Thursday, August 31, 2017

Huff Post on Melania -

Great article/editorial -

Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Contributor

The Problem With Melania Isn’t Her Shoes

Her silence, not her stilettos, should be of concern to us all.

I don’t care what Melania wears, I care what Melania does.
I don’t care if Melania walks in stilettos, I care if she uses her platform to defend sexual assault as “boy talk.”
I don’t care when her portrait is airbrushed, I care when she says she will fight cyberbullying but instead continues to stand by the biggest cyberbully in her own backyard.
I don’t care when her hat says FLOTUS, I care that she is FLOTUS ― that she uses one of the more powerful positions in the world to do anything productive, save promote her personal brand and line her personal pocketbook.
I do understand the instinct to critique her, whenever and however possible. Her husband is a morally repugnant and dangerous leader, and she stands by him, silently waving, smiling, and normalizing his despicable behavior. My spirit was crushed when I realized that my four young children would grow up with him as our president instead of one of the smartest, most accomplished, and experienced women in politics. And Melania as First Lady is setting a terrible example for my daughters. She is passive when we want her to be substantive, an object when we want her to be an agent, and prejudiced when we want her to be inclusive. And so I too want to poke holes in her carefully manipulated image. But I refuse to do that by commenting on her footwear.
Because when our critiques of Melania focus on her appearance, we play right into her and Trump’s hands. We are complicit in their worldview that demands women act mostly as prized possessions, in a Barbie-esque package, who speak only on script. And when we judge one woman in power on superficial terms, we make it acceptable to judge anywoman on those same terms. And that has real world consequences for how we see and value women - and how women see and value themselves.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

New (to me) Author - David Joy, et al -

So, David Joy's writing is refreshing, irritating, laughable, gritty, and pure Southern. I found him on The Bitter Southerner, and his story about his grandfather had me laughing and hurting.

Give this young man a try; his "Blessed are the White Trash," certainly applies to others besides those living in the South.

And while you're at it, read "My Mother Wasn't White Trash," found at This Appalachia Life, and Hillbilly Elegy, a controversial memoir by young JD Vance.

With this quality of writing coming from young Southern men, the likes of Faulkner, McCarthy, Berry, Bragg, Ferris, are living on in these young men - strong material comes from a strong love and dislike for family, region, community, culture.

I'm always drawn to Southern raw/real/romantic writers - I think the portion of me that still longs for the life I left in the South, and the life I discovered while living there, lives on, vicariously, in pieces such as these.


Monday, August 21, 2017

Zucchini Muffins, Lemon Muffins, and Service -

One of my favorite book titles is, Today I Baled the Hay to Feed the Sheep the Coyotes Ate. Interesting isn’t it! A rancher/farmer works so hard to take care of his sheep, and in the end, the coyotes love his sheep as much as he does!

Today, I baked nearly 10 dozen muffins – blueberry raspberry ones and zucchini chocolate chip ones. I also made nearly 2 dozen lemon ricotta pancakes. All are filled with extra protein. Why? To freeze and feed Scott and myself for a few weeks of breakfast, to share with our neighbors, and to get some healthy breakfasts into my mother. Scott also husked, cooked, and de-corned a dozen heads of corn, to freeze for use this winter.

What does our undertaking today have to do with the book title? Sometimes what we think we’re doing for ourselves is really for someone else, and they benefit just as much, or more, from our service as we do. In fact, cooking today was a joy, because service was at the root of it all. I wonder if the farmer sang to the coyotes as he planted his clover fields!

My father died last summer, July 5; he was a month shy of being 86. He’d been really really ill for the last 2 years of his life, and aging significantly for about 5 years. All but one of his children, and my mother, were around his bed when he died. It was a beautiful experience. Scott and I had the privilege of serving him, helping care for him, those last years. In fact, one of the reasons we purchased our home was to be close to my parents and Scott’s parents, helping them as they aged. And now, last Sunday, I took my mother to the hospital; she was not feeling well, and rather than “wait and see,” I took her to the ER, where she was diagnosed with pneumonia. She was in the hospital for just 2 nights, which was enough! She’s home now, next door, and Scott and I are caring for her, with a little help from 2 of my sisters. Not only does she have pneumonia, but exhaustion, dehydration, and she needs to eat better.

Hence – today I baked to feed the people who fed me – physically, emotionally, spiritually, and who give me the opportunity to serve. If we listen, and if we act, we will always find ways to serve. And we are blessed in that act – those muffins weren’t only for others, they were for Scott and me too, and there were more than enough! (My grandmother, my mother’s mother – Geneve Jensen, taught me that food is always best when it’s shared.)

As with nearly everything I make, cook, sew, I seldom follow the recipe exactly. Hence - 1/2 white flour, 1/2 whole wheat, less sugar, raspberries with the blueberries, no glaze because then I can't freeze them, pumpkin pie seasoning rather than only cinnamon, chocolate chips too. For both recipes, to increase the protein in the muffins, I added extra eggs or egg whites and unflavored vegetable-based protein powder. For the zucchini bread, bake muffins for 20 minutes. 

Friday, August 18, 2017

Plugfones - My Son -

I've written about Tyler's business a couple of  times -
and his business just launched a new product, and with that, a new website. If a momma can't boast about her kids, well . . .

Have a great weekend. And if you need some peace and quiet, give his Plugfones a try! I like 'em.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Feelin' It -

Tired, Overwhelmed, Grateful, Irritated, Calm - all emotions I'm feeling right now.

This week:
Mom in the hospital, then home with pneumonia and dehydration and exhaustion.
Added another class - now teaching 3.
New course curriculum for all 3 classes - means new lesson plans, new syllabus and calendar, etc.
Chaplaincy - need more hours to do everything I should be doing.
Diversity Council - presentations right and left.
Airbnb guests keep arriving and reserving.
Sleep - not much with responsibilities and commitments.

And wondering - Is caregiving the way of our life going forward? And who will care for Scott and I when we are older? And with a blended family, just whose responsibility is it to care for both/each of us?

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

We Found Love - Running From -

A colleague asked me how Scott and I met, and whenever I share our story, I am reminded just how magical our meeting was. As I walked away from our conversation, with a smile on my face, this Ed Sheeran tune came to mind. And the line that has been running through my head - we found love right where we are - reminds me of how I was ready to run to another part of the US, where I thought I'd find myself and love, and yet, it was just across the street.

How often do we run, when really, if we stand still, the goodness will come to us? I'm a runner, learning how to be still.

Thinking Out Loud
When your legs don't work like they used to before
And I can't sweep you off of your feet
Will your mouth still remember the taste of my love
Will your eyes still smile from your cheeks

And darling I will be loving you 'til we're 70
And baby my heart could still fall as hard at 23
And I'm thinking 'bout how people fall in love in mysterious ways
Maybe just the touch of a hand
Oh me I fall in love with you every single day
And I just wanna tell you I am

So honey now
Take me into your loving arms
Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars
Place your head on my beating heart
I'm thinking out loud

Maybe we found love right where we are
When my hair's all but gone and my memory fades
And the crowds don't remember my name

When my hands don't play the strings the same way, mm
I know you will still love me the same
'Cause honey your soul can never grow old, it's evergreen
Baby your smile's forever in my mind and memory

I'm thinking 'bout how people fall in love in mysterious ways
Maybe it's all part of a plan
I'll just keep on making the same mistakes
Hoping that you'll understand

But baby now
Take me into your loving arms
Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars
Place your head on my beating heart
I'm thinking out loud
That maybe we found love right where we are, oh

So baby now
Take me into your loving arms
Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars
Oh darling, place your head on my beating heart
I'm thinking out loud
That maybe we found love right where we are
Oh maybe we found love right where we are
And we found love right where we are

Songwriters: Amy Wadge / Ed Sheeran
Thinking Out Loud lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, The Royalty Network Inc.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Summer Rain - "Soft Rain" 1972 -

I love a summer rain storm - the thunder, big warm raindrops, and often, the rainbow that comes as the storm rolls away.

I love the smell of rain on the dry dirt, on the dry concrete and pavement. I love the smell as the rain mixes with the day's heat.

I love the rush of the rain down the driveway, the rain gutters, the road gutter. And I love the possibility of splashing in puddles - without any worries of getting wet or dirty.

This past few days we've had some summer-time storms. Knowing the storm won't last, knowing that we need the moisture, knowing summer will return makes me look forward to these storms.

This evening, the thunder rolled in, and as I was in the garden picking beets and carrots with the grandchildren, with the raindrops beginning to plunk plunk down on the vegetables, a song popped into my head, totally unexpected:

"Rain falls, soft rain at my windows. . . . While the thunder's calling, there's a mighty hush about the world. . . . I will go outside where my sleepy head goes, feel the rain on my head, feel the wet on my toes. . . . And like the columbine, I want to bow my head to the rain. . . . A time to remember the beautiful things. To look for tomorrow and all our fondest dreams."

And suddenly I was 13-16 years old, singing, or playing, this song as a part of my church's youth choir. Nostalgia swept me away, and I felt the tears surface. I loved playing the introduction, the rhythm mimicked the rain, and the harmony was simple and so clean - just like the soft falling rain.

Rain Falls, by Janet Cox

Two other tunes sung during this same time were: Live Oak by Ron Simpson, and The Weed by K.L. Hicken. I remember them, but I can't find the songs or the lyrics. Anyone? 

Friday, August 11, 2017


I've been on vacation - kinda. A family reunion is a big event, and the preparation, which began in January, has been bit by bit, but stressful at times. And just like my High School reunion, the actual event was wonderful, and I'm glad it's over!

So here's to Friday, a good weekend, and time to just destress, unwind, and enjoy the fact that my two huge summer commitments are over!

image via rifle paper co.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Fire Fighter!

It is said Michael Douglas said, "Cancer didn't bring me to my knees, it brought me to my feet." Now that doesn't sound like the words of a victim, or a survivor. Certainly it isn't the words of someone with puffed up pride.



Fire Fighter!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Feisty - Fire Fighting -

One of the things I continue to hear from my cancer patients, and their families, is that they became more "feisty" after their cancer diagnosis. Their BS meter is much more sensitive post-diagnosis than pre. Their tolerance for idle chit-chat, or small talk, is less. They are more interested in getting down to business than circling wagons. They don't want to be patronized. They want freedom, control, ability, knowledge. They have little patience for, "You ought to . . . "

So I asked Scott, "Has my personality changed since my cancer diagnosis?" And yes, and he used the same term, "feisty." However, he did say that my fire has become steadier over the years, the longer I'm out the calmer I've become. And I think it's because I'm continually learning that refinement is a process for more than coal and diamonds. A fire, even a refiner's fire, begins hot, coal hot, and then the temperature adjusts as time goes on, but heat needs to be engaged first. And with cancer and cancer treatments, "If the fire's too hot, get out," is not a possibility. So, we stay in the heat, and then adjust our feistyness as time moves forward. 

But there's not another way. There is no way that a woman, or man, thrown into the cancer journey can survive in that fire without fighting that fire with fire, finding their voice, saying yes or no, gaining knowledge, and being their best, and worst, friend. 

"You either fear the fire, or you simply become it," is a grand definition of one's cancer journey, or any journey that changes us - by forcing us to face our worst nightmares, and working through them, by being in the middle. And that's where feisty comes from. 

I am feisty. I am fine with that. I can blaze a path or walk on coals. I am also refined. I am happy with calm and a paved trail. But when the need arises, I am strong and furious and feisty!