Sunday, December 23, 2012

hold close

It's Christmas eve eve. Wanted to wish all the Chicken Wingers the merriest of Christmases!

The terribly sad events in Connecticut gave me new vision. My vision improved to 20/20 as the holy holiday drew nearer.

Enjoyed singing for old folks. My retirement singing group must have visited every retirement/nursing/alzheimer's home in this town. I savored holding every arthritic hand.

Led the Christmas merriment at the facility where my mother lived. So many ties and lovely memories there. They are kind to ask me back every year.
Had some help with Nancy, Rich and the Christmas Bichon, Sophie.

Sophie enjoying Nancy's rendition of 'O, Holy Night'.
As I was standing at the podium about to lead 'Silver Bells', a male resident walked behind me....patted me on the a## and said I was lots wider back there than I was last year. Really. Made me laugh so hard, I teased him mercilessly about being 'naughty'.

Santa agreed. The guy was naughty.
Santa 'n me!
Our church choir had a special Christmas musical with local musicians.

Was privileged to be a part of this glorious day of celebrating Christ's birth. We talked about the deaths of the innocents in Connecticut that Sunday morning. Talked about how the light is coming into the darkness. Aren't we longing for the light this year? This world feels less and less like home to me.

While I'm here, I'll savor moments like these.
Baby G and me Christmas Eve 2011. Holding close my precious grandson.

Peanut and G.

The grandson is 15 months old now. He has his own pony. He's learned to walk and he can sing 'EEE-EYE-EEE-EYE-OOOOOO! Amazing! The year has flown by.

I'm grateful for my Sprouts and for the long-suffering Texan. I need to tell them 'I love you' more often.

I enjoy this ridiculous wiener dog.
Roxy Doxy is worried about the meaning of 'naughty'.
She shows me something of God's love. I like to think He wags his tail thinking about seeing me and He would give me a big, slobbery lick if He were here.

I think He would hold me (and you!) close, too.

May your Christmas be brimming with fun times with your loved ones and lots of happiness.

The light is coming.

Be blessed.

Christmas-y love to all.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

divine intervention

Divine intervention. Lord knows, I need it.

I've been busy with my annual divinity-making project. Keep dreaming of heavenly creaminess and the crunch of  fresh pecans. Even though I always aspire my candy to be celestial perfection, too often the results are simply earthly.
Some of the cast of characters.

If you ever watched your mother or grandmother make this candy, you probably learned some fun, new curse words. Divinity is persnickety. One of my batches today was a total loss. Had to pry it with hammer and chisel out of the mixing pan. Over the years, I've developed my own rules for making this Christmas candy.

Rules for making Divinity

1. Measure all ingredients carefully. Sugar must be measured to the last granule.
Pouring the hot syrup into the beaten egg whites.

2. Don't attempt to make divinity on a day with a humidity level over 40%. Candy won't set up.

3. Do not attempt to make divinity on a day with a humidity level under 30%. Candy will be as hard as an anvil.
Lovely pecans.

4. Have a USDA-NASA certified candy thermometer. Must be accurate within a millionth of a degree Fahrenheit.

5. Beware making divinity in a leap year.
Ready to spoon out.

6. Don't attempt this candy on any day or year containing the dreaded number '1'.

7. Never plan on giving divinity as a Christmas gift. Your pores will excrete nervous gasses. Those gasses react with the candy to turn it a snot green color.
This piece looks surprisingly good.

8. Never...ever...let a wiener dog observe your divinity-making. It is the candy kiss-of-death.
I really wanted my candy to be perfect, but it wasn't. I was tempted not to give it. Didn't want my friends to suffer through crunchy divinity.
I put the candy in my pretty Target gift boxes and gave it away anyway. Maybe they will taste the love. Strikes me as a parallel to so many things in my life right now.  I could use a little divine intervention to straighten things out and spruce things up a little bit. Even if I don't see divine intervention or I don't feel it, it still seems important to keep keep giving. I'll live fully in this current messiness and imperfection and you can meet me there. We'll have a party!

Maybe that realization is my divine intervention for today.

Carry on. Christmas is coming.

Karo-y love to all.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

visor study

Presented for your viewing pleasure.

Etude du visors avec chiennes. Or, the importance of being earnest.

Chienne un. Doodle in red visor.
Chienne deux. Bichon in red visor
Chienne trois. Wiener in red visor. La sausage en chapeau rouge.

I hear it's almost Christmas. Time to get busy. Thanks for stopping by.

Sincere love to all.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

donut tower update

You can quit holding your breath now! As promised, I am now posting a professional picture of the donut tower I blogged about in DONUT QUEST.

First, to set the stage. Little V and I moved said donut tower from the car to the reception in this.

A deluge. Gully-washer. A drenching downpour or quite the cloudburst. We are not experienced with this kind of rain in West Texas. We were woefully unprepared.

This is how little V and I looked after hauling in the tower.
Why do I look like a drowned NYC sewer rat and Miss V looks all fluffy and cute??! She even has her chic handbag over her shoulder. Lot of good it did her. It wasn't big enough for an umbrella, apparently.

The finished tower.
Or as I refer to it, the monument to my insanity.

Every rainstorm can have a rainbow. Here's our rainbow.
Giving thanks today.

Monumental love to all.

Monday, November 12, 2012

veteran's day

I don't like Veteran's Day. It reminds me of something I never did.

My father, Bill was a veteran of the Army Airborne. He returned from World War II and married his bride, Joy, in the early 50's. People said we looked like, stubborn, freckled and prominent noses. Look at the photo and you be the judge. I adored my daddy.

He was like many of his generation. He didn't want to make a big deal of his service to our country, he just desired to neatly file the past in the file cabinet and carry on.

However, Bill couldn't put the past away because it stuck to him like gum on a summer sidewalk. We'd never heard of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

Have you read the novel UNBROKEN? If you haven't, you must. I read the novel this summer and the author's time spent fighting in the islands of the Pacific during WWII bone-resonated with me. His experience surely mimicked some of my dad's experiences. Reading this book was a light-bulb moment for me.

My dad was a great man....jolly, smart, fun, music-lover and general joke-ster. But the aftermath of war was too much for him and he became an alcoholic. Who knows if that is the reason (not trying to make excuses for him), but surely it was a big contributing factor. The man was always jumping out of his skin at loud noises, throwing hissy fits if he was EVER served rice and detesting when we put too many teaspoons of sugar in our iced tea. Don't kids understand the value of sugar? I can still hear the shouts and cries he made while he slept.

He died of cirrhosis of the liver when he was 55 and I was 21-pregnant with my first Sprout.

I could've held things against him for his wrong choices, but I've let go of those. I learned my dad loved me and did the best he could.

On days like Veteran's Day I just wish....just ONE TIME...I would have hugged my Dad and thanked him for his service to our country. For this teen growing up in the anti-war Vietnam era...doing that never pierced my consciousness. Brilliant me, I had to be in my 50's to realize I should have expressed my appreciation. Would it have killed me to think of someone else??

So today, I will express my gratitude to Bill. Feel free to join me if you want to.

Dad...thank you for giving up four years of your life to support our great country. Thanks for serving in the jungles of the Pacific Islands to fight the Japanese in WWII. Thank you for helping to defeat the evil dictators who were trying to quash freedom. Thank you for trying the best you could to provide for our family. If you were here today, we could sing a rousing chorus of 'Does your chewing gum lose it's flavor on the bedpost overnight?' and bust out laughing. Sorry for being a self-possessed, know-it-all teen....aww....I know you've already forgiven me. Better late than never, right? See you soon. Love, Sis.

No-more-regret-love to all.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

maui gallery: 1

I drank Mai Tai's 'til volcano Haleakala looked flat. Can you blame me? It is their state drink, after all.

It was our bucket-list trip. Figured we'd endure the loooong flight time to explore this lovely island.

I could gush on and on, but I think I'll let the photos tell my story. Pour yourself some pineapple juice and dark rum. I'm placing a fragrant lei around your neck in warm welcome. You with me?

We went to Maui to support the Son-in-Law as he competed in this race. It's called xterra, cuz you have to be xxxtra strong to even think about entering one of these events.

Our intrepid athlete as he prepares to face the angry ocean.  We suffered through a tsunami warning the night before. You heard me right.....TSUNAMI.  A long night of evacuations!
The SIL made it through the swim. Now, he only has to bike 5000 miles in the forest and run 100 miles up and down the volcano. Then, he has to open a coconut with his bare hands to complete his test! He's xxxxxtra strong, alright!
This challenged athlete was an inspiration to watch. You go, girl!!

There was plenty of time for a relaxing swim in the pool while Daddy was competing.

Blessedly arriving at the finish line with medal and lei around neck.

Spike, the African crane who lived at our hotel.

Hey, watch it Spike! Baby G is not crane food.

How many folks return from Hawaii with a hair tattoo? Can you spot the typical Hawaiian greeting in Sprout #1's hair? This haircut caused quite the commotion everywhere he went. Wonder how this went over with the cowboys when he returned to West Texas? Love this Sprout to death!
My healing left wrist even played golf with the Texan. Wonderful!

The Middle Sprout and I arose at 3 a.m. to drive up the winding, nausea-inducing road to historic Haleakala volcano to see the sunrise. The name means 'House of the Sun'. The area below the clouds is a massive's bigger than the island of Manhattan.

The sunrise. Praise be to God! Now I know why the ancients thought of this as a sacred place.

Turn around 180 degrees and I experience the moon setting over the bay. Sublime, isn't it?

I have some other special things I want to share with you. That's why I'm planning a Maui gallery: 2. Keep the Mai Tai ingredients handy, OK?

You don't want to miss out on mysteries like this:
Did I chain myself to the tree so I'd never have to leave the Maui rainforest? Did I want to extract some orange pigment from this cool tree to make the perfect red-hair dye for myself? Was I describing the circumference of my mid-section after downing at least 2 Mai-Tais every day?

Thanks for sharing and letting me re-live my Maui experience with you. I will post part deux real soon.


Top-'o-the-volcano love to all.

Monday, October 15, 2012

donut quest

His idea was brilliantly simple: then, I got involved.

The event unfolded innocently enough. Sprout #3 wanted a donut-hole tower instead of a traditional groom's cake at the wedding reception. Cool concept and making it happen appeared to be fairly easy and straightforward. We would use the donut tower as a 'display only' piece and we would put fresh donut holes in cute cupcake papers around the bottom of the tower. Wedding guests could easily pick them up and enjoy. Easy-peasy!

The Middle Sprout made a donut-hole tower 'mock-up' before the wedding. We needed to be certain we could recreate it for the reception.

Appears to be a perfectly acceptable donut tower, right?
We both liked the 'mock-up', but we thought it should be a little larger...or wider or something. After showing this photo to some of her friends, comments were made about our tower appearing to be ...well....somewhat phallic. Is that necessarily a bad thing?

Anyhoo, while shopping for the perfect styrofoam shape for our tower, I became inspired. In the floral section of the local craft store, there were styrofoam balls of various sizes. We would construct a donut topiary. No one in the history of weddings has ever had a donut topiary! The Sprout thought a 2 ball topiary would be adequate....but, nooooo....I insisted we needed a giant 3-ball donut topiary. We bought a big pot, some large wooden dowels, and 3 balls of graduated sizes.

In hindsight I realize, sometimes good is good enough. It's fine. Really. No one knows the difference. However, in my quest for absolute donut-tower awesomeness, things began to get complicated. The Middle Sprout was racked with doubt. The Texan was trying to devise a plan to safely construct my grand vision of an outstanding donut topiary. No problem, I said. Took it to my handy-dandy florist who constructed the topiary with a steel rod through the center. He sunk the contraption in plaster and we were good to go.

' sure is BIG. You think it will be OK?' The Sprout confessed to losing sleep at night over our ever-enlarging tower. It was morphing into the Washington Monument. I have to give her credit....she TRIED to rein me in. Sometimes, my quest for awesomeness can be overwhelming.

'Have faith Sprout. We are constructing a donut tower for the ages! The bride and groom are gonna love it!'

Armed with the tower and 30 dozen donut holes, we headed for the Texas hill country.
30 dozen donut holes=heaven
The first night in our hotel room, I eagerly began construction. The first grand styrofoam ball ALONE took all 30 dozen donuts and 2 hours of my time. I had a blood blister on my index finger from inserting toothpicks into styrofoam. Ouch.
The beginning of the grand ball.
2 hours and a blood blister later
That's 30 dozen donut holes!

Fell in bed that evening dreaming of donut nirvana. Just needed to order more donuts in the closest town to complete the massive project. The next day, my long-suffering...very bestest friend in the whole world...who would do anything for me...little V...agreed to help with the project. We drove to the bakery where we ordered more donuts. When I asked for our order, the guy at the counter and the owner spoke to one another in loud, accusatory tones...the language was Vietnamese, I think. Seems they had sold our donut holes and only had 4 dozen left. Maybe that would be enough to do the smallest ball at the top....we paid for them and left. What to do now? We needed LOTS of donut holes in a hurry. Walmarts to the rescue!! We raided every last box of their chocolate cake donut holes to cover the center ball.

Little V, the Middle Sprout and her friend J, and I worked on that donut tower until it was blessedly complete. The topiary was listing a bit, but we were undeterred. The creation contained at least 60 dozen donut holes and it was over 4 feet high! It was almost taller than Little V!

This story is getting too long, so I'll spare you most of the details of getting the donut contraption (probably weighed over 50 pounds) to the reception hall. It involved several awestruck young bell-boys loading it into a hotel car to drive the short distance to the venue. This donut Washington Monument took on a life of it's own as it precariously swayed with every careful slow turn of the car. The donut topiary was heavy and becoming increasingly unstable. I sent Miss V into the reception hall for some sort of cart, while I held the swaying topiary in the car. Just as precious Miss V starts for the car with the cart, the skies open up and it begins to pour. A Noah's ark-type of rain. Sheets and sheets of rain and a driving wind to boot. Lucky we had just done our hair for the wedding! We lug the ship's-anchor topiary slowly up the ramp to the reception hall as we are soaked to the bone. We bravely saved the monstrosity from certain destruction several times.

Did you know that wet donut holes weigh LOTS more than plain, dry donut holes??
Sorry for bad photo. Phone pic with very bad back-lighting. We are drenched, but feeling an uneasy sense of accomplishment. I'll post a better photo when the wedding photos come out.
Our creation was leaning so badly from it's car ride and the drenching rain, it refused to stand upright. We worried it could fall over and injure someone at the reception. The Texan to the rescue! He walked (in the rain) to the beach at the nearby lake and came back with some wet sand. We filled the topiary's container with the wet sand and it seemed to stabilize the wobbling a bit. The hotel staff filled the cupcake papers with the fresh donut holes and things were good to go.

Lots of folks took photos of the donut-topiary. I was a bit concerned one of the happy, dancing children on the dance floor would run into the donut table and be severely maimed. An unsuspecting lady tried to eat one of the soggy, stale donuts off the topiary and she was told it was for 'display only'. What a horrible waste of food!, she huffed.

The lesson? I need to calm down. Awesome is not necessarily better all the time. Good is plenty good enough. I should listen to my Middle Sprout. I've told her 5000 times how she was right and why couldn't she 'rein me in'?

I can be exhausting.

But I've got one helluva donut wedding story.

Lots of love to the bride and groom!

Towering love to all.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


 No, no....not that kind of butterfly!

I'm referring to Puccini's Madama Butterfly presented by Amarillo Opera this weekend at the Globe News Center. For us opera neophytes that would be Mrs. Butterfly, I guess.

There is a show Saturday evening September 29 and a Sunday matinee on September 30, so you have two chances to catch this magnificent undertaking.

I'm not gonna pretend to tell you all the plot intricacies of Butterfly, because I've never seen it. I know it's's dramatic...and Butterfly is a treat visually as well as aurally.

The set is from SANTA FE OPERA. All the people 'in the know' and the technicians declare it is a BIG, impressive set. A '3-trucker', I believe. The set was made possible with a generous donation from a local, opera-loving couple. The structure has the ability to move about the stage. Very impressive. Thank you for this kind gift to our community!
Our beautiful Mrs. Butterfly in rehearsal
I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek of the set and some of the principal performers. I'm always stunned with the talent and impressive sound of these singers. The costumes are sure to be breathtaking, as well.
Aren't these ladies gorgeous?

Don't be surprised if you hear some sad is Puccini, after all.
So proud of our local Opera Company. Madama Butterfly has been a seminal and historic work for Amarillo Opera.

It's amazing to me that a production of this caliber....with the impressive principals, the gifted singers in our local chorus, the talented conductor and our versatile local symphony musicians can unite to put something so special together in our fantastic Performing Arts Center. It's a monumental undertaking, really.

Bravi tutti! (that means y'all are fantastic!) I'll even throw in a toi, toi, toi for you.***if I had any IDEA what that phrase means***

Time to hatch from your larva stage. You don't want to miss this. It's gonna be EPIC! Call AMARILLO OPERA for tickets.

Winged-love to all.