Monday, December 31, 2018

Sand Dollar

"Sand Dollar legend is an Easter and Christmas 
favorite which tells a story that includes the 
five slits representing the wounds of Jesus Christ 
when on the cross. 
The Easter lily with a star in the middle 
represents the star of Bethlehem and 
on the back is the outline of a 
Poinsettia, the Christmas Flower. 
When the Sand Dollar is broken,
there are five doves representing 
good will and peace."
From the Internet

When I sliced a persimmon the inside reminded me of a Sand Dollar and I wondered if persimmons also have a story. The flower on the inside of the fruit is beautiful and I looked on the Internet but did not find any legends about the flower in the persimmon. It sort of looked like an embroidery stitch.

"If it be not ripe it will draw 
a man's mouth awry with much torment. 
But, if it is ripe, it is as
delicious as an apricot."
Capt. John Smith, 1624

Sunday, December 30, 2018

For A Few Minutes I Was Adopted

Sunday morning at mass, the singing was joyful and the priest gave a beautiful homily about families. This year on December 30th the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph is celebrated. At the end of mass and the last blessing, Father gave families a blessing and said, "Families that are together hold each other's hands, hug, and if you see someone alone, include them in your family."

I am used to being by myself and thought nothing of what the priest had said. Suddenly, a hand was put on my shoulder, another hand rubbed by arm, and a few more hands touched my back.  Instantly I became emotional and tears rolled out of my eyes. The family behind me had incorporated me into their family and I was touched. After the prayer I turned and thanked them for including me in their family but even though I would have liked to say more, I couldn't because I was afraid I would burst into tears! That was such a sweet gesture from complete strangers.

Prayer for the Family
Father, we look to your
guidance and order
as the pattern of all
family life.
By following the example 
of the Holy Family
with your son in mutual 
love and respect,
may we come to the joy 
of our home in heaven.
Catholic Votive Prayer

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Getting A Few Messages

About three months ago I man in the parking lot of the mall was looking at my right front tire. With so many scams, I wondered if I should go out and check out his concern. He voiced something to me but I could not hear him so I got out of my car and went out to look where he was pointing. "Hey, you have a huge gouge in your tire and should have that tire replaced." he said. I looked at the tire and it just looked as if some the rubber had been lifted from the rim. I thanked him and went on my way.

My plan was to get new tires because the tires are five years old and are probably ready to be changed.  Before I left for California, I took a penny and put it in one of the grooves in the tire.  If   any part of Lincoln's head could be seen, the tires were not ready to be replaced. I could see his head and even though my gut feeling was telling me that the tires needed to be changed I didn't do anything about it.

Today I happened to see a paper on my windshield. 

So I came right home and made an appointment to have my tires replaced. Evidently, strangers are seeing something that I do not see. Until I get the tires changed, I will drive with trepidation every where I go and pray that I make it safely to where I am going until I have those tires changed!

December 31, 2019, I drove to the Firestone garage thinking that I would leave my car while I went to Blackhawk to gamble. My appointment was for 9 a.m. but when I drove into the lot at 8:20 a.m., the young man told me they could replace the tires right away and it would be finished by 9:30 a.m.

I waited and watched the snow falling down, felt the coldness every time someone opened the door, watched Drew Cary's game show, and listened to six persons walk in, after I did, to have their tires changed also. Snow seems to make people think about getting new tires When I drove away on my new tires, I felt safe and happy that I had finally had new tires put on my car. Amazing the confidence that the new tires gave me!

"Take care of your car
in the garage, and the
car will take care of 
you on the road."
Amit Kalantri

Friday, December 28, 2018

Christmas Fun

Traveling to California to see my family I was excited because I had mailed a box with gifts earlier in the week and my luggage had more presents. When I think I have purchased a perfect gift, it is great to be present when the gifts are opened and to see every one's reactions.

I arrived on Sunday the 23rd of December and my granddaughter picked me up from the airport. That in its self is a big see my nineteen year old granddaughter's smiling face as she pulled up where I was waiting. All around me were people rolling suitcases, leaning forward with heavy back packs, or on their cell phones arranging for rides.

Cars pulled up, loaded passengers and off they'd go. It was a continuous stream of cars picking up and driving off. Luckily my granddaughter found a spot, she took my suitcase, put in in the trunk, we hugged and off we went! The free ways were busy but not enough for traffic jams. In about half an hour we arrived at the house where my daughter and son-in-law greeted me with hugs and smiles! The eldest granddaughter was working so I did not get to see her until the following day.

Because I arrived on Sunday I went to the 12:30 Spanish mass and the male singer had a terrific voice; smooth and loud. The church was decorated for Christmas and the manger had all the angels, Mary, Joseph, shepherds but no baby Jesus. I wondered when baby Jesus would be placed in the Nativity.

It was time to decorate the tree when I returned from mass. Many memories because the majority of the decorations are the ones that the girls made as they were growing up.

December 24th morning was foggy and cold. Though once the fog burned off it ended up being a nice day with lots of sun.  My daughter informed me that our Christmas Eve dinner would be Mexican food. The menu would be red chili and calabacitas prepared by me. My daughter would bring out and heat tamales they had made at a friend's home and she would make some rice. My son-in-law would roast green Anaheim or Hatch's (not sure where the chili originated) on the grill and prepare the green chili with garlic and fresh tomatoes. There would be carne asada and chicken to make tacos. For dessert one of my granddaughters made brownies and we planned to have vanilla-bean ice cream over the chocolate brownie.

I attended the four o'clock Christmas Eve mass and the church was packed. People were standing in the back and along the sides. Before mass began, the priest held up the crib with Baby Jesus, gave it a blessing and placed it in the manger. He then blessed the congregation by sprinkling holy water on us. About in the middle of mass, Santa Claus entered, walked down the middle aisle, genuflected, went to the manger and knelt down to pray and then quietly left from the side door. There is always something special about Christmas mass.

As I walked home, the houses were decorated with lights and I felt as if I was walking through a dark tunnel lit with sparkling lights! Arriving at the house, it was cozy warm and smelled delicious! We ate, laughed, and talked as we enjoyed the Mexican meal! Most were so full they could not eat dessert, but I did and loved every spoonful!

After the kitchen was cleaned up it was time to open our gifts. The girls handed out the presents, we opened our gifts and as far as I could tell everyone got what they wanted! I know I did!


A Catholic Santa

At Christmas Mass at St. Angela Merici church in California I saw something that surprised and pleased me. Right before the Consecration, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something red. Because I was in the middle of tall people I could not see who it was walking up the aisle. What a surprise when I saw that it was Santa Claus. He genuflected at the altar, walked over to the Nativity manger, and knelt down. The church was silent as he prayed and then he got up and walked out the side door.

My regret was that I could not get a photo of this beautiful happening. I did manage to get a shot of him as he exited the church. How I wish I could have gotten a better shot but the one I took will have to do!

How beautiful that Santa's legend had been incorporated with the holy mass. After all, most children believe in Santa and now they can think of Santa paying tribute to Baby Jesus before going out to deliver gifts! I have seen statues of a Praying Santa holding Baby Jesus but this was the first time I had seen Santa during a mass.
Santa's Christmas Prayer

On Christmas Eve the other night
I saw the most amazing sight,
for there beneath the Christmas tree
was Santa kneeling on his knee,
His countenance was different than
that all familiar, jolly grin.
His head was bowed, with hand to breast
and slightly tucked into his vest.
For there in a nativity
was Jesus and his family
and as I heard him start to pray
I listened closely to what he'd say.
'Lord, you know that you're the reason
I take pleasure in this season.
I don 't want to take your place
but just reflect your wondrous grace. 
I hope you will help them understand
I'm just an ordinary man
who found a way to do your will
by finding kids with needs to fill.
But all those centuries ago
there was no way for me to know
that they would make so much of me
and all the gifts beneath the tree.
They think I have some hidden power
granted at the midnight hour.
But it is my love for you
inspiring the things I do
and so when they begin to open
gifts for which they have been hoping,
may they give you glory
for You are the Christmas story.' "
Alda Maria Monteschio

Monday, December 17, 2018

A Sad Farewell

At eleven this morning, December 17, 2018, I drove to Mt. Olivet Cemetery for the interment of my nephew. Even though I was no longer in the family after my divorce, I still considered the family to be my family. Whenever I would see my nephew he always called me Auntie. He passed away on November 1, 2018, was cremated and a mass was celebrated for him at St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church. There were over two hundred persons at the mass.

Today about twenty persons gathered around a small table wrapped in green velvet.  Some of the men showed up in shorts. I thought that was crazy because the morning was cold, but understood what they were doing when I heard one of the men say, "This is in honor of our friend, he always wore shorts."

The priest that would officiate did not look like a Catholic priest. He wore a dark robe while the stole was wide and long with gold brocade. When the prayers began, I knew he was not a Catholic priest.
A young man accompanied him and they read the prayers that included repetitious singing, reading and praying. They did the sign of the cross many times or something quite similar to our sign of the cross.

After about half an hour later they told us that the prayers were finished and the grave workers picked up the urn to place it into a white box. My nephew's wife asked to touch the urn and they brought it to her. She kissed it and began to wail; long, loud, heart wrenching crying. She was saying goodbye to her husband and that made many of us choke up. His father asked to say goodbye to the urn and he kissed it as he sobbed and whispered his farewell. Then some of the friends leaned in to also give their friend a final goodbye kiss.

The urn was placed in the box and the lid did not fit so the workers had to turn the urn on its side so the lid could be sealed. When I was asked how I was doing I got all choked up and said, "My son is not too far away." Strange that two cousins who were pals in life would now be neighbors at Mt. Olivet.

I spoke with one of the men who had prayed and he told me they were Eastern Orthodox. The Internet informed me their belief is not the traditional heaven and hell. To them heaven is loving God while hell is anyone who has no love for God. The blurb also said they do not believe in cremation and I wondered why they were picked to say prayers of interment. For whatever reasons, it was a beautiful ceremony.

Getting into my car I felt sad I drove over to my son's grave. I told him all about his cousin's burial and a quick hello to my parents and brother. May they rest in peace.

"Don't cry because it's over,
smile because it happened."
Dr. Suess

Holiday Fun

Eight students of Luke Bible study met for lunch at Ruby Tuesday on December 3, 2018. This began my Christmas celebrations. This being my first year with this group I and did not realize there would be an exchange of gifts so I arrived empty handed and not wearing a Christmas outfit. Live and learn. Next year, if I am still meeting with the same group, things will be different! I was told that the group has been taking classes together for the past nine years and I happened to be the newest member.

Elf, The Musical, continued my Christmas fun and on December 9, 2018 I joined seventy other Young at Heart members to see an extraordinary play of great acting, wonderful dancing, singing,
and lots of holiday cheer!

December 15,2018, I met four friends for a dinner prepared by one of the group. Her home was decorated beautifully with the outstanding feature being her Christmas tree. She told us that she places the icicles on the tree, one by one. After Christmas, she carefully takes the icicles off, one by one and stores them to use the following year. The table was set in rose colored dishes and the meal was different, yet delicious. The chicken thighs in a gravy with prunes and olives over rice was excellent, though the hostess fretted that we may like the combination. We did!  The salad was cut in petite squares making someone ask, "How long did it take you to chop up the cheese, carrots and everything in this salad because every thing is uniform in tiny squares?" For dessert there was a rich candy cane cake plus richer peanut butter balls covered in chocolate! Gifts were exchanged and off we went to hear the Arvada Chorale.

It has become a tradition to hear the harmonizing voices of the Arvada Chorale featuring a member of our book club. Our annual picture is a must and we were accused of being his "groupies." Jingle Bell Jukebox had a variety of music and featured the Arvada High School Chorale. The program began with Jingle Bell Rock and ended with a beautiful rendition of Peace and Silent Night. We saw other friends but seeing a grandmother with her granddaughters was extra special!

After mass on December 16, 2018, the Baker's Dozen group car pooled to Big Daddy's Burger Bar in Northglenn and enjoyed huge hamburgers, Ruben's or salads. I had a Greek salad and I have to say it was the best salad I have ever eaten. Everything was cut in small pieces, (no chunks of lettuce in the salad) with lots of Feta cheese and garbanzo beans. It was truly a Christmas salad with green, red, yellow and white,  that not only looked beautiful but tasted great!

After lunch we drove to the Northglenn D.L.Parsons Theatre to see The Honky Tonk Angels Holiday Spectacular. Four young women with great voices sang many Christmas favorites plus other songs we recognized but the words had been changed. There was a lot of comedy. The band was located right on the stage. I mentioned that it reminded me of the Patsy Cline show we had seen in the past, and when  I saw the program the musical was written by the same person who did the Always Patsy Cline show! What an afternoon of good food, happy music and lots of friendship!

On December, 18, 2018 I attended the YAH luncheon where Santa Claus appeared to read us a funny story and to pose with us as we had our picture taken with him.  He has a Santa Claus look and his eyes seem to twinkle.  I asked him if he put drops in his eyes to make them twinkle and he said, "It's hard enough getting into this costume and there is no way I would have time to use makeup to make my eyes different. These are my normal eyes!" He was patient and kind as people lined up to have a picture taken with him. Being the photographer for the group, I was kept busy taking pictures!

Today, on the 19th, the book club  enjoyed a pot luck at a member's home and a discussion of My Italian Bulldozer by Alexander McCall Smith took place.  The home was decorated with Christmas trees, Nativity scenes, flowers, and anything to do with the holiday.  Our discussion of the book led us to travels to foreign countries, stereotypes, and affairs of the heart among other things. The majority of the group liked the book except for one person who thought it was too far fetched and could never have happened!

On the 20th, six of us met at a friend's home and the party began with gin and tonic drinks, followed by Panini's with cheese, mushroom, red peppers, mushrooms and glazed onions.  Well, that's what my sandwich had it!.  There were many other goodies to make the individual Panini's and when we all had completed our sandwiches on the two Panini machines, we moved into the beautifully decorated dining room table. The center piece looked real but after we all touched the red roses, we realized it was not a fresh bouquet.

Pickled green beans and olives were added to our meal. What fun it is eating and laughing. For dessert we had chocolate covered bananas and the final goody was a huge bowl of caramel corn!
Our clever hostess gave us all clothes pin chickens that she had made and one person said we could be called "the chicks." I was given a Christmas cup with a scenery of Angels made by another clever friend! An enjoyable evening passed by way to fast!

I am willing to bet that I have gained five pounds, if not more, with all the celebrating I have done this Christmas.

"I wish we could put up some 
Christmas Spirit in jars and 
open a jar of it every month!"
Harlan Miller

Friday, December 14, 2018

Calling The Kettle Black

Shopping at Sprouts one day I saw a women checking out the grapes. The grapes were in individual packages and she would open each bag and squeeze some of the grapes, would pull one out and smell it and then return it to the bag. I stood and watched her go through about eight of the grape bags. It made me ill to my stomach to see her touching so many grapes that someone would eventually buy.

I moved to the oranges that were about $1.29 a pound. A young girl was coughing and she touched a few of the oranges.  As much as I like oranges, I did not buy any. The old saying of what you don't know won't hurt you is true.  If I had not seen the fruit being touched I probably would have bought grapes and oranges. I ended up going to King Soopers to buy my grapes and oranges!

Bananas, blue berries, and apples made it into my cart. When I got to the Persimmons, which I love,
I felt one. It was not soft enough for me. So I touched another one. I ended up touching all the Persimmons until I found two that were ripe. I suppose if anyone was watching me, they would not have purchased any of the Persimmons I had handled while trying to find out if they were ripe enough to eat.

At Costco most of the fruit is packaged and no one can "squeeze" the fruit and that makes me happy!

Yet, I realize that being too critical and picky about what others do shouldn't effect me since I do the same thing! I always wash my fruit before eating it, so what if others have handled what I am buying?  One of these days I will learn that I also do the same thing that upsets me about others.

"Who are you to judge how I live?
I know I am not perfect and I don't
live to be. But before you start
pointing fingers, make sure your 
hands are clean."
Bob Marley

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Puzzles For My Dad

Growing up I was given puzzles to solve by my father. He loved doing math puzzles and I could tell he was disappointed when I couldn't solve one. To him figuring difficult games was a fun challenge. To me, not so much!

Yesterday at the Museum of Nature &Science one of the exhibits was called Brain Tease? Yes Please. I entered the Mindbender Mansion to see what kind of puzzles were being displayed and immediately my father came to mind. He would have loved all the wacky, puzzling world where brains come to play! (In Italics; brochure wording, not mine).

Blocks of geometric shapes, numbers, rings and ropes, trivia, plus many other displays I did not get to because large crowds were gathered around the tables. I did see some books that I know my father would have loved and I am almost sure the one I took a picture of was in our house at one time! The Zebra puzzle was more my speed but it looked very difficult.

I must have a little bit of my Dad in me because I do like word puzzles, it's just those math mind twisters I do not like! As I left the mind-boggling area, I knew what I would give my Dad for Christmas, if he would still be alive!

Saturday, December 8, 2018

The Closest I Will Ever Get To Cuba

Scrolling through my Facebook a blurb about Seniors Traveling to Cuba popped up. That tickle of excitement stirred within me but I knew I would not travel to Cuba.  A few weeks later I saw that the Denver Museum of Nature & Science had an exhibit about CUBA! Today I decided to go see the exhibit, because I knew it would probably be the closest I would ever get to Cuba.

The brochure advised me to "take a trip to the Caribbean's largest island nation without a plane ticket!" So I did. What color, what music, what dancing, what an old car, and what great photography. The plaza had sidewalks where I could wander and look into a cigar store, a place of worship or sit at tables with Cuban food or games.

The game of choice in Cuba is Dominoes and they are different than ours because they have more spots.

 After watching some dancers who reminded me of Hawaiian Hula dancers because of how they moved their hips and a cha cha dancer with long hair I realized that Cuban music can be quite lively! 

The four dishes on the table were malanga (from root family)  fritters, black beans and rice, ajisco stew, and guava con queso and my guess is that these are popular dishes.

Catholicism is the leading religion in Cuba but there are many other such as orisha (Santeria) and Jewish, Protestant, Muslim, Mormon, and 7th Day Adventists.

Wandering through the streets of Cuba, looking and listening, I really felt as if I knew more than ever about Cuba. I then headed to the IMAX theater to watch a documentary on Cuba and enjoyed learning about the coral reefs, the ballet school, tobacco and sugar cane plantations, and carnival with lots of fireworks, dancing, sports and history!

"I don't want any thing
from Cuba.  I want them
to be free and enjoy the
things I enjoy."
Gloria Estefan