Tuesday, November 25 2014
Pete Seger wrote Turn, Turn, Turn in the late 1950s and it became a #1 hit sung by a number of different artists, but the words are the oldest of lyrics, taken almost word for word from the Bible - Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
But amazingly missing from this litany is a TIME TO BE THANKFUL.
This week take time to be thankful, For the gift of your life, for your mother and your father, For the gift of those to love and those who love you, For shelter and food, for education and learning, For health and employment, for recreation and pleasure, For the companionship of pets, and all the good things in your life.
And especially for the FREEDOM to enjoy all of these gifts and for the soldiers who protect that freedom, who go where you do not want to go and do things you will never fully understand, who put their lives on the line for you, and for all of us in the name of Freedom.
And as you sit down to the traditional family feast, your plates overflowing with all the good things you love and look forward to on this day, as you cheer on your favorite team or go for a walk in the beautiful, peaceful world around you, take a moment to THANK those who will be at work this day; the nurses and doctors, the firemen and police, pilots and cab drivers, hotel staff, waitresses and cooks, even the clerks who man the stores should you choose to shop on this day.
Take another moment or several to pray for those who have none of the things that make your life rich and wonderful. Ask God to watch over the homeless, the orphaned and the hungry, those who are cold, alone, ill and afraid, those who are not free, those who are beaten and those who have no hope.
Because – there is a time to be thankful for all the gifts under heaven.
Saturday, November 22 2014
BEST EVER HOLIDAY MEALS
I love turkey anyway. Not just the bird in all its glory when served with all the trimmings, but all the various ways to use leftovers as well. But there was one turkey sandwich that will forever remain in my memory as the best turkey sandwich I ever had in my life.
My youngest daughter was born on Thanksgiving. I woke in labor before the sun was up, but in spite of this being my fourth pregnancy, my labor was doomed to be very long. My husband was antsy about getting to the hospital on time, but the contractions were weak and far apart so I told him it wasn’t time yet. He eventually convinced me to at least head over to my mom’s house where we were expected for dinner later on anyway so at least the kids would be where they needed to be when the time came. Dinner came first, but being in labor, I knew I should not be gobbling down a heaping plate as usual so I picked, tasting a bit of this and a bit of that. Finally, by mid-afternoon the contractions had steadied to five minutes apart and I conceded.
Off to the hospital we went in anticipation of being parents again by supper time. NOT! It was a good thing I’d studied the relaxation techniques of Grantly Dick-Read because I never would have lasted using the Lamaze method. The hours stretched out as contractions came and went, my husband offered nearly continuous massage and doctors and nurses checked in and left again. Shortly before midnight, Lori finally decided to make her entrance, three minutes before the end of Thanksgiving. She was beautiful and healthy and all was right with my world.
Until the hemorrhaging began. It was my husband’s night from hell and I’m sure my physician was not happy to be dragged back to the hospital twice in the night either. Before dawn that crazy Friday I was in surgery. For four hours. And as anyone who’s had major surgery knows, afterwards they keep you on first a liquid diet, then a bland one. I had so been looking forward to having that plate of turkey as soon as everything was over. Friday and Saturday brought nothing but jello and herb tea and equally flavorless fare. But Sunday I was finally allowed to order off the regular menu.
My Mom, bless her heart forever, arrived during the lunch hour with a fat, luscious looking turkey sandwich. I tucked into that sandwich like I hadn’t eaten in weeks and it was the very best sandwich ever. I’ve since tried to duplicate it. I put all the same things into the sandwich my mom did, but never has one tasted so incredibly delicious. I still love turkey sandwiches and always will, but in my mind, that one can never be beat.
Want to hear about some other great holiday menus and meals" Check out some of these:
Marci Baun http://www.marcibaun.com/
A.J. Maguire http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/
Ginger Simpson http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Victoria Chatham http://victoriachatham.webs.com/
Margaret Fieland http://www.margaretfieland.com/blog1/
Rachael Kosnski http://the-doodling-booktease.tumblr.com/
Anne Stenhouse http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Heidi M. Thomas http://heidiwriter.wordpress.com/
Helena Fairfax http://helenafairfax.com/
Kay Sisk http://kaysisk.blogspot.com
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com/
Tuesday, November 11 2014
Who doesn't love men in kilts? or bagpipes and music? Craigmonie Hotel,
My bio boasts that I like to think of life as adventure and I haven’t passed up too many opportunities that have come my way, but some of the craziest adventures happened when I least expected. One of these was in the lovely, and fascinating city of Inverness Scotland.
My sister and I arrived in Inverness and were lucky to have prebooked a room at the Craigmonie Hotel, because as it turned out, we arrived there at the end of the National Mod and the city was hopping, the hotels all booked. A mod is a festival of Scottish Gaelic song, arts and culture, and Inverness was overflowing with men in kilts, bagpipes, bands, dancers and the lilt of Gaelic being spoken everywhere. Everything that is romantic about the Scots in one place and we were there to enjoy it.
After a day of exploring the sights and sounds, we dressed up to go to “high tea” in a cozy little place near St. Andrews Cathedral. As we were leaving, we noticed that across the hall from the tea room, there was a small bar where a man playing the accordion. We moseyed on in and sat down to enjoy the music, but before we were even halfway through our first mug of beer, he stopped to whet his own whistle. So, my sister headed over to ask if he was done playing for the night and returned to our table with the man right behind her inviting us to join the party celebrating the finale of that year’s mod.
Now we were overdressed considering everyone else was wearing Jeans so we said we’d be back and hustled up the hill to our hotel to change. As we left, we mentioned to the desk clerk that we were headed to a party and he told us to have a good time.
And we did.
Until four o’clock in the morning.
We didn’t pay for a single drink but we consumed way more than we should have. We were encouraged to join in Scottish dances we had no idea how to perform, but somehow it didn’t matter that night. We heard some really great music and partied very hearty. What a fantastic night we had with a most welcoming and talented bunch of Scots. And it was all quite by chance. (See what I mean about not passing up opportunities that came my way?) But the adventure was only beginning.
As I said, we had imbibed rather more than either of us was used to, so the walk back to our hotel was more of a wander. The most exciting part of which was the trip across the River Ness on the walking bridge that swayed in the wind. Or was it us that swayed. In any case, it was an achievement to reach the other side still standing.
To our total dismay, when we reached our hotel, it was locked up tight. Having stayed in a number of bed and breakfasts and guesthouses, we thought perhaps our room key would open the door. That was not the case. So, while my sister continued to knock on the door, hoping that someone in management would hear and come to let us in, I hunted for another door that our key might work in. None was to be found, but just as I came around the last corner, I noticed a window placed low in the stone building with a neat round hole cut in it. God only knows why, probably had something to do with my inebriated state, but I reached in and discovered the window was not locked and opened easily. It was dark as sin inside so I had no idea where it opened into, but without any other options, my sister and I checked to make sure no one was around and wriggled inside. Thankfully, before we fell into who knew what, our feet touched down on the stainless steel counter of a commercial dishwasher.
So, now we were inside, and we were in the kitchen but where to next? We could see absolutely nothing. Hand over hand, we made our way along the walls until we finally found a door. We only knew it was the dining room by a faint shaft of light glinting off the crystal chandeliers. But at least there was enough light now guide us onward. Emerging into a carpeted hallway, we booked it up the wide curving staircase to the rooms above, praying not to get caught, and arrived at our room and flung ourselves inside. I stood with my back to the door, my heart pounding and my head spinning not quite believing what we'd just gotten away with.
Looking back on it in a more sober frame of mind, I still don’t know what else we could have done at four o’clock in the morning. It was pretty chilly in Inverness in early November, and besides, we’d paid for our room and we’d even told the clerk we were going out partying. Why hadn’t he told us the place would get locked up at some point? It wouldn’t have been so amusing if our mother had received a trans-Atlantic call to inform her that her daughters (who were old enough to know better) were in a Scottish lockup, being held for breaking and entering, but it sure was an adventure while it was happening.
Uquart Castle ruins on Loch Ness
Monday, November 03 2014
I’ve been told that allergies can be acquired at any point in life. If that’s the case, then I am definitely allergic to winter.
You have to understand. I grew up in New England. I spent my childhood winters frolicking in the snow. I even carried that well into adulthood. I enjoyed snowball fights, downhill skiing, cross country skiing, coasting and pretty much everything but driving in the stuff, although I learned how to do that pretty well, too.
Cold never bothered me all that much either. I just donned more layers of clothing and stepped out regardless of the temperatures outdoors. Getting cozy with a hot cup of tea, a book and a crackling fire was pretty sweet, almost as sweet as curling up under a mountain of quilts, down comforters and flannel sheets.
But something happened to me along the way. Looking back on it now, I have to guess it was my decision to join the Peace Corps in 2002. They sent me to the South Pacific where my initial reaction was “Good God it’s hot here!” But over the two years I spent working and playing there, my body must have adapted. It was probably a good thing that I arrived home again in May. I had the summer, however short it is in the state of Maine, to adjust back to my former self before the ground froze solid and the wind chill sucked all the mercury out of my thermometer.
I think the first hint that I might no longer have what it took to live through a northeast winter might have been after I adopted a new dog. First thing every morning and then again when I returned from work, he needed to be walked, and as he sniffed and moseyed his way along, the artic chill would shove its unwelcome fingers down my neck until my muscles were so tense they would begin to cramp.
The other thing that I always thought picturesque and cozy was the return to standard time. Driving home in the dark with lights glowing from homes along the way seemed to make nighttime feel friendlier somehow. But after my return from the South Pacific where the winter days and summer days had been very similar in length, the ever-shrinking daylight hours grew more and more depressing. Not only was it dark when I drove home, it was dark when I got up to go to work in morning, as well. After two years of learning first hand what cabin fever was all about, I escaped for a vacation in St Augustine Florida when an endless March stretched ahead of me and my home was still held fast in winter and would remain so until sometime in May if I was lucky. The rest is history.
I’ve lived here in St Augustine for six years now and never looked back. I could write several blogs about my new hometown, but they can wait. For now, I’ve discovered I’m allergic to winter. At the first reminder that we would be turning our clocks back, I began to whine and dread the loss of evenings filled with enough light for a walk on the beach. Then came this blast of cold that moved in over the weekend. My nose began to itch and the sneezing fits started. Next came the endless dripping like a leaky faucet. It got worse today when I had to wear a sweatshirt to walk the dog and put shoes on my feet. Then the photos began appearing on Facebook. Photos of Gillette Stadium in Foxboro Mass having snow removed before the Patriots game began and highways covered with snow from the midwest to Maine. I shivered and sneezed and dug out a new box of tissues. This has to stop. It’s only November.
My daughter suggested that it might be something in my air ducts considering I’d turned the heat on, but those are the same ducts that convey cool air when the AC is on so I don’t think that’s my problem. Perhaps something growing outside? But that’s unlikely considering that St Augustine is not tropical and we do have a winter here when trees and grasses do not bloom and spread pollen everywhere. Next will come a scarf, my wooly hat and a jacket. So, the only logical conclusion I can draw is that I have grown allergic to winter. I don’t recall having this problem in the South Pacific so now I’m wondering . . . maybe I’ll have to consider moving to the Keys . . .
P.S. I still know how to drive in snow, it’s the idiots who think 4-wheel drive means they can stop as quickly as they get going that scare the crap out of me now.