Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Memories may be beautiful...but sad

Some memories can never be replaced… #quotes
Never ever forget

If my head were ever hooked up to some machine that could access my strongest memory, the head scientists would be shocked.  “Well, look there, Dr. Fred!  Do you see that?! Who woulda thought?”  I can hear them saying that.

Most people would call up shared memories such as the birth of their children or maybe running under enemy fire.  No, my memory would be more plebian and consequently more peculiar.

I would access the memory of an autumn day in my sophomore year at high school.  The bus dropped me off in front of our farm house, and I walked beneath towering maple trees shedding their leaves.  My hand reached for the door, and I stepped into the warm kitchen, where my mother was washing dishes.  

 On the table, cooling from the oven was the entire head of a full grown hog.

Eyes, ears, snout, bristled hair, and pink thick skin—all the distinctive features of a hog’s head that I had seen thousands of times, but those hogs had been alive.  Those hogs had been rooting in the mud or eating from the feeder. 

big pig
Bonding time
This hog was long dead and the head had just been roasted in the oven.  The rest of the hog was cut into various roasts and chops, wrapped in white butcher paper resting comfortably in the freezer.

In just a few words, Mom sensed my discomfort.  My mother was the ultimate pragmatist, which served her well throughout her life on the farm.  She pulled out two very large crocks and set them in front of the cooling head.  “Wanta get a snack before you start taking off the meat and skin?” 

I indicated that I wasn’t hungry.  “Well, change your clothes and wash up.  You’re gonna strip the head of meat and put it in this crock.  Put the skin and what-not in this other crock.  Don’t mix them up.” 

She went on to tell me that this meat was for mincemeat pies, the great nummy pies for which she was so famous.   

Mom would take this meat, chop it up, mix it with God-knows-what-else-meat-discards and candied fruit, can it in quart jars, and set them in the pantry.  Then we would feast on mincemeat pie at Christmas time. Recipe:

Find the recipe by clicking on this address.

Mincemeat filling for pies homemade recipe
Well done!
Mom even sent a jar to my 7th grade teacher, who waxed eloquently about this hog-filled pie filling.  

I never had known what we were eating and enjoying.

When I set to the task by tearing off the ears and then cutting off the nose, Mom said, “Oh, put those here in this jar.  I will pickle those; your father loves those.”  I just about up-chucked.

 It didn’t get much better as the process when on.  Poke out the eyes.  Tear off the jowl meat.  Strip the muscles from the back of the neck.  On and on.  I do not recall what she said to do with the brain; I was pretty numb by then.

The science part of my own brain appreciated how God put together muscles and ligaments, attaching them to bones.  The fifteen year old farm girl in me was on the verge of vomiting. 

All in all, it stands out as a strong, indelible memory.  What is yours?

This one is more complicated that Mom's recipe.

P.S.  I haven't eaten mincemeat pie for years.  But, the store-jar versions are meat free, fully vegan, so maybe now?

A re-post from a few years ago.  Can't remember when. 

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

To Honor and Remember

The first trailer and images for "Only the Brave,"
To protect and serve
Arizona fire in 2013.  19 firemen died, one survived.

Wildfires in California cannot be described in enough words. Only one actually nails it: deadly.
These fires have burned and are still burning throughout the state. On a NASA map from space fires are seen down the state from Santa Barbara to San Diego.  Some fires have devasted famous wine countries throughout many areas. Hundreds of homes went up in flames.

Aqua image of Thomas Fire
Taken four hours ago, 12/19

What are sad statistics?

As of October, forty three had died.  Now, here in December, the numbers are still being confirmed. And the acreage burned can be found at this site: information gathered summer through winter .

Firefighters. Medical personnel. Police and state support.  All are a family, united by their dedication and self-less service. When one dies, all grieve.

Recently, in the Thomas wildfire, one fireman died. Cory Iverson was a veteran firefighter and his death was felt by all those who knew and respected him.  In that loss and tragedy, his family of friends and co-workers honored him in this way.

Cory Iverson


Across overpasses from Ventura to San Diego were as outstanding and impressive as these are.  Not enough space can be alloted for such dedication.

Rejoice in Christmas!  Rejoice for love of family!  Rejoice for those who honor and remember!

Below is a clear demonstration of family.

P.S. The movie, "Only the Brave", also honors the memories of a "Hot Shot" team of firefighters who perished in the Yarnell fire on Granite Mountain located near Prescott, AZ in 2013.

Worth while movie

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Go to Bethla-ha-.ha-ham

"She was just doing laundry and then the angel just appeared and she was really scared,"
Now, during all these shows--Scrooged, White Christmas, Christmas Story (Red Rider BBgun with a compass in the stock), Rudolph, etc.--it is time for the real story of Christmas to be heard and seen.

And, who better to do this is are children at Southland Christian Church.

Rejoice! For unto us has been born a Saviour...

Now you know what really happened.

This is a re-post from last Christmas. From the mouths of children....

Gotta love it.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017


Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl may not be known by many adults outside a child’s world. Oh, they might recognize movies that came from his books: James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, BFG, The Witches, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Danny and the Champion of the World, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and … But the adults may not know anything about the BOOK.

In looking through Wikipedia, I scanned through 500 entries, including books, short stories, and movies. Eventually, I had to stop. My eyes were blurred.

Roald Dahl was prolific and creativity poured from him, a fountain that children enjoyed for decades. My kids. My students.

So, Alex Cavanaugh and Heather Gardener asked for bloggers to choose a book that was loved and its conversion to film or music media.

Please go to this site to discover the details: Michelle Gregory

My choice is The BFG, a book beloved by children and parents.  I won’t give the synopsis because I really want you Bloggers to check it out.  A tender story with courage and love, the BFG (Big Friendly Giant) gives the reader hope and humor.

As too often, movies made from great books are often trash, as they are slashed, removing essential story lines. I won’t list those movies as they shouldn’t be watched by anyone with any sort of discerning taste.

So, here is The BFG. Hopefully, you will be able to read the excerpt.

The BFG on Nook 
The movie is one rare one that actually steps up and stands side by side with the book.

Both of these are about 2 minutes or so.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Power of Love

Another daughter, Mary (who will be visiting from Switzerland in 10 days, bringing husband and grandsons) was only four years old when we moved to Ireland.  She was a sprite and not at all shy even then.

Erin, Mary, and John

When the school year started, Mary was 4.5 years old and ready to enroll in Junior Infants/pre kindergarten at New Inn School, Glanmire, Co. Cork. One of the greatest ideas of all time is school uniforms.  Pants, skirt, and vest were polyester which meant they could be washed each night, worn the next day, and then repeated.  Wore like iron, they were awesome.

We went shopping at Dunnes Store where everyone shopped thirty years ago and scouted for grey with blue shirts.  Mary ran off sprite-like and soon was found.

One thing about Mary was/is that she has a piercing and loud voice.  Anywhere she went, we could find her easily.  On this day, Mary was standing by the tri-mirror next to the changing rooms and was singing with all the gusto and joy that a four year old has.

She had ripped into a Celine Dion song "I am your lady" with chorus lyrics, as interpreted by a four-year old:

'Cause I am your lady/You are my man/ Whenever your reach for me/I'll do all that I can.

I do not believe that most Irish people had ever heard their children singing that song or singing with such passion. Dunnes was silent as Mary moved to the last lines (again as translated by a four-year old:  frightened became fighting:

We're heading for something/Somewhere I've never been/Some times I am frightened/But I'm ready to learn.

YouTube is amazing.

We drove home with school uniforms and with Mary still singing.  I just smiled. The power of love.

Note: Older daughter had a cassette tape of top music from mid-1980s. Mary sang along with her sister.  In the car, Mary started singing "Like a Virgin" by Madonna. Sigh.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Christmas is here! Christ is born!

A tree in our neighborhood. For 11 months of the year, it is ugly. But in December?

You might think that this post is a tad premature, but there is a reason: I want to celebrate Christ's birth, listen to music, decorate with every bulb and garland I can find, and remember every Christmas possible. Christmas cannot wait and neither can I.

Photo taken from our hotel balcony on December 4, 2016 in Chicago

Waiting for Christmas is and has always been the most intense, insane experience of anticipation of all the year.  

Standing in front of the tree and being mesmerized by the lights is the disco ball of the season.  Shaking the presents and guessing their contents is always be part of the game.  The small train around the base wears itself out by the Big Day, only too happy to be packed away for next year’s new batteries and another chance to whistle.

(That was a few years ago, when I turned 60 years old.  Then my granddaughters informed me then that I have to move away from the tree.  It was their time to do the dancing.)

That leaves me with the other delights: baking some, fixing meals, cuddling a baby, and moving furniture around to accommodate our grandson Benjamin and his almost 1 year old baby brother James. (:() 

James at 6 months, June 22, 2017
Benjamin's 5th birthday, June 26, 2017

Christmas starts as a spark of joy, and then fills me all up.  Christmas is here!  Christ came into the world as a human, to experience the human pain and suffering.  Christ was crucified, resurrected, and ascended into heaven.   Christ dwells within me daily, reminding me that I am part of His family.

I am waiting for Christmas, slightly removed from the tree’s perimeter to allow tween girls and a five year-old in pajamas to enter into the thrall of the tree. 

The spark is there and starting to burst into the “Hallelujah Chorus”! 

From YouTube

Do you get that spark?  Are the memories of Christmas both looking back and being in the present?  Are you still dancing?  Do you have to push the kids and grandkids out of the way?

This a re-post of 2010.  I liked it, and juggled some words about to post it again.

This post was five years ago and now our babies are now teenagers with braces.  Baby Benjamin is now 5.5 years old (the 1/2 is very important to him). His brother James/Jaimie is 11 months old, with 3 teeth. 

This 2017 and all our own babies and theirs will be here, gathered around our tree.  We'll laugh, listen to Christmas songs, and rejoice that we get to share one more Christmas together.

Why is this post going up in early November, you may ask.  Last Christmas my husband's family went on a cruise because Mom Kane had died in February and none of us wanted to be home, without her.

It wasn't Christmas for any of us, we acknowledged it then and now.  This year we will be together, without her physically, but with her love.

So, while my kids will be here for a short time in December and not on Christmas Day, we will dance up a storm.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Little Shop of Horrors

Little Shop of Horrors
Musical on Broadway
This movie has always been a favorite of ours.  In 1987, we were in London with my husband's parents and sister, killing time until we could catch a flight when we saw a movie theater advertising this movie.  The place was full and we had to sit in the front row. We knew nothing about Little Shop of Horrors at that point.

It turned out that this movie was brilliant.  It was a musical redendition of an old movie of the same title with Jack Nicholson. It was a hit Broadway musical. Music, performance, interpretation, and staging was amazing to us, especially since it felt like a true stage play.

When it ended, we stood up and applauded.  The rest of the audience, being English, filed out quietly with a few tsk, tsk aimed in our direction.

Recently we shared this with our granddaughters who had seen a local presentation of this.  While they carved pumpkins (no help needed from me, thank you very much), we watched the movie. We kept glancing at them, seeing if they shared our enthusiasm.  Uh huh, Grandma.  We saw this on stage.

When the ending came, we were shocked, as it was different from the one from our precious movie. Our girls said We saw this already!  This is how it ends!

Here is an excerpt of OUR movie:

This is the opening song, great staging, lots of great voices.

This is an intro to the alien plant from outerspace
Lasts about 3 minutes, not needed to watch all
to get the idea that this is not going well.

And then, there is this.  Glad we did not see this in London.

This is the original ending (which apparently cost big bucks.
It is about 5 minutes long, but no one has to see it all. Just the beginning where world is eaten by this plant creature.

The movie version is happy-ending where plant is destroyed, true love conquers all, and then a twist at the very ending.

We expected the happy ending, got the horror instead.  But isn't that the way on Halloween?

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Cleaning House

The first event was a shock, but it became a misty "Oh, yeah, I remember that" over time.

The second event led to being fired, after many snickers from opposing industries, and after lots of money, it faded. It helped that he died.

Then a third event appears, but is now, more or less, run-of-the-mill. Then there was a flood, which is comparable to opening a closet door and all hidden stuff pours out. How many events truly are in process will never be known.

Sexual harassment appears to be rampant. It isn't so much as rampant, but is a spotlight on a heaped and rotting garbage dump already filled, but not found.

Lou Ailes, former Fox mogul
A Black and White Look at Sexual Harassment Against Woman

AND, then there is Harvey Weinstein, a powerful Hollywood mogul. He seemed untouchable, on a pedestal to be worshipped.  He was also to be feared. His closet was full with generations of evil and of women who were forever traumatized.

YouTube, Tom Hanks comments on Weinstein and sexual harassment

This is nothing new.  Sexual harassment has always been a sewer in a workplace with females and males alike suffering silently, fearing repercussions.  Aggressive and intimidating behavior comes from one in power, one able to get away with it. 

Maybe now, the toilet can be flushed and then Roto-Rooter will be called to clean out the lines. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Far Here and Far There

Familiar? Source

"You're the extremist, not me!"
"People like you should not have freedom of speech!"
"WHAT? Me?  No, YOU should be silenced."

Far LEFT? Far RIGHT? Fights in the street. Men in black smashing store windows. No whites on campus this day. YOU can't speak here...YOU don't agree with us.

Lord, help us!

So tired.

What about these "Far ____" ideas:

A.  Far ___ Girl Scouts with survivalist instincts who regularly steal one cookie from each box of cookies because they deserve it.

B.  Far ___ Lutheran Women's Knitting Society who believe Catholic Women's Knitting really suck and plan to unravel all their projects.

C.  Far ___ Community Soccer Team for Pre-schoolers who kick the daylights out of the referee because he always blows the whistle.

D.  Far ___ Baptist Church Choir who plan to defeat and possibly beat up Methodist Church Choir in Christmas competitions because they think that the Methodist soprano is a ringer. 

E.  Far ___ Irish Dance festival having an Irish soda bread food fight against a Ballet school at fundraiser because they all think they are so hoity-toity.

F.  Far ___ Patients in care facilities who sabotage orderly coffee room because orderlies are not solicitous enough when helping patients.

G.  Far ___  Sports shop employees who loosen skateboard screws because those **** kids listen to wrong kind of music and are just plain irritating.

H. Far ___ librarians who remove Hemingway books from shelves because he was an alcoholic and had a promiscuous life style. 

Just how far will this go? Statues have been toppled.  Former presidents have been condemned because they owned slaves in the 1700s. Explorers have been reviewed, revised and censored because their discoveries led to unknown consequences.

Who or what is next?

Friday, October 13, 2017

One in Eight

Pink ribbon for breast cancer Free Vector
The letter arrived on Wednesday and Bonnie placed it on the kitchen table.  It lay there unopened, with Bonnie passing and looking down on it. Tomorrow, I’ll look at it tomorrow.

Thursday. Friday. Then Saturday, Bonnie sat down at the table, carefully opened the envelope. With a deep quiet breath, she slid the white paper out and willed fingers to spread the paper with its crisp precise, perfect folds.

Bonnie heard a sharp inhale of breath coming from someone, and she watched as that someone read the letter and gripping it tightly. That someone slowly followed typed words, reading aloud.

"Your recent mammogram and breast ultrasound showed a finding that requires additional imaging studies, such as additional mammographic view, breast ultrasound, and possibly a breast MRI for a complete evaluation.  Most such findings are benign."

That someone read further. "Even though mammograms are the best method  for early detection, not all cancers are found with mammograms..."

Bonnie discovered that she herself was holding the paper. A fifth mammogram? What then? Another letter? Oh, dear Lord, help me! Please help me! knowing that He does.

That someone was silent, and silent tears wandered down her cheeks.

Breast cancer is #2 killer in women world-wide.  One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Currently there are 3.1 million breast cancer survivors. The chance that a woman will die from breast cancer are 1 in 37 (2.7 %).

Women over 65 are more likely to be diagnosed. 

Almost 230,000 women are diagnosed in one year in USA.  55,000 alone in UK are diagnosed in one year.

Men also can also be diagnosed with breast cancer.

Breast Cancer Awareness Sign Breast Cancer by DebisWreathsandThing

This week is designated as Pink Ribbon Week: Find the Cure. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Blow Out Candles

vladimir putin birthday
October 7th was Vladimir Putin's 65th birthday and many wishes of health and happiness to him. May God gift him with all that he deserves.

May God gift him, indeed, since Putin is a man with a variety of interesting qualities.

Patriarch Krill of the Russian Orthodox church endorsed Putin's election.  He stated that Putin's terms were a "miracle of God" during the election of 2012.  Since collapse of USSR and lifted oppression of faithful believers, Patriarch Krill has joined an alliance with state.

The Church even supported Putin's decision to move into Crimea and Ukraine.

Putin is apparently a believer with his religious awakening occurring after serious life-threatening event in his personal life in 1990s. In his early years, his mother had baptized him secretly when a baby and took him to services (held in secret). 

His mother gave him his baptismal cross before a trip to Israel, and asked him to have it blessed.  "I did as she said and then put the cross around my neck.  I have never taken it off since."
putin horse
Happy trails
Putin's confessor (according to rumors) is Russian Orthodox Bishop Tikhoshevkunov.

Putin is also actively involved in protection of rare species as Chairman of Russian Geographical Society Board of Trustees.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
Assad and his supporter Putin
Forget about Syria!  

Forget about Crimea and Ukraine!

Forget about Iran and his support of their nuclear program!

Greeting Iran's leader
Forget about his past as head of the KGB!
KGB leader
Forget about all his choices! He wears a crucifix and has Russian Orthodox Church support after all!

Yes, may God show him the Christian way, whether or not he follows.  May God grant him deserved fruits of his labor. May God provide Putin with an appropriate reward for his many many works.

If Vladimir Putin lived in USA, he would now qualify for Medicare.  

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Sisters Hold Each Other Up

Mary is my only sister, with three brothers who made our lives a living hell at times. While I was vulnerable in many ways, Mary gave them a smug smile and blasted them out of their turbulent waters with acerbic honest words. I do not have enough words to relate who she is, how she blesses my life and my admiration for her. 

Mary and Bill, running away from home (I love this photo.)

Mary is holding her horsey, I am holding my new bride doll (Christmas 1958).

Mary is stubborn, especially when it comes to her children.  Maybe it should be said a "Stubborn and Fierce Tiger".  Mary was always devoted to excellent teaching and education, and did not accept anything less. 

In fact, I always said that when Mary stepped on elementary school grounds, the earth shook.  Teachers shivered in fear, stood up straight and tall, and resolved to be better teachers from there on. 

Mary is a fighter.

She is generous, in time and giving.  Many of her friends have had surgeries and illnesses, some very serious.  Mary is always there, giving food for the family and assistance in any way needed. Driving to a doctor's appointments? Helping around the house? Anything else?  Mary gives of herself unfailingly.

Mary has a black belt in Taekwondo, along with a red strip to advance her to higher levels.  Don't mess with her.

She completes projects she starts.  This cannot be said of many people, if not most people.

I won't volunteer her for a gold medal or sainthood, because I have known her for the better part sixty years. This gives me info and insights that all families share about each other.

Recently, my quilting skills plummeted drastically.  Migraines, concussion, Bell's Palsy, and other issues have taken away aspects of quilting, including joy. This is incredibly saddening.

So many unfulfilled plans

This fabric was for a project that I had never begun.  Mary has an enormous stash (that means, shelves and boxes of fabric), yet was willing to add more to it.  God bless her.  These beautiful fabrics and plans had hung over my head, piling on guilt upon guilt.

Mary is a superb quilter AND I mean superb.  Her eye for colors and design is amazing.  And she loves patterns that involve sharp points and precision, as well as applique. Any quilter understands what a pain those can be. 

Mary created a magnificent quilt for me using fabric from her stash and the above fabric, excluding the solid teal.  She told me that a box was on its way to me and to call her when it arrived. When the box arrived and I lifted the quilt from it, I cried.  Hugging it to my chest, I went from our room to the guest room, laying this incredible quilt over each.

This quilt will be displayed on my "art wall". It was a family photos wall, but they can always go somewhere else. This absolutely has to be seen by more than just my eyes.

This gift has me opening up my own stash and perusing what can be made from all that fabric.  Already have a baby quilt in the works and I will finish a project started pre-concussion. 

Sisters are different from each other for sure. What stands true is that we share our lives past and present, and that we love each other as only sisters can. I am blessed to be a part of Mary's life.*

Minerva, Rosemary, Grandma Marie Cardiff, Mom, and Vada
August 1970 at a cousin's wedding

 As in every family, each was radically different from their siblings in every way possible. Despite their many differences, each loved the other passionately. All have passed except for Aunt Vada, who recently suffered a stroke.  

*I named our youngest daughter after my sister.  Like Aunt Mary, my daughter Mary is a tiger.  One cowers when she aims a withering look. Don't mess with her either.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Adam Ruins Facebook

Eye and data
SEQ Legal

A rant is long overdue, so bear with me.

Internet security has always been an issue, and this issue becomes blaring when it affects millions of people worldwide.  This is not just about Equinax as one of many hacking invasions.

My daughter recently introduced me to "Adam Ruins...", a YouTube series where an incredible revelations about a variety of a broad scary vulnerabilities in today's societies. (While "Adam Ruins..." may or may not totally truthful, this one certainly must be.)

Here is one scary video that is applicable to my rant:

This is 6:20 in time, but well worth the watch.

For instance, I searched some sites to find a dress or something for my son's wedding.  Since then I have been inundated on Gmail, Blogspot and Facebook sidebars for outfits that may be of interest. Motorcycle parts? NextMD for migraines? IQ tests? (I am brilliant, a genius, by the way.)

Basically we live in a world where privacy is a rare, or even non-existent luxury. Even "going off the grid" is still not a guarantee.

Not much of a rant, but this is certainly one of outrage, anger, and most of all: fear.

I hope that this is accessible!  If not, paste "Adam ruins + YouTube" in your search.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Who Let the Dogs Out, version 3

painting by John Emms
Countries all over the world have iconic structures, plants, and even animals. India has the Taj Mahal and sacred cows.  Ireland has Hill of Tara (and lots of other places), along with shamrocks (sham-rogue).
Bern, Switzerland, also has its own icons that stand out. This past summer was exceptional in representing: St. Bernards.  These are truly immense dogs made famous for rescuing people trapped in snow.  The brandy cask is wishful thinking, not accurate.

Image result for st. bernard dog
23 things to know about a St Bernard

During our visit to our daughter, we discovered an astounding number of St. Bernard artistic statues all over the city.  We bounded around trying to find new statues, photos in all of 20 massive dogs.



Each monument was given a name.  My favorite was "Timmy", the cheetah above. Not so much for the cheetah paint, but for the name. Every Timmy I have known has been a boy, like in the show "Lassie".

We thought we had done so well with our twenty sightings, but we soon found out that there were one-hundred and twenty all over the city. They were even on roofs. 


This live St. Bernard was with his owner who was showing and explaining more about this magnificent creature along old town streets.

What more can I say? You had to be there.