Saturday, December 04, 2010

Thankful for Thanksgiving in California

Saturday 11-20-2010

When you look out your window at Mt. Baker glistening in the east, covered in a blanket of snow, you think how beautiful and picturesque it is. When that snow is covering your lawn and driveway and quickly turning to a sheet of ice, the beauty of the picture perfect postcard begins to fade. Freezing temperatures, a northeaster out of the Canadian Frazier Valley brings the wind chill in the teens and the snow is blowing across the yard in a fast and furious flurry causing a white out. This is what I woke up to Saturday morning, the day before I was to fly to California to spend Thanksgiving with my mom, my oldest son James, my sister Mary, nephews and nieces. All the last minute errands are cancelled due to slippery roads and multiple accidents on the roads. This front is moving south and my only concerns are airport conditions and if my planes can fly.

We braved the roads and went to church to hear Ryan and Sara Hall speak about running, the 26.2 project, and what God has done in their lives and where he is leading them in the future.

We stopped at Haggen’s to pick up dinner after church and a sandwich for me to take on the airplane tomorrow. We spent a quiet evening watching television and talking. My bags are packed and I just have to have faith that I will be able to fly out to California tomorrow.

Sunday 11-21-2010

Larry and I read the Sunday paper and had our morning coffee in our cozy study with a warm fire blazing while I occasionally checked outside the bay window to check on the weather. It’s time to leave for the airport and I’m already checked in on-line so we can stay home a little longer and I won’t have to sit in the portable waiting area longer than necessary.

At the airport I find out my plane from Bellingham will arrive at the “C” gates and my next flight departs from the “N” gates. I have thirty minutes from landing to take-off. I’ll just have to wait and see if I make my flight or catch the next one out. As I stood in the waiting area I saw Ryan Hall also waiting to board the same flight o Seattle. A team of runners from Modesto was also boarding the plane and they slowly began to notice Ryan Hall was going to be on our flight and began whispering amongst themselves. Many of them weere in church last night to hear Ryan Hall speak, and the rest missed a great opportunity.

Our plane took off on the new runway at the Bellingham airport and as we neared Seattle the snow began to fall. We sat on the tarmac for at least ten minutes and all I could think about was missing my next flight. I waited for my carryon bag and then I ran up the C concourse, down the escalator, took the tram and made 2 stops, up the escalator, down the N concourse to find a sign that my flight was departing from the C concourse. The rude gate attendant said I had eight minutes to get back to my gate and she wouldn’t call ahead and said we’ll just put you on the next flight if you miss this one. With tears in my eyes I walked as quickly as I could because I was fighting a burning headache on the right side of my face from the stress and I was too exhausted to run anymore. I was the last one to board at my gate when I arrived. There was no room in the overhead bins when I finally go on board, and as I tried to rearrange the overhead bin near over my seat, some of the other passengers began to get angry. Oh well, what was I to do--one guitar taking up three bags spaces is just not right.

It was 27 degrees in Bellingham when I left and it will be 55 degrees when I get to Oakland according our pilot. Of course right after he said this he told us they were checking the plane to see if they needed to de-ice it before take-off; take-off….would there be such a thing?

10,000 feet and I can finally get up to get a cough drop out of my bag and get my sandwich. As carefully as I tried to be, somebody else’s cane falls out of the bin onto a passenger and she lets me know she is angry with me, even as I apologize. I can only do so much and God knows I tried to be careful and it wasn’t on purpose but now the other passengers around me are roused up again. I can’t win. I give up. They should have heard Pastor Bob’s messages about “grace,” and given me just a little. My stomach is in knots and I am exhausted. My coughs won’t stop and that will probably cause my fellow passengers who seem to watch my every move now, to panic. Sleep….a short nap…something I need.

My plane landed a few minute early so I bought a diet Pepsi and sat outside in the 55 degree weather (with my coat on) and enjoyed the sunshine while I waited for my sister, Mary, and my mom to pick me up. This was the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow…somebody here loves me.

We headed home and stopped at BJ’s for dinner. Soup and salad for dinner then home for mom’s homemade peach pie for dessert.

Monday 11-22-2010

The sun is shining but the forecast is for a chance of showers for most of the week. Rain is better than freezing wind. Mom and I went to Mary’s to have lunch with Melissa and Samantha. Mary’s house is mostly decorated for Christmas. Richard has been busily working away on a black, silver, purple, and green color scheme throughout the house, including the outside porches. It’s beautiful. Sami had to work, so she left and the rest of us headed to Wal-Mart. Mary bought Melissa some scrapbooking supplies, mom had her own cart full of baking supplies, and I got out of the store without buying anything. Back to Mary’s to get candy to make fudge. Eight huge (!) boxes of candy we sorted through, about 240 pounds of candy, to find Hershey bars to melt down for the fudge base.

Kelly called several times during the day and left text messages for Mary and me as well as voice messages saying, “I need more grandma recipes.” Next week I will scan mom’s cookbook and update the digital copy for the family.

Mom has a large bowl of my favorite cabbage slaw made up and that is what I will have for dinner with some leftover homemade pie. Mom and I played canasta until midnight.

Tuesday 11-23-2010

It’s raining at mom’s and snowing in the mountains (far away mountains). A cup of coffee for me and hot chocolate for mom as we watched the morning news, and chatted before starting to make cookies for Tyler who is in Afghanistan.

Later I followed Mary to get her car worked on. We bought bubble wrap for the cookies, got USPS boxes, and picked up mom’s vacuum cleaner from the repair shop. The sun is out and the sky is filled with clouds and the car battery died so we made a stop at Sears to have it replaced and had lunch at the mall. We did a little window shopping before returning to mom’s to make fudge for Tyler. Mary headed home to work on her house for her upcoming holiday parties. Mom and I had homemade corn and vegetable chowder for dinner with salad and berry cobbler for dessert.

Mary came over and we watched the finale of Dancing with the Stars and then played canasta. The temperatures are going to get to freezing so I helped Mary turn off the outside water pipes and wrap the ones that need to stay on.

We didn’t make these cookies for Tyler this time but mom said they are good and gave me the recipe:

Potato Chip Cookies

1 c. shortening
1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. baking soda
2 c. flour
2 c. finely crushed potato chips
1 pkg. butterscotch chips

Mix shortening, sugars, and eggs together until creamed. Then add remaining ingredients to the creamed mixture. Drop walnut size cookies on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Makes 4-5 dozen.

Wednesday 11-24-2010

The sun is shining but there is frost on the ground and the deck rails are glistening in the early morning hours. We packed 12 dozen cookies and fudge for Tyler to mail this morning and one large box of magazines from my mom to Kelly. Mom made cornbread for the Thanksgiving dressing, two pumpkin pies, a pineapple and coconut pie, jell-o salads, and lot of iced tea.

I went to the post office to mail the boxes and then had lunch with Mary and her friends before we went to CFE storage to drop off donations. I checked my email at Mary’s before heading back to mom’s. The freeway wasn’t too busy for 5:00 PM rush hour traffic on the eve of a busy holiday.

I wrapped a Christmas present for Jim, stacked up and folded fabric upholstery samples Mary gave me to take home and then mom and I had dinner and played cards. Michael called to wish me a Happy Thanksgiving. The news said more freezing temperatures tonight; the Canadian cold snap has followed me. Maybe I could fly off to Vegas to see Kelly and Kyler and if it gets too cold there, maybe Michelle would let me come visit in Arizona.

Thursday 11-25-2010 Thanksgiving

Mom was already up and working on fixing Thanksgiving dinner and had a pot of coffee ready for me when I walked into the kitchen. I got the turkey ready to go in the oven while mom prepared yeast roll dough. The giblets are cooking, the sweet potato casserole is prepared, the potatoes peeled for cooking and mashing.

It could have almost been a disaster day. A few weeks ago we replaced mom’s stove and today her microwave gave out, blew out black smoke, and said I quit after 29 years of service. We turned on the fans, bathroom exhaust, opened the doors, opened both of the garage doors, and aired the house out. Good thing mom still had her table top convection oven. It’s always the unexpected you can’t prepare for and have to work around. What more could happen? Ants. We sprayed inside, outside and they were gone. Or at least we thought they were gone. We held them at bay, confined to one small section of the end cabinet just to get through the day.

Haley and Freddy came about 1:00 PM to visit. We were stop #2 of 4 for their day. Freddy had a slice of pumpkin pie with whipped cream before they left and even though Harley didn’t want any, she let Freddy share with her. That’s the way it goes.

Jaimie arrived just as Haley and Freddy were leaving. Jamie came with a friend who brought mom white roses with dark pink tips, just beautiful. Michael C arrived and then Poncho and Richard came in just after Michael. Mary had a headache and didn’t feel like coming, so she is staying home. Dinner was just about to be served when Justin and Brandi arrived from Monterey. Sami and Randy arrived and there was still plenty of food left. Everyone has second or third places to visit so soon everyone was gone except Justin, Brandi, mom, and me. We talked about family, where the future would take Justin and Brandi…and then Jim and Heather arrived before J&B needed to head to Pittsburg to see more family members.

Jim and Heather stayed until about 8:30 PM before they headed home to feed the animals and get ready for work the next day. Now mom and I are left to sort through the black Friday ads. We decided there wasn’t anything we needed enough to make us get up and go shopping at midnight, or 2:00 AM, 4:00 AM, 7:00 AM, or even 9:00 AM.

I will go to Michael’s craft store and Joann’s fabrics sometime tomorrow afternoon to browse, but not expecting any door buster specials to be left, and that’s ok.

The house is empty and we spray for ants again.

The ants go marching one by one. (Hurrah, hurrah!)

The ants go marching one by one. (Hurrah, hurrah!)

The ants go marching one by one, the little one stops to suck his


And they all go marching down around the town.

The ants go marching two by two tie her shoe.

The ants go marching three by three climb a tree.

The ants go marching four by four shut the door.

The ants go marching five by five take a dive.

The ants go marching six by six pick up sticks.

The ants go marching seven by seven go to heaven.

The ants go marching eight by eight jump the gate.

The ants go marching nine by nine scratch his spine.

The ants go marching ten by ten say, "The end."

Friday 11-26-2010

Mom had hot chocolate and I had my usual cup of coffee. Mary called and I went to meet her at Joann fabrics--with coupons. Not bad…about one hour and we were out the door. I stopped at Starbucks for another cup of coffee on my way back to mom’s while Mary took her purchases back to her house.

Mom was ready for round II at Joann’s in Pittsburg with Mary and me. We each took a shopping cart and we were off. Three hours later they finally called our number for the cutting table. We got back to the house right before Melissa arrived for dinner. We had turkey leftovers, fresh homemade biscuits, Mary’s homemade sweet pickles, pickled green beans, and pie. A nice time chatting and laughing. Melissa left about 7:30 PM and we watched Wheel of Fortune before getting down to the business of playing canasta. We played till about midnight before giving in to yawns; and mom beating us. Tomorrow is another day.

Saturday 11-27-2010

It’s raining and overcast but warmer than the last few days. Water rationing is still in effect although the restrictions are not as tough as they were a few months ago. The rain is needed for the garden and the snow will maybe fill the reservoirs next spring when the snow pack melts removing water rationing permanently or until the next dry spell.

After coffee and hot chocolate with my mom I drove to Michael’s crafts since I didn’t make it there yesterday. I needed to get the rest of my gift for the family gift exchange game that takes place after Christmas each year. We won’t be there, but I make sure Larry and I have gifts in the pile and someone plays for us. I’ll finish Larry’s gift Monday or Tuesday when I go to the Harley store in Walnut Creek.

I went to Mary’s for a little while to check my email, picked up a pizza for dinner, and then back to mom’s where we continued to fight ants. The kitchen has been stripped of food and containers that are now piled up on the dining room table. The ant traps are out and hoping tomorrow the ants will be gone.

Mom and I played canasta before bed.

Sunday 11—28-2010

There were only a few ants at a new place in the kitchen so we sprayed and hoped that they would be gone when we get home from church. Mom attends Bethel Baptist Church and it is small and just about everyone knows everyone else. It’s been a long time since I heard Jesus Loves Me sung in church and it brought back many childhood memories of Sunday school. Mary met us at the house after she got out of church and we went out to lunch, a Sunday afternoon ritual for mom and Mary. A quick stop at Home Depot for more ant control products and then back to the house to read the Sunday paper and take a nap.

Refreshed and ready to go we went to Brentwood to the HomeGoods store looking for more of the special battery operated candles that change colors. Success! Next T.J.Maxx and then Joann’s fabrics. We bought a lot of fabric this weekend and Mary doesn’t sew and I don’t have a sewing machine. Wonder what we will do with our stash. Mom is making aprons and potholders. In & Out Burgers for dinner. We don’t have an In & Out at home and Mary sent a picture of where we were to Kelly knowing this is one of her favorite places to eat out.

Home again, home again, that’s what the ants are saying. Tomorrow the exterminator will come!

Before bed I sat up reading for a while and found this recipe in one of mother’s magazines.

Never Fail Chocolate Cake (Or Beat it 1,375 times Cake)

1 c. shortening
2 c. sugar
4 tbsp. cocoa
3 eggs
1 c. buttermilk
3 c. flour
2 tsp. baking soda dissolved in 1 c. boiling water
1 tsp. vanilla

Cream shortening and beat 125 times. Add sugar and beat 125 times till fluffy. Add cocoa and beat 125 times. Add eggs 1 at a time and beat 125 times after each egg. Add 1/3 c. of buttermilk and 1 c. of flour and beat 125 times, before adding more ingredients in each measurement. Dissolve baking soda in hot water and add to batter and beat 125 times. Add vanilla and beat 125 times.

Pour into a 9X13 inch greased pan and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

I think I might try this and use my electric mixer and this will equal 50 seconds with each addition if 150 hand beats equals 1 minute. Much easier and quicker.

Monday 11-29-2010

From the patio doors in the bedroom I can look out to the garden in the backyard. Most of the plants have died back and gone dormant for the cold fall and winter months but the alyssum ground cover gives the illusion of a green carpet covered with snow. The Mexican sunflower stands about five foot tall keeping watch over the garden with its bright cheery yellow blossoms. The pots with vegetables have all been brought into the laundry room to protect them from the freezing night and early morning temperatures. Spring comes quickly in California and by February everything will be sprouting and starting to bloom. I miss the longer growing season in CA, and some the plants that WA calls annuals are perennials in CA.

The sun is out but it’s cold. Off to Costco to fill the gas tank in the car and get a few things for mom. Lowes for a packing box (Mary always has a load of goodies for me to take home) plus whatever I buy while I am visiting. Next stop is Mary’s to start scanning mom’s cookbook. The nieces and nephews are growing up and it will be fun to share a copy of the cookbook filled with family favorites for the younger family members, nieces and nephews who are growing up, moving out, getting married. This is a cooking memoir of love from their grandmother, how she fed her family.

Mary fixed a pot roast with roasted vegetables that she sent home with me for dinner. Her house smelled wonderful and mom and I didn’t have to cook.

Tuesday 11-30-2010

The skies are grey and dark as I pulled back the blinds to let the morning light into the bedroom. It will get to the 50’s but it looks like it will be a slow start to get there and not long lived after it arrives. There is a slight breeze blowing but nothing like the 65 mph winds they were expecting at home in Washington last night.

The exterminator didn’t come yesterday and there are more ants today. I’m not sure where they are coming from but it’s hard for mom not to be able to cook and putter in her kitchen. Jerry and Laura will arrive in three weeks and I know mom would like to do a little baking and get things in the freezer and cook some casseroles to have ready. Looks like we will eat dinner out again tonight.

Off to the Harley shop in Walnut Creek to buy a gift that will be Larry’s family Christmas exchange gift. Every year he has something “Harley” and every year the guys steal it back and forth until someone wins the prize.

I finished scanning mom’s cookbook today so I can finish working on it when I get home. Mary already sent yesterday’s scan to my email account and I just sent the last batch.

Diggers for hamburgers. Mom’s favorite place to go.

Pastor Ken and Deacon Clint from her church came by to visit tonight. A nice thing to do from a small church.

Mom and I played canasta after they left.

December 1, 2010

Bug Zappers arrived to save the day. They sprayed the inside of the house and then the perimeter of the house. We needed to leave for three hours so we went to Mary’s house. Mary turned on the fireplace to take the chill off the living room and while she went to take care of some business mom had a stack of magazines and crossword number puzzles she brought with her and I checked my email.

We stopped by FedEx on the way home to mail my box, but I had to leave my new found favorite possession, a red brick with California written on it and weighing about eight pounds. It will have to wait to come home until we drive down for a visit.

I sort of feel like the country mouse and the city mouse today. My sister Mary is always attending an event or a function that requires her dress to up--awards, fundraisers; cocktail, semi-formal, or formal. Me, I’m just a jeans sort of girl with an occasional dress up event. Mary called before I packed for CA and said she had to go to an event and it was cocktail attire. Ok, I could do that and get the dress in my carry-on bag. After I arrived they told her it was semi-formal. Mary said no problem, she opened up the closets and said pick shoes (mine weren’t dressy enough for semi-formal) so I found Anne Klein open toe black leather heels, another closet held purses so I picked a black silk purse, drawers of vintage costume jewelry, a bracelet with gold and large brown stones and I was all set.

Tonight it is The Threads of Hope awards at the Blackhawk Car Museum honoring six people in five organizations in Contra Costa County that help those who need it most. My sister Mary was one of the first award winners in 1995 for founding Christmas For Everyone that feeds anyone who needs a meal on Christmas day, provides clothing, gifts, haircuts, music, and a joyful place to be with others celebrating Christmas. The wine was provided by Sterling Vineyards in Napa Valley and hors d’oeuvres were served before the awards ceremony and the evening was capped off with almonds covered in a thin coat of chocolate dusted with cocoa powder and the three time Grammy nominated Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir who sang for over half an hour. Gospel music, Christmas music, faith based music that made you clap and rejoice in the reason for the season.

Cinderella left the earrings, bracelet, purse, and shoes in the guest bedroom at my mom’s for my fairy god mother (Mary) to retrieve.

My bags are packed
I’m ready to go
My husband’s waiting
And so is the cat
The dog could care less
If I ever came home
The weather is warming
Or at least I hope it is
Now it’s just a decision
The airport scanner
Or a close encounter
With a TSA agent
And a body pat down
I’m checked in on-line
My ticket is printed
My seats are assigned
Now it’s 4, 5, 6 lanes of traffic
Down the freeway we go
Bumper to bumper
Now it’s up, up, and away
Bye bye NorCal
Hello Whatcom

Thursday 12-2-2010

7:45 AM and the air is still with barely a leaf moving in the early morning hours as the sun tries to peek through the grey clouds covering the city. Rain is in the forecast here in Ca and at home in WA. It’s hard to pack my clothes, close the zipper on the bags and leave my mom behind. This is always the hardest part no matter how long I stay, 1 week, 10 days, a month, it wouldn’t be enough.

I just need an enclave, someplace warm, a huge lottery to support us, and the whole family could be together. When you wish upon a star….

Mom never complains about anything except when it gets really cold…freezing outside. She quilts, uses her sewing machine, gardens when the weather permits, attends church, watches a few favorite television shows, works her puzzles to keep her mind sharp and alert, canasta to keep her winners crown, and cooks family dinners for the memories. At 93 ½ years old she can indulge in a snickers bar and her waist will never tell. One of the best complements I have ever received was at church Sunday when one of mom’s friends said I looked like her. Mom doesn’t look her age, has beautiful skin, and a more beautiful heart. May I continue to be more like her every day!

To scan or not to scan, that is the question. I was undecided right up until the moment I arrived at the airport security gate. Ok, I’ll just go for the scan. Not too bad. Then they have you wait 10 seconds while they check the scan…look at it real close…just what I need. Oh, do you have on any bracelets the TSA agent asked me? Yes I do on both arms I answered as I pulled up my sleeves, but isn’t that a silly question since they could see them on the scan. Sorry she says I’ll need to pat down your arms and upper body. Arms I can understand, well not really but anyway what’s with the upper body pat down. I wasn’t wearing a tummy chest/bracelet so I am not sure why I needed this part. I think they just might be making up the rules as they go. If I had taken my bikini with me on this trip, I could have worn it and bypassed the pat down like other women have been doing.

My plane was half an hour late arriving in Oakland but it all worked out because my plane to Bellingham was delayed an extra hour. That’s better than waiting for the plane that was delayed because mechanics needed to try and find out what was wrong with it and they kept announcing it would be ready shortly. Larry was waiting for me with hugs and kisses, a warm truck to ride home in, and iced tea.

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