to work with the students in the fields and for him to see how hard it was for them to even go to school makes one realize how hard it must be for the young men. Seeing the warm kitchen of a Mexican mother as she fed her family enchiladas and seeing how important family is to a Mexican family was beautiful. Hearing the Mexican father explain why his boys had to work in the fields to help feed the family, made me realize how difficult it must be for parents and knowing that their children will follow in their footsteps.

Somehow, after many detours, the boys end up running in California's State cross-country race.  I cried knowing how difficult it must have been but with determination of both coach and runners, they were the State Champions!

The end of the movie while the credits are rolling, real photos of Coach White can be seen and his first year cross country team who all went on to college and are now successful teachers or business men. Those first six runners return to run and practice with new teams being formed. The coach and his runners took nine state championships and the town of McFarland enjoyed every minute of watching their boys win!

Similar Faces

I turned off my Kindle, feeling a bit sad that the story had ended. Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan had kept me busy for the past week. When I began reading I thought the story was about a woman fleeing an abusive husband. She is running away with her three children but it also became the story of the life of Robert Louis Stevenson, the author. Robinson Crusoe and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are a couple of his better known stories.

The more I read, the more interesting the lives of Stevenson and his wife, Fannie Van de Grift Osbourne became as they loved, argued and traveled. I was not aware that he was an ill man or that she suffered from mental illness. In fact, I did not know much about either one of them. After reading the book and becoming intrenched in their lives, I wanted to know more. Each character is easy to picture by Horan's descriptions and the mood of the times is very evident. Friendships come and go and jealousy seemed to reign among the many artists. Fannie was also an artist, but the time she lived in seems to have kept her from writing.
Stevenson and his artistic friends also kept her from developing her own writing skill. After Stevenson's death she did publish a few things.

 It seems that they were ahead of their times, doing things that could be objectionable to others, yet they seem to move from love to anger to despair and back to love. Words are very important in how they speak to each other and the wrong word could send one or both into fits of depression. The world traveling, due to Stevenson's health, is like a travel log. Where they end up in Samoa, a tropical paradise, sounds both beautiful as well as awful and disgusting!

Though the book's main characters are Stevenson and Fannie, I got glimpses of their family and friends by Horan's descriptions. Stevenson was forty-four when he died and is buried at Vailima in the South Pacific.
From knowing nothing about Stevenson and his wife, I now feel as if I understand their relationship, his struggles in writing, her hurts and anger, and the love they had for each other. The book is considered a historical novel and Horan made the story interesting interspersed with facts!

When I saw a picture of Stevenson, he reminded me of some of my relatives with the mustache and the clothing.

Ideas for Future Blogs

Friday Feb 18, 2015
1)     At a Small Church Community meeting ISIS was being put down, anger at how cruel the group acts,
and how God would never forgive members of ISIS. Playing the Devil's Advocate I said, "At the time of death, if the ISIS member was truly sorry for sins committed, God would forgive him."
Someone said, "But these people are killing Christians, I don't believe they would be forgiven."
I brought up the Spanish Inquisition and said that those were Christians killing and torturing other Christians. Someone asked, "Why were they jailing and torturing them?" I responded that some Christians in the Spanish Inquisition believed those being killed to be against the teachings of the church, but in some cases, it was to get land and properties. Another SCC member said, "God for some, is the dollar." I agreed.

Thursday, Feb 19, 2015
2)     Spending most of the day trying to figure out my Verizon bill. Even though I got a free iPhone my bills since mid-January have totaled around $248. I called and spoke to one man and he convinced me that the charges were for getting the new phone hooked up. When I got my Visa bill and noticed that I had already paid for the hook up, a case, a protective cover which came to $109.00. I called Verizon again and the man went over each amount on the bill. I asked if I was being double charged. He went over each item and again convinced me that the bill was correct. No matter what I asked, he had an answer that made sense. These were one time charges, he told me, and my future bills would be right around $73 a month. My final thought is that having a smart phone is expensive!

Friday, Feb 20, 2015

3)  Had a birthday lunch for my son who turned fifty-two years old. We went to Billy's Inn in North Denver and even though the place is noisy we enjoyed the food and recalling past memories.

4)     Weather forecaster predicted over a foot of snow for this weekend. I stopped at the grocery store for a few things and what a shock when I saw the lines of people stocking up. Buggies were all gone and people had to wait for some to be brought in. There must have been about 15 persons in each line waiting to be checked out. Every counter was busy with checkers busy ringing up every bodies groceries. My clerk grinned and said, "Won't it be funny if the forecast is wrong?" I said, "After seeing the storm on the east coast, I can understand why people want to stock up in case they are unable to leave their homes because of deep snow."

Feb 21, 2015
5)  Once again my tree is covered in snow. One photo was taken in October of 2014 and one taken this morning. The snow is continuing to fall and Arvada has eight inches with more expected throughout the night and Sunday. On February 25, I took another picture. The winter views are so similar it's like having a deja vu moment!

Litany of Thanks

This morning when I opened my eyes, I thanked God for who I am and for what I have. Usually it is a quick thank you for letting me wake up, but this morning my thanks continued and before I knew it, I had a litany of thanks. I reminded myself of Jimmy Fallon and his thank you notes!

Thank you for letting me wake up this morning.
Thank you for a good night's sleep.
Thank you for my health.
Thank you for the sun shining.
Thank you for my family.
Thank you for letting me be born a Catholic.
Thank you for my friends.
Thank you for my computer.
Thank you for helping me with my blog.
Thank you for doctors who keep us healthy.
Thank you for hugs and smiles.
Thank you for Facebook.
Thank you for my life.
Thank you for letting me see beauty in things.
Thank you for allowing me to drive.
Thank you for my guardian angel.
Thank you for my ankle healing.
Thank you for good weather.
Thank you for my eyes.
Thank you for good books to read.
Thank you for my ears to hear.
Thank you for my nose to smell.
Thank you for my tongue to taste.
Thank you for my appetite.
Thank you for my beating heart.
Thank you for electricity.
Thank you for nice neighbors.
Thank you for my legs and feet for walking.
Thank you for my hands and arms.
Thank you for making me in your image.
Thank you for Lent.
Thank you for our priests and deacons.
Thank you for those that volunteer.
Thank you for the food I eat.
Thank you for the mountains beautiful.
Thank you for the water I drink.
Thank you for movies.
Thank you for my camera.
Thank you for farmers.
Thank you for dying for me.

I realized that I am thankful for so many things that I could probably come up with many more reasons for feeling appreciative. Yes, I feel thankful for so many things, yet sometimes I fail to thank God for what I have and dwell more on negative things!