Saturday, October 31, 2015

October 31, 2015 Happy Halloween!!

We decided we needed to see one more parade this year so we went to the Country Fair White Elephant parade right here in Green Valley. It’s always the last weekend in October and this year it fell on Halloween. Never having been before I don’t know if the participants always dress up in costume but there were plenty of ghouls and goblins along with the marching bands, (some in uniforms, some dressed as zombies), floats and Shriners. The weather was perfect too after yesterdays rain, about 70º and clear skies. The difference this year is I had someone to watch the parade with, Jay.

neighbor Julie
I knew someone in the parade, my neighbor Julie, dressed as Minnie Mouse, (she's a volunteer at the thrift store) and I saw other friends who were there to watch the festivities. Best of all it was short and sweet, just over an hour.

a very cute spectator collecting candy

my friend Margie
old tractors were on display
zombie color guard
zombie marching band

zombie cheer

a couple of uniformed marching bands

The White Elephant is a thrift store where people donate their stuff and it gets sold to the community. They raise over $1 million dollars a year and donate it all back to the community, the Food Bank, schools, youth programs, all sorts of agencies benefit from the White Elephant. It is staffed almost entirely by volunteers and the prices are cheap! Which makes it all the more amazing at the dollar amounts they are able to give back. This guy opened and closed the parade.

At the end of the parade the Community Church had free root beer floats for any one who wanted one. What a treat!

Friday, October 30, 2015

October 30, busy-ness

When approaching retirement people would often ask, ‘what do you plan to do with all your time?’, and I always had a long list of things that I thought I would like to do, never any fear of being bored. Travel, teach yoga, swim, hike, hang out with friends just to name a few things.  Some people are afraid to retire, ‘what would I do with all that time?’ they say. ‘I would be so bored.’ I am amazed at where my time goes, and sometimes frustrated like I was when I was working that there isn’t more time for all that I would like to do. 
When we were wandering around the countryside, I had time to write, in my journal and for my blog. I had time to meditate, practice yoga, play my banjo, go for long walks. There was a lot of work too, planning where we would be going next, how we were going to get there, were to buy groceries and fuel, and so on. On top of all of that, I didn’t sleep well in the trailer, so there was time for the occasional nap. I thought that when we got home things would settle down and be calm, that I wouldn’t be so busy. Well, forget about that! There is work to be done around the house, work needed on the trailer, medical appointments to catch up on, sit with a dying friend, shopping for things for the projects, playing golf once in a while, meditation group, yoga class, both teaching and attending, and that all important nap!
what can you see in the cloud?

Jay and I talk about this part of retirement, the busy-ness of it all. He is better than I am at just sitting and relaxing, he encourages me to stop most days at around 4:00 to take a break and sit on the patio and watch the clouds go by. We have the most amazing skies here and I do love to watch the clouds. I’m one of those people who can see shapes and faces in clouds, not everyone can.

I am reminded of a conversation I had with a friend a few years ago about helping people, or the feeling of needing to fix what is perceived as something that needs fixing. It’s about how to let go and learn to say no. She said, if it’s not mine, I won’t pick it up.(this doesn't apply to trash on the path, you can pick up someone else's and put it in the garbage can) It’s a good question to ask yourself when things arise and it has been a good guide for me most of the time. I do find myself falling back in to old habits of thinking I need to find a solution, or fix a situation. I also spoke with another friend who shared the idea that if you have a conflict, for instance, on one hand you have your point of view, and on the other, the other persons point of view, look at them both from above and shine a light on it. There isn’t necessarily a need to resolve the conflict, just let it be the conflict that it is. I thought that was brilliant. I don’t have to try to resolve this, I can let it be what it is. I have found that in the past, and I may have mentioned this before, but to wait before acting and many times things will resolve without me getting all worked up about it. I always feel a sense of relief in those instances and wish I could remember that more often. 

Time for a cat picture. Too much heavy lifting there. Let go of the busy-ness.
one of those talked about cat naps

hunting for bugs

Saturday, October 24, 2015

October 24, morning in the desert

I love the mornings here, cool temperatures, quiet with a chance of seeing some of the local inhabitants. There were two fearless coyotes on the trail and my favorite desert bird, the cactus wren. The call of this bird is is a two tone whistle. When I first heard it a few years ago when we were visiting, the bird itself was elusive to me. It seemed I never could quite get a glimpse of it and now it’s like they wait for me before flitting off.

I feel so blessed to have this spaciousness so near to me. I am reminded of my long walks in Whatcom Falls Park, a different kind of beauty with it’s tall trees and the sounds of the water flowing, or the stillness of the derby pond reflecting the fall colors of the trees before they lose their leaves.
I can walk for miles in this landscape, being mindful of the dangers of the desert, but also reveling in the beauty that it offers. Ever changing as is everything in my life. It is now lush and green after all of the recent rain, a fresh burst of growth and an expansion of the leaves to take in the moisture before the long, dry winter. The air has a wonderful fragrance to it, sweet and clear.

As I walk, I am reminded of the impermanence of things. Each moment different from the last, never to be experienced in exactly the same way again. That bird may come back to that very same branch, but even then it will be different. I won’t be there to see it, maybe someone else will, and that alone makes it different. Keeping this in mind, I strive to be present in joyful moments, knowing that it won’t stay. I strive to be present in times of stress, sadness, frustration, anger, weariness and all of the other dark emotions, knowing that they won’t stay. Allowing them to have space and feel them. Then to move in to a space of contentment. 

Enjoy the day.

Friday, October 16, 2015

October 16, last weekend

It was a beautiful fall day last Saturday, a good day to go to the Tucson Meet Yourself street fair. Jay and I went to town early so I could take a yoga class before we set out to explore the fair. It’s like a mini version of the Bite of Seattle, except they close down several streets downtown and it’s free! I also like it better than the Bite, fewer people and still a good variety of food and entertainment.

It brings together the many different cultures of the people living in Tucson with music, food and crafts. 

We watched the taiko drummers from Odaiko Sonoran taiko. Who knew there was taiko in Tucson? They were outstanding, and mostly women. After their show, we wandered over to the El Presidio building to the park where the food vendors were to get some lunch.

While we had our lunch of pad thai and Turkish meatballs we were entertained by the Hawaiian hula dancers. We then wandered back through the Presidio where the international crafts were set up and saw the Ukrainian wood carvers and egg painters, a Lao weaver, a Native American weaver, Mexican paper crafters making colorful flowers and flags and a Japanese calligrapher.

After the hula dancers it was back to Church Street stage for Korean drummers and dancers, The Sound of Thunder. Very talented, limber and beautiful ladies. As part of the song, they lean over backwards to play the drums that are behind them, then they rotate around and come back up to standing and it all happens quickly. Fun to watch.

Monday, October 5, 2015

October 5, did someone say cookies?

A dear friend of mine has terminal cancer. I have been spending time with her and every once in a while she expresses a strong desire for cookies. She likes ginger snaps with a glass of milk, who doesn’t like that? But sometimes she wants something else, and it’s hard for even her to know what she would like, she doesn’t have much appetite so things she used to like don’t even hold much attraction for her. I asked her if she likes coconut, and she said yes. So I told her I would make her some cookies. 
small size

These aren’t just any ordinary cookies. I have been making these cookies for nearly 40 years, (jeez, does that give away my age or what?) and they are by far my favorite, even over chocolate chip. In all the cookie exchanges, cookie cookbooks, church recipe collections, I have never come across this combination of deliciousness. Slightly crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside, no milk or coffee necessary but they are nice accompaniments.

So now that your mouth is watering for this bit of sweetness and you see how tasty they look, you’re begging for the recipe. I believe that recipes are meant to be shared so that others may enjoy the tasty treat so I will post it here after the story of how these came in to my life.

regular size I usually make
When I was about 7, our family wanted a dog. My Mom, doing her motherly thing, found a lady who had a dog that recently had a litter of pups. We didn’t want a large dog, but not a little barky thing, one that was just right for us. These puppies were a cross between a dachshund and some kind of terrier, small, but not too small. One day Mom packed up us kids, my brother and sister and I, and took us to see the puppies. I don’t recall how many there were, but being a kid, I fell in love with all of them. I had never seen anything so cute before as a pile of puppies! We all got to play with them, looking them over and deciding which one was going to be the lucky one to come home with us.

While we were deliberating, the nice lady offered us milk and cookies. Okay, I’m a kid playing with puppies and I get milk and cookies at a strangers house? How is life this good? I had never seen cookies like this before, I was expecting chocolate chip. These look like oatmeal, but there aren’t any raisins. (At this time in my life I did not like oatmeal raisin cookies). After my first bite I was hooked. Dang, these are good cookies. What kind are they? Well she wasn’t going to tell kids they are wheat germ cookies. What kid is going to eat anything that has a germ in it? I don’t remember what she told us, but she did give my Mom the recipe and sent us home with extras, along with the puppy we brought home. Turns out the puppy liked the cookies too. We needed to name this dog and Peanuts and the Charlie Brown gang were really popular in the ’70’s and we all really thought that Snoopy was the coolest dog around. Once we got the puppy home, he did what any dog would do and sniffed and snooped all over the house, checking out his new home. Yep, you guessed it, we named the dog Snoopy. And the cookies came to be known as Snoopy Cookies. To this day that’s what we call them.

I think they also became a favorite of my dear friend Sue, in Bellingham. She likes a crunchy cookie, not a real chewy one and these have just enough crust on them to offset the chewy-ness. Here is the recipe as promised. On your mark, get set, bake! (in the words of the Great British Baking Show).

Snoopy Cookies,  aka Wheat Germ cookies
1 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup wheat germ
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

Mix oil, sugars, eggs and vanillas, blend until combined.

Mix flour, baking powder and salt together in a separate bowl.
Gradually add in to sugar mixture.

Blend in one at a time, oats, wheat germ and coconut.

Place on a baking sheet, about 1 tablespoon size, (smaller is okay too, play around with the size)

Bake at 350º for 10-12 minutes

Friday, October 2, 2015

October 2, the beauty of fall

Even though it has been 100 degrees the past two days, there is so much beauty here. The extra bonus is, it is right in my backyard! My friend Mavis gave me this Night Blooming Cereus back in March. She said just to water it and give it a little fertilizer and it will do great. Also to make sure to protect it from the javelina, apparently they like to eat this one, it does look like a large cucumber.

the red knobs are spent blossoms, note the new growth on the left

All summer it was blooming, only I wasn't here to see it. I know because of all the spent blossoms lying about. So every morning I open the blinds in the bedroom and check on it to see if it is sending up any new flowers and on Wednesday it did! I quickly got dressed, got the camera set up on it's little flexy tripod, got my phone for remote control and started taking pictures.
 At one point, I stopped to go get my coffee on the patio and when I turned around was when the sun had climbed up just enough for the granite rock to cast it's shadow on the wall. Jay is working on a design in the gravel that will incorporate the white granite and a black piece of rock we brought from Bellingham.

I continued to take a few more pictures, then the sun took over. It wasn't long before the flower was spent. So goes the cycle of life. There will be another soon though. The new piece of growth has a bud on it. It will go dormant for winter and I'm told it needs to be covered when the temperatures drop to freezing.

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