Friday, November 30, 2012

Healthy Checklist for Winter

A sunny corner of the porch 

    In my part of the world, winter means the days are cold, the sun is aloof and stingy with warmth and it is often too damp (outdoors) or too dry(indoors.) And it always means more germs are floating around!
    Staying healthy from the  December solstice until the red-winged blackbirds arrive, is a challenge and it becomes more so with every passing year.  
    This is the perfect time to do a bit of self care.  It doesn't make sense to arrive  to the biggest and best holiday week of the year, and be too exhausted to pretend you are a child again! 
   So as the days grow shorter and my holiday to-do list grows longer, I try to remember to take care of myself.  It really is a gift to everyone I love, if I stay healthy!!
   ***  Wash  hands  often
   ***  Cultivate an indoor garden 
   ***  Add a humidifier (especially helpful to prevent sinus infections)
   ***  Lower the heat at night, use bedwarmers to warm the cold sheets
   *** Wash hands often  
   *** Drink more liquids especially hot tea- herbal or black.
   *** Walk outdoors whenever the weather allows
   *** Try a taste of all the goodies that come my way, but only a taste(trying to cultivate my inner Frenchwoman) 
   *** Wash hands often 
   *** Go to bed early one night a week
   ***  Make a pot of soup every week and freeze the leftovers for easy meals
   *** Dress in layers, wear a hat and gloves 
   *** Make a list of all the things I am too busy to do in December, (books to read, neglected indoor projects, garden planning for next season etc) put the list away until January.  Then, get going!
 *** Did I mention that I wash my hands often?

Cuttings from these tender herbs winter over on the porch

  My strategy is to keep my spirits up, keep the germs away, continue exercising outdoors  and then burrow  deep into my nest until I'm cozy and warm and enjoy this time when the earth is quiet.  Winter (once the calendar changes and the Christmas season is past)  is a good time to contemplate the stillness, the dormant trees, the ever-changing sky. A good time  to pray. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

VIEW FROM UNDER THE SLIDE Or Further Adventures with Orange Sneakers


a young prince
builds a magical palace
in her heart


   The long shadows of late autumn followed us to the playground this week.  Orange Sneakers was intrigued with his shadow and asked "Why is my shadow  so much bigger than I am?"  A discussion about the sun's position in the sky at this time of the year ensued. 

    Once his curiosity about shadows is sated, the conversation turns to fossils.  His friend at school showed him a fossil and now he is intent upon digging up the playground in search of his own specimen.

  He finds a sturdy stick and begins his quest through soil packed tighter than cement.  


A patient boy, he continues digging until he unearths what, to him, looks like a fossil.  We pack it up in a tissue to bring home.  He wants to show his mom and dad.

When he tires of fossil hunting, he  decides it is time to run around and his next adventure begins.  "I'm looking for sculptures," he exclaims as he runs off to play on the jungle gym.  

Within minutes, I am unable to capture him on my camera, as he darts around looking for new heights to scale, babbling all the while about his intention to build a sculpture garden.(Precipitated by a recent visit to Storm King, no doubt.)

I linger  a moment on a seat under the slide, where I can see him and notice the play of the long shadows and the playground sculptures all around me.

Would I have noticed these lovely angles, these potent views if Orange Sneakers had not heightened my senses?

Finally, he returned to the 'digging place' where fossils and sculptures and shadows live in his glorious four year old imagination.

As I stood there I noticed that my shadow encircled my precious boy and I whispered a silent prayer that he always be surrounded by love, as he is today.

Here's a link to more "Adventures with Orange Sneakers" :What Fun!

Shared with Recuerda Mi Corazon where love and joy is shared every Friday in Haiku My Heart.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

I Thank My God For You



soft glow at the table


Monday, November 19, 2012

Textures of November

  Time to put bright color away for a time and focus on the textures of an overcast November walk. Mother Earth has treasures at this time of year, subtle and nuanced.  

The woods and marshland nearby provide a dose of fresh air on an overcast afternoon

My beloved reeds have set seed with  billowy cotton puffs to help them fly away.

Patches of watery pond and stream mirror the drab colors and reflect only shades of gray and brown.

These spent asters give no hint of their  recent lavender color.  

Even this swan sees his reflection in a lake of sepia glass.

This  Downy Woodpecker provided the most vivid color of the day with his tiny  red hat.

Five things to love about November:

 1)  Exercising is easier in the cool weather.
 2)  There are no bugs.
 3)  Hot tea.
 4)  Giving thanks.
 5)  The sparkly holidays are just around the corner!

Shared with Postcards from Paradise at Recuerda Mi Corazon

Friday, November 16, 2012

Haiku My Heart


her necklace sparkles
reflecting the sun's last light
in  gold leaf


Written for Recuerda Mi Corazon and HAIKU HEIGHTS for the prompt 'tree'

Thursday, November 15, 2012

I Need a Little Comfort (Food)

         Exactly what does the expression 'comfort food' mean?  For me, it means the feeling of warmth and kindness of loving arms surrounding me in times of pain and stress.  Often that feeling is associated with childhood and a loving parent who nurtured and nourished.

         When I need a bit of TLC,  I make soup!  And cold weather is a clarion call to my maternal instincts that it is time to pull out the cook books and the soup pot.

         One of our long time favorites is Lentil Soup.  I have a number of good recipes but always return to my dog-eared copy of 'Moosewood Cookbook' for Mollie Katzen's original recipe.  My cookbook is falling apart at this point but it has my notes in the margins and many years of cooking splatters on it representing a lifetime of cooking from scratch for my family.

     Here's the recipe with some modifications I've made over the years.  It's a tried and true winner!

          Lentil Soup

Simmer 3 cups of dried lentils in 7 cups of water or stock for 3-4 hours.  Add salt to taste. (1-2 tsp).  Saute the following in olive oil:  2-3 cloves of garlic,1 cup of minced onions, 1 cup of chopped celery and 1 cup of chopped carrots.  Add the vegetables to the lentils after they have simmered for 3-4 hours.  Add 1 large can of chopped tomatoes in puree (28 oz),  a splash or two of dry red wine, 2 Tbs of lemon juice, 2 Tbs of molasses or brown sugar and a splash of red wine vinegar. Sometimes I add a few potatoes or pasta although it is delicious without the starch too.  

Add thyme and oregano OR basil and lots of crushed black pepper.  Continue cooking for 15 to 30 minutes. (If adding pasta, don't add the pasta too soon - follow package directions for timing)  Taste to adjust seasonings.
Garnish with chopped scallions and sprinkle with more vinegar before serving.

 I prefer the  vegetarian version of this recipe but  occasionally add some chopped Canadian bacon or leftover ham if the carnivore is restless. 

Today's Take-away -  Some 'comfort food" is both nutritious AND self-soothing.

Monday, November 12, 2012


<<  >>

a tiny bird 
circles an empty sky
after the storm

<<  >>

Today I am holding, in my thoughts and prayers, all those neighbors, friends and strangers who are displaced and still struggling to recover from the storms.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Silence Explained


 comforts me, enfolds me
breath prayer


    I have been too busy to write a blog post since the storm hit almost  two weeks ago,  but I did jot down my thoughts as the days unfolded. 

    Although this has been a busy and difficult time for my family, we consider ourselves very lucky. Our children are safe and their  homes are intact. Our home is not damaged and our lives will eventually return to normal.  

   Others have not been  so lucky.   There are thousands of people who have suffered and are still suffering, devastating losses from this storm, in NY and NJ especially.

   Here are some of my random musings in the aftermath of the storm known as Sandy, more prayer than poem. 

A Direct Hit

This feels like another seismic change,
 not unlike 9-11

(thank God we are alive)

how unusual
to prioritize once one is off the grid
live wires on the ground
trees blocking the roads
communications nil,
food spoiling,
scarce gas

 check on family,

(thank God for the basics)

it's weird
 hearing the helicopters every half hour or so
and seeing people walking around town,
carrying gas cans,
looking for fuel to keep a generator going
hearing sirens every few minutes,
firemen and policemen
 on the way to yet another house fire,
live wire,
crushed car, 
gas leak,
 all the while knowing
  those first responders' houses
are without power
or washed away too
and to see nurses carrying newborn babies 
down flights and flights
while breathing for them
amazing, really

(thank God for  heros)

it's strange
 to see generator cables stretched across streets
neighbors sharing power,
offering food and a bit of 'juice'
to keep the refrigerator going a few more hours, 
folks charging cells in the beauty parlor,
the beauty parlor giving free shampoos
people walking to get gas for generators
to keep each other warm
cashiers still cheerful and smiling
after days and days of non-stop work
at the only open market for miles and miles

(thank God for neighbors)

it's oddly normal 
to have a houseful of refugees
family without power,
 unable to stay in cold, lifeless houses
 sharing space with a parent and a child, 
after all these years
finding a way to share cramped space,
be patient with one another,
pitching in,
all for one and one for all

(thank God for family)

how ironic
 to meet three linemen from Missouri, 
on my way to vote in an election so divisive
one might think we were on the brink of civil war,
if one listened to the tv
or read certain political blogs,
midwesterners from red state country
 cheerfully fixing blue state power lines
a few blocks from my home, 
how neighborly of them to come so far,
and how good it is to be 'one nation'

(thank God for 'indivisible')

how sad 
to witness suffering a few miles away,
folks I meet in the supermarket and at church
now homeless, belongings destroyed
the spectre of their beloved photos and memories
at the curb
how can I help?

(thank God we can share)

how scary
  to move a 90 year old from her cold, dark house,
the only place where she is comfortable
at this time in her life,
to disrupt her forgetful brain,
knocking what little starch was left, out of her,
 then watching her sleep non-stop for three  days
wondering if the storm would kill her
as she slept in my bed

                                      (thank God for the life we have)

 how blessed 
am I to have a wonderful caregiver
to help minister to my mother
giving her the care I am not able to give
I can never repay her
for the love and kindness she showers
on my mother

(thank God for caregivers)

how bizarre
 to be dry eyed for ten days
then drive by a formerly gorgeous tree,
fractured, broken
twisted, half standing,
roots overturning the sidewalk,
 trunk grotesquely exposed,
and burst into tears.

(thank God I can plant another tree)

how amazing
to have a partner
a soulmate, a loyal friend
at my side through it all
ready for whatever I need
 with flashlight, screwdriver
 and  quiet strength

(thank God for you, my love)

how comforting,
all I have to do is
  feed the refugees,
 wash towels and dishes,

(thank God)

 and HAIKU HEIGHTS where the prompt for this week is 'silence.'

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