Saturday, January 23, 2016

Mish Mash in a New Year


The moment I read this I understood the change that's taken place and is shaping me again. I've always been an optimist but in the last few years I've had challenges that have tossed me every which way. Even now things are not quite balanced in my world. But I read this and I knew that I am back to the  me who pushes through and appreciates. Time can heal. Hearts can bounce. 


 The last month has been a whirlwind. I am writing this from Colorado but I started in Florida at Disney. My last post was all about that trip, but this post is so much about transition that it's fitting to begin with these children, minus Reese who was so scared of these giant mice that there was no way she could endure this picture. 

I love these children. When the oldest, Ryan, was born, I told my daughter Jessica I would love him, of course, but never as much as I loved her. She smiled then and said, "That's okay." In that moment we both understood and exalted the unconditional love of a parent.

Now I know there are different kinds of love, each deep and true. It's still true that I love Jess so much  I can't imagine anything competing with that. But my heart's expanded. There's plenty of room in there.


So what does a new year mean? Especially a new year where I'm eager to be astonished and productive? I've moved to a new town, surrounded by a bay and ocean, where the way light bounces off the sea is astonishing.


I'm determined to finish my book this year, to shop it around to agents and publishers and I dream of it in print by the end of the year.  And if nobody nibbles, I will publish it myself. I have more to learn about the matriarch of my novel: she is gutsy and resilient, that's for sure. But does she crack and fold too? I don't know that yet. But I will. 


A week after I got home from Disney, JB and I were on a plane to Colorado to help her sister through knee replacement surgery. The plan was for me to stay a week and JB five weeks. I was sure I'd use the month JB was gone to write and possibly finish this slippery book. But I'm not home yet: complications and an extended hospital stay and now an East Coast winter storm. I'm heading home on Tuesday to my own version of snow. 


 Colorado is beautiful and here in Colorado Springs, the Rocky Mountains are everywhere. The singer songwriter John Denver has a prominent role in my new novel and as soon as I remembered that, I've been looking at "Rocky Mountain High" with new awe.  Many men here wear leather cowboy hats and look weathered and almost everyone is polite and helpful. The Springs is a very conservative area, very unlike my own politics, but I'm easily avoiding that fact.


I found this on Facebook and I think it's just adorable. HAHAHAHA. 


Mr. Ryan had his ninth birthday before we left and I put into action something I've told him a hundred times. About money. "Ryan," I say, when you get money for a present or you earn money, keep a third for yourself to spend however you want, save a third, and give a third to someone or some cause that will help others." 

JB and I put a $ 20 bill in each envelope and put the three envelopes in a shiny new metal pencil case. Jess sent me this photo a few days ago and it made me glow.

 Here I am these days.


Colorado is a legal marijuana state. Some cities regulate sales by limiting it to "medicinal sales,", but there are also retail shops every where. In our common spirit of adventure, JB and I walked in to this store, Emerald Lakes, were asked to show identification, and were escorted into a large room with tables displaying and demonstrating all kinds and all prices of choices. I asked the young woman orienting us if this was a transition job for her and what she hoped for ahead. She said, "I want to grow marijuana. I need $ 15,000 to start off and I don't have it. But I know from working here how much money you can make growing it."

It might have been her glassy eyes, but I felt sad seeing and hearing her. I wondered how her parents in Ohio felt. 


Because we've spent a good deal of time hospital visiting and helping out, JB and I have eaten out often here in Colorado. This is a french cafe, charming in every way. We met an older couple here who couldn't figure out our relationship. The gentleman first asked if we were sisters. No, we said. A few minutes later he asked again. "Friends or business partners?" Even five years ago I might have hesitated. But I said, "We're partners. Been together thirty years." And for good measure I added, "We're a couple…"

He was taken back but gracious. He had grown up in Massachusetts and we told them we were from Boston, and now Cape Cod. So after they left the waiter told us they came every week for dinner and we asked if we could buy them a drink in advance. "Sure,' the waiter said, "But she doesn't drink."

So with good wishes "from the girls from Boston," these folks will have one martini on the rocks and one velvet cupcake on us. I'm pretty sure they'll enjoy it all as much as we've enjoyed the giving part.


And finally, in a few days I'll head back to Provincetown. A great local photographer named Sue Ballard took this photo, a common scene of the Provincelands. This is the magic I will return to.


I should add that American politics are absolutely scary nuts and the world is in turmoil. I'm well aware of that and I'm very distressed by it. But finally, I'm back on my hopeful grateful feet. I hope this is true for you too.

love
kj

Monday, January 04, 2016

Winnie Poopie and Taco Bell


I'll start with the cookies. Every year JB and I make and decorate these sugar cookies and every year my health-conscious daughter and son-in-law beg for more and only minimally share them with their kids.  They were quite gone on Christmas Day when fifteen of us headed for Disneyworld in Florida.

How to describe being there from Christmas Day through New Year's Eve? Crowded, Hot, Expensive, Chaotic, and Heartwarming. My grand kids are 8, 6, 4, and 2. We had adventures.


I can't answer why 100,000 people at a time would stand in line for up to 90 minutes for one ride or one experience. But I'll say that Disney has class. This is a quick still shot of a very animated almost five minute ride that called "it's a small world" and it was a feast for the eyes and ears. Color, music, animation, splendored imagination.


Here's the crew of us. Disney has photographers at key locations everywhere and for a prepaid price, they snap away and then in all of five seconds they transfer the shots from their camera into your Disney rubber wristband. Just like that. (Looking for me? Lime green and white blouse, orange red hair).


Every night the castle at the Magic Kingdom turns to ice with fireworks in the background (aka their hit movie "Frozen'.)


There are several different parks at Disney, each with its own theme. This is from a safari ride at the Animal Kingdom. I'm not sure if I approve since I'm opposed to animals in captivity and I don't (yet) know if this qualifies as a bona fide sanctuary. But I was there and here are termite hills. They are here and there along the 20 minutes or so jeep-like ride, in all heights and shapes.


Plenty of flamingos…


My god, lions are majestic…



And the kids played games and won giant stuffed colorful dragons. The carnival section was classy, much like I remember carnivals years ago.


This is 4 year old Logan being hugged by Winnie the Pooh, otherwise called Winnie Poopie by Logan's sister, 2 year old Reese.


The Muppets did their own thing...


and two of the boys underwent Jedi Training, including a light saber face-to-face, one-on-one with Darth Vader, all in front of an audience who clapped them on. I don't know if they'll remember this as they grow up, but I have to say the experience seemed pretty special for two 4 and 8 year old little boys.


My just about favorite experience was an interactive theatre presentation by and about bugs. With the audience wearing 3-D glasses, all kinds of bugs just about sat on your nose, nipped at your feet, buzzed around your head, and stung your back. It was awesome. Later in the day, this bug found us strolling outside and made Logan's day.

I also shot through space at 300 miles an hour in a star wars spaceship, or so it seemed, watched the musical of Nemo finding his father and the extravaganza of the Lion King, rode a wild roller coaster through Thunder Mountain, took target practice in neon black tunnels with Buzz Lightyear, ate at a bona fide 50's diner, sang along with Elsa (Let It Go!) while snow fell on my head, and marveled when one of the kids talked about meeting Taco Belle (aka Tinker Bell).

What else can I tell you? This: we were out the door by 6:30 or so every morning and I walked about six miles a day. Holy Moly. That's what I said already: Crowded, Hot, Chaotic, and Heartwarming.

Happy New Year!
love
kj


Thursday, December 24, 2015

Happy Everything xoxo


I'm off to Disneyworld and breakfasts with Mickey Mouse and a dozen of my family. Things are much improved here. It is my great hope all is well with my dear and talented blog friends and visitors. Thank you for your friendship.

As of 2016, my prayer machine is in 5th gear.

Love always,
kj

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Cookies!


Trust me: here is the BEST sugar cookie recipe in the entire world, guaranteed. You will probably thank me! If you make them, I'd love to know if you agree. This recipe long ago compliments of my friend Barbara Bendix, who knows her cookies :^)
For cookies:
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
3 tsp vanilla
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
For icing:
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 pound confectioner's sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon vanilla
milk
Prepare cookies: in a mixing bowl, cream the butter with an electric mixer. Add sugar and beat until mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add vanilla and beat until incorporated.
Sift together the remaining ingredients; stir them into the creamed mixture and mix well. Wrap dough in plastic (sedan) wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
On a lightly floured surface roll portions of dough out to about 1/4 inch thick--I say the thicker the better! Cut out cookies with cookie cutters. Place cookies on a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 8 minutes, maybe 10 until edges of the cookies look slightly golden. (Don't overcook!) Cool cookies on wire racks until ready to decorate.
Prepare icing: In a bowl cream together butter, confectioner's sugar and vanilla. Add enough milk to allow icing to hold its shape but still move easily when you stir it. Test consistency: if icing is too dense, add more milk; if too runny, add more confectioner's sugar. Ice cookies with a knife or pastry bag and add whatever sprinkles you want. Place cookies separately until icing hardens. (We separate the icing in bowls and add coloring so we have green, pink-red, and white cookies.) Makes about 4 dozen cookies.
Happy Holidays my friends. Things are looking up in my small corner of the world.
love
kj

Saturday, December 05, 2015

What I Do



"Hello…it's Me." Here's my report from a place of maybe not thriving, but thankfully surviving.

Normally I'd be all about the holidays. All my senses appreciate Christmas: the scent of balsam, candle lights, my amazing frosted sugar cookie recipe, the voices of old friends, the feel of it all. I'm not in that space this year because as I've said JB is sick and our current days are a bit quiet and a lot solitary. (Update: there is progress.)

Still, something stirs for me this time of year. I give my Mother credit for creating the wonder of the season for me. She baked apple pies and filled our stockings and set extra plates at the table. If money was tight, which it was, I was not privy to that part. 

I have my own traditions. Even now, this year scaled down, I make sure I comfort my deep sense of tradition and charm and gratitude. This is how I do it:   

-Red Poinsettias and scented pine cones throughout the house

-Baked sugar cookies frosted and decorated, one by one, enough to box up and share with whomever I happen to come across

--Holiday cards of my own design and embellished in my turtle pace of writing my hellos and good wishes and updates, one by one

--Finding just the right books and presents for my four precious grandkids, ages 2, 4, 6, and 8; and for my precious daughter who, let it be known, I would readily give both my eyes to (poor JB--I know for sure I would give her at least one)

--Outside lights on the front of the house, this year these cool red and green laser dots (www.starshower.com) that I think of as a gift to my neighborhood

--Listening to Adele. Funny that I've only just discovered her for myself. Hello..It's me…  :^)

That's enough. My point is that this holiday season will be a different and tough one for me but not to the point of sacrificing a spirit that rejoices within me.

Oh, one last thing: On Christmas Day, I and JB and our family--fourteen of us in all--are scheduled to fly to Disneyworld in Florida for a full week of fantasy and wild fun. We've planned it for months. But JB can't come. And I'm not yet sure she'll be well enough for me to leave her. I hope so but I'm waiting to worry: it's too soon to know but I hope I can go and I hope by Christmas Day JB is feeling more like herself. 

A final thing: I'm happy for my life. Even like now. 

Happy Holidays and The Best of Tidings to my friends here. Tsup & Mwah. 

Love love
kj


Sunday, November 22, 2015

This Time of Year...

 It's about time to stop being cryptic. I've been cautious to admit that my JB is sick, that despite enough doctors and tests to fill a hospital we don't yet know why, and it's been tough and sad and sometimes scary. 

Normally I'm a fan of fall-turned-winter and the upcoming holidays. I nest, I bake, I give presents, I plan visits, I light candles, I give thanks. I'm also a natural optimist and a controlling problem-solver, so it's not easy for me to fess up to feeling lost and nervous. But there you have it: JB is sick. I believe we will step by step figure out what's wrong and I believe in time she'll be okay, but in the meantime I'm sad and worried and my heart breaks for her and I've lost my day-to-day best buddy. 

Not to mention this week my patience with right wing misinformation about Syrian refugees--after everything they've been through, rejecting them as if they're terrorists--my patience is gone. All the real fear about the brutality of ISIS must be addressed and minimized, but please let us be intelligent enough not to blame the people who have actually suffered what we most fear.

With that out of the way, of course life still offers grace and fun. Here's my update on that part:

1. My friend Hells (blog name: Baino's Banter) came visiting from Australia, along with her friend Jeff from LA. We had a grand few days as good friends do. First time in Provincetown and Hells and Jeff: come back anytime. 


 2. It's been a real concern to move to a small town by the sea where the nearest hospital is an hour away. But I've been pleasantly surprised by the health center here. JB and I have found a very good primary care doctor and I can tell he is going to help JB sort out what's wrong, test by test, specialist by specialist. Plus there's something to be said for artwork in the exam rooms...


3. This is no more and no less a normal view from the parking lot of the grocery store. The sunrises and sunsets here in Provincetown are unbelievably beautiful. Sometimes the sky is orange and some sometimes pink. Every day around four thirty the gulls fly overhead, in unison, back to the wharf for their dinner. Last week I saw a hawk perched on an arbor. Families of foxes move around yards and side streets freely. It's nice to have moved here: stilted and punctuated for the time being, but all this natural beauty helps.


4. More beauty: low tide.


 5. And our house. I swear it was the only house in town we could afford but we could tell it had good bones. Little by little we've come to this: a fence, an arbor, new shingling, clam shells in the driveway, repair of the brick steps.  The house is nothing fancy and without JB's presence, the inside is only semi- cozy, but this Thanksgivin I'll be saying an extra thank you if only for this part.


6. Damn my iPhone. I used to keep my Canon camera nearby most of the time, and now I lazily rely on my phone. But every so often it lets me capture a shot like this: an elderly couple in the doctor's waiting room.


 7. And finally, my high school reunion--the first one I've ever gone to. These are my friends from junior high school and you know what?--after forty plus years of little or no contact, we are as warm and comfortable with one another as if no time has passed.  Roots.


I've noticed in the last week or two some of us bloggers are talking about why we are or aren't blogging as we used to. I know I haven't made the same depth of friendships as I did years back. But there are exceptions  (8, you know xo.) I'm not going anywhere--I love the blogs! 

Please wish JB well and send a blessing her way. 

Love
kj

Monday, November 16, 2015

Hello


It's not easy but I'm going to keep believing that human kindness and civility will balance things out. What a crazy scary world.

I have a challenge here in this beautiful place I've moved to. I think it's temporary but it's the reason I haven't been blogging: just haven't had the spirit. I'm working, writing, cooking, driving, grandparenting, puttering, planting, and half the time feeling sorry for myself.

But. I'm still a lucky duck and hope definitely floats.

With love
kj