“…and creates the wind…”

“For behold, He who forms mountains and creates the wind and declares to man what are His thoughts, He who makes dawn into darkness and treads on the high places of the earth, The LORD God of hosts is His name.” Amos 4:13

I am not sure if experiencing the winds here are different from other geographic areas. My son lives in a desert and they get pretty crazy winds. Today, they were listed as Hurricane-force winds, with gusts in the 80 mile-per-hour range. We have a solid house, which is great. But the entire structure starts to shudder, starting near the front door, and then the whole house shakes. The snow is blowing, sometimes across the roads, making travel hazardous. And the trash services are cancelled because dumpsters are going down the roads by themselves. We had quite a good cover of snow, but now we have some random snow drifts and grass. Grass is in the backyard, all nice and green, poking its way towards the sun. It all seems unsettling. The trees are all leaning, fallen branches are skewed all over the yard. My mom, even though the house is solid and we have double-paned windows, put socks all along her windowsills. There is no wind or cold coming through, but I think old habits die hard! LOL!

“Out of the south comes the storm, and out of the north the cold.” John 37:9

The winds have everyone on edge. We have friends who are losing shingles from their roof like crazy. Several people have chicken coops that have collapsed, and trees have fallen onto vehicles. Our street is a sheet of ice and people are slipping and sliding as they drive by the house. This is the far north…pretty much as far north as you can be and still be in the USA. When we get the Chinook Winds, which blow against the western slopes of the Rocky Mountains, from out of the Pacific Ocean, it tells us sunshine is following. The whole western half of the US starts to warm up. Snow and ice are melting, little green buds begin to poke out of the ground, letting us know Spring is on its way. This time of year is not the Chinook season. This time of year, we get these pretty amazing winds, which come from the north of Canada and Russia, and blow arctic temperatures our way. This week we have seen temps of -15 on our back deck. We have had highs of 5-degrees. It is winter. Duh. But even though we have all this, and even though it follows the seasonal pattern, things are not settled. Seasons give us comfort because they follow a pattern. They come on such a regularized schedule, we have an Almanac! The Farmer’s Almanac predicts weather, based on patterns. They are rarely wrong.

Today was a very unsettling day. Mom had some weird moments. She actually went back to bed, amidst getting ready to leave for an appointment (which I had to cancel). Then she napped off and on all day. After dinner, she disappeared and I found her in her room, the bed unmade and her electric blanket on, with her in her PJs, ready to climb into bed. I reminded her it was only 7:20pm and she told me, “Well, I am always in bed between 8 and 9 o’clock.” I could only just look at her. On a good night, we try to start getting her to get ready for bed at nine, but she is rarely in bed before 10pm. She decided to stay up for a bit, and then we could not convince her, even though she was sleeping on the couch (“I was not asleep. I just had my eyes closed.” Yeah, mom, and people snore when they are awake! LOL!) to go to bed. She finally decided 9 o’clock was time. It is now 9:30 and she is in bed. *sigh* It has been a long day.

I am not sure if it is the wind upsetting everyone. Because when we were out and about yesterday, people we ran into all complained about the wind and how hard life was becoming with the bitterly cold winds battering us day and night. Maybe it is throwing mom off, too. But I am feeling like there is something coming. I am not sure what it is, but I am apprehensive about it. Today, when I found mom sleeping and she did not hear me, nor react to my presence in her room, I panicked a little bit. I know the day is coming when she will not respond and our journey will be over. We all have that final day. Everyone has it; no one escapes death. She remarked to me that she knew something was wrong, but she did not know what it was, so she thought she should just go to bed. I am not sure if she is being prescient, or just feels “off.” But I am on edge. I am actually looking forward to Great Lent, when I can dive deeply into the Psalms once again, and feel God’s words envelope me. We all need an anchor in our lives. Daily. Whether our days are filled with the warming Chinook winds, or the bitterly cold northern winds, the anchor we rely on is God in our lives.


Fuzzy brain…earthquakes…snow…oh my!

We have had some excitement here. A big earthquake – 8.2 by early estimations. Some have downgraded it already to a 7-something. I am exhausted. It happened at 12:30am and even though we were hundreds of miles north of it, we still rocked and rolled. It felt like I was on a ship at sea. Hubby and mom slept right through it. I have an app on my phone and it was buzzing and buzzing, and woke me up fully, after I realized it had been an earthquake. Then the texts from family and friends began. It is nice to know people immediately thought of us. Just yesterday I was confused about the time back east, wondering whether it was a 4- or 5-hour difference. It is a four-hour difference. And we are between 1 and 2 hours behind most of our family members. Something most forgot when contacting us. Ha-Ha. I am exhausted because once my brain was awake, I was awake. I stayed up until about 2:30am…then fitfully slept until a well-meaning uncle called a little before 6am. And then I was up for the day. My brain feels all fuzzy today.

Realizing my brain was fuzzy, and as I was sitting here contemplating life, my mom’s snoring on the couch caught my attention. She was literally snoring. And twitching in her sleep. She was really out. That sort of REM sleep where the eyelids twitch. By noon, she had taken 4-5 naps, which she says she did not take. Then she said, “Well, I slept poorly last night. Oh, I don’t know. I have no idea if I slept or not. I don’t care. I am tired.” And then we discussed taking a shower, and perhaps it was a good idea to get going on it. She hates thinking about getting into her shower, but adores it once that hot water hits. And she loves the process of getting ready for the day. She was in her PJs, with a full face of make-up at 3:00pm yesterday, when she decided to get dressed for the day. I told her it was 3pm and she only had to get undressed again in another few hours. But she was determined. At 4:10pm she finally sat on the couch, after just going to “put on a few clothes, that will only take me a minute.” An hour and 10 minutes, with a re-applied face of full make-up…and when I say full make-up, I mean full. Foundation, blush, shadow, liner, mascara…and more hairspray than her short hair deserves. A tornado would not mess it up. The sad part was she had already spent about 30 minutes that same morning, putting on her make-up. And she did not even realize she had done it.

Alzheimer’s gives you a brain fog. We can all have them and there are many causes. Ever hear of “Pregnancy Brain” or “Mom Brain”?? It happens.Today I am foggy because I am anxious and tired. But the difference with Alzheimer’s and Dementia is that they do not bounce back. Once they forget, or loose ground, they cannot gain it back. We women get over “pregnancy brain” as our kids get older and we all sleep better. I can rest and work on my anxiety, get better nutrition, and I won’t have a foggy-brain anymore. But not mom. When she has what I have come to term, “a forgetting day,” she does not get that back. She cannot re-gain what she lost. And that is why it is known as a progressive disease you cannot stop. Medications can slow it down. But nothing stops Alzheimer’s. There are several nutritionists who swear they can reverse it, but they are few and far in between. And there is no substantive methodology or medication for those of us in the trenches, who are caregivers for our loved ones with this horrid disease.

My daughter-in-law suggested writing notes to remind mom to take care of herself. On the bathroom mirror. Using a dry-erase marker. (Google it…oh my!!) I did it and my mom thought I was nuts. We will see if it helps her remember! LOL! I am not sure that post-it-notes will help because my grandson sort of cornered that market. Almost my entire refrigerator is covered in his notes. (I love them so much).  And my mom just breezes by the notes, not bothering to even look at them. We have a dry-erase weekly calendar that I write on every Sunday night, laying out our week. But she doesn’t really look at it anymore. She has to be reminded what day it is…they all seem to blend together for her. *sigh*

Alzheimer’s has been making itself felt in our world more and more and more. It does not stop, nor does it let up. Somedays, it is almost like it is not there; those are days we celebrate and smile a lot. But more often than not, I am very aware it is haunting us. And it somedays feels like it’s this ugly monster, chasing those we love. Friends have told me they are placing their parents in memory care facilities because they are no longer safe at home. I get that. Others are bringing people in, to assist with the care of their parents. I am looking into that, because my prayer is that I can keep mom home with us. It is the plan, at this point. Each day I derive more comfort knowing that I am doing the right thing for our family, and for my mom. The best thing for all of us. My mom is getting better care than she ever has, up until this point in her life. And I am proud that I can provide that for her. We are blessed with excellent physicians who actually care about their patients and feel ours is a partnership. What a blessing! God is good. We will get through this. We had an earthquake and it woke us up. But then, in His goodness, the Lord provided a lovely snowfall, early this morning. The world around us is blanketed in white and the peace on the earth of fresh snow feeds my sprit. Thank you, Lord.


“…it is dry and has become crumbled…”

So today when I got up (it was one of those nights..I was up at 5:30 am) it was cold. I felt it in the air. Climbing out of my electric blanket (a Christmas gift from my kids) I went into the kitchen and made a cup of coffee. The sky was still dark and the yard was lit by a neighbor’s back yard lights. It wafted through a gray landscape of snow and fog. It was gorgeous. I thanked God for a wonderful morning. When I checked our outside thermometer, it read -10 degrees. Yep; it’s a great morning to bake. Baking warms the entire house and fills it with a wondrous scent. I adore the scent of yeast and flour mixing to make fresh bread. With my new mixer, I had two loaves ready and rising in their pans in about ten minutes. Within the hour, I had two loaves of freshly baked bread cooling on the wire rack in the kitchen. Combined with the scent of freshly brewing coffee…heaven.

“Give us this day our daily bread.”

In Matthew 6:11, we seek our daily bread from God. Today, I enjoyed bread made with my own hands, and through His Grace. We are planning on going keto/paleo, so our days with fresh bread are severely numbered. But today I enjoyed it with butter and some fresh honey. So, so good. And I love creating in the kitchen. Anyone who knows me knows I am not too crafty, to put it mildly. But I sure love to cook and I especially love baking. When someone told me that cooking and baking were basically chemistry experiments in your kitchen, it made me stop and think. And a recipe is basically the experiment’s building blocks, laid out all nice and neat, with your meal or cake or bread, the result of your experiment. If you do it right, you can do it over and over again, like all good experiments. Me, I love making bread. Kneading the bread, mixing the yeast and warm water, combining with melted butter to create dough, and then working the dough with my hands…the process is so cathartic.

Of course, eating the results of your experiment are half the fun. Today, my bread was airy and little crumbly. I realized I skimped on the kneading portion. I was in too much of a rush to eat it! Ha-Ha.

“This, our bread, was warm when we took it for our provisions out of our houses on the day that we left to come to you; but now behold, it is dry and has become crumbled.” Joshua 9:12

When you want to savor something, it is best when fresh. There are exceptions, as there are to almost anything. I am learning from Julia Childs that some dishes require days of preparation and all the pots and utensils in your kitchen, and some more you wish you had. Bread, however, is best warm and smothered in butter, accompanied by a nice cup of coffee (or tea or glass of milk).

The fog cleared and we had a gorgeous day. And then we had some sparkling ice fog…everything is white. So pretty. And it is still, and so very quiet. Which is a good thing because today I was blessed with a migraine. Ugh. I don’t get them often, but when I do, they are deblitating. I have been applying my Panaway and Copaiba essential oils, along with some peppermint oil, and it is slowly working. I love how I can be pure and natural in my kitchen, and with my health, too.

And today I started to really read my newest cookbook, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” by Julia Childs. I am such a fan of hers! One of my favorite movies is Julie/Julia and I love watching her old shows on You Tube. However, I am one of those kids whose parents wanted for them, more than they had. I was not allowed to take any fun classes in High School. I took all these “Courses for the College Bound.” Yeah…science classes, pretty much. I always wanted to take art or home economics, or cooking. But my dad wanted me to be a doctor and said those were “frivolous” and would take too much of my time. And he wanted me to graduate early and start college. So I entered college the middle of my senior year, taking a couple classes here and there, until I could graduate. Meanwhile I got jobs working in the medical field, as well as occasionally waitressing. But I never was taught recipes or how to make anything. My mom just never thought about it, I guess. My grandma taught me to make tomato soup from a can! LOL! And how to throw everything from your refrigerator into a pot and call it, “Stew.”  I was never taught how to measure or even to use a knife properly. I learned much of what I know from my mother-in-law and a cookbook I got when first married entitled, “Six Ingredients or Less.” I even gave my daughters-in-law recent editions because my sons had favorite recipes from that book. But neither of them uses it, I don’t think. They are both better at cooking than I am! LOL! (They are also both extremely gifted artists and crafters).

“Jesus said to them: I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” John 6:35

Today I learned from Julia that even the tools we use in the kitchen are important. Just like in life. We need the proper tools to live. As I chose to make this recipe tonight (I made the Brown Sauce with Mushrooms and Garlic over Casserole-Sauteed Pork Chops – it was incredible) I lined up everything I needed to get the job done. I laid out all the ingredients I needed, as well. I read the recipes frontwards and backwards. I re-read them, just to be sure. And then I dove in. As I prepared the food, I was a nervous wreck. I kept praying I would be smart, be precise, and be attentive to the job at hand. Julia says paying attention and taking your time is one of the keys to being a good cook. She says if you read her book and learn the lessons from it, soon you won’t need recipes. You will instinctively know how to prepare whatever it is you want. That seems pretty amazing to me. I am on the journey to better, and healthier, cooking. Believe it or not, even French cooking is far healthier than what most of us think it is. Truly. No boxes, mixes, or cans. From scratch! Every bit of it. I love the challenge.

As we ate our meal, and enjoyed every bite, I thought about what I had learned today. I learned that food and family go together. I learned that paying attention and being organized is really important. I learned that I absolutely can do this, when I follow those simple instructions. I loved smelling the mushrooms and garlic melding with the butter, and especially loved the scent when the white wine was poured in and the reduction began. It was so wonderful. And I learned that I need order and prayer and instruction. It made me feel secure and confident. And that, my friends, is why I always turn my heart towards God. Always. My instruction, my confidant, my Savior. And cooking showed me how important that is to my life. Pretty cool.

“Go then, eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a cheerful heart; for God has already approved your works.” Ecclesiastes 9:7

“…and aspire to live quietly…”

Simplify simplify simplify….it sounds so easy. We are constantly barraged with methods to simplify our lives. Methods on how to purge clothing. Ideas on how to clear clutter. Ways to work through all the paper that comes through the house on a regular basis. Ideas for organizing cupboards and pantries. How to do a better job of washing clothes and folding laundry. Ways to put your food in the freezer, or better ways to organize your spices. Pretty much anything you own can be organized better, and you can live with less.

Over a decade ago, we were forced to downsize. It was a big lesson in over-consumption. We had to get rid of so many of the things we thought we needed. Somehow we fit a very large house of two stories to a smaller, single story home. We purged and we crammed ourselves into that little house. And then we moved again, out of state. We let the movers move us that time. And then, we did a huge purge. We put our 2-story, 4 bedroom home into a 25-foot U-Haul truck and drove thousands of miles to our new residence. I am prayerful it is the very last time we move. Interestingly enough, we have left a lot in the garage in boxes. We are starting to enjoy simple and plain and comforting…less clutter on the walls, and far less all around us.

As we have grown and been married over the past 33 years, we have had children, and moved, and we have grown in the amount of cyber space we occupy. We didn’t intend to have this big presence on social media. We assumed what is private is private. It’s sort of like when your 3-year-old talks to strangers. There is no expectation of privacy, because they have not developed that privacy filter, yet. If you want to know what is going on in a family, seek out the youngest member and just engage them in conversation. No prompting is necessary. They spew all sorts of fun facts. And I believe that is what has happened with the Internet. We expected privacy. But inadvertently, we were those same 3-year-olds, who intermittently spewed far too much information.

I was recently perusing my social media accounts and I was amazed at the information I had given away. If you list places you are, places you live, dates, names of children, dates of different events (birthdays, weddings, graduations, etc.) along with indiscriminate photos that may accompany that information, you have given scammers all they need to acquire a new identity – using your information. There was a case where a mom took her son to get his driver’s license, only to discover he already had one – in his name, with his Social Security Number, but a different face. Someone had stolen his identity years prior, but the parents had no inkling. And that is frightening.

The internet is a tool, but it is not everything. The younger generation seems to inhabit the internet and cyber space more than reality. They date on their phones, and break up on their phones. They live through Snap Chat and Instagram. Facebook is slowly fading from the younger generation, because it’s being inhabited by their parents! These teens don’t want to “share” with mom or dad on Facebook, so they pop over to Snap Chat or Instagram and post away. I barely understand how to post this blog or add an article on Facebook. I have no idea how Instagram or Snap Chat even work. But I am learning about Facebook, at the least. I found out I had placed far too much of my information and that of my family, on the web. I am not stupid, and I know that I have no expectation of truly eliminating that information, but I am downsizing and purging as much as I can. The information that is out there is scary. One step internet identity experts tell you to do, to evaluate your media presence, is to just Google yourself.

After Googling myself, I just sat there, staring at the screen. So much information about myself. Names of my kids; places I have lived (even the addresses); places I had visited (which is why I do not ‘check in’ on my phone anymore) and even former employers. I did see three different obituaries for me, and that sort of freaked me out. Some of the basic information contained in them was about me – and not the other person who had died with my same name. It was a sobering exercise in how much the World Wide Web knows about me. And it made me feel very, very uncomfortable.

I have grown more and more fond of my alone time. I love spending time at home. I am embarking on a journey of cooking. A journey of learning to be a better cook. I am looking forward to puttering in our garden and using the foods we grow in my meals. I don’t want to think of some Google Earth camera floating in outer-space watching my activities while I garden. But I know Google has views of our homes from above, and you can zoom in to your street, and even see your car parked in the driveway. But with everything on the internet, now they can “open the door and walk in”…because they know ALL about us. Each keystroke is logged and notated. Key words are flagged and comments read. I am not being paranoid…the social  media giants have admitted they gather information on everyone. They claim it is for advertisers and to make our internet experience more personalized and easier to navigate. And that algorithm does that, I am sure. But after I sat and thought about it, I really want to wipe some of my information out. It belongs to me. Events and moments that are priceless, to me. As I said above, I love being at home. I love being quiet. I enjoy living in the midst of the wilderness, and yet close enough to town that I am not too isolated. I can determine my presence in my physical community. My home is my center. My family is my root. My faith is the glue.

“…and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you,  so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.” 1Thessalonians 4:11-12

And I think the internet is pulling us in and making us dependent. I no longer write checks. Everything is electronic. I rarely carry cash – I have my ATM card. We are becoming an online world. But I want to lessen my footprint while I can. Someday I may leave social media altogether (I have been threatening to do it for years) but for now, I think I am going to “cull the herd” with all my social media contacts – aka “friends.” I am going to keep only true friends. People I know. People in my regular social circle. My family. I am leaving sites and pages and groups. I am pulling up the drawbridge and filling the moat with water…for now. I just think it is getting far too invasive. And I sort of feel violated…and complicit. Those keystrokes are far too easy. Amazon 1-click is a perfect example. And it is only one example. These are just some thoughts on the internet. My kids live on their phones and on all these different media platforms. I am not naive, either. But I still think I want to pull back a little bit. Well, maybe a lot.


“…is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace…”

So I am awake. I have been since 3:30am. I hate when my brain wakes me up. Well, and my stomach. LOL. The two work in tandem on sleepless nights. I had another panic attack. And it gets my stomach acids churning. I get up and put my oils on, waiting for the pain and acidic feeling to go away. I apply some lavender, as it is a calming scent and I can usually waft off to sleepy-land. Not today. Ugh. Sometimes I get overwhelmed and I just sort of freak out. I can feel them coming on and I have a pretty onerous chat with myself. I berate myself and tell myself how silly this whole thing is. That my health will suffer if I allow these episodes to continue. And I pray. I am rattling off parts of the Rosary; I am practically chanting the Jesus Prayer (Jesus, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner). Today, I added some Geranium oil and I love the scent. It is called the “poor man’s rose” because rose oil is so expensive. But I find I rather like the scent…it is not as heady as rose. And I head to my recliner (called a “push back” because there are no handles on the sides) and plug in my new electric blanket. The winds are howling. The outdoor Christmas lights are just about to go on…and I try to settle in. I try to relax. I drink lots of water and it seems to help. I added Panaway on my tummy and it is helping, too. My kitty climbs up and wants to cuddle. I don’t want my mom to get up and see that I am awake, or she will be up for the day. Otherwise, she will toddle off to bed and be asleep for a few more hours. So every time I hear an odd noise, I shut my laptop. LOL. So sneaky of me.

And worrying is constant. I worry I am not enough. That I am choosing the wrong things to do. That I am letting people down. That I am overweight and need to drop 100 pounds, and I had the best intentions, and then ate some Oreos (also known as sugar crack). I am digging myself a hole and I am not sure why. The electric blanket sure is wonderful, and the tiredness I feel is pulling at me. But when I shut my laptop and try to doze off, my brain gets going again. And I am right back at my 3:30am panic. I have prayed for peace. I have sought peace. And it is elusive. They say that caregivers’ health declines with the person they are caring for, and quite often die early due to the stress. I can see that. But it is only a facet of my life. It is not my entire life. It is certainly isolating. But I had a wonderfully full day yesterday, filled with grandchildren and my kids, my mom, and laughter. We had fun. So why panic? Ugh.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air: They do not sow or reap or gather into barns—and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his lifespan?

And why do you worry about clothes? Consider how the lilies of the field grow: They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his glory was adorned like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans pursue all these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own. (Luke 12:22-34)

And these words give me comfort. As I read them, I relaxed. The thing I know is that I am not in this alone. But as a stupid human, full of free will, I take it all on. More than I need to. The grass is here, then cut, and thrown into the furnace. It is gone. Like our worries. LOL. So easy to say; so hard to do. Yesterday, I wanted to feel carefree and not be a worrier. I died parts of my hair purple. And this time, it took. And after it was done, I was glad it was not permanent color. It is wacky and fun, silly and stupid. Like so many other decisions we make in split seconds and have to live with for years.  At least it is temporary color. LOL. Other choices have much further, long reaching consequences. And that is where I hit my wall. And where my worry turns into panic and sleepless nights and stomach upset. I am digging my own, early grave, and I need to break this cycle. Truly I do. My kitty is purring and digging in next to me. I am drowsy. Maybe I can do this sleep thing. I am going to try. I cannot add a single hour to my lifespan, as Luke reminds us above, by worrying. I need to engrave that on my heart, my mind, and my soul.

New year – new me – small victories, I think….

I am so not a New Year’s Resolution person. At all. I rarely make them because I have no follow-through. LOL. At least I KNOW that about myself.

Over the past year, after completing a Whole30 and feeling amazing, and then returning to feeling miserable, we discussed our health ad nauseam. We discussed our lives. We chatted about friends and family, moving, and recreation. We have decided that our health is completely dependent on how we feed ourselves, how we sleep, how we recreate, and who we have in our lives on a regular basis. Our faith is the centerpiece of all of this; the nexus we revolve around.

In one area in particular, it pretty much falls on my shoulders to make a positive, and permanent, change. And so I am embarking on healthy cooking. I was never taught how to cook. And so this year, I am challenging myself to learn to be a better cook. I joined this amazing cooking club called Food52. Their premise is we cook 52 weeks of the year (hence the name) and if you want to eat better, you need to cook better. I also joined their monthly cooking club. I am beyond excited. I am learning to put flavor and technique together, to give my family basic meals that are savory, healthy, and from local providers. I love their outlook. And I have met (and become friends with) some women who are amazing cooks. And one in particular who has inspired me. She knows who she is – at least I hope she does!! She took me to an amazing place where I walked among raw grains and some fresh spices. I walked out of there (okay, we sort of “scurried” because it was so cold!!) with a new NutriMill mixer. (It’s a division of Bosch). And that started my transformation. Thank you, my friend.

Yesterday I whipped out two loaves of bread in about 10 minutes, from ingredients to first rise. That new mixer was incredible. So smooth and powerful and fast!!!  After about forty minutes, they were baking in the oven and the smell was pure heaven. If you have never made your own bread, you truly are missing something special. The kneading, the whir of the mixer, the smell of the warm yeast, and that aroma of fresh baked bread – there is nothing like it. And I also made-from-scratch some amazing potato-cheese soup. It was so wonderful on a very cold day, to smell the bread combined with the soup! And tonight, the leftover bread and soup tasted even more magnificent, as we took down all our Christmas decor and wondered at the fog and minus (yes, negative) four temperature outside.

If you want a treat and have not seen it, watch the movie Julie/Julia. It is a delight. I can relate to Julie, because I am going to try cooking from the infamous cookbook above. The cookbook that changed American kitchens forever. I used to watch Julia on TV as a kid and her voice is something you never forget. Watching her debone a chicken, or telling the food to do as it was told, beating it into submission some times, was something I treasure to have seen while young (her show is on YouTube, in case you have not experienced any of it). Amazon is a great place to find used books. I got both volumes for pretty cheap. And I anxiously await their arrival! In the Food52 monthly cooking club (they also have a baking club…oh my! The photos alone are killer) you are asked to cook from the main book, which is Julia Child’s book. They give you an amazing list of books to choose from, and ask you to cook at least one recipe from one of the alternates. It was hard to choose, and now that I have chosen, there are four or five others I would love to try. I will peruse the others and download recipes from them, as I am inspired!! Bouchon Bakery is one I would love to try, when I have patience – ha-ha! But the one I chose is “Small Victories.”

The author wanted a cookbook about home cooking. LOL. She said she wanted to “demystify” home cooking using lessons she calls, “small victories.” There are over 400 recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I need small victories on this journey, and I thought Julia Turshen could help me achieve them. I cannot wait to dig in to these recipes!!!

So, my resolution is to not be afraid to slice, dice, spice, and heat my way to new discoveries for all our meals. I am going to endeavor to cook from ingredients rather than boxes or mixes. And I want to learn to be comfortable in my own kitchen. I am also going to whip out my serving dishes and tablecloths. I want our meals to be a place of communion with one another and a healthy place to gather. Hopefully, friends and family will join us along the way, even if it is just to sample some of my culinary discoveries, small victories, and amazing meals.

The tree is coming down, and our New Year is beginning…our new adventure!


“…a time to tear and a time to mend…”

When the doctor first told us Mom should get her cancer treated, she said it would only be like 4-5 treatments. Then the first cancer doctor, who referred us to a radiation oncologist, told us maybe 10 treatments. So when the radiation oncologist told us, “We are going to schedule your radiation treatments. They will be daily for 6 weeks.” You could have knocked me over with a feather. And tomorrow? Tomorrow is her last treatment. I can’t believe 6 weeks has gone by so fast. The above-photo is of the reception area of the cancer center. It is like our other home and I can’t believe we won’t be regularly there. We will be back for follow-ups, but not daily treatments. Time is rushing by us, again.

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.

(Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8)

We have all these moments in life. We have times that are particularly trying, and times we just breeze through. I can assure you that recently, it has not been a time when I have been breezing through. LOL. I took my mom to get her hair trimmed today, and because we were having a lot of snow, there was no one there, and I was able to get my hair trimmed, too. My stylist’s station was next to my mom’s stylist. And that was a good thing because I was able to explain that my mom has Alzheimer’s, etc. But the gal who does my hair, she was just so kind to me. She kept telling me I was looking good, with how full my plate was. LOL. She is right. Over-flowing, when I add it all up. However, when we live our lives, we take things one at a time, and we exist day to day. We sometimes don’t notice our plates overflowing!


My dog, well, she is my son’s dog, is always happy to see me. When we are running around, trying to get out of the house, she gets all excited. Not because we are leaving, but because before we leave, she gets a treat! LOL. She gets excited to be alone! And each time someone comes home, even if it is within minutes of each other, she has to go outside to do her business. It has become an ingrained habit. And whenever she gets up in the morning, or we put her to bed at night, she is so happy. When we talk to her, she practically smiles. She sleeps on her back, legs askew, snoring. The life of a dog. But an important lesson is that she lives for the moments. She does’t stay mad or doesn’t resent our leaving her alone all day. She snuggles when she can, and pushes the “pretty pillows” off the couch and makes herself comfy. She has a pretty good life.


I try to learn from her. Cutie pie that she is, that each moment is its own thing. Alzheimer’s patients live in the moment. It is truly all they have. My mom is wearing two watches today. Why? Well, she thinks her new watch isn’t working, and she really likes her old watch. She keeps playing with the stem on her new watch, inadvertently turning off the battery. The face lights up and the numbers are large enough for her to see. Her old watch? The face is so scratched up, the numbers are so small, that she has to practically close her eyes, squinting so hard, to even see it. She has been sitting there for more than an hour, fussing with her watches and looking from one to the other. I offered to look at the new one for her, but she assured me she knew what she was doing, because after all, she raised me. And I bristled, but then I looked at my dog, splayed on the carpet, and I realized it was just a moment.


Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. (James 1:19-20)


Dealing with Alzheimer’s is something you learn to do by the moment. I was given all these books to read about being a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s disease. What a joke! There is no time to do that, once they are living with you. Try taking a 4-year-old and wrap her up in an 88-year-old-body. And all the attitude that goes along with a 4-year-old reaching their 88th birthday – only with no filters. The things that come out some days, well, it blows me away! That is Alzheimer’s! LOL! But inwardly, I am starting to smile more often and stress far less, because these moments; these times, they are fleeting and they are precious.

Even though mom is drinking her water and looking at those two watches (one on each arm) every few moments, she is also warm, full, happy, and laughing at Family Feud and Steve Harvey (she loves that guy). I’m not gonna worry about the watches. I will worry if she is angry or hurting or cold or hungry. I am slowly learning (she can still be taught! LOL!) that Alzheimer’s is a momentary disease…we go through it moment by moment. And I am starting to live like my dog…moment by moment. And my mom, sometimes she is in the moment, and sometimes she is in Alzheimer’s land.  And it’s all good.