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Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Reading and Random Thoughts

Our grandchildren on Easter Sunday

Yesterday evening I finished The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton. This book is NOT a fast read, and it should not be, it is a read a bit everyday and absorb the wisdom kind of book, it took me five weeks of daily reading to finish, and I am sad I reached the end. An autobiography of faith is the blurb on the cover, and that is an accurate description. We start with the arrival of Thomas Merton into the world, his nomadic childhood living in France, the US, Bermuda, France, England, back to the US. His mother died when he was a young boy, Thomas roamed the world with his restless artist father while his younger brother remained in the US with the grandparents. 
The book is so much more than historical detail, it is a book of a spiritual journey and a "coming home" to God. As a child there really was no formal religious practice in the Merton family, but the few exposures Thomas had left a deep impact. 
.he book quickly moves to the college years and Thomas seeking more in life rather than drifting with no real purpose, perhaps a desire to be grounded, in a way his own father never was. Thomas becomes Catholic and then the spiritual journey goes into overdrive, the steps of the journey are told beautifully and in a slow, meaningful way, allowing the reader to journey too. I cannot imagine that anyone reading this book could walk away unchanged. 
I was deeply moved by the writings of Thomas Merton and am grateful that this book found me. My next daily spiritual reading book is another by Thomas Merton, Sign of Jonas. 

Yesterday morning, I am an early riser, getting up at 4:30 to say my prayers and read the daily readings, and then do a couple of crosswords before starting the rest of my day. The sun had begun to rise and I walked into the kitchen to get a glass of water, I was filling my glass when I looked up and out of the window and saw the MOST GLORIOUS rainbow I have ever seen in my life. The colors were so vibrant, the entire rainbow could be seen, it was simply spectacular. I took a few pictures but they hardly do it justice, better pictures can be found here: RAINBOW PICS.  
After a short while the rainbow disappeared but nature continued to stun, the western sky was dark, due to rain moving into the area, but the eastern sky was bright with the rising sun, this created a golden light that spectacularly lit up our morning. 

And last but not least, isn't this just the cutest Cutie you have ever seen? I don't think in all the years I purchased bags of Cuties I have ever seen one with a leaf still attached, it just looks so perfect!

Monday, May 20, 2019

Vegan Eats - YUMMY

 I really enjoy being Vegan, I enjoy the foods I eat, lots of veggies and fresh fruit, legumes and grains. It is a varied and enjoyable way to eat, truly indulging in the fruits (and veggies) of the earth. The goodness of the fresh food nourishes my body.

I recently started reading a book By Will Tuttle, Ph.D, The World Peace Diet, it explores eating for spiritual health and social harmony, and promotes veganism as the way to achieve this. The book is empowering, profound, may I even say, life changing. The intended audience is everyone and it will certainly make you think about where your food comes from and how it affects your mind, body and spirit. The book has excellent reviews, I borrowed this copy from the library, but plan to purchase a used copy for myself.

Veganism became a reality in November of 1944, when Donald Watson and his wife Dorothy coined the term Veganism. Donald founded the Vegan Society in England, and  he wrote, published, and distributed the newsletters by himself for several years.
Donald lived a life of "clean eating" before such a term was thought of, he didn't drink, didn't smoke, ate a whole food plant based vegan diet, and was an avid Fells walker. Donald lived to be 95 and never took any medication in his life. Here is a link to his obituary issued by the Vegan Society Donald Watson - Founder of the Vegan Movement it is worth a click.
The newsletter gives a brief biography of Donald, and includes photographs of him and some quotes on veganism. A simple man, who lived a simple life, never looking for fame, riches, or notoriety, yet he created a movement that is now known world wide and every day more and more people choose to go vegan.  RIP Donald Watson.

I am the only vegan in my family, so meat is cooked and served in our home, I wish it was not so. I do my best to promote veganism and produce side dishes and deserts that are vegan and do my best to encourage healthy eating. During January I only made vegan meals for our big family Sunday dinner, our daughter Amber, her husband Brad and the five boys all joined in and humored me and enjoyed the meals. I did vegan meatloaf one Sunday, and a vegan Mexican fiesta, another, and cannot remember what other meals I prepared. Our other children for the most part simply avoided the meals, I was disappointed that they would not even give it a try.

I recently watched a YouTube video called  Hot Diggity Carrot Dogs by Jane and Ann Esselstyn, I cannot begin to tell you just how perfectly a cooked carrot mimics a hot dog, weird, right? I cooked my carrot, for the bun I lightly toasted seven grain sprouted bread which I then covered in spicy mustard, popped my carrot dog on the folded toast and topped it off with vegan coleslaw. IT WAS AMAZINGLY GOOD!
The vegan coleslaw is easy to make, I found a recipe online to make mayo using extra firm silken tofu, it is quite nice and only 8 calories per serving, so win win all around. I used the mayo to make the slaw dressing and mixed it with purple (red?) cabbage.
There are so many healthy vegan recipes online, I am sure Donald Watson would be mightily happy to know that veganism has become very mainstream.

Here are some pictures of various vegan dishes I have made for the family and myself:

Vegan Truffles, my grandchildren renamed them Chocolate Balls! Warning, these disappear quickly,

Vegan Waldorf Salad, the dressing is made by whizzing up orange juice and dates in the blender, it is a very refreshing side.

Fresh Fruit Salad, a big hit with the grandchildren.

A healthy afternoon snack for the grands children

Vegan Coleslaw, made with homemade vegan mayo as the base for the dressing.

Tofu Scramble, this is such a nice quick meal with a piece of whole grain toast.

A Vegan Slaw Dog, the "hot dog" is a cooked carrot.

Apple Bars, and Banana Zucchini Oat muffins

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Easy Going Saturday

Finally some warmer weather, still below normal, but much improved from single digits. Heavy rain and strong winds moved in this afternoon, glad we are home.

I woke up very early this morning, so finished reading White Teeth by Zadie Smith, I really enjoyed this book, although the ending was a bit silly, but overall a a good read. I feel back to sleep after finishing the book and didn't wake up until eight am! I was quite shocked that I slept so late.
 I started reading Word On Fire, Proclaiming the Power of Christ by Bishop Robert Barron, there are 30 chapters, so one a day will take me a good way through lent. I went to Stations of the Cross yesterday evening, I was rather flustered and feeling stressed out before going, and thought I should stay home, and then realized it was just exactly what I needed. I was glad I went, there is a lot of comfort in the prayers and tradition of The Stations and the Litany said at the end is so reassuring and so calming. 

After breakfast, yoga practice and a little housework Dave and I headed into Fort Wayne to run a few errands. I returned a couple of things to the library and then we drove by the BMV as it is time to renew my drivers license, the parking lot was filled to maximum capacity, we decided to run our other errands first. Off to Wal-Mart, we picked up a few groceries and other bits and pieces, then headed over to Half Price Books. I purchased a few paperbacks and a clip on reading light, this will be nice for reading in bed and not disturbing Dave with too much light. Next stop Target for some new jeans, a birthday gift :) I found two pairs of Levi's and not only did they have my size they were longs!

My light colored Levi's, the other pair are the same just a dark denim.

We then headed back to the BMV, the parking lot had emptied out so I popped in and was headed back to the van ten minutes later, the task taken care of, I didn't get a chance to read my book while I waited!.

My official BMV Indiana drivers license picture, LOL.

Time to go home, boy isn't life exciting? We got home and I had a lovely birthday card in the mailbox from my mom and dad. After we put everything away and made lunch we realized we had forgotten coffee, brussel sprouts and eggs, isn't that always the way of things. No matter, we popped down to Meijer a little later to pick up the missed items, and found a few other things we didn't know we needed, including a beautiful pink hyacinth, it smells wonderful and looks so cheering on the kitchen counter.

I have so many books to read, I am not sure what I want to read next. I am sure I will read The Copper Beech by Maeve Binchy, each chapter is it's own story, yet all the chapters loosely fit in with each other, I will read a chapter every day or so and I am going to read a Roald Dahl book, Innocence, a collection of short stories. I have a Barbara Pym autobiography I found last week and think I may start to read that too. I think that will be more than enough books on the go. So far no television during Lent is working well, and I very much enjoy reading, so is it really a sacrifice?? Hmmm deep thoughts to ponder, LOL.

A little later we plan to make dinner, Dave is having a steak, I will have a vegan bowl, we are going to have a glass of wine and play a little scrabble, I lost last time we played! 

Tomorrow all of our kids and grandkids will be over to celebrate my birthday with us, they are bringing all the food, they plan on a huge stir-fry, and they are bringing cake, it will be a fun, chaotic, crazy birthday, and exactly the way I like them to be! 

Well that is all for now,

Peace be with you,


Tuesday, March 5, 2019

March Madness

I can't believe it is already March. This Sunday I will be fifty-five years old, the old double nickel. I think age is all a state of mind, I don't feel how I once imagined a fifty something old person would feel.

This past week we found out that our 10th grandchild is on it's way, due on September 7, this news really put a smile on my face, life goes on, always exciting to welcome a new little one into our family. This baby will be the third child for our eldest child Matt and his wife Traci, big sisters Alivia (6) and Aubrey (4) are super, super excited. I hope the baby is ready to have three mothers, LOL.

On a sad note we had our dog, Sir Digby Chicken Caesar, know as Digby to family and close friends put to sleep. Digby was a rescue dog, he came to live with us on January 18, 2014 and was estimated to be around 8 years old. He was a very docile dog, great around the kids, and very well behaved. Over the past year Digby really started to feel the effects of old age, mainly in his hips. Steps were becoming a great difficulty for him, and he struggled to lay down and struggled to get back up, his eyes were bad and I don't think he could hear very well. About four months ago we had to restrict him to the kitchen area of the house as he was quite prone to "accidents". So yesterday was the day we said farewell to Digby, I stayed with him, petting him as he quietly slipped away. Thank you Digby for being a good dog.

Reading, boy oh boy, I am on a tear, probably because the weather is so cold and I am so very tired of television.  I finished The Lilac Bus by Maeve Binchy, enjoyable so I ordered a used copy of another of her books, The Copper Beech. I read this book many years ago, it was the first Maeve Binchy I ever read, it should arrive today. I finished God Bless You Dr. Kervorkian, to be fair this book only took about an hour to read, it was a bit strange, but most Kurt Vonnegut is. Not my favorite KV, that would by Breakfast Of Champions. Then I moved onto White Teeth by Zadie Smith, WOW, I am loving this book, it is a long read but I am progressing quickly as I simply can't put it down.

This past weekend I went to my most very favorite used book store, Hyde Brothers. The store is located in a historic neighborhood in a very old building. The ceilings are very high, twelve plus feet, and the books shelves are stuffed full from floor to ceiling. There are ladders on rails to climb up to reach books on upper shelves. The aisles are a maybe a yard wide, and at least two cats pad around keeping an eye on the customers. In the basement, the ceilings are low, but again books shelves are filled to the brim from floor to ceiling. It is a bibliophiles dream! Anyway, I was excited to find another Zadie Smith book, Beauty, and I had to climb way up a ladder to retrieve it. I then found an auto-biography by Barbara Pym, one of my most favorite authors, and then found a copy of a yoga book I was looking for. It was a very rewarding bookstore visit.

On Sunday Dave made beer-can chicken for everyone, I made steamed broccoli and healthy oven chips as sides. I had my usual vegan bowl of goodness.  Seven of our grandchildren were over, we had fun after lunch showing them playground games we used to play. I made a big loop of elastic and taught them how to play "elastics", sometimes known as Chinese Jump Rope. Then we showed them how to play some of the sort of pat a cake, rhyming games, we always sang:

Under the brambles,
Under the trees,
Boom, Boom Boom,
True love to you my darling,
True love to me.
And when we're married,
We'll raise a fam-i-leee
Of little children all in a row, row, row,

Then we took out a deck of cards and did "magic tricks", and built houses of cards. It was a lot of fun for young and old alike.

Lent begins this week, today is Shrove Tuesday, or as we knew it as children, Pancake Day! Tomorrow I will go to Mass and receive ashes, and we will be in the journey of Lent. I feel called to give up TV for Lent, so will do this. I have done it in the past and find it to be very beneficial. I will  look for some Lenten reading material, perhaps daily reflections, and attend the Stations of the Cross, hopefully each Friday. And, I will look forward to Easter.

Well not too much else going on, we are desperate for Spring to arrive, it is still so cold, too cold for March as we should not be having lows in the single digits. But the geese are back, and lawn mower commercials are running on the TV, so spring must be in our future.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Book Haul

It had been a while since I last visited Half-Price Books, a wonderful book store with fabulous prices. I popped in today, had a nice nose around and came out with several books to add to my 2019 reading list. It is a popular book store, I am sure the greatly discounted prices help, and there is always a long line at the register. I am happy so many people enjoy reading. It is very family friendly, lots of books for children and all at very good prices.

One of my favorite writers is Kurt Vonnegut, he is so succinct, so honest, so funny, and so good at pointing out the futility and stupidity of many things that go on in the world. He is a Hoosier we can be truly proud of. I look forward to reading God Bless You Dr. Kevorkian.

I visit other blogs, and a recent post was about a trip to the thrift store and some books purchased, one being a Maeve Binchy book. As I perused the Half-Price Books book shelves I saw a Maeve Binchy, one I read and enjoyed many years ago, The Lilac Bus, so I purchased a copy.

White Teeth by Zadie Smith, I am looking forward to this, it may be my next book to read. I watched a dramatization of the book several years ago, I enjoyed the twists and turns and the way the characters connected and interacted. I am assuming the book will be meatier than the televised production.

Then I found a DVD copy of My Dog Skip, a wonderful, gem of movie about a boy and his dog. My grandchildren love the movie, it is funny and at times suspenseful with a couple of sad scenes guaranteed to bring a tear to your eye, and most importantly it is good story. I am glad to own a copy, it is popular and oftentimes when I look for it at our local library branch it is checked out. Obviously we are not the only people who enjoy this family classic.

Last week I was listening to the radio and heard about an author who had lost her battle with cancer and died at the age of sixty-nine, her name was Andrea Levy. There followed a very nice discussion about Andrea Levy and the books she had written. Small Island was her "break through" book and won several awards.  My interest was piqued, and a quick search on my library app and the book was on hold. I picked my copy of Small Island up from our local library branch this morning and look forward to reading it soon. The book was made into a television program, and I hope after I read the book I can find a copy of to watch.

Right now I am reading Siddhartha by Herman Hesse. I purchased this book for a couple of dollars last year at Half Price Books, it sat on my book shelf until last weekend. I am really enjoying it, and highly recommend it to anyone, it a coming of age book, a journey to self-enlightenment book, a very thought provoking book. It is an easy read, yet well written. I had to google a few terms for definition, Atman - Self, Brahman - God?, Brahmin - priest or holy man, this helped me a lot. This book is well worth reading and I totally understand why it is on so many Reading Recommendation lists.

Quick update: I finished Siddhartha this afternoon, what an absolutely beautiful book, a profound message. My initial take away thought, "As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end, Amen".

The final book purchased is for grandson Ralph, he is two and in the past week or so has come to realization that colors have names, although in Ralph's world all colors are called yellow. I hope he enjoys his book about colors.

And lastly, something that has nothing to do with reading, I made a homemade solution to clean my yoga mat. The concoction is 3 parts water, 1 part witch hazel, and a few drops of essential oil, I chose lavender. Once I week I can spray down my mat and give it a good rub down, keeping it clean and fresh smelling for a long time. 

I mentioned in a previous post that I was doing yoga with a You Tube Channel, Yoga with Adrienne. I started with a 30 day challenge, Dedicate, and tomorrow I will complete day 30. I have committed my time everyday except once, to the Dedicate journey, and I must say I feel stronger, more flexible, and can balance really well now, and this is only after 29 days. I will finish day 30 in the morning and start a new Adrienne challenge on Monday. I am finding the strength training from yoga and the stretching to be a great accompaniment to running, they go together like a horse and carriage!

But the bigger benefit to me is the way I feel after 20 minutes of yoga, stretched, relaxed, calm, focused, ready to take on the day, HAPPY :) It just builds on from the well being generated from a good run.  I think yoga is going to be a part of my day for many years to come.

We are battening down the hatches as we prepare for very high winds tomorrow, sustained winds of forty-five mph with gusts to sixty, yikes, I really, really dislike this kind of weather, it unsettles me and I find it hard to relax.

Well nothing much else to say today.

Peace be with you,


Friday, February 15, 2019

Currently Reading - Planning To Read....

I am currently reading a collection of short stories written by Diana Athill, the book is called An Unavoidable Delay and Other Stories. The stories are about our human condition, our thoughts, feelings, motivations,they could be set today, they have aged very well.
Diana Athill recently died a the fabulous age of a hundred and one! In 1952 she established a publishing house and worked with authors who are now considered masters of their craft, Margaret Atwood, Jack Kerouac, Norman Mailer, Philip Roth, just to name a few, she remained in publishing for fifty years. Diana published her first book, the one I am reading, in 1962.
I had never heard of Diana Athill, until one day I was listening  to a radio program called Last Word on BBC 4. Each week the program focuses on the lives of three or four influential individuals who have very recently died. Diana Athill sounded so interesting, so I used my library APP and found one of her books, put it on hold, and a week or so later am reading and enjoying it much.
I enjoy short story collections, there is something about the format of a short story, it has to be concise, the reader has to meet and understand the characters and whatever dilemma they are experiencing all within a few pages, and most importantly feel fully satisfied at the end. Diana Athill does this expertly.

Last week I ordered a used copy of Thornyhold, written by Mary Stewart. I paid $4.99 for my copy and that included shipping, what a deal. I have read this book several times over the years, it is a well written, entertaining story, and a nice little bit of escapism, something I need once in awhile. Another book I enjoy by Mary Stewart is Wildfire at Midnight, the copy I have is from 1977, I have read it countless times over the years. It is a love story and a murder mystery and takes place in the Isle of Skye. Mary Stewart is so good at setting a scene and describing the landscape that you almost feel as if you too have taken a trip the wilds of Scotland.

 I plan to read Thornyhold in the next few weeks as I am t really ready for some escapism, a bit of a mind vacation for. I think the reason I like this book so much is because the setting seems like a sanctuary, a place I would love to go to, a place to restore and recharge myself. Or maybe it is mid-February and I am impatient for fair weather and more outdoor activities and am suffering from a little cabin fever.

My next book to read is a book of poetry by Carol Ann Duffy, Feminine Gospels, I heard about this book from a radio program where it was spoken highly of and sounded interesting, I have only read the first poem, but will get into the rest of the book once I have finished my current book. Poetry is a genre I have little experience with, but I plan to change this.

Every so often I peruse my bookshelves and decide that a few books have to go. This week I did just that, and selected about a dozen books that I either had no need for, or would not read again. Luckily the handful of people I work with all like to read and I take books that need new homes to the office, put them in the break room with a sign, "Free Books" and wait a few days, most find new homes to go to, and those that remain get donated to the Goodwill. I cleaned out the children's book shelf in my family room this week, putting very damaged, worn out books in the recycling bin, and sorting out age appropriate books to send home with grandchildren. The book shelf now looks tidy and organized again.

Well that is all,


Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Keeping Busy

For the past six weeks or so I have been occupied with a knitting project, four sweaters for our youngest four grandsons. Yesterday I finished the final sweater for Peter, he was very pleased with it. What a great smile Sweet Pete has! The other sweaters are pictured in an earlier post.

I enjoy knitting, it is handiwork that is portable, somewhat mindless unless at a tricky bit in a pattern, and satisfying as a project is completed. I think knitting teaches me patience, it is a calming activity.

I am now ready for a new project, one that does not involve knitting. Last April I popped down to Florida for a couple of days to visit my parents. While there my mother, who discovered the joys of quilting several years ago, gave me the quilt top pictured below for me to finish.  I will purchase a light green print fabric for the backing, a yellow fabric, solid or patterned for the binding, and batting for the middle. Once I have put the quilt together I will hand quilt.
Quilt top on the bed in our spare room, my childhood teddy bear Andrew, and Puppy Love keep a loving eye on it.

I find hand quilting to be very relaxing. I can work on the quilt most days, quilt for ten minutes or a few hours. I enjoy seeing my progress. I like to work out the quilting pattern, will I do straight lines, curves, shapes, what will I do in the borders, what color thread will I use, it is a creative process, one I enjoy, and one that I find meditative. Often when I am making a quilt for a specific person, they are in my mind as I hand quilt their quilt and I find myself offering up prayer for them, I like this aspect of quilting.

It is good to have things to do in the winter, and this month our weather has been atrocious, limiting outdoor activities. First we had snow, then extreme sub-zero temperatures, followed by a week of fairly nice weather. Then snow, then an overnight ice-storm, thankfully the ice melted the following day as there was a heavy coating on everything. The ice-storm caused a tree to fall on the power lines leaving our area without power for six or so hours, the house stayed warm enough but was getting quite chilly by the time the power did come on. Then in the evening the wind started, we were under a wind advisory all night, strong winds buffeted our house with gusts to forty-five miles per hour. Thank heavens the ice coating had melted or a lot of trees would have been damaged. It was a noisy night, and this morning it is still very blustery with snow. Oh, how we all are looking forward to spring.

How is it in your corner of the world?