4 10, 2021

Philosophy of Change

By |2021-10-05T09:15:52-05:00October 4th, 2021|Make Me Think Monday, Monday Motivations|0 Comments

Seasons change. It’s a fact. Winter gives way to spring, spring to summer; summer to fall, and then we’re back to winter again.

The constancy of seasonal changes is comforting. We anticipate those changes and welcome each season for what it offers.

Yet life changes, whether small or major, bring stress and fear, and worry.

Same as seasons, life is not static, but a flow of change, never staying the same. It’s messy, chaotic, painful, sad, dirty, and never perfect.

Bad things happen. So do good things. It’s part of life’s cycle.

The sad truth is we cannot control every aspect of our lives any more than we can control the seasons.

We roll with the seasonal changes. Complain maybe but accept whatever weather dishes out. Why not flow with changes in life?

Reacting with anger and frustration only causes more stress when in the case of most life changes, we have no control. Change steals our peacefulness. But it doesn’t have to.

Flexibility allows us to adapt to new circumstances and keep our happiness steady. Not much we can do about the weather except adjust our clothing and our thermostat. Why not approach life changes with the same pliancy?

Here are three options to try when life changes are stressing you.

  1. Smile – Smile even if whatever change has thrown your way is not funny. You’ll find a certain amount of detachment which can lead to acceptance.
  2. Breathe – Breathing allows you to calm down and think more rationally.
  3. Pray or Meditate – It refocuses the mind.

Most important remember:

Change is the only constant in this world. Whatever the catastrophic or minor circumstance at the moment, that will change…eventually. Confucius said it best.

27 09, 2021

Fall Decorations and Black Bears

By |2021-09-22T08:14:23-05:00September 27th, 2021|A Writer's Life, Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

Summer’s officially over. Fall is here.

Porches and yards everywhere are adorned with pumpkins, scarecrows, haystacks, and colorful chrysanthemums to welcome the season. Our porch is ready.

Why are black bears part of our fall decoration? They are a holdover from our days living in the Rio Grande National Forest.

Fall in the forest means black bears, who are actually brown or cinnamon-colored, are everywhere looking to feed up for their long winter hibernation. Every year a bear or two would visit our cabin looking for food.

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes one would even come up onto the front porch.

 

We kinda looked forward to their visits every year.

 

 

 

When we moved back to Texas, we knew we’d miss seeing them. So before we left, I went in search of a souvenir bear for our new porch to remind us. A friend gifted me Bert, the little grey bear stand.

I found Barney Bear at a gift shop called The Cabin. Now Barney greets our front door guests decked out for the seasons.

Happy Fall Y’all!

13 09, 2021

Why I love Autumn

By |2021-09-08T06:28:03-05:00September 13th, 2021|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

    Photo by Taryn Elliott from Pexels

I love this time of year. Autumn signals new beginnings to me.

A fresh start. A new year.

Most of my life has been spent in school in one form or another—kindergarten, elementary, junior high, high school, undergraduate, graduate, Sunday school, Bible school, teacher training classes, writer craft classes, computer classes.

Plus, all those years of teaching.

A whole lot of my life has restarted every September.

I so looked forward to those new notebooks, and pens and pencils, and a new school year. Even today, it takes every bit of restraint I can muster to stay away from the school supply aisles when shopping. I will always need another new pen or notebook…for my writing, of course.

The other things I love about September are Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The first Jewish holiday celebrates the start of the Jewish New Year with challah bread made with apples and raisins and dipped in honey. Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement is spent in prayer and fasting.

I’m not Jewish and, as far as I know, I have no distant genealogical Jewish DNA anywhere. I do have many good Jewish friends who share their holiday traditions with me. The idea of beginning a new year in September with a clean slate is what I like about their fall holy days.

I also like that September brings a drop in temperature—if you live someplace besides Texas. Temperatures dropping from 99-100 to 90-93 as not a true temperature change as far as I’m concerned. It’s still hot.

But mornings are cooler with temperatures dipping into the high 70s and that gives a hint of Autumn, my favorite time of the year.

If you are Jewish, I wish you Shana Tova, a week late. And Tzom Kal a couple of days early. To everyone else, Happy September.

30 08, 2021

Poached eggs and Pliers

By |2021-08-31T07:48:07-05:00August 30th, 2021|Make Me Think Monday, Writer's Life|0 Comments

Poached eggs are a frequent treat for breakfast around here.

We could go to a nearby Mickey D’s and buy one, but homemade is so much tastier. I use only half of the English muffin and no cheese so homemade also has fewer calories.

My egg poaching pan is ancient. A wedding gift almost sixty years ago. It’s lightweight aluminum which means it heats quickly and stays hot.

I’ve never understood why the pan has three egg cups. Seems to me, four would make more sense. There are larger pans and smaller ones, but three egg cups work well for us. Two eggs for hubby-dear and one for me.

Besides my egg poacher pan, I also need pliers when I prepare our breakfast.

You see, steam from the boiling water that cooks the eggs to perfection burns my hand and the egg cups get very hot. That little tab you grip to lift the egg cups out is too small to grip barehanded.

A potholder is too large. The egg cup frequently slips from my hand and goes splat on the plate. Not a pretty presentation.

The solution, for me, is to use pliers to lift the egg cup. I can grip securely, slid the egg out, and have a picture-perfect serving.

I do get strange looks whenever anyone watches me use the pliers. Once I explain why most people admit it makes sense.

Okay, not everyone. Some still think poached eggs and pliers are a weird combination. But it works for me.

16 08, 2021

My Potting Bench Helper

By |2021-08-15T07:13:30-05:00August 16th, 2021|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

Recently someone offered to let me dig seedlings from their white althea or what my daddy called Rose of Sharon.

The one in my yard is purple .

A white flower would complement it and the pink Confederate roses nicely.

 

 

I gathered my bucket and shovel and off I went. When I got home, I immediately potted the seedlings.

This fellow appeared to help me.

He’d been hiding under the potting soil bag and hopped to the wall.

I wasn’t surprised. We have a pond and often see—and hear the croaking. They serenade us nightly. Loudly.

Only those on the back porch and around the flower beds are brown. We call them toads. This was the first bright green I’d seen.

So, was this fellow a young toad yet to turn brown or a green frog?

That question led to a Goggle rabbit hole that consumed an hour. I learned more stuff about toads vs frogs than I will ever need to know.

I’ll save you some time. Here’s a chart explaining the difference.

Upon close examination, I’ve decided my potting helper was a frog. Do you agree?

9 08, 2021

Changing our View

By |2021-08-08T07:42:29-05:00August 9th, 2021|Make Me Think Monday|1 Comment

Our back porch is a great place to sit and relax. You can watch the water tumble down the rock waterfall then gurgle along the little creek path to the pond.

COVID and its stay-at-home mandate had us using our porch more. We sit and sip tea or coffee in the mornings or have iced tea in the evenings.

Our view was always the same.

Beyond the creek/pond, we watched the birds feed at the birdfeeders in the middle of the yard, and Finn chase the squirrels. He never gives up.

At the back is a high hedge at the fence. Only the neighbor’s roof is visible. To the left, there’s the canna bed with a birdbath, and to the right a peach tree. No peaches, though. The squirrels and birds eat them before they can ever mature.

Recently, our porch furniture changed, and I discovered different views and things that had always been there but never really seen.

My sister gave us her big wicker porch rocker when she moved out of state to be near her granddaughters. It’s large and had to be angled to fit between the porch supports.

Sitting in it, I see the vintage screen door propped against the fence. I think of all the screen doors in houses where I lived and hear the slam. The new view also lets us watch the dogwood tree blossom.

She also gave us the matching wicker porch swing.

It now hangs at the other end of the porch directly in front of the waterfall. The water up close splatters as it tumbles over the stones.

We can read the garden plaques. One says, “Grow old with me the best is yet to be,” the Browning quote. The other is the Irish road blessing, “May the road rise to meet you…” You know the one.

Finn and I love that swing.

My sister’s gifts made me realize how a simple change of position lets us see things that have been there all along. We never take the time to look.

I think I’m going to change where I sit at meals and at church from now on. I’m sure I’ll notice things my eyes never focused on before.

 

26 07, 2021

Three Lessons I’ve Learned from My OES

By |2021-07-26T06:13:25-05:00July 26th, 2021|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

I love Old English sheepdogs. We’ve had five, so I know the breed well. Unfortunately, their life span is only 10 to 12 years. That’s how we’ve had so many. Our fifth OES will be five years old this week.

He came from Bugaboo Kennel in Colorado Springs, and he’s been Velcro companion ever since.

His name is Finnegan MacCool after the Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhaill of Giant’s Causeway. You can read the legend here.

 

Finn’s our largest OES at 99.6 pounds, and the most loving. He’s always up for a cuddly nap with you.

Or sitting in your lap…wherever you sit.

Besides the unconditional love, Finn has taught me some important lessons.

Trust your instincts.

Finn senses if someone or some animal or some situation poses a threat. He has that inbred instinct to protect me. I trust him.

In life, we must trust our instincts too. Others’ opinions are important. But in the end, we should heed our gut instincts.

Know what you want and be super persistent about securing it.

Finn normally settles under the table at mealtime unless he’s smelled fried eggs or pizza. Then he nudges my thigh throughout the meal reminding me he’s waiting.

The scenario reminds me how important dogged persistence can be. We should not give up on our goals even if there are setbacks or defeats.

Poor Finn doesn’t always get to lick the fried egg plates. Sometimes we have visitors and seeing a dog lick a human plate tends to freak some people out. That’s why there’s a Sani-wash option on the dishwasher. But when he smells pizza baking or eggs frying you’ll always find him nudging my leg not under laying under the table. He doesn’t give up.

Even if we fail, persistence helps us learn what to do better next time or what techniques or approaches work, and what don’t.

Go outside and play.

I tend to spend hours on my laptop. In our technology world, it’s easy to be online and working 24-7. For Finn, it’s boring. After a while, he will drop that big old head in my lap or nudge my elbow with that bigh black nose to get my attention until I push away from the computer, iPad, or iPhone.

I never regret spending time with him. When I return to my task, I’m refreshed, and it’s not imagined. Research suggests exercise can improve our productivity.

What lessons have you learned from your pet?

19 07, 2021

Are Naps a Good Thing or Bad Thing?

By |2021-07-19T15:22:36-05:00July 19th, 2021|Make Me Think Monday|1 Comment

Nappers (those of us who take regular naps) are often labeled lazy.

But that’s not necessarily true. Nappers may be the wise ones.

Like young children, too many of us soldier on, whether we’re tired or not, to get everything done we think we need to do.

Studies indicate the opposite is true.

The tendency to avoid naps or take breaks to relax during the day can reduce productivity and/or produce results that are less than our best.

Don’t believe it?

Check out this New York magazine video. You may change your mind about nappers. Or become one.

I’m a napper who’s off to take a nap. You may not work from home as I do and don’t have the luxury of a daily nap. But there’s always the weekend!

12 07, 2021

Snow Cones, Popsicles, and Sprinklers

By |2021-07-10T17:11:55-05:00July 12th, 2021|Make Me Think Monday|1 Comment

As a kid I loved summer. One lazy day after another for what seemed like an eternity.

Sunshine and splashing in the sprinkler, slurping snow cones and sleeping in. Reading on the porch swing. Playing in the sprinkler for hours trying to chase away the summer heat.

Those were fun relaxing days.

But as an adult, I don’t slow down to enjoy summer that much. Those once lackadaisical days become rushed vacations and busyness.

Slowing down isn’t easy in our fast-paced technology world. But we should intentionally slow down to recapture those relaxed days of summer.

But how?

Take A Deep Breath.

Breathe in slowly for six seconds and out for six seconds. Try it right now. Feel the calm fill your body. Place sticky notes around to remind yourself. Before you know it, you’ll have the habit of stopping yourself to refresh regularly.

Change Your Routine.

Routine and repetition can steal joy. We miss what’s right in our face. Doing something different refocuses us. Why not have breakfast outside on the patio? Look out the bedroom window in a new direction. Focus on what’s changed since the last time you looked.

Or take a different route home from work? Enjoy the new sites.

Or visit a Farmer’s Market and taste something new that you’ve never tried before.

Unplug and Reconnect.

Silence the phone, close the laptop, skip the Netflix binges. Difficult to do, but a necessary component to recapture those childhood feelings of summer. Look around you instead. See the people and things around you. Talk to the neighbor, wave at the jogger. Really connect.

Here are some other Summer-Slow Down ideas to try:

Blow Bubbles for a baby or give a jar of bubbles to a small child. Children help us find the joy of the moment. I think you’ll smile and so will the child.

Grab a snow cone or popsicle and take a leisurely walk in a nature park. Nature is a never-ending love letter from our Creator. Walk slowly and take note of the amazing beauty around you.

Wave down the ice cream truck and treat yourself.  Savor the memories it brings back.

Why not make a list yourself? Enjoy summer like we did in our youth.

28 06, 2021

Deviled Egg or Angel Egg Time

By |2021-06-22T07:58:34-05:00June 28th, 2021|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

Summertime means deviled eggs, one of my all-time favorite treats. I have a difficult time associating the eggs with the devil, though.

Some people use other names like mimosa eggs, stuffed eggs, dressed eggs, or salad eggs to remove any whiff of the devil.

My personal favorite is angel eggs. That name removes all hints of the Satanic.

But deviled as a culinary descriptor to describe something spicy has been around since 1786.

The recipe—slicing eggs, mashing the yolks, and stuffing the mixture back into the hollowed-out egg white—dates even longer, back to the ancient Romans.

By the 19th century, deviled eggs were a cookbook staple in the United States. Special dishes called egg plates with wells to hold the eggs arrived on the scene.  Tupperware even created a carrier for them. (Also collectible now.)

The plates were popular wedding gifts in the 1950s-60s-70s. Today, vintage egg plates are highly collectible. Just check out eBay or Etsy.

The recipe ingredients for deviling have changed through time. In the 1940s Fannie Farmer suggested adding mayonnaise to the mustard, paprika, and yolks. This modern recipe hardly seems “devilishly” spicy.

Twenty-first century cooks add pickles, dill, bacon, crabmeat, sriracha, kimchi, wasabi, and caviar among other ingredients. Those additions would definitely add taste to the filling. Not necessarily devilish in my opinion.

Our family recipe calls for sweet pickle relish. I use dill relish instead, but don’t tell my mother. She’d be appalled.

Whatever you call them or however you make them, deviled eggs are popular for picnics and potlucks.

They’ll be a part of our family celebration this 4th of July served on our special deviled egg plate shown above. The 1970s plate belonged to my husband’s sister.

We’ll also serve my aunt’s baked beans, my mother-in-law’s chocolate cake (the one with the secret coffee ingredient that we never told my father-in-law about–he didn’t like coffee, you see).

And, of course, daddy’s homemade ice cream. It’s a way to include those who have gone before and feel like they’re with us in spirit.

How about you? Will you be serving deviled eggs or angel eggs this summer?

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