Saturday, December 31, 2016

Vignettes of My California Visit

Airport Clips: When waiting for your flight what can you do at the airport? Eat at the expensive restaurants, shop at the expensive stores or find interesting spots for photographs!

My plane would be an hour late and as I sat and waited, I saw some birds inside the terminal flying around. One bird patiently waited along with me. How strange that with their very own wings they could fly away instead of hanging around with the many passengers.

Stereotyping: A dark, handsome young man, Arab looking, was waiting in line to have his boarding pass checked. He kept hollering and waving at someone, yet no one moved. As he entered the ramp a woman with her head covered came running and instead of checking in, walked behind the Frontier workers and joined the young man. Should I say something? She had not gone through the boarding pass line. Could she be a suicide bomber? I did not say anything and the couple ended up two seats in front of me. I kept my eyes on them in case I would see any suspicious moves. The two seemed very much in love and looked into each other's eyes, he kept one arm around her and they laughed a lot. Surely, if they were up to something they would be acting a bit scared or angry. We arrived at our destination and we all waited for our rides. A beautiful white Mercedes Benz convertible picked the girl up and the driver was a stunning looking woman with her head covered. I do not know where the young man went. Not only were the women good-looking but they also looked wealthy! So much for stereotyping. The way our times are in this day and age one never knows. I am just glad nothing happened and my suspicions did not materialize!

Cinnaholic:  My seventeen year old granddaughter picked me up and she amazes me driving on California freeways with a steady and careful hand. We decided to eat lunch at the Corner Bakery and then to a new dessert restaurant named Cinnaholic that features every kind of cinnamon roll imaginable. The ad mentions a Gourmet Cinnamon Roll. It is a vegan place and no eggs are used to make the dough. The rolls are topped with your choice: almonds, apples, bananas, blackberries, blueberries, brownie bites, chocolate chips, chocolate sauce, coconut, cookie dough, gingersnaps, graham, Oreo cookies, marshmallows, pecans, pretzels, raspberries, strawberries, and walnuts in any combination you want. They prepare the rolls to your wishes! The flyer let me know that they "customize each roll specifically to your personal taste with a variety of frosting and toppings."

Two Black and White Dogs: Entering the house, two border collies stared at me. Slowly, they came near and sniffed me, The larger dog, Luna, probably remembered me from past visits. The smaller and new dog, Finnigan, just wanted to be petted. It was funny to see them shove their head underneath my hand to be petted. They both love to be petted! Two friendly dogs who get along like good buddies.  Finn sleeps half in and half out of the small bed and has short hair. Luna has wavy long hair and sleeps on a large padded bed. On walks they stroll side by side or Finn hangs back and follows Luna. I was told that Luna is the alpha. Finn is known to pull food off the counter and one day jalapeƱo peppers were left on the counter. When we found the peppers on the floor we knew Finn was the guilty party. He did not bite into the peppers or maybe he might have learned a lesson!

The Packing House: Drove to Anaheim, not far from where my family lives to see a new area with many restaurants, squatty palm trees, and the Packing House. In the past it was a warehouse for oranges but now has been converted to many shops and restaurants. A fun place to hang out and the entrance sports two large white roosters. An old freight train was converted into a place to eat. We were in search of gift certificates but I had an urge to return to check the rest of the area. After purchasing a gift for my granddaughter in Colorado, we left the neat novelty stores with a promise that we would return.

 The Life of A Gourd: My daughter is a gourd artist and does beautiful work by carving and painting the different shaped gourds. On the second morning I was visiting, she said, "How would you like to clean some gourds?"  This came as a surprise to me because I had no idea that the gourds needed to be soaked in water, scrubbed with a non-scratching sponge to remove mold and dry skin. If there is a white film that is not removed by scrubbing, an Xacto knife is used. It is hard work and she mentioned that my arms might ache with all the scrubbing. I did notice that my knees hurt from standing and my back also ached from bending over the sink. A clean gourd is beautiful once it dries. And more beautiful when an artist finishes carving and painting.

Super Juicy Dumplings:  One of my favorite places to eat is a Chinese restaurant along a strip mall that also features a Subway and a Greek restaurant called The Olive Pit. I love the green beans served with bacon and the delicious dumplings. We usually order the veggie dumplings.

These little stories will help me remember my visit to see my family in California. My next blog will continue with my fun-filled trip and the wonderful time during the Christmas holidays of 2016.

Friday, December 30, 2016

A Quick and Easy Goody

While in California at a brunch on Christmas, among all the food on the table, I tasted some sweet and salty treats. When I asked the lady who made them how she had prepared the delicious goody, she said, "They are so easy to make and do not take any time at all to make them. Buy Hug Hershey Kisses, waffle pretzels and M&M's. Place the kiss candy on top of the pretzel, stick in the oven for about five minutes, and when the chocolate is soft, push an M & M on top of the candy. Let cool and there you have it!"

When I arrived home I decided to try to make them. No cooking, no mixing, and it sounded like something I could make without too much trouble. I like recipes that are not difficult. I went to King Soopers to buy the ingredients. There were plenty of Candy Kisses, but no white ones. I did not buy the M&M's because that would just add more calories. The following day I found the Hug Kisses at Target.

Today I made the tasty treats!

 The goodies not only taste good but they look good, even without the M&M's!

Reaching For My Phone

I watched a Netflix movie titled Pele: Birth of a Nation and found it to be entertaining and an eye-opener.  Since soccer has been in my family for fifty-six years and I had heard the name Pele repeated around the house, the only thing I knew was that he was a great soccer player. The movie begins when the young boy Edson Arantes do Nascimento played soccer in a poor area of Brazil. Many of his interesting moves came from those days playing with his pals and kicking the ball through clothes lines, tin roofs, vendors' stalls, tree branches, ponds and whatever got in the way. Later in the movie, I learned that the style is known as Ginga in Brazil and it was frowned upon by European countries who had a more stylish way of playing.

The movie is more about Pele enduring insults, people making fun of him and his country. There are tender moments between father and son and between friends. I found myself shedding few tears, especially, when I reached for my phone to call my son to find out if he had ever watched the movie. I wanted to tell him that if he hadn't seen it, he should. It only took a split second before I realized that he was gone and never again would I call him to discuss a movie like Pele.

After watching the movie, I realized that Pele was a very talented player and could do many exciting moves; leaping up into the air and kicking the ball while being practically upside down called a bicycle kick. His dribbling was exceptional and Brazil won the 1958 World Cup in Sweden. Pele, 17 years old, was the youngest player and he went on to be high scorer in the twenty years he played. He retired in 1977 and is considered Brazil's National Treasure.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Warming Up With Wine

"Vino e Buono"
(Wine is Good)
Is the motto for the Spero Family owned winery.

Three ladies who set out a feast!

Spero's Winery is a fun place to visit, especially when it is cold outside. After a few sips of wine and surrounded by friends, everyone was soon warm. On December 14, 2016, about twenty-five persons visited the winery to taste the many kinds of wines that are offered. I like the wine because it does not have sulfides (makes me wheeze)  and even though I have tried many of their different wines, today I drank Merlot. Isn't a dark red supposed to be good for the heart? Some at my table preferred the Pomegranate wine.

Everyone began arriving around 11:30 a.m. and some gifts were exchanged, Christmas cards given out, tiny chocolate bottles of liquor, Hershey kisses and lots of chatting. In addition to the wine, many varieties of cheese were set out along with crackers and grapes for everyone to enjoy. Lunch followed and there were stuffed mushrooms, salmon pate, fried red peppers, olives, carrots, artichokes, celery, and everything seemed to be soaked in spicy olive oil.  An all white chicken dish and a beef  dish were tasty and I liked putting the meat on a hard roll. In fact, I ate two of those delicious sandwiches!

People lined up for dessert which consisted of pizzelle cookies, whipped cream, fresh strawberries and a yummy chocolate sauce. For the coffee drinkers, there was a pot of fresh coffee.
A relaxing afternoon, made more relaxing by the wine!  After photos were taken there was an attempt to sing Christmas carols. Interesting thing about singing; we all knew bits and pieces of different songs, but no one seemed to know all the words to one Christmas carol!

Outside, as everyone walked to their cars and even though the sun was shining, it still felt cold. Maybe we needed more wine! And then, maybe not!
Arriving                         Leaving

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Book Readers United

Every month the book club at Spirit of Christ Catholic Community meets to discuss a book and to enjoy each other's company. Today, one of the members hosted the meeting and we celebrated the Christmas holiday with a pot lunch.
She had the house decorated with green boughs, Nativity Scene, and small trees with sparkling lights. Her red tablecloth with all the food really got us into the holiday spirit!

The book that every one had read (except me) was Keeping the Feast by Paula Butturini. I was unable to read the book because for the past few months I had other things to worry about. Since I did not read the book I listened to the different comments and learned that there is cooking involved, character in  moods, and that the majority liked the book.  The cooking part did not interest me but the psychiatric part did, so I will read it. The book on our list for next month I have already read and enjoyed. A House For Happy Mothers by Amulya Malladi was a good read and I will be able to join in the discussion in January.

The pot-luck fare was delicious and as we ate we continued our conversations about farm life and
 pigs being slaughter, chickens being killed, Germany's wall, mental health hospitals, China's Great Wall, electrical shocks, cooking, different foods, Arvada Chorale, singing, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and any other topics someone would suggest! It was a fun time and as we parted ways we wished every one a Merry Christmas and to all a great day!

Arvada Chorale Rocks

Christmas With A Twist on December 10, 2016 was a fun-filled musical extravaganza! I have attended other Chorale performances, but this one was the best one ever! The peppy Music Director, Marla Wasson conducts and makes every song a joy for listening  and enjoying.

The performance began with We Need A Little Christmas, Baby Born in Bethlehem, Carol of the Bells, and All Bells in Paradise. Chappel Kingsland on guitar and Jennifer Strate on the harp played In the Bleak Midwinter. The Sweet Adelines DayTimers Quartet sang Hawaiian songs; The Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, and Jingle Bell Rock had our toes tapping.

A fun Shoulda Been a North Pole Elf  by many elves in stripped stockings and green  caps took the show to intermission.

The lobby was filled with Christmas goody sales, hot cider, cookies and Nativity scenes that people could enjoy. After about a fifteen minute break, we returned to our seats to hear White Christmas with Al and Jean Beckel on the hand chimes. I'll be Home For Christmas brought tears to my eyes but the tears were soon forgotten with Winter Song, Please Come Home for Christmas and the
hilarious An Elvis Christmas. Every shape of an Elvis impersonator danced on stage.

The act was followed by Gotta Whisper, Gotta Shout! One of my favorites was Last Month of the Year (What Month Was Jesus Born In?) by Andrea Maldonado with a tremendous voice and rhythm. It's Beginning to Look Like Christmas, Silent Night, and sing a long to Christmas Carols ended the fantastic show.

We all walked out of the auditorium feeling like the Christmas season had finally started and with a lightness to our step after all the wonderful tunes.

Merry Christmas

Monday, December 12, 2016

Like Having My Arms Cut Off

On Sunday, December 11, 2016, I attended a play at the Arvada Center by the name of I'll Be Home For Christmas. There were many Young At Heart members at the play and when I went to take a picture I realized that I did not have a memory card in my camera. I pulled out my I-phone and a blurb came up that I could not take a picture because the storage was full. I erased some of the pictures hoping that it would give me enough space to take some pictures of the holiday-dressed persons but it was as if the phone was locked. No pictures were taken. I felt helpless. Without a camera there would be no pictures for my blog or for Facebook.

The two pictures I took are from the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities program. The four main characters are pictured near the Christmas Tree and clockwise from top are Noah Racy (Dana Bright); Megan Van De Hey, (Louise Bright); Jake Mendes (Simon Bright) and Kim McClay (Maggie Bright). The photo was taken by Matthew Gale Photography 2016. Somehow, I did manage to get two pictures before my phone stopped working.

The story is about the Bright family who have a television show and this may be their last show. The son has just returned from the Vietnam war, the daughter protests the war, the mother believes everything can be solved with a song and the father tries to hold the family together. The voices are tremendous and so is the dancing though to me it was not what I would consider a Christmas show even though there are beautifully lit trees, holiday costumes and some Noel songs. The story seemed to be about the hang ups the son has about the war, the daughter wants to be treated as a grown up and a young man who knew all the songs and steps the son should have been doing replaces the son.
Eventually, everything is straightened out with some anger, lots of humor, dancing and singing.

It was an all right play and everyone ends up in a happy state, yet I have seen better Christmas shows. This may have been my own interpretation and feeling down because of my own circumstances, but when Louise Bright sang Oh Holy Night and the son asked if she believed in angels, my tears flowed.
It seems that the song, I'll Be Home For Christmas also gets me choked up.

"Christmas, my child,
is love in action.
Every time we love,
every time we give,
it's Christmas."
Dale Evans

Sunday, December 11, 2016

A Fashion Designer

There are a jillion ads for sports gear for women. Stretchy tights, snug t-shirts, special bras, and cute outfits for the young woman who wants to work out. The older lady has to settle for baggy sweat pants. Today I decided I would find something appropriate for my body. There was nothing. I decided to design something I could wear when I went walking because I need to take into consideration that I might get dizzy, trip or fall. Balance seems to be a problem as I get older!

"I ain't saying the customer service
in my bank is bad,
but when I went in the
other day and asked the
clerk to check my balance,
she leaned over and pushed me."

The first thing would be to find a helmet for my head. Something like a baseball cap but with a strong body. Knee pads on both knees because when I fall, it is usually my knees that hit the ground first. If I fall face first, I want a metal face mask and for my body a padded chest covering. I imagine that with all that protection I would be weighed down and would have to walk slower but with a certainty that if I fell my body would not be hurt.

As I pictured my protective gear I realized that not only could I go for a walk, but I could play catcher on a baseball team! Okay, I never said I could draw but you get the picture, right?

A man falls down a flight
of stairs and somebody rushes over to
him and asks, "Did you miss a step?"
"No," he answers, "I hit every one of them!"
Milton Berle

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Final Goodbye

February 21, 1963-October 29, 2016

After a loved one dies, there are certain steps to be taken. In my case, cremation came first, followed by a memorial and today will be the burial. I woke up early thinking of my son. The love that I had for my son, who I watched grow into a man, is something he will always have. Today, his urn with his remains, will be put into a grave at Mt. Olivet Catholic Cemetery, a priest will say a few words and I will watch the small vault be lowered into the ground. I know his soul is in a better place, yet the final goodbye is difficult.

Inside the vault along with the urn will be small mementos that we all put in for him so that he could be surrounded by our love. A picture of his sister's family, a photo he liked with his children at Estes Park, a cup with Andy written on the side, a blanket (one year every member of my family received one for Christmas), a video of Tombstone which he liked, a wooden soccer ball, and since he loved vacations in Puerto Vallarta a magnet and a tiny frog with a soccer ball from PV, a guitar bottle opener that on one of my trips to California I had purchased for him because he was taking guitar lessons, a picture of his Dad and Mary Ann, and because he loved seeing his son play the drums a couple of drumsticks. Maybe today, more things will be added but I do know he is taking many reminders of the love he has left behind.

The weather has been way below freezing for the past two days, but today the sun is shining and even though it is around thirty-eight degrees it feels warm. We followed a white pickup truck leading us to the plot where my son would be laid to rest. We got out of the car and trudged through snow to where there was a green artificial carpet laid out with six chairs. A small table held the vault.  A letter from his father was placed in the vault and Fr. Jacob read prayers for the burial. He sprinkled the urn, the vault and the hole with holy water. We all held hands and prayed the Our Father and the Hail Mary. I could not say the Hail Mary because I knew Our Blessed Mother had lost her son just as I had lost mine. Seeing her son suffer was so much more difficult than seeing my son go to his final  sleep in the hospital. I cried for her as well as for myself.

Through my tears I said,  "Now my son is next to my mother, father, and brother. Next to him is my uncle who was the oldest of the siblings in my mother's family. My mother was the baby of the family and they died within a month of each other. Brother and sister ended up next to each other in the cemetery." Somehow it is comforting that my son is near my family at the cemetery.

We all went to our cars, lots of hugging, and kind words spoken. We decided to meet at the Tea
Gardens in Arvada for lunch. What  wonderful friends conversing around the table and enjoying good Chinese food. After lunch, another round of hugs, and we all went our separate ways. I felt a moment of sadness when I left my son's father at his home because I knew it must be difficult for him to enter his empty house. I came home to write my blog.

Even though it was a final goodbye,
my son will forever live in my heart.

December 10, 2016

A quick run to his grave today
where two white flowers I did lay.
I knew they might get blown away
so there I stood and I did pray,
before it's time for me to head this way
I want to enjoy every minute of every day.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

An Accident Waiting to Happen

When the weather is cold and I can't take a walk out doors, I walk around and around from my kitchen to the hallway, to front room and back to the kitchen. I have found that praying a rosary is about a twenty-minute mile. When I wear my Crocs, I sometimes feel them stick on the tile and sometimes I have stumbled, but never fallen.

"What if I fall?" Tim cried.
Maerlyn laughed,
"Sooner or later, we all do."
Stephen King

Yesterday, while wearing my Crocs, I was at the third mystery of the rosary when one foot got stuck to the tile and before I knew it, I saw the floor coming up at me. I twisted to the side, grabbed at a chair yet I hit the hard floor with my left knee and maybe my left shoulder. I heard the clattering of the chair as if followed me down to the floor. I have no recollection of grabbing the chair but I must have been trying to stop the fall. I do recall hitting the hard floor. The pain in my knee kept me motionless for about five minutes. "Dear God, please don't let me break a bone." I had a vision of my knee cap shattering into a million pieces. After a while, I moved my leg and other than the soreness in my knee, my leg seemed all right. I got up and noticed that my shoulder was also sore. I gave thanks for appearing to be in one piece!

Every time I wear those Crocs and do my walking in the house, somewhere in my mind I think I might fall. Yesterday, the thought ran across my mind but since I have never fallen, I continued my walking and my mind may have wandered, because the tile grabbing the shoe did not give me time to hop or skip away from falling, as I have often done in the past. I know it is a mistake to wear those Crocs yet I guess I believed or had enough confidence that I would never fall. Wronnnnng!

This morning I rubbed Arnica (a gel that I have been told does wonders in healing) on my shoulder and knee. I am able to walk and got my trash out. Putting on a jacket gave my shoulder some pain but it is bearable. When will I ever listen to hints I receive? Down deep inside, I knew that wearing those Crocs I could have an accident yet never paid attention to my intuition. Live and learn is a good motto!

"This is the way we fall.
First we lose our balance,
teetering precariously
on the edge of uncertainty,
gravity takes over.
You can't out shine gravity."
Cassia Leo

Monday, December 5, 2016

What Does It Take To Cancel An Order

Company was coming to stay with me and I did not have enough beds. Friends generously let me borrow a couple of sleeping options; fold-away-bed and a Hide-A-Way-Mat. Both worked well, without too many complaints from my company, so I decided to order an exact same fold-a-way bed. Being a Prime member with Amazon and reading about their over night deliveries, on November 26, 2016, I ordered a bed. The bed would work for two more people coming to visit on December 2, 2016. The delivery was scheduled for December 1, 2016.

When my company arrived on December 2, I had to make do with what I had because the bed had not arrived on December 1 as promised. I teasingly said, "Hey, pretend you are camping!" My hope was that the bed would arrive on the 3rd of December. The 3rd came and went and I no longer had any need for the fold-a-way-bed. On the 4th of December, I called Amazon and cancelled the order. A fellow stationed in the Philippines told me he had taken care of cancelling the bed by contacting FED EX. My instructions were to wait, when Amazon received the bed, they would credit my account. I then received an e-mail letting me know that the order had been intercepted and it would be cancelled. Mac S. was difficult to understand so this morning I contacted FED EX myself to make sure the order had been cancelled and the bed would not be delivered.

A young woman, also with a heavy accent, let me know she was not sure if it had been cancelled because the item was in-between stations but if it should be delivered I just had to send it back. I told her I did not want it delivered at all and to just let the deliver person know not to leave the item on my doorstep. She said, "If the package can be intercepted it will be stopped, but if not, it will probably be delivered." I find it difficult with all our electronic devices that a message cannot be sent and received!

My next move is to put a sign on my porch to FED EX not to leave the package because I no longer want the item. It is frustrating that one small hic-cup can turn into one big croupy cough!

Thanks to my two friends who allowed my company to sleep in comfort on the borrowed beds. I appreciate their generosity and I am sure my company did too!

"Your best t-shirt
should be like your bed;
it just feels like you are home
when you are in it."
Ashton Kutcher

A Poem Dedicated to His Wife

When someone loses a loved one, a memorable dedication of a poem helps the one left to cope with the loss. I can understand this type of release because I also like to write out my feelings. This poem was written in Spanish by a husband who is devastated by the loss of his wife.  He asked me to help him translate it into English. Though the words in Spanish seem to have more meaning and flow in a rhythmic pattern, below is as close as it can be in the English version.

It Was Only A Dream

You traveled away from me to go to a beautiful and tranquil paradise
where your body will rest for eternity.
Because of my selfishness I tried to hold you back
but was left with my empty arms extended.
I forgot that life
 Is only a dream!

Like a river that slowly dries
I feel full of resentment; my soul is shattered.
I try to hold back my sobbing that tears my heart apart.
A constant flame of loneliness
burns and consumes me!

As the years fade away, my love for you will grow stronger;
as I remember our vows.
At your side, the world was a land of enchantment.
I love your unforgettable image
 that consoles and comforts me!

Our profound love is etched in my memory,
and for you, love of my life, I dedicate this sweet melody.
That is why one day when I depart
those that will remember me
will whisper in my ear:
 It was only a dream!

November 2016