Sunday, November 27, 2011

Where I Believe I Belong

Looking at the marina is not as calming as looking out to sea;
I still miss my marsh, but this beats being inland for me.
There is always the circle of life for me to observe
In the sea and the sky and the fish feeding the birds.
I am not always frightened as I was in the woods
Where the shadows seemed to hold much that wasn't good.
Is it in my Cajun blood that I see water as life giving;
Or were my early ancestors actually American Indian?

I'm looking out now as the pelicans float on the waves
A while ago I saw a blue egret, so regal and so grave.
The fresh trout that we ate last night was a treat;
How easy it is on the water to find something to eat.
It is so peaceful too, with no guns and no noise;
It seems more soothing to the savage beasts in boys
Than hunting and trapping and chanting warrior songs
Yes, on the water is where I believe I belong.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Smile for a While

Thanksgiving was a time to beam over the families we begot.
My grandchildren think it's weird that I laugh a lot;
But I can't help celebrating the blessings that I've got.
Cousins arguing over who is my favorite grandchild,
Knowing full well, when asked, I will simply smile.
And them hold them both tightly for a little while.

The food, the friends, the family are all part of our bounty;
I'm so glad that when they invite parents, they always include me.
This way I can witness for myself what great families they now be.
It's true that it's chaotic and we don't say a group prayer;
With the love and laughter in the home, The Spirit must be there.
These are the most special values in The Family Life we all share.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pond Scum and Then Some

Isn't it funny how favorite foods evoke memories? I wonder how many wars are actually about what we eat and what scents waft across the breezeways than about the religious rules that so few really seem to know about their own faiths.

This Thanksgiving, I've been asked to make a cornbread dressing by my daughter-in-law's mother's recipe, as my daughter-in-law's dad has just had some surgery and his wife will be unable to provide this favored delicacy. My daughter has requested that I stuff celery with a cream cheese, olive, and pecan stuffing.

Our family tree is more like a tangled vine, so the kids are always looking for ways to celebrate peace between their long-divorced parental units, especially at holiday time. My children think I believe that they've requested their dad's favorite oyster dressing for them, when I'm pretty sure nobody but their dad actually eats it, mainly because it looks just like pond scum. I guess food is as good a way as any to show good faith, so how could I say no?

The father of my children came from Slavic people, a German mother and a father from Louisiana oyster fishing folks. I guess this marriage of the German who grew up on potatoes and the Louisianan who grew up with oysters plucked directly from the bayou led to this concoction that I was lucky enough to learn before my mother-in-law's early death from cancer.

Not that I think any of you would want to make this, but here's the old family recipe:

Pond Scum and Then Some, aka, Oyster and Potato Dressing

½ cup canola oil
1 bunch celery, diced
1 bunch Italian parsley, minced
2 bunches green onions, thinly sliced
4 cups (approximately 3 large) diced onions
2 cups (approximately 2 large) diced green peppers
½ gallon fresh oysters (preferable unwashed) drained – Reserve liquid
5 pounds red potatoes
Salt and black pepper to taste
8 large eggs, beaten (optional)

In large, heavy-bottomed pot, over medium heat, sauté vegetables in canola oil until soft. Boil potatoes in oyster liquid. Drain well and roughly mash. Cut oysters into one-inch pieces. Add to sautéed vegetables. Heat until oysters curl. Add potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Bake, uncovered, at 300 degrees for thirty minutes, or until heated through. If a firmer stuffing is desired, stir eggs into stuffing before baking.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Things

My daughter's family arrives today
Because Thanksgiving is on its way.
Fruitcake is baked and stuffing's are begun;
We surely can't do with only one.
For one loves the oyster potato dressing,
And one thinks cornbread is a blessing.
The spiced cranberry sauce needs only a dish
And for some the orange-cran relish is delish.
There's pumpkin pie yet to bake,
And two green bean casseroles, for heaven's sake.
A pan of brownies has been requested
I'm already feeling rather "in-digested."

Monday, November 21, 2011

Extraordinary Interviews

A most wonderful thing happens when one listens to people of positive passion; they seem to draw others of equal passion to themselves. I have been fortunate to meet many extraordinary individuals simply by being around other extraordinary folks.

While Richard went up to the offices at the World War II Museum, I took the opportunity to bring one of our oldest boat builders, who was a coxswain on Higgins boats during the war, some of me and Mamie's homemade jams. A very attractive woman was interviewing him at length about the details of his service. I'm always fascinated to hear Captain Don speak about his adventures, so I simply stood and listened.

Upon Richard's arrival on the scene, Captain Don and he began to catch up on their long-standing relationship, so I was free to ask the woman where she was from and broach other usual small-talk topics. I really hit the jackpot. Come to find out this woman was not only an officer and engineer in our United States Navy, she was in the first class of women to graduate from the naval academy.

She shared with me that she had grown up in a military family and had enjoyed the adventures that their constant moves afforded her. When it came time to decide on a college, she figured that she should go ahead and start her military service since this is what she wanted to do with her life. She and her fellow Annapolis graduate husband now have three children serving our country in the military and she continues her life of service teaching underprivileged children the joys of science and math. What a woman!

To top it all off, Sharon Hanley Disher is a published author, having written a book, First Class, about her Annapolis adventures. I can't wait to read it and share it with my granddaughter who is getting ready to go to college to become an engineer.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

It's Alright to Be Ordinary

A friend who was public relations director for a major medical institution once said to me that the problem with his job was the danger that the people he wrote about would begin to believe what he said in press releases. My father used to say that even the pope put his pants on one leg at a time, just like my dear old dad. (Not that I've ever seen any proof that the pope wears pants under those robes, but still...)

It could have been upsetting to ascertain that I was meant to be ordinary
Until it occurred that I was meant to befriend those who were not thus meant to be.
Those who are really great keep on doing what they're meant to and not
Worrying about the cost or counting how many friends they have got.
I am in awe that there are some who care not what others may think;
They simply do what they feel led to do, and feelings aren't given a blink.
I, who am led by my feelings and by what others about me surmise,
Find the ability to be true to oneself quite the ultimate prize.

I feel so honored to be in such personal value-driven company,
And I feel inspired and sanctified by their applied morality.
The challenge in this world of humans, no matter their greatness,
Is to hold them to modeling the values which each of them profess.
This is the challenge of serving those who are our leaders:
To keep them from joining the ranks of those who seek to deceive us.
I am often like the child who called, "The emperor has no clothes."
I would rather be out of favor than their pretenses to them not disclose.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fraternizing and Friendship

What a joy it was for me to be
In the work world of my "Little Dickie."
This is the pet name that he was called
Before he became a doctor and friendships stalled.
The tedious task that he asked me to share
Was truly mind-deadening beyond compare,
But we manged to have a great many laughs
Without committing too many gaffes.
He doesn't think of his fellow workers as friends
Because he into the woodwork blends.
But they all seem to come around
To seek help and advice, which is always sound.

While it is true that he's wound too tight,
When you get him laughing, he's pure delight.
It simply seems difficult for them to see
That he's just as playful as you and me.
The job is complete; I've met some of the guys,
Who on his attention to detail daily relay.
I wish there was a way to help them relax,
Knowing he's weird, but he's got their backs.
Maybe then they would ask him out for a brew,
And to share stories of what they do.
Or maybe they could go out to a movie or two
And become more to each other than a work crew.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Varying Veterans Day Observation

We were able to observe Veterans Day a little early this year.
Tuesday we gave a presentation at our granddaughter's school
About the Higgins Boats that Richard holds most dear.
Yesterday we met this class at the World war II Museum;
They were interested in the boats that "won the war."
A Higgins Boat Vet was on hand to greet them.
Captain Don was a coxswain on Higgins landing boats;
He served our country fighting in the Philippines,
Where the Navy taught him how to drive whatever floats.

I spent the day listening to him tell his many tales
He's a mechanic, musician, teacher, and boat pilot;
He doesn't seem to know the meaning of "fail."
He lost his beloved wife to cancer many years ago
But he continues to give his talents to others;
He puts on an interesting and informative show.
Hearing of his life in Missouri with his mother and dad
And of his adventures out at sea in the World War II;
It was the most memorable museum visit I've had.

He is a bit of our country's living history;
I can only imagine him as a school teacher --
How exciting and engaging his classes must be.
Passion put into what we teach is so contagious
The teaching by rote of subjects we don't know
Seems to me to be simply outrageous.
We can learn so much by simply sitting at the feet
Of those who are willing to share their life stories
With everyone they happen to meet.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Cooking, Cookies, and Comfort

Our niece and her wonderful baby boys
Came to visit us at our sons
And play with Uncle and his toys.
One brother who contemplates
All things in his little life;
What a world his fantasy creates!
The other whose joyful abandon
Is an infectious, wild delight --
They're the same parents' sons!

Their mother is extremely careful
To treat them quite differently,
Dealing with their individual bull.
In school, working, and separated
She struggles but continues on.
Her dedication is to be celebrated.
Thankfully, their cousin has much energy
To chase and play with the children
As they run through the house so free.

Granddaughter and I, with one of her friends,
Created the snicker-doodle cookies
On which her older brother depends.
We'd prepared breakfast for his visitors,
Practiced Poppie's presentation,
And Richard had been to the store.
We'd made lasagna for a supper to share;
I wanted nothing more than to observe
From a soft comfortable chair.

Lovely, Loving Little Girl

It's pretty amazing to me how doggedly children insist on spreading their innocent love around. We went to my son's house to be with the pre-teen and teen children of their blended family of our son's family and the family of their best friends while the adults went to a Saints game. As Richard sat at the computer working on a presentation on his work with the Higgins boats for our ten-year-old granddaughter's gifted class, our granddaughter came over and started finger-combing the back of his rather sparse hair.

When Richard commented that fixing his appearance was impossible, she shifted to tweaking his rather prominent earlobes. As Richard is a very staid New Englander, not given to any outward signs of emotion unless you watch his twinkly Irish eyes, he was greatly confused by this behavior. I had to explain to him that this is typical female behavior toward the people we love. We groom them. Several times that day she spontaneously threw her arms around his waist and gave him her skinny little body's equivalent of a big bear hug and then insisted that he build blocks around her friend and herself as he had when she was very small.

As we drove home, I explained to him that he is a part of her safe male group and that she is looking for ways to connect to him. Why else would she have told her teacher about her "Poppie" being involved in the Higgins boat builders and have him invited to come talk to her class? This is also why her big brother helped in formatting the slide show for the presentation and why all the children listened and gave feedback on the practice run.

A friend once told me that her preacher said to his congregation on Father's Day, "Dads, go home and hold your daughters. If you don't, they'll find a man who will." It does seem that we never outgrow the need to connect physically with those we love. I feel so fortunate to be married to a man that is so grounded in his values and boundaries, and is yet so willing to serve the needs of those he loves.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Fall and What We May Have Missed

The fall light on the water has an extra special clarity;
In the autumn it seems that we can much farther see.
The water seems a darker blue and the sky a shade lighter,
As if before the dark of winter we need it to be brighter,
To save up all the memories of nothing but future promise,
Without all the worry about the things we may have missed.

Perhaps clearing out the old in our lives is the reason
That we, as humans, should celebrate the winter season.
It gives us time to look at things in a different light,
And a time to meditate on how to make our wrongs right.
It would be so nice to think that new relationship beginnings
Would happen with the the renewal of the flowers every spring.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Fast Friends

The three amigas have met again, and how the fur did fly!
We're all fiery, passionate women who let no sleeping dogs lie.
We discuss how our values apply to our family and personal lives,
We don't mind pointing out our own and others' lies.

I don't know how the waiter didn't get scorched by our sizzle,
With such passionate opinions from three women of such strong will.
Perhaps we should have tipped him more than his twenty percent;
He may now be requiring therapy to get his psyche unbent.

We are now conspiring to have a working partnership;
When we work together, it's always quite a trip.
We have such different levels and kinds of energy,
But, it does seem that we balance each other perfectly.

At times I've disagreed strongly with a boss;
This has led often to a boss who stays cross.
I hope that coming at this as life-long friends,
Any of our anger with each other would soon end.

If we had a working relationship, it would facilitate
More frequent communication, and at a greater rate.
We've accomplished so much together, working for free;
What joy it would be to get paid for being who we're meant to be.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Looking Less Lady-Like

My physical therapist is teaching me to
Do many things I thought I knew how to do:
Sit, stand, and walk in a less "lady-like" way.
"Lady-like?" Me? I don't know what to say.
It seems that I need a more athletic stance,
Not a pose like I'm preparing to dance.
I was taught to hold up my shoulders and head
But my swayed back gives me the pain that I dread.

The athletic stance may look more aggressive;
This is a trait in me that was never recessive.
So I've tried to appear more delicate
Because I seem to scare some folks a bit.
Those I don't scare seem to want to fight,
So I've tried to stay out of their sight.
Rather than fight 'em, I'll feed 'em again,
As soon as I can manage to stand without pain.