Friday, December 30, 2011

Still in the Middle of Christmas Holidays, yeah

warning: extra long entry, trying to stuff several posts into one, since I have been too busy living to write. you might want to skip this one and wait til the next brief entries. Except for you, Mom, I know you and Daddy never mind the long, extra wordy stuff! thank goodness for parents!

I sit in our library, Nora plays with her little stuffed animals. Thomas is listening the Lady Gaga's 'Let's Dance." The dogs are sprawled, the sun has set and it is hard to believe that yesterday we were in our favorite national park, Big Bend, camping out.

Christmas was wonderful, so happy that Mom and Dad could come and be with us. There were lots of church activities. Walks in the snow. A nice afternoon bike ride with Raymond. Plenty of cooking and dishwashing. Only intermittent feelings of pain and grief and loss.

After a huge breakfast made by my Daddy, we gathered up tools and he and Raymond and I butchered a deer. Isn't it funny the things that make one feel at home? It seemed just right to be standing around the stainless steel table, sharpening up knives, cutting ruby red meat off the bone, cubing some up, dreaming of curries and guisado. Making steaks, dreaming of chicken fry and grill and port wine reduction. Grinding up more for spaghetti and tacos and shepherd pie. Some of which we enjoyed that afternoon with Christmas dinner mashed potato and pea leftovers.

I think my love language is working together with dear ones, doing something productive. It could be hay-making, yard cleaning, ditch-digging, meat-cutting or meal producing.

Mom and dad had some grandkid time and I headed to the park a day early so I could get up and take a hike, all by myself! Can you believe that we live only an hour and a half away from my very favorite place in most all the world and find my self so busy I can't get there? So my gift to myself was carving out the opportunity.

The parking lot was full.

The overflow was full.

I waited. Ten minutes later a spot opened up and I grabbed it, ready to head up the Lost Mine Trail.

Can you believe I had to wait for a parking place at one of the most remote National Parks in the country?

The day was pleasant. 60 something degrees. Clear. Sunny. I passed groups of hikers, families from India, China, Japan, France, Mexico, South America, several regions of the US and several regions of Texas. So many languages in one little area. As I wished for solitude and was tempted to pout, something grabbed my attention and made me grateful that many other people were searching for the same thing as me. Beauty. Peace. Grandeur. All away from electronics, stores, crazy consumerism. We were all able to enjoy the gift of the outdoors thanks to somebody who decided to make Big Bend a national park. In my heart I blessed those other hikers, the soloists, the cute couples, the families of children and parents and grandparents, the friends.

The hike is just under 5 miles. The climb is around 1000 ft, ending at 6800ft. The trail winds through mountain vegetation and trees, with perfume of pines offering incense to visitors. Pinon pine, alligator juniper, Texas Madrone, along with who knows how many other unique varieties of trees and vegetation decorate the way. The northside of boulders are scattered with colored lichens. Dollar bill green, mustard orange, chartreuse and rust. I feel certain I know where Jason Pollock got his inspiration.

Snow remained in little clumps here and there in the shade. Birds called.

My thoughts bounced, here and there. My muscles rejoiced. They knew what to do. At one point I came upon another hiker, tripod planted right in the middle of the trail, blocking the way.

My flesh wanted to grimace. To snarkily ask him to please scooch over so the rest of us could get by. In the same breath, I felt the spirit of Christmas come over me, and happily went around him, stepping in the mud, feeling rich in the ability to magnanimously give the gift of grace.

The voices of other hikers back down the trail wafted toward me. They wondered where the trail got its name. I imagined the answer I would give them if we were sitting around a campfire, cozy in for the night. As my muscles stretched and my heart pounded, the story wrote itself, as I dreamed of Spanish explorers and the hunt for gold, and Indians who knew that the true treasure lay right within our reach, if we would only get off the beaten trek and make time for beauty.

The destination on this hike is an unparalleled vista, set at the top of huge boulders, overlooking several canyons, desert land, a silvery trace of the Rio Grande and the far beyond mountains of Mexico. For me, the destination is a perch against a warm rock, back cradled. Eyes closed. Sun kissing my face and arms and birds calling and breeze caressing my hair.

My destination involves meditation. Prayer. Writing in my journal, thinking about pros and cons, business, spirit, parenting. A few minutes asking God to cuddle me up and let me know how much I am loved.


I found my little niche in the rock. Settled in. Then the party of 8 settled in above me. Which didn't worry me too much, since most people hike up and back out quickly, and don't sit down for long. But these visitors did. And they were loud. So I ate my lunch. Drank my green tea.

And laughed that after all the effort to make sure everyone was taken care of so I could grab some solitude, it was ironic that there was no solitude to be found! I considered hiking to another spot off trail, but since those folks would surely not be there for long, I picked up my book by Elie Wiesel and read. Night isn't exactly pleasant reading, but in my humble opinion, it is definitely necessary reading. So I read.

The sun kissed my forehead, the crows entertained me and the party of 8 left to be replaced by a party of 6. Who set up their picnic, whose children laughed and played rowdily. And I was proud of them all for getting away from the electronics, but wondered if I might ever find myself alone! So I decided to write down my story about Spanish explorers and the lost mine trail in my journal. And continued to marvel at the crackly sound of crow's wings as they soar through the air, and the funny sound of their call and answer.

Party of six moved on, then a sweet couple set up their picnic. Just a few feet above my perch.

It did get a little humorous. I think there is a message in it for me. Something about finding my peace in the middle of the chaos.

Finally, the hikers headed back down the trail and I was left all alone. Somewhat worried that my family might be getting a bit put out that I was away for so long, but trying to remember that I gave everyone good warning that I needed a large chunk of time, and that it was like the flight attendant giving out instructions about the adult putting on the oxygen mask first, and how I was going to be a much better mother for this long chunk of time, sitting out on a rock, sort of all by myself.

I finally spent some time working on lists. Not the to-do kind, but the heart inventory kind. And prayed. And didn't solve not even one problem. But I did feel greatly loved by God. And satisfied. And the trip down the mountain fed me.

We had some family time, watching the sunset from a hill down near Boquillas. Maggie and Patrick ran. We saw a cute coot (little duck) on a pond off the Rio Grande. Raymond grilled fajitas and I made freshly milled whole wheat tortillas and Daddy made his world famous specialty, pico de gallo. My long hike meant I missed out hiking into Boquillas canyon with Mom and the rest of the gang, but nonetheless I was so proud of her. 14 years ago she was told she would never walk again after a horrible auto accident. Not only does she walk, but she HIKES! I know it causes her great pain, but she does it anyway, and then goes home and paints about it.

We camped out on the floor that night, then next day, the kids and I gathered up the stuff and decided to primitive camp in an area we had never explored before. In a national park the size of Big Bend there is always a new unexplored area to find! We drove up the Old Ore Rd. I can't say everyone in the family was thrilled with the idea. After one day unplugged, they were not exactly happy campers. No movies. No texting. No FB or soft beds. Something in my gut told me that I needed to perservere, despite the complaining.

We said farewell to Mamaw and Papaw and bumped and bounced along the 4x4 road that traversed desert, slid through ravines and up rocky inclines. The girls wondered if I could speed it up above 10 mph, but no.

An hour and a half later, we left crowded wilderness to find the complete and utterly abandoned. We parked. We took inventory. Hmm. Rocks. Cactus. Lechugilla. Creosote. Great big hills. One tiny bird.

The group decided to camp underneath the stars. We pulled out sleeping bags and mats and everyone found a spot, and wonder of all wonders, the fighting and complaining ceased. The rough edges somehow smoothed, as we were thrust into such a rough-edged landscape. Rose and Nora grabbed their dollies and proceeded to climb up the farthest nearby little mountain. Thomas hiked down Telephone Canyon trail. Patrick ran the trail. Maggie found her own spot to hike. I prepared supper and then climbed a little hill. Then a slightly larger hill.

By seven we had eaten our dinner, cleaned up the dishes, then climbed into our sleeping bags, cold in the dark. Crescent moon, waxing, sitting like a bowl, slowly edged her way across the sky. We were in a bowl, surrounded by giant hills, in the shadow of mountains, tucked near the canyon. The silence was overwhelming. Not even cry of coyote or call of bird disturbed the quiet. Patrick pointed out the stars of Orion's belt and we all watched as he (orion) climbed up to the sky. Patrick then told us where to look for Taurus and a bunch of other constellations we had never noticed before. And I felt proud that these kids were willing to sleep out, under the stars, in the far away land. Nobody seemed upset about being unplugged.

As the night grew darker and the cold got colder, I realized I should have brought more sleeping bags for doubling up. I wondered if I had made a huge mistake. If children would die from cold exposure, and how that would make me feel as a mother. Then I wondered if I might die from cold exposure and how that would make the kids feel.

I wiggled toes and wondered what it would be like to go through the night without any sleep. Then I wondered how amazing it was that being cold totally eclipsed feelings of pain that I usually feel in my neck and back when sleeping out away from my bed.

Then I heard Maggie exclaim over seeing another shooting star. I removed the sleeping bag from my face, put my glasses back on and went back to watching the show. A giant shooting star. Apparently flung from Orion's bow, arching across the sky. And then another. And another.

I never got warm enough, and have to say that in my whole life have I never felt more cold. The temperatures were supposed to be in the mid 40's that night, but actually dropped down to the low 30's. Perhaps camping in the open air without warm enough sleeping bags is a bad idea. But once the water was boiled next morning and the sun rose over the hills and the coffee hit my belly, I knew that somehow we needed the camping trip more than any of us realized.

We hiked some more, and my runners, Patrick and Maggie, hit the trails, and covered six miles without stop, and Rose and Nora and I climbed up very high and could see very far, and threw rocks and yelled.

I wish we could have camped another night, but duty called. So did my warm bed. People are back to electronics. Rose wonders if I am trying to catch up for three months, since I am taking such a long time on this blog. Now she and Nora play Battleship and Maggie hangs out with her friend and Thomas plays with his Ipod and Patrick hangs out with Thai. I can't even see the moon.

Nevertheless, I will never forget her, crossing the sky, she and her lovely chorus of stars, more stars than I have ever seen in my life, more beautiful than any movie, telling me stories that have been told for thousands and thousands of years. Definitely worth the lack of sleep and cold.

BTW, noone died of cold exposure. Hard to believe, but true. And nothing is better for snarly teenagers (and their mothers) than a good campout. What a gift.

PS there are so many other stories I wish I could share, like a visit from a girlfriend and her husband, and our memories of working together over twenty years ago, as waitresses in Big Bend National Park. Our hikes and polyster blue uniform dresses and hairnets and making the Century plant Christmas tree and making lots of music around campfires in our spare time. And sharing Christmas with new church family, and the irony of a white Christmas in Texas! And the absolute highlight of my whole holiday so far: singing around the piano with Daddy and Mom and Raymond for an hour and a half on Christmas night. All the good Christmas songs and a few more and a couple of hymns thrown in for good measure. I don't know what I could like more. What a great gift. Music ringing throughout our new home. Thank you, Mom and Daddy, for giving me so many wonderful gifts, art, music, good food, lots of love.
I sure do love you.

Friday, December 23, 2011

rosemary focaccia

I promised Stewart I would post my favorite bread recipe, and realize I forgot. As I watch the sleet come down and the grey roll from the mountains into our neighborhood, I think lots of people would enjoy eating something warm and savory with family and friends. So, with no further ado:

Rosemary Focaccia

3 tsp yeast
2 c. warm water
1/4 c olive oil
1/2 c coconut oil
1 tsp salt
5-6 c freshly milled whole wheat (a hard white wheat yields the most tender focaccia) or spelt
and for the topping, minced garlic, fresh rosemary, olive oil and salt

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and add the oils, salt and 3 cups of the flour. Beat the batter with a dough hook for 10 minutes. If you are making this by hand, use a very sturdy, large spoon and beat for at least 15 minutes. You are developing the gluten in the dough, which will make a nice, fluffy bread. After you notice the dough is getting stretchy and stringy, add the rest of the flour, bit by bit, kneading it in until it is smooth and bouncy. Don't add too much flour, or the bread will be heavy and dense.

Now it is time to throw another load of laundry in, or check your email or walk the dog while the dough rises a couple of times. When it has doubled, punch it down, and let it rise again. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, and divide your dough in two or three pieces. I roll it out into a rectangle and place it on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Generously cover the dough with the garlic and olive oil, then sprinkle with chopped up fresh rosemary and the sea salt. Let the focaccia rise one time more, then bake for 25 or 30 minutes, until the dough is golden and your house will smell SO good, you might just have to stand around your kitchen and eat the first loaf as it comes out of the oven.


Thursday, December 22, 2011


Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat.

I remember driving to Grandma and Grandpa's for Christmas and singing the round with my sisters. We especially liked the "doodle oodle oo, boom boom boom" part, back in the day. I guess most of you have no idea what I am talking about...

Singing in the car whilst driving somewhere for holidays is a part of my childhood experience. I thought about that while the kids and I drove to the big city for a last minute holiday extravaganza this week. I hurried to finish up deliveries of bread on Tuesday afternoon so we could drive up to Odessa to meet our friend. We went to the mall. We ate at restaurants. We ice-skated. We slept, all piled in, at a hotel.

Sounds like fun, right?

Well, the honest to goodness truth is, that occasionally we had moments of brilliance. Kids laughing. Songs being sung. Oohs and aahs over pretty Christmas light displays. And interspersed through it all were moments of pain, tears, fussiness and complaining.

After a not too brilliant moment of me trying to remember how to ice skate, I felt pain wash over me and couldn't stop crying. I retreated to a corner, as merry christmas music washed over the place, tucked up my ice skates, and tried to discreetly weep.

Have you ever noticed how hard it is to weep discreetly?

For a moment I tried to get my bearings, wondering why the wave of pain. We were celebrating Patrick's 16th birthday and the luxury of a day in the big city with my dear friend. Why the tears?

All of a sudden I remembered that on that day I would have been celebrating my 20th wedding anniversary if Philip hadn't died.

And all of a sudden, the insecure feeling I had on the ice, wobbling around, trying to find my balance, while ankles quaked and body tensed, seemed way too much like the way I feel in real life.

I cried a few tears, felt embarrassed, and my dear one gave me a hug and understanding. The kids gentled themselves toward me and interestingly enough, a brief moment of vulnerability on my part opened them up to compassion. We got through the moment, and managed to get through the day, and even though we were all severely over-stimulated by the mall and noise and lights and horrible exhibits of consumerism, at some point, I think when we were eating supper together at Rosa's, and Patrick was playing with the little robot creature the other kids gave him for his birthday, I had the feeling that everything was going to be okay, no matter what.

Holidays are a bit rough for those of us who have been dealt loss at some point of life or another.

Is there anyone out there who hasn't experienced some loss or another at some point in life?

So we muddle through.

This morning I didn't really want to get up and work, but thanks be to God, had enough something in me to get up, make coffee and grind the wheat and spelt. It helped to have some orders waiting. Different people dropped in to pick up bread and I was glad to have a purpose. I told Rachel on the phone that I felt worn out, discombobulated, and in pain. I don't know what to do with myself, now that Philip is gone, friends are in Virginia and New Jersey and we are too far away.

Wonder of wonder, another anniversary passed, some bread got baked and the children survived. I remembered that two years ago we were in Texas, in Big Bend National Park, camping out on Patrick's 14th birthday. Philip was in Va, in a blizzard. We didn't know we had so little time left, but a dream told me to be aware.

There is an Andrew Peterson song i like that says something about falling down isn't graceful, but it is full of grace.

I believe that grace filled up my day today, as i hurt, but endeavored to fill up bread orders anyway.

We are definitely finding our way, on this path laid out before us. We didn't exactly choose this path, but here we are, anyway. And in the middle, God is good. I missed my friends so badly today and felt quite alone. Taking a risk, I asked a new gal friend if she would like to hang out with us tonight after work. Her daughter is friends with one of my dear ones. Kids played and ran around and made homemade pizzas and hot chocolate. New friend and I ate dinner the two of us and shared stories. We all sang "Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel" around the advent candles and believe it or not, in the middle of the pain I felt the presence of God.

Life is a mixed up bag. I want to be grateful for the beautiful moments that are given me in the middle of it all. Kids telling me thank you. Nora and Rose looking up recipes. Seeing Maggie and Rose gracefully glide across ice. Nora, conspiring, visions of sugar plums dancing in her head. Big boys helping me carry. Tender hearts planted in their wonderful masculine chests. A dear one, great big hands tenderly telling me that I am loved, even when tearful and fearful.

Christmas is a wonderful time for me. Even since it became painful. The meaning of Emmanuel, God is with us, means more to me than ever before. Oh how grateful I don't have to get it all right, all perfect, all finished before I can enjoy and appreciate Emmanuel.

Well, better get to bed. Christmas is coming. The goose is getting fat. Please put a penny in the old man's hat. If you haven't got a penny, a ha'penny will do. If you haven't got a ha'penny then God bless you!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

I Love Sunday

I love to go to church.

When we miss, I miss our dear ones there.

HOWEVER, I discovered a few years ago that occasionally I need to stay home on a Sunday. Sometimes the world says "Hurry! Hurry! Go! Go!" and I forget what it means to be still and worship.

This morning was a morning to be still.

I leisurely got out of bed after 8:30am this morning. Made my coffee. Sat down with my Bible, Book of Common Prayer and devotional book. Had a longer than usual coversation with my Creator. Listened to Maggie play the piano. Made my bed for the first time in days. Cleared off my desk. Sat down at the piano and played through at least 6 or 7 Advent hymns and sang with Maggie.

I feel more refreshed than I have in I don't know when, and am so thankful that there are many ways I can worship God, and even though communal worship is important to me, I revel in the freedom to stay home on those rare occasions like today. Even the children seem more energized today than they have been. What a gift.

BTW, the skies are cloudy, and gusts of wind threaten to tear the house down every once in awhile. The air is not cold. For the moment. But it certainly looks like December outside and is beginning to look a lot like Christmas on the inside.

Now is time to change clothes and head to the kitchen. Friends from ages ago are driving into the area this evening and will stay overnight with us. She and I worked together at Big Bend National Park as waitresses twenty something years ago. 'Twill be fun to catch up over dinner tonight. Roasted Chicken with brown butter sage sauce. Roasted vegetables. Sweet potatoes. I had better get busy.

Friday, December 16, 2011


The kids and I are working through the book Holes by Louis Sachar.

It is set somewhere in West Texas.

Reading out loud to the kids is one of my favorite things in the whole wide world. Especially when even the big kids keep begging me to read another chapter. And another one. And another one. I think it will be fun to watch the movie once we finish the book and talk about how much better the book is. Can you believe that the kids have read that book several times on their own and they still beg me to keep reading chapter after chapter?

I wish more people in the world would read books aloud with their loved ones. There are six of us. Thomas, the 18 yr old, Patrick, almost 16, Maggie is 14, Rose is 11, and Nora is 8 years old. Then you have the 45 yr old mama. A good book can draw us all together more than just about anything else.

Trying to Figure it out

Last night I went to a Chamber of Commerce mixer which took place at the new business of an aquaintance and bread customer of mine.

It was rather hard to leave the kids for the evening, but they seemed to be fine as I put on go to town clothes and some lipstick.

I don't get out much, but feel it is important to spend a little time each month getting to know some folks in my community, not to mention have some grown up time.

I hopped on the bicycle and rode up the hill, around the corner and down the side of the college campus in the brisk, dark evening.

Folks mingled. Tables were laden with ceviche, carnitas, tamales, pico de gallo. Yeah. I am definitely back in Texas!

I visited with a woman I had previously met at church. She was lamenting the fact that being a writer, she hadn't been exercising her craft, but was bogged down in trivia.

I told her I thought that part of the reason I felt a bit exhausted and frustrated was that with the start up of my business here in Alpine, with trying to run a household as a single mom and manage two properties in two states, I was always needing to use a certain part of the brain, leaving little time for my creative energies to be expressed. I haven't been able to figure out where to fit in writing and hiking and outdoors in our new life. Too much work on figuring stuff out, like ordering ingredients and making labels and marketing and what not.

Not necessarily bogged down in trivia, because the things that occupy me are definitely not trivial. Nevertheless, I am still trying to figure out how to exercise the writing part of my brain that thrives with creative energy.

I knew that the farm was a great venue and tried hard not to take it for granted. All that built in outdoor, meditation time, thanks to Coco and milking. And chasing errant animals. And having to fix fence. How in the world am I going to figure out how to get all my creative needs met, here in our little town?

Well, riding my bike back home in the dark, I listened to the whiz of the tires and felt the brisk wind smack my cheeks. I thought about the variety of people with whom I spoke. So many different stories and journeys, all thrown together in one Chamber of Commerce mixer! Spicy, sweet, pungent, all mixed up like that nice pico, ready to enhance our tacos.

I wanted to run away. To sit on the top of my favorite mountain. To feel the sun on my face and to journal and pray. But today I couldn't do that. Responsibility called. I prayed that God would meet me in the middle of it, as I felt frustration mount.

And can you believe it? I believe I was met. There was opportunity to hand out a few hugs today. There was opportunity to pray with some friends. There was a moment of tender transparency between mother and daughter. I guess I am tired and don't even feel like searching for the words. There are things I want to write, but I am always running out of steam by the end of the day.

As that woman and I chatted at the gathering last night, I suggested that I would pray for her to find her spot to write, if she would pray for me. I prefer to write when inspiration is flowing, full of energy. But maybe I had better write, even when dull and not terribly inspired so I will be in place when those wonderful moments happen to unfold.

Sorry readers, for subjecting you to random wandering thoughts. I guess if I were a better blogger, I would edit all this stuff out. But here I am anyway. Trying to figure out what my life is about here in our new world, off farm. I do believe we are in the middle of our land of Milk and Honey, here in Alpine, but I am not sure what that means. I can't even begin to describe the giant skies and the wide opens and the way the shadows of the clouds decorate the low hills. As I drove and looked in awe and wonder yesterday, I tried to come up with words and it was beyond me. I am having to come up with a new vocabulary and it is a bit tiring. Maybe you should come back in a few months after I have it all figured out (ha ha.)

Friday Night

I was outside this morning before daylight, taking some of the kids to school. Rose had a project that was too unwieldy for a bicycle ride. A big sun hat fashioned out of old newspapers and cut up organic sucanat bags, designed by Rose for her Environmental Science class's Trashion Show. It was pretty cute, and I would like it even if I weren't her mother.

The sky was still dark at 7:30am and I asked Patrick to accompany Nora as she rode her bike to the Elementary school.

It was clear to me that we were nearing Winter Solstice. Coming up in less than a week. The shortest day of the year. Patrick's birthday.

Frankly, the dark felt a bit depressing, but my insides reminded me to take heart. Sunlight will return to us in short order.

I am thankful that my bakery is a nicely sized sunroom, what used to be Mrs. Turner's art studio. Even though I don't get outside most of the day, at least I can watch the mountains in the distance and the yard in the near. The best thing I saw outside all day long was Nora, swinging on the swing with her school friend Jocelyn. She was delighted to have a friend come over for a visit. What an answer to prayer for a little girl making her new way here in Texas.

Customers came and customers went.

I think I used to be a little grateful, back before the farm and the bakery. But somehow I think that grief and work and transitions have done something to make me more grateful than I have ever been in my life. When someone walks in the door, with a smile on the face, happy to smell bakery magic, ready to engage in a chat, I feel like I have a role in this life. I realize that those folks could have skipped dropping by the bakery. It takes extra effort to go out of their way to come over here instead of pick up a loaf of bread or a bag of granola at the grocery store. I truly believe that the grain I mill and the bread I bake is nutritious, but sometimes I doubt, or question, or wonder. When those folks come by and spend their hard earned money on my craft, I feel so grateful to be able to own this business. Rough around the edges, but grateful. Hmm. I wonder what transpired to make me so much more thankful than I used to be?

Thomas washed up bakery dishes for me so he could earn $5 to go to the movies. Sherlock Holmes 2 is playing tonight and I really want to see that movie. But not tonight! I am thankful for Thomas cleaning up, and for Patrick cooking up green beans to go with our chicken, and thankful the kids can have some fun on the first night of their Christmas vacation.

PS I miss the outdoors. But am too tired to go sit out there in the cold. I think the moon must be waning, but haven't even taken a look.

Compare and Contrast

A few weeks ago the weather turned cold.

On the farm when the weather turned cold, we went out to the woodpile, carried in armloads, trailing dust and bark and other detritus, gathered newspaper and debated the different methods of lighting a fire in the woodstove.

Here in Alpine, I have an old Lennox gas furnace tucked in the bathroom closet. With a pilot light.

I have never lit a pilot light on a gas furnace before, but I figured it couldn't be that hard. Just like on the farm, I turned to Google to help me solve my daily challenges, like butchering chickens, shearing sheep, castrating bulls and pilot light ignition.

There are more videos than you can imagine on YouTube, demonstrating the fine art of lighting a furnace pilot. Step by step, long pieces of wadded up newspaper, matches, tucked in some basement, in who knows which state of the union. I watched. I attempted. I watched again.

For some reason, castrating a bull left me less fearful than dealing with matches and natural gas.

I went to the kitchen, found the phone book, called the gas company and within a couple of hours, a very kind man came to the house and lit the pilot light for free! He told me that Mrs. Turner, the lady who is selling me this house, was his elementary school teacher, and how he loved her. And within minutes, our house was warm.

I miss a lot of things about Virginia and the farm. But I can't say that I miss heating our home with firewood right at the minute! What a contrast to go over to the wall and turn the thermostat.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tuesday Evening

This morning I saw the world through rose colored glasses as I rode bicycles to school with Nora. The heavy clouds tried to smother the sky, but as the sun pushed up, the entire town was bathed in pink.

Nora's favorite color.

I haven't ridden bikes in ages, and even though I had too much to do, when Nora asked, I had to say yes.

Today is Tuesday, so I baked bread. And granola. And cookies and focaccia.

Customers came and I was grateful, even if a bit late. When six pm rolled around I saw the sun heading toward the horizon and felt like I might just die if I didn't go outside for a little bit.

So Rose and Nora took care of the bakery and I grabbed a sweater, jumped on the bicycle again, and was bathed in gold. Gold washed over me and the golf course, the homes and the streets, and the sun hurried, and hurried and I tried to slow down as I rode. I can't say that the stress exactly rolled off my shoulders, but as I raced toward the west, trying to catch up with him, he laughed, ran ahead, and then painted the sky red and orange and purple, then dipped behind a mountain, knowing that I would never be able to catch him for good. And I decided that it was a very good thing to be outside for twenty minutes, even if it meant pushing my work much farther into the night.

The kids were on their own for supper tonight. Some ate leftover homemade tamales from Mari. Others ate ramen noodles. I grabbed a glass of wine and paused my work to go into the library to read a few chapters of HOLES to the kids. We had a very hard time finding a stopping place. After reading two or three chapters longer than I planned, we folded down the page, said our prayers, and kids went off to study for finals or to play, and I returned to the bakery to bag granola.

A blog friend put up a quote by Anne Frank on his blog the other day. "I can shake off everything if I write. My sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn."

I think I might survive the holidays if I can open up the door to myself to sit down and write. And maybe pause to be bathed in pink and gold every once in awhile. I hope everyone out there takes the time to go out and feel during this lovely Advent season.

PS I really do have so many more stories to share!