February 3rd

Today is our birthday.  No I don’t know exactly when they were born but the girls came to me on 11-3-08 at approximately 18-19 months old, or so the vet thought, so do the gizzintas… Now just Toti and I celebrate together.  She gets a special treat and I get to stay in my pajamas until 2 (even on a work day).

My text message alert, my IM alert, Facebook alert, email alert, IG alert all have different ring tones so this morning sounded like a symphony of love. Complete with crescendo, overture and finale. I am grateful for every one of those notes.

I get to hear people’s actual voices, on the phone, that I haven’t heard in a while.  My heart is bursting at the sound of Ki, and Bev, and of course, Rere, Terri, and Sandra.

Words are powerful, and poignant, and blessed and abundant.  For every word of love on this day (and during these weeks!) I am grateful.  The words came from near and far, from those I see every day or only once in a while. They came over social media and over dinner tables. They came with pictures and cartoons and gifs.  They came with reminders of where I’d been and what I’d accomplished and they came with the hope of another wonderful year ahead.

Google knows it’s my birthday.  It took me a minute to realize it, I don’t know how exactly (clearly I have my own algorithm), I’m not sure if I’m freaked out about it or not.  But they know…

I am officially of retirement age.  Oh don’t worry I’m not leaving the best gig in the company until they throw me out, tap me on the shoulder and tell me it’s over. They might very well think I’ve already retired, I’m that far under the radar.  Well if they sweetened the pot I might consider it but those days seem to be over.

Top it all off with dinner with those nearest and dearest and damn it was a day to remember.  Because February 3rd hasn’t always been the best day of my year, there have been times when I could have stayed in bed (fat chance of that now, thankfully) and not many would have noticed but if you do your life’s work well you’ll be rewarded with all of these wonderful reminders of how your legacy is shaping up.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for making this day so special. Ubuntu; I am because of you.

Threads

I wanted to pull the thread, unravel the scarf of my silence and start again from the beginning – Jonathan Sofran Foer

This week was a little like sitting on the step of Aunt Nettie’s sewing room.  The step because it wasn’t so much a room as a tiny former foyer.   She sat at her sewing machine looking out onto Woodside Avenue where any number of older Italian women needed to be kept “an eye on”, Gramma Marco, Mary Sinise, Mrs. Spadafrank, you get the picture.  It’s not lost on me that I now sit at my laptop looking out onto Stowe Lane where any number of older women need to be kept “an eye on” also.  Such is the chore of a real neighborhood.

As she worked mending this or that or making a dress for so and so or altering a jacket for someone else my job was to pick up the many threads she snipped and dropped.  There is a golden rule of life that says don’t ever pull the loose thread on your…whatever, fill in the blank, shirt, scarf, skirt.  This did not apply to her (or my Aunt Millie), she could pull a thread and unravel any number of inches that needed to be snipped and resewn or any collar that didn’t lay exactly straight.  These were the squiggly crimped threads that embedded themselves around the loops of the rug and under and over and made it impossible to vacuum but really she was keeping me busy and out of her hair.

Once all done with the threads (that never happened) I could play in the button box. There was every kind of button you could imagine mostly cut off of garments that were so thread bare they had to go in the rag bag. There were some cards of buttons for brand new garments and there were buttons by the dozen in small cellophane bags. There were embroidery snips, tailor’s chalk and thimbles and safety pins all the tools required to take something apart and to put something back together.  I learned much in that room just by watching.

That was this week, unraveling the scarf of my silence, picking up the threads, salvaging a collar, unlooping the squiggly long threads that had gotten somehow crimped around long forgotten memories.  Taking many childhood somethings apart and putting them back together with an adult’s understanding. Using new buttons and snaps to tailor my ordinary photos into stories.

It was sometimes painstaking work, sometimes dreamy spellbinding work, all of it creative work which I’m looking forward to continuing throughout the year.  The path for this generous gift was provided by robin sandomirsky & alisha sommer  through Liberated Lines – Amplify. They have my gratitude.

Lekvaar Bars

I had the pleasure and privilege of joining my neighbor, Barbara Oreshnick, in her kitchen recently to learn how to make her holiday Lekvaar Bars. Lekvar (which is the most common way to spell the name) is a fruit butter of central and eastern European origin.  It is smooth, creamy, rich and delicious.  It can be made from any number of different kinds of fruits but Barbara prefers Lekvar made from prune.

This recipe, a Russian Polish version,  came from her mother-in-law.  The funny thing about this recipe is that it might never have come into Barbara’s recipe book along with her mother-in-law’s poppy seed cake and nut rolls.  Seems Barbara never wanted to try these delectable bites…then….once she finally tasted them she was hooked.  I can see why and I’m grateful she’s carried on the tradition.

Barbara’s kitchen is nostalgic and warm.  It gives a nod back to a certain period in time when not everything needed to be upgraded to the latest and greatest simply for the sake of upgrading.

The process is much like making any basic dough.

Speaking of nostalgia the site of Barbara’s canisters sent my heart reeling.  For those of you who know me, vintage aluminum is my jam…these were a shower gift to Barbara back in 1954.  Oh how I adore them.

Then on to forming the dough. You’ll notice the jelly roll pan is not greased.

Now for that wonderful Lekvar.

The filling is spread thick and evenly across the dough. Barbara makes the painstaking process of shingling the upper crust of the bars look easy in that “these hands have done this a hundred times” kind of way.

As I watch Barbara I’m reminded of our Italian crostata.  Similar in that it has a bottom layer, a fruit filling but instead of shingling the upper crust we cut strips and make the lattice top.  The first time I tasted these Lekvaar Bars I knew there was a familiarity about them, now I made the connection.  I once had a wonderful crostata recipe that somehow got misplaced so I can see re-purposing this recipe in that direction.  I know Barbara won’t mind.

Into the oven for 30-40 minutes until golden brown.  Like most experienced baker’s Barbara has a system for clean up and my time with her was coming to a close.

Days later, when I came home from a wonderful Christmas Eve celebration I found a bag of goodies hanging from the nob on my front door.  I couldn’t wait to open them up.

They did not disappoint, they were absolutely delicious.  Even more so now that I know their history.  I can’t thank Barbara enough for sharing this heritage recipe with me, and now you.  The thought of these wonderful morsels being lost just breaks my heart.  I hope you’ll give them a try, I know like I know you will enjoy every crumb.

 

The Power of Pitching a Fit

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If you’re anything like me you probably think you’ve got it all together. People come to you and ask your advice, you struggle with not fixing things for everyone anymore and sometimes you actually succeed. You’re a safe place, people can say anything they want to you and it goes nowhere beyond the conversation. Vent away, of course you feel that way, I’m so sorry this is happening, you say to whomever needs to hear it.

You find yourself saying these things time and time again and then sometimes you wonder where those same people go when they’re feeling fabulous. Not to your house as it turns out. And so it begins that crazy mixture of self-pity, I never ask for anything rant (except that you take two minutes each week to read my tiny little blog), why am I always alone story you tell yourself right before your back starts aching and your hip doesn’t work right and you have a headache every day and your hair is as big as Diana Ross. You see where this is going?

It happens to all of us at one time or another. When the stuff of life starts manifesting in your body I don’t care how many affirmations you recite, how much praying you do it won’t work until you pitch a fit. The cares and woes of all your people are safe with you, they feel better and you are better for being there but summon up your petulant child and start stamping your feet, crying your eyes out or dancing/running/walking it out of your body when you feel it coming on. Howl at the moon, punch the bobo doll, find a way to sweat it out. I’m not kidding it works.

Don’t let it fester as if you are everyone’s personal vessel of troubles. Yes, you are a kind hearted soul that somehow finds yourself with a head full of everything that’s happened to your people in the last six months/years/decades. Remember it’s not your stuff, get rid of it, the helping is done now let it go.

Don’t let the situation worm its way into all of your own things you’ve been putting aside. Because God knows you can make a mountain out of wink when you’re in this state of teary aches and pains and why’s and why nots. Remember you have people too. They would be happy to say what you need to hear if only you tap them on the shoulder, or shoot a text or show up for lunch as it turns out. It’s not your job to take care of everyone else first, it’s your job to take care of you first. If you’re empty for yourself you’re empty for everyone else too.

Indulge your temper tantrum, with those who’ve seen it before. I am eternally grateful for my besties, the ones who cheer when I pitch a fit…because they know like they know I’ll be fine in a minute. Ok, I’m done now.

Grateful Nomination

Blogger Recognition Award 2015

Thank you Maria Baird of Manifesting Me and the Small Changes for Life Project for your nomination.  I am grateful you found me (through that terrific cousin of yours) and have been a supporter in the very short time we’ve know each other.  I love your work, you are indeed a legacy in the making.

The Rules:

Select 15 other blogs you want to give the award to. You cannot nominate yourself or the person who has nominated you
Give a brief story of how your blog got started
Give a piece or two of advice to new bloggers
Thank whoever nominated you, and provide a link to their blog
List those you’ve nominated in the post and comment on their blogs to let them know you’ve nominated them.

My blog started after creating a new life after divorce.  Sounds like so many other’s reasons but I was on a mission to build a legacy and show others that even ordinary people could leave behind extraordinary legacies.

My advice for new bloggers is to know like you know that you are sharing your truth, even if you’re scared to death.  The truth resonates like nothing else.

The not so ordinary list of people I keep up with and would love recognized:

Intoxikate-Living Life Deliciously

Daily Presents

Snap Maven

Chris Guillebeau

Green Mountain at Fox Run

Namaste House Wifery

Elke Trick Photography

Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary

Mad Hungry

Local Kitchen

124 Park

Jeff Goins

The Strangers Project

Drew Dudley

Becoming Minimalist