Thursday, May 31, 2018


I have just returned home after spending a few days housesitting for a friend who lives in the next small town over. I didn't mind. So my drive to work was ten minutes longer. But it was from another direction, and the views were worth it.

I love driving alongside the beach and in the wild spaces just outside the city. I delight in the sight of the sparkling sea, the gentle surf washing up on the tan sands; the sky light blue, white fluffy clouds gliding overhead. And in the cool mornings, I roll down the windows and let the breeze blow in, caressing my face, making me smile as I hear the waves break hypnotically on the shore.

The scenery is spectacular. So much wildlife--birds of many sizes and colors singing, flying, and perched in many branches; foxes and coyotes darting to and fro in the shadows, a few bold ones sit and pose regally in the sun; deer grazing, jumping, or just standing still. And so many colors and vibrant blossoms and lush trees. Resplendent wildflowers dot and color the landscape, and forests of trees add shade and shelter and nurture life in the woods.

That wonderful and charming drive puts me in a relaxed, serene state of mind. And that means I'm quieter, more contemplative, and introspective at work. It also means that I move at a slower, less urgent pace. It means that I get out later but I'm okay with that. It is a totally different frame of mind, like I'm a different person.

With my usual route, I leave early to drive through three traffic lights and a stop sign on the busy roads. The city is alive with people walking, on their phones talking, or in the streets and sidewalks working, selling, or waiting, pacing impatiently, wanting to get to the other side or to wherever they need to be. Thank goodness school is out, so I don't have to factor slowing down to a crawl near the middle school down the street.

There are road crews digging, laying pipes, and repairing potholes that seem to appear every time it rains. Construction is thriving as new buildings are being built over previously empty and abandoned lots. Great for redevelopment and eliminating urban blight. Sad, because I miss the wildflowers and grove of trees that for years, bloomed and thrived in the empty lot next to my place. Now, my small piece of wild nature is being paved over and turned into a shopping center.

With my usual route, I arrive at work early. I enjoy the drive, because I listen to pop, dance, upbeat music that I can sing and dance to, putting me in a good mood. I'm excited, fired up, and have high energy the whole day. I'm dynamic, fast, and get things done quickly so I can go home early.

Two different drives, two different perspectives, two different frames of mind. What a difference a drive makes.

Sunday, May 27, 2018


Today, I was hanging out with one of my friends. He has a wicked sense of humor that is just as twisted as mine. As we pulled up to the full parking lot, we were surprised to see this sign next to the handicap parking spaces.

My friend's initial reaction, "What the f*ck!?! When did being pregnant become a handicap?"

As these were the only empty spots in the lot, my friend said, "I'm taking this spot. Screw those bitches!"

I couldn't resist adding, "They've all ready been screwed. That's why they're knocked up!"

And we laughed out loud and pulled in the empty spot and parked the car.

Sorry, ladies...but being pregnant doesn't make you handicapped. And if you're having complications, then you really shouldn't be driving. That's just dangerous and reckless, for you, the baby, and everyone else around you.

Take a cab or a lift. Have your partner drop you off to do what you need to do, and then pick you up when you're done. It's the least he can do. After all, he ain't the one whose body is being stretched and wrecked. And it's not his lady parts that are about to be rearranged permanently when that baby tears and bursts its way out!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Secret Lives of Cats and Dogs

It fascinates me to see people carrying their pets like babies or have them climb on the furniture or sleep on the bed. None of our critters ever shared our beds. Our cats had their own fave spots around the farmhouse. The dogs were always outside--big working dogs, sometimes sleeping on the porches or veranda. If the weather was bad, they sheltered in the barn or gazebo. But most times, they'd rather be outside on the porches and deck. They liked the wide open spaces. So did I.

The dogs followed us around as we did chores. And they regularly patrolled the grounds to watch over the farm and keep the wild predators from preying on the livestock. The cats kept the vermin from eating our stores. For the most part, the pets were well behaved and had a routine. They had a job, a duty they performed faithfully and outstandingly.

If we went for a stroll, a few pets would follow us, keeping us company until we returned to the farmhouse. When they weren't working, they'd lay in their favorite spots, sleeping by Mom or Dad. Some would play with us on the lawn or keep us company under the shade of the trees. It was wonderful growing up with pets--the dogs, the cats, the old horse, the donkey, the ducks, and the other critters who lived on the farm. There was a rhythm to life on the farm. It was familiar, comforting, and serene.

But some nights, for no rhyme or reason, our dogs would howl for a bit. It was always a mystery and an eerie experience for my two brothers and I to hear them start howling. They never seemed hurt or in distress, only focused on calling out to the other dogs who answered their calls from far away.

Mom and Dad would often say that the dogs were singing. About what? We had no idea. And in the dark, remote countryside, it was a mesmerizing, haunting sound that felt ancient and wild, untamed and powerful. They were singing of things we could not understand. They knew things that we didn't.

My elderly aunt used to say, "The dogs are greeting the old gods and spirits walking the earth." That always gave us chills that ran down our spines. She was always saying things like that. And it made us think she was a witch.

She had an uncanny ability to calm agitated animals. Of course, using herbs from her garden to make potions and concoctions to help heal the injured and sick, or just to help people relax only made her more mystical to us. To my brothers and me, she was all ready enchanting and magical, because she loved us and made us the most delicious treats.

From my family, we learned to care for animals. Not just our pets and any wild critters in need of assistance. Farm life meant caring for the livestock we raised. If one of our farm animals was sick or injured, we would be out in the barn, sleeping nearby as we took turns watching and caring for the injured or ill animal, nursing it back to health.

On long sweltering summer nights, my two brothers and I would sleep on the deck under the stars. Then the dogs would lay by us. Some nights, we'd have friends over, almost like camping, telling stories, swapping jokes, gossiping, or just mesmerized by the ethereal beauty of the innumerable stars, sparkling like diamonds against a velvet sky.

On one such night, we were surprised to see our cats leave the house and vanish into the shadows. They moved with a purpose, as if on some important secret mission to another world that was beyond our awareness. Curious, we took turns keeping a lookout. And before the roosters started crowing before dawn, I woke my brothers up to let them see the cats all returning to the house. We always wondered where they went and spent countless hours imagining and speculating on what adventures or secret lives they had.

It's true. Our pets have secrets and instincts that we'll never understand. There are parts of their lives that will always be a mystery to us. And that's okay. Because we love them anyway, for they keep us company and love us in return. We don't know a lot about the universe, and life is a miracle and mystery that we'll never understand. But we do know love, and love is all we need. And in the end, that's all that matters, that we love one another. And with love, we bring out the best in each other and make life special and our world more wonderful.

Related Links:
A sailor in the fields, a treasure in the trees
The Boys of Summer
Brothers and Sisters
A good jacket keeps you warm
Hope is a yellow dump truck
Holiday Dismay
Are you there, Santa? It's me
It's the Most Stressful Time of the Year
Finding the way
The thing about fathers
Veterans Day Reflection
Best Laid Plans
That offal taste
The Fisherman & the Lucky Cat
The Spirit of the Day
Market Days
Lilacs, Butterflies, and Sheet Cakes
Sunday is Fried Chicken Day
The Secret Lives of Cats and Dogs

Friday, May 18, 2018

Sheep Jokes

This post is inspired by John, who is rounding up the crafty and feisty Irene, the sheep, to take her to her new, wonderful home. So far, Irene has outsmarted the squad of people sent to corral her. Good luck catching Irene!

Some of these jokes are hilariously baaad!!!

A man in a movie theater notices what looks like a sheep sitting next to him.
"Are you a sheep?" asked the man, surprised.
"What are you doing at the movies?"
The sheep replied, "Well, I liked the book."

Collie Report
At the end of the day, a border collie reported back to the grazier, "All fifty sheep accounted for, boss!"
"Wait, I only have 48 sheep!" he replied.
"I know," said the dog, "but I rounded them up."

An accountant is having a hard time sleeping and goes to see his doctor. "Doctor, I just can't get to sleep at night." "Have you tried counting sheep?" "That's the problem - I make a mistake and then spend three hours trying to find it."

Hello, Dolly
Q: What did one cloned sheep say to the other?
A: "I am ewe."

Polite Sheep
Q: What did the well mannered sheep say to his friend at the field gate?
A: After ewe!

Sheep Farming
Q: What's the most frustrating part about being a sheep farmer?
A: Every time you try to take inventory, you fall asleep.

The Consultant
A shepherd was tending his flock in a remote pasture when suddenly a dust cloud approached at high speed, out of which emerged a shiny silver BMW. The driver, a young man in an Armani suit, Ferragamo shoes, the latest Polarized sunglasses and a tightly knotted power tie, poked his head out the window and asked the shepherd, "Hey! If I can tell you how many sheep you have in your flock, will you give me one?" The shepherd looked at the man, then glanced at his peacefully grazing flock and answered, "Sure."

The driver parked his car, pulled out his smart phone and briskly surfed to a GPS satellite navigation system on the Internet and initiated a remote body-heat scan of the area. While the app was running, he sent some e-mails, returned some texts messages, facetimed some people, and after a few minutes, nodded solemnly at the responses. Finally, he hears the app finished its task, turned to the shepherd, showing the smart phone screen, and pronounced, "You have exactly 1,586 sheep."

"Impressive. One of my sheep is yours." said the shepherd. He watched the young man select an animal and bundle it into his car. Then the shepherd said: "If I can tell you exactly what your business is, will you give me back my sheep?" Pleased to meet a fellow sportsman, the young man replied "You're on."

"You are a consultant." said the shepherd without hesitation. "That's correct," said the young man, impressed. "How ever did you guess?" "It was not a guess," replied the shepherd. "You drive into my field uninvited. You ask me to pay you for information I already know, answer questions I have not asked, and you know nothing about my business. Now give me back my dog."

Show time
A sheep breeder was driving prized sheep to display at the local rodeo. Alas, her truck broke down just a few miles from the fairgrounds. Luckily, she spots an empty cattle truck coming up the road behind her. She flags it down, the truck driver stops, and the breeder tells the trucker, "I'll give you $100 to take the sheep to the show."

The trucker agrees, loads up the sheep, and heads for the show. The breeder sits and waits a long time for the auto repair service truck to show up. Three hours later, she is surprised to see the truck driver coming back, with all her sheep still loaded up in the truck!

She exclaimed, "But I gave you a $100 to take the sheep to the show!"

The trucker replied, "Oh, but the tickets only cost $50. So now I'll take them to a movie."

Ventriloquist and Rancher
A ventriloquist passes by a ranch and decides to have some fun. He strikes up a conversation with the rancher sitting by the gate. The ventriloquist asks the rancher, "Mind if I talk to your dog over there?"
"Damn fool, don't you know dogs can't talk?", the rancher says.
The ventriloquist replies, "So what's the harm?"
The rancher shrugs, "Go right ahead."
The ventriloquist ambles up to the dog and says, "Howdy!" The dog replies, "Hello."
The rancher's eyes pop wide open. The ventriloquist continues, "Does your master here treat you alright?" "Sure does. He feeds me, lets me sleep inside, and every day he takes me to the lake," says the dog.
The ventriloquist asks the shocked rancher, "Mind if I talk to your horse over there?"
The rancher replies, "Now, I don't know what you're up to, but I know for a fact that horses can't talk."
"Well then, what's the harm?", asks the ventriloquist.
"Go right ahead," says the rancher. The ventriloquist says to the horse, "Hello." The horse replies, "Hello."
The rancher's jaw drops. The ventriloquist asks, "Your owner here treat you OK?"
"Sure," replies the horse, tossing his mane. "He rides me every day, brushes me down, feeds me good, and he keeps me in the barn out of the bad weather."
The ventriloquist looks satisfied and turns to the rancher, "Are those your sheep over there?"
The rancher looks alarmed and stammers, "Listen...them sheep out there, they're -- they're nothing but a bunch of liars!"

Welsh name
A sheep farmer and his wife were driving around Wales, looking for good collie pups to bring back to England to raise, train, and sell. At one point, they entered a small town with a typically Welsh name, with lots of consonants and very few vowels. They began to argue over how it should be pronounced, but couldn’t agree.

After a few minutes, they stopped for coffee and something to eat. As the waitress brought their orders to the table, the sheep farmer said to her, “My wife and I can’t agree over how to pronounce the name of this place. Could you please tell us how it should be pronounced?”

The waitress put her tray down and said very slowly, “M … c … D … o … n … a … l … d … s …”

Front Seat
A policeman in the big city stops a man in a car with a sheep in the front seat.
"What are you doing with that sheep?" He exclaimed, "You should take it to a farm!"
The following week, the same policeman sees the same man with the sheep again in the front seat, with both of them wearing sunglasses. The policeman pulls him over.
"I thought you were going to take that sheep to a farm!"
The man replied, "I did. We had such a good time! Today, we're are going to the beach!"

I hope ewe had a good laugh! Cheers!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Sweet Success

Happy Mothers Day to all you wonderful Moms.

Five days ago, I decided to try making chocolate candy to give as gifts to the mothers that I work with (and to my crew to give to the moms in their lives). I read up on how to make chocolate, got some candy molds and milk chocolate chips (since I like them better than semisweet or that bitter dark chocolate), and experimented after work.

I wanted to use macadamia nuts, but they aren't feasible right now. My supplier was out of stock. Luckily, there were plenty of delicious pecans in this state.

My first attempt on Tuesday, I tried to cool the chocolate at room temperature. But it never set. It's gotten too hot and humid in these parts all ready. But I enjoyed eating that soft chocolate creation.

Second day, second attempt: I was inspired to use my jello shot molds. Actually, my Tiki head ice cube trays. I got them from the dollar store to make ice cubes and colorful, fun frozen flavored drinks cubes. But after making flavored ice cubes, I thought, "Hey, these would make fun jello shots!"

And they did! They were a big hit at the luau, and they've been a party staple since.

But I had concerns that they weren't right for chocolate candy molds, even though they were silicone. For one, they weren't designed for candy making. Two, they were more rigid than the flexible, soft candy molds. Plus, I was worried about chocolate sticking to the mold

The internet was not helpful. Some say never spray molds with nonstick. But some have had success! What really annoyed me was people giving their opinions without ever trying to make the chocolate candy themselves! Just because you "heard" or "read" that you shouldn't do this or that does NOT make you an expert!

What's also frustrating was the internet and other people giving advice on candy melts and NOT actual chocolate! Candy melts are NOT chocolate! Candy melts are hydrogenated oil products FLAVORED to taste and look like chocolate! It's like butter and margarine. Totally different products that share many similar qualities and applications. Tasty, but not the same! Each has its own quirks.

The best advice was from a guy who wrote about using cocoa butter in his molds first to make them nonstick, then using the chocolate. Genius! But natural, food grade cocoa butter costs more than the chocolate! He also gave me an inspired idea to use plastic, squeeze bottles to pour melted chocolate in the molds! His chocolate making tips were excellent and helpful.

I experimented by spraying one tray with nonstick spray, and leaving the other as is before filling with melted, tempered chocolate before freezing. The result: The unsprayed tray got chocolate stuck! The sprayed tray released the chocolate but there was a noticeable slippery when touched feeling. Both still tasted great.

Even better, after letting the set chocolate rest in a cool, dry area on waxed paper for an hour, the sprayed chocolates did not feel slippery any more, just like the chocolates made in the specified candy molds. I can use the jello shots mold to make awesome Tiki chocolate candies!

So I need to spray the jello shots mold to get the chocolate out of the complex, rigid tray, but the candy molds worked great without any need for spraying. I plan on using cocoa butter for the Tiki jello shots trays in the future when I use them for candy making. The candy molds worked fine on their own after freezing.

Third day and third attempt, I applied the lessons of the first two tries. First, I got a pair of squeeze bottles from the dollar store. Great buy and awesome tool! Made pouring the tempered melted chocolate into the molds easier and less messy!

My previous attempts led me to use my slow cooker as my warming vessel. I turn it on high (dry, nothing in the slow cooker but a clean dry towel). Then when it was warm enough (not too hot to burn but create a dry desert heat temperature), I turned it to warm. When I wasn't using the chocolate squeeze bottle, I wrapped it with clean paper towels and set carefully on towel bed in slow cooker. Covered the slow cooker. That kept the chocolate warm and melted while I added nuts or removed air or settled the chocolate in the molds by tapping or dropping them.

After making all the candies, I put them in the freezer to set. Took ten minutes for the candies to become hard enough to set. The guy that gave great tips about using cocoa butter and squeeze bottles also gave an awesome idea about lining the flat surface you're popping/dropping the candy on with a kitchen towel covered with a wax/parchment paper. So when the candy drops, it won't break on the hard surface.

I went even further and had mini muffin paper cups on top of the wax paper covered towel, so the candy just popped right in from the mold! I used a clear, clean plastic glove to pick up the chocolate pieces and set them straight before putting them in clear containers.

The third time really was charmed! Sweet success:

They were a big hit!

Plus, I made angel food cupcakes as a backup. Also a big hit! Good news: One angel food cup cake came out to about 56 calories! The other news: One milk chocolate candy came to 53 calories; with nuts, 57 calories. Both were tasty, decadent treats that delighted and made my crew happy.

I hope all you mothers out there got something wonderful and delicious for Mothers' Day. You're worth the effort, because you are a treasure for loving us so and all the special and amazing things that you do. Thank you.

If you're still lucky enough to have a good mother around, call her, tell her that you love her, thank her, and do something nice for her! She's a treasure and must be cherished and treated so! It doesn't have to be Mothers Day to just call her and do something nice, even just to say thanks. Any day your Mom is alive is a rare, golden opportunity to enjoy her company while you still can.

And to those of us who no longer have our moms, lift up a glass in her memory, treat yourself to something nice in her honor. Because you know she loved to do something special for you, just because...So, Cheers, Mom! I'm sharing (and eating) scrumptious treats for you! Love you!

Happy Mothers' Day, Moms! Thanks for being loving and wonderful every day of the year.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Sunday is Fried Chicken Day

It was 7 a.m. when I was finally done frying up the last batch of chicken. I started at 5 a.m.; I had just gotten home twenty minutes earlier, after a long, fun night of frolicking and festivities. I was ready to hit the showers and sleep when it dawned on me, "It's Sunday. And Sunday is fried chicken day."

Back on the farm, I grew up eating fried chicken on Sundays. Sundays were when my family held our weekly midday feast. All our nearby and visiting loved ones and friends were invited. It was a community potluck event, where people brought different dishes to share. My family's contribution were the fried chicken, a creamy spinach casserole, and other side dishes.

Mom would make pie--pineapple, key lime, or lemon meringue, my faves, still to this day. My elderly aunt and uncle would bring the main desserts, a cake, some cobbler, or even brownies and éclairs. Others would bring fish, lamb, or pork. Often, the dishes varied every feast. It made those meals interesting and festive. But one dish was always present: every Sunday, we had fried chicken. And fried chicken always tasted great.

The farm was big enough to host the large weekly gathering. It was one of the few times the formal dining room would be used, full of important visitors and senior family members and friends. The kitchen table, where we had most of our daily meals, was filled with adults and small children.

Most of the older kids and teens spilled out into the covered porch or made use of the big outside kitchen, a separate, neighboring building. It had a large dining area with picnic tables and benches. This was where we prepared large meals for huge gatherings. This was where we had the wood burning stoves. The large BBQ pit was in the back.

I dreaded Sunday mornings, because we had to get up early. I didn't want to wake up early on Sunday. I loved sleeping in--still do! And I also loved Sunday breakfast--egg sandwiches, pancakes, and other times, waffles. On really busy days, we had cereal. Breakfast was great. My two brothers and I got to share that time with our Mom and Dad. We sat down to eat after we fed all the critters and our livestock. We even put out bread and fruit and seeds for the birds.

My two brothers and I would wash our hands after chores, then sit down and enjoy chatting with Mom and Dad over the delicious breakfast. The older siblings would hover nearby, either sharing our meal or fixing something they'd rather eat instead, talking amongst themselves about teenage things, sometimes with their friends who spent the night.

What I really hated was getting ready for Sunday school and having to go spend the next two to three hours at church. No, you read that right: Two to three excruciating hours at a long, boring service! There was never anything spiritual about it. I never felt a connection. And I struggled to stay awake or sit still while the preacher droned on, or he kept asking for various donations for many church "improvement projects"; none of which were for charity or community projects, ever!

It's no wonder my brothers and I often got into trouble for sneaking out of church to go play games with the other kids who snuck out. We all pretended to go use the restroom. But it was worth the scolding to escape the confining, suffocating, and stifling atmosphere of the service.

The best part of Sunday was always the midday feast, after church was over. Unfortunately, we'd have to go to church again for a second late afternoon service! This made me exasperated! Were our morning prayers not enough? Did the good Lord not hear us the first time? Did we need a second service to boost the prayer signal of the first? Can He hear us now? It was thankfully only an hour long, but good gawd, it was the repeat of the same uninspired morning service sermon!

Luckily, I was always happy for the Sunday feast, the highlight of the day. That was when we shared lots of good food with good company, our relatives and friends. That made for good times! There was a specific order of service that I still follow to this day: Guests, seniors, and important adults and small children and babies are served the meal first. Then it's the other adults. And finally, the moody teenagers (usually serve themselves and) eat whatever and wherever they want.

The weekly Sunday feast was a long family tradition practiced by generations of my family on the remote, rural coast. Our family and friends would come and join us for a large meal gathering after church. It was a potluck where people brought dishes to share, and spent hours laughing, singing, sleeping, gossiping, and enjoying each other's company.

Though some spent the day resting, it was a fun time to play and hang out with cousins and friends. Some Sundays, we held impromptu talent shows, where people sang or told stories, or just danced to Swing, Golden Age Rock and Roll, or Rhythm and Blues. It's where I was introduced to a lot of retro music that I still love to this day. And every time I hear those songs, I am immediately transported back to those large, lively, boisterous gatherings, people laughing, dancing, and singing. Most times, I find myself dancing to those tunes as they play on the radio.

When I was a small child, I was a very picky eater. And fried chicken was among my faves. While I didn't always like the other dishes being served, I could always count on eating some crispy, tasty fried chicken. When I became a teen and an adventurous eater, I appreciated the variety of and efforts that went into making many of the shared dishes. I loved trying them out, and I really enjoyed them. But I was also very excited to have the usual, the Sunday staple, the delectable fried chicken.

Fried chicken was the first special occasion food that I learned to make. It holds a special place in my heart. It makes me think of home, of my mother teaching me to make it when I was eleven. It was the beginning of my love for cooking! I smile when I recall my first time putting a meal together by myself when I was twelve.

I will forever treasure the looks of joy on my nieces, nephews, and brothers' faces whenever I made fried chicken in the middle of the week, as a special surprise, a celebratory meal. And I loved being part of the cooking crew who prepared the Sunday feast. I was excused from morning service (Yay!), and I was part of a select group of a few older siblings, uncles, and aunts who worked to make a great feast.

I felt special being a part of the group. I was given a responsibility, trusted to perform an important, honorable service. I was the youngest at twelve. And I felt older and somewhat privileged to be in the company of the cooking crew, who told rowdy jokes and kept me laughing and entertained with all the gossip and secrets!

I felt as if I were a part of a secret society, granted access to hidden mysteries and sacred wisdom. They taught me so many things about food, life, and creativity. The cooks always ate last at the feast. Or so I was told by my older, bossy siblings before they marched off to morning service.

But not me. I was like, not this cook! I'm going to eat whatever I feel like eating, whenever I feel like eating it! And that's exactly what we did. We tasted each food we made, to make sure that it was good and scrumptious. It was quality control. We were basically snacking, and by the time for the midday feast arrived, we'd be full! So naturally, we ate last, when it was time to serve dessert!

I have many pleasant memories of the Sunday feast. Sometimes, that's when we celebrated good news: Someone's birthday, a graduation, an engagement, a wedding, a new baby! Other times, we cried and laughed as we told stories and comforted each other over memories of our recently passed loved ones. Telling tales and listening to those stories made it feel like they were still there at the feast, still among us, still sharing in our laughter and good meal.

Everyone back home had a special, weekly Sunday meal. But ours was the only one where we always had friends over, and there was always fried chicken. So fried chicken symbolized family, special occasions, and love for me. It was a part of my family tradition, my heritage, something that was always present and comforting and nourished the body, heart, and soul.

When I left the farm to live out in the big world, I was surprised to learn that not everyone had a special weekly gathering meal. I was even more shocked to learn that not everyone had ever tasted good fried chicken or had it for special occasions! Naturally, I held my own version of the Sunday feast. That meant one day a week, I'd gather my friends and we'd share a meal. It wasn't always on Sunday or even fried chicken. And it wasn't always a home cooked meal. Sometimes, it was eating out at a restaurant or hanging out at a dive bar.

A few times, it was a quick bite at a fast food joint or some tacos in the park from a food truck. The important thing was, we spent some time together, sharing good food, good company, and having a good time. It was important to catch up with each other; to talk and laugh; to renew our ties; and keep our friendship thriving. It's essential and joyful to spend precious time with the people you cherish and love.

It has been many years since I've been back home at the remote, rural coast. Still, I make fried chicken on Sundays. Because Sunday is fried chicken day. And it reminds me of home, and it makes me feel happy to share it with the people I love and watch them enjoy it. And I like it, too, when I eat it by myself. Because I take a moment to think of all the loved ones I've shared a Sunday fried chicken meal with. I smile at the memories of love, laughter, and talks we shared, and I wish those loved ones well, wherever they are now.

At this point, I've spent as many years out here in the big, metropolitan world as I did back home in the wild, frontier edge where I was born and raised. It's been several years since I visited home. The last time was to see my mother's passing. And she passed on peacefully, surrounded by those she loved. Though I've spent half my life and thousands of miles so far away from the obscure, distant coastal farm of my childhood, I still make fried chicken on Sunday.

Fried chicken on Sunday reminds me of home, and it's a part of my tradition, a part of my family, a sacred heritage that I carry with me, wherever the road takes me. They say: Home is where the Heart is. And I carry my Home in my Heart. Love makes a family and creates a Home. And fried chicken is a scrumptious expression of love, and it comforts me with the feeling of home.

May you find yourself surrounded by laughter, joy, and good experiences and fun adventures. And may you find serenity and comfort and peace in your life and your journey in the world. Whatever you're doing, I hope you enjoy some delicious fried chicken and spend some time with the people you love, sharing good food and good company. And wherever you are today, I hope it's some place safe, and I wish you lots of happiness and good health and good times.

Related Links:
A sailor in the fields, a treasure in the trees
The Boys of Summer
Brothers and Sisters
A good jacket keeps you warm
Hope is a yellow dump truck
Holiday Dismay
Are you there, Santa? It's me
It's the Most Stressful Time of the Year
Finding the way
The thing about fathers
Veterans Day Reflection
Best Laid Plans
That offal taste
The Fisherman & the Lucky Cat
The Spirit of the Day
Market Days
Lilacs, Butterflies, and Sheet Cakes

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Every day

Every day that I wake up, I am thankful to be alive. I am fortunate to have an opportunity to live and do the things that make me happy. I am grateful for the chance to spend time with the people that I love. I choose to look at the positive and focus on what I can do to make today a wonderful day.

I tell myself: Now is the perfect time to try new things! Hiking, photography, art, pottery, knitting, exploring the local scene and seeing things from the perspective of a tourist! Run, walk, swim, garden! Sing, dance, cook, laugh!

A few years ago, I was huffing and puffing after four hours of steady hiking up a steep mountain. I had to stop and take frequent breaks. I nearly gave up a few times, ready to quit and go back down. But up ahead, I could see this tiny figure still climbing steadily, and that motivated me to keep going.

Near the summit, I was ready to collapse from sheer exhaustion. I was down on my hands and knees, ready to roll over and let the squirrels devour me. But I could see the end! Just two hundred feet away. So I mustered up what scant energy I had and staggered to the pinnacle.

Boy was it a great feeling to finally reach the top! What magnificent and stunning views! What glorious heights to behold the splendor of the vast forests and the glimmering silver of the winding river below. What resplendent colors and intriguing forms were naturally carved in the multicolored, enigmatic shaped desert landscape just beyond the mountain range. And Oh, What a spectacular vista of the jagged peaks that reached high into the dynamic skies!

But I was more blown away to discover that the tiny figure that I had been following was a 78 year old lady! Even more impressive, she took up hiking just five years ago, after recovering from a stroke that left her unable stand and no strength/control on her right side. But after a year of therapy and hard work (and lots of tears), she left the hospital better than ever.

She said ever since then, she lives each day as if it were her last. Time flies and life is too short. Every day you're alive is a chance to do something fun and new and amazing.

I took those words to heart, and I've tried to follow that old lady's advice. It was a reaffirmation of the lifestyle I try to live: Live fully and love freely!

Naturally, the old lady left the peak before I did. She was most likely halfway down the mountains before I even started my return to camp. But I welcomed the solitude and lost myself in the beauty and wonders of the world around me. I was very glad that I had forced myself to keep climbing, to never give up. I was very happy to gaze upon such astounding sights and have such an incredible experience.

Take every day you're alive as an opportunity to do the things that make you happy and have fun exploring! Every day is a gift to spend time with the people you cherish, and every day is an opportunity for adventure, to try something new, to follow your instincts, and to find happiness and share joy with those you love.