Crema

noticing joy on the surface of simple things … the evidence of holiness happening in the daily grind.

No Ants, No Pants May 15, 2016

I tried on a pair of jeans that cost $187.  They were free to try on.  The adorable redhead who rocked those jeans chattered on to me about their qualities and benefits the whole time I struggled to pour my fifty-one year old body into them.  I ask you:  “Should one have to pour, pull, push, jump, suck, hold breath in, yank, and sweat to get into a pair of the correct size jeans that cost one hundred and eighty seven dollars?”  The fabric felt weighted and silky, drapey and stretchy.  Supposedly, they would not leave baggy spots where you bend (if you could bend), after hours of wear.  That’s the benefit of such a perfect denim made sustainably, produced scientifically, ensuring rich quality.  When I looked in the mirror, I thought the jeans looked painted on.  Can a woman over fifty wear painted on style jeans without embarrassing her daughters or herself?  If the painted style pour-yourself-in jeans had been marked down from $187.00 to $18.70 would it be a good idea to wear those in public?  I asked myself this in the dressing room.  My answer and the knowledgable twenty-something answer were completely opposite.  She said the jeans looked fantastic on me.   Ha…of course she would say that.  Shes PAID to say that.  I did not agree.

Two weeks later I took my pants off.  Not the expensive jeans – I did actually get those off in the store and left them there, I mean I took off my long-legged pants that do fit.  The temperature outside was 70’s warm after long months of 20’s cold.  Suddenly everyone had on completely different clothing.  Including me.  I exchanged the pants for capris – or ‘caprants’ as re-named by my friend Heidi, whose daughter thinks capris are silly.  Well Miss Mackenna, they are NOT silly, they are necessary for the greater good of humanity when one has leg skin that needs constant ironing.  It it much more appropriate to wear ‘caprants’ than short skirts at this stage of life in order to maintain personal modesty and public decorum.  You’re welcome.

Two days later, I put pants back on.

My new state of Michigan has a lot of surprises up its sleeve.  I’m not certain I will become fond of the morning surprise of sunshine.  I would prefer that to be reliable, a regular occurence not a rarity.  This is the first spring I’ve been a resident and I am gathering you go outside and do outside things when the sun is outside for tomorrow it may not be.  Today I tried three times to go outside when I saw the sun.  We started a neighborhood walk to peruse the garage sales, but it ended at block two with sudden rain and dare I say hail; possibly MI spring snow nuggets?  I’ll ask around to confirm.  By the third time I went out in a car, the garage sale hosts had given up and gone inside.  I did score a crooked floor lamp for $15.  Looks great in the spare room standing mostly straight in the corner.  Beside garage sale shopping, I wanted to get in the dirt.  My goal all week was to go outside and reduce the amount of mint that is growing and tame the fern in my gardens.    One week I had no fern.  Next week, fern farm.  I have no previous experience with mint or fern.  What I can confidently say after one partial spring, is they are both fast and hearty growers.  Clearly, they don’t need the sun like us humans do.   I’m not sure I will meet the plant reduction goal today.   Unless…I go out in the clouds with long pants, coat and mittens.

Ants.  Michigan, I need to ask you, do ants thrive here too?  I keep a relatively clean house.  Not “dutch clean” like my mom, but pretty clean.  One time in Florida we had a rat.  In My Kitchen Cupboards.  I discovered the rat before I discovered its feces in every single solitary drawer in my large kitchen.  I came undone, unravelled, repulsed, devastated that such filth touched the things I cook with.  And I kept a clean kitchen.  We also lived on the water and the rats apparently lived in the roof of the building with occasional drop downs into human dwellings. I threw our cat in the cupboard where the rat was and shut the door.  Crickets.  Fifteen minutes later (that’s long enough to take care of a rat right?), she sauntered out as if she was done using the bathroom.  She did not choose to pursue the rat.  Worthless cat…  The rat clean up project required the man of the townhouse; and later, flowers in all the drawers for therapeutic reasons. No more rat ever.  But now I have MI ants.  I’ve tried several removal tactics including letting them go outside.   When I opened my sugar bowl to scoop the raw sugar into my first cup of morning coffee and there is an ant flailing around I put my foot down, picked up the phone and called my mom.   She poo-pooed all previous ant removal systems and said get Tero.  24 hours after Tero tactic, no ants.  I hope ants are like the rat and not one of Michigan’s ongoing surprises.

Wooden shoe dancers, tulip lined streets in Holland, Fricano’s pizza, the Cone Shops soft lemon twist cones; the pure sound of Calvin Alumni Choir,  Stella’s burgers and chronic fries, Grand Rapids Opera, Marie Catribs, Fulton Heights neighborhood, the people of Art Of The Table,  solid-friendly, healthy-growing Encounter Church, Women and Wine, Grand Rapids Main Library, the acoustics of Cathedral of St. Andrews, generous beauty of all that is colorful and blooming are some of the Michigan surprises working to convince me to stay, belong, engage.  The increasing list of good surprises far surpasses the unpleasant.  The sense of settling down is happening.  I may weigh more than I want, battle fatigue more than I like, and am more conversant in grief than I’d prefer.  Those things accompanied me here.   But this new state is kindly meeting me with a sweet place to heal and renew.  Ants, clouds and tight pants, you might live here, but despite you I believe some really great new is happening.

Better than being surprised, I am so very thankful.

 

No Pushing; Stop Pulling March 8, 2016

 

Calvin is nine in dog years, translated to human time – he is about 52ish.  Maybe because he lived on a leash in hot Florida for the last three years, maybe because he is older and not as strong anymore, he wiped out in the MI winter snow.  Result:  torn miniscus or ACL.  Either way, he stopped using that leg for a while.  Thanks to a wise and conservative vet, Calvin is being given time, lots of time, as much time as he needs to heal.  There was an initial prescription for some medicine to reduce the swelling and give initial pain relief.  He also got daily chews to support joint health and encourage joint strength.  I advocated for the continuance of walking this 80 pound lab for his mental health.  The vet agreed but said “no more freedom.”  He is leash restricted.  No zooming around until the healing is complete.

For nine dog years I’ve walked with Calvin.  He is pretty good though not stellar at staying right beside me.  He would prefer to be in front with a bit of strain encouraging me to walk faster.  Not now.  His brisk jog lasts  only a half mile if that.  The rest of his walk is s..l..o..w.  If you would meet Calvin for the first or fifty first time today, you would not see his internal injury on his outer body.    So you would question his limp or hesitation to go up the stairs or clearly painful struggle to lay down.    Its been over six weeks since the wipe out.  And actually, he wiped out once which led to a limp, but the second wipeout a week later took the injury to a more serious level.   When we walk, he does not want to be pulled.  Nor does it help at all to push him to a faster pace.  He is still on the DL.  Pet owners – do you get it?

I get it in human years, in human pain, in human experience of having part of me injured.  But its not on the outside where everyone can see.  In fact, I am trying to keep the outside intact so I can keep interacting with life that I love – the relationship with my husband/best friend; relationships with family, long time friends, new friends in the making; work; play; volunteering; errands; keeping my house and clothes clean; exercising; walking Calvin.  It has been a compact six months of hard – loss, old wounds re-opened, previous emotions of significant loss re-opened, moving, change, more moving, more loss, and all kinds of unfamiliar, new, learning.  It is intense and this most recent loss has wiped me out.   NO PITY PLEASE.  The reason I am sharing this is NOT for the sake of personal condolence.  It is to give a voice to people you know, that may not be able to say, “I’m wiped out.  There is hurting places on the inside you can’t see.  I need time to heal, and it’s not something that can be rushed.”

You who’ve been there, or are there – do you get it?

People who are reading this, look around you at the those you know and interact with.  There might be one or more who is like Calvin, like me right now.  Please, no pushing.  Don’t pull us.  It won’t help the healing for you to try to speed us up or tell us to “keep our chin up”, or say to someone else, “It’s been long enough.  They need to move on now.”  Everyone is unique and what is going on inside might be more complex than you understand, than even they understand.  So how they heal and the time it takes will be unique.  Think about the internally injured person right now.  Take a deep breath.  Another one.  Let go of your need to have them get over it and get better already.  If you can’t, you would love them best by giving them space from you and your need.    If you can, replace the pushing with hugging.  Drop the rope you are trying to pull them with and extend an invitation to have a beer, or a wine and cheese, or ice-cream or go to a funny play. Someone unexpectedly extended the invitation to really listen yesterday.  Those kindnesses are loving and helpful.  But be ready to hand out the rain-check graciously if they can’t say yes this time.   Keep on living your life and let them live into theirs even if it makes you uncomfortable.  Even if it takes a while for them to be like their old self.

I read these words today; words of a person who was overwhelmed by troubles:  “You keep track of all my sorrows.  You have collected all my tears in your bottle.  You have recorded each one in your book.”   This was a statement made to God by a man named David.  (Ps 56).  It struck me that I know God cancels my sin, but then goes and collects my tears.  I wonder what he does with them.  Maybe he taps people on the shoulder, or knocks them on the head and sends them out to love the hurting.  Sometimes He does something Greater and floods the hurting with Peace and Comfort that is more profound than people can offer.  I know this personally too.

And one last thing – if you are the one with the hurt who is pushing and pulling on your old self to pull itself up by its proverbial boot straps, I grant you permission to let the old self off the hook for what it cannot possibly accomplish.  There is work for grief to do.  Let it do its job and have its way.  For if it completes the unique task it has, the old self will return whole and changed and equipped with compassion it did not previously have.  It is worth the wait.

I’m eager to walk briskly with Calvin again.   Not just because his leg will be better, but because my heart will be too.  For now, slow is just fine.

 

 

 

 

 

Day 25: Help My Heart November 1, 2013

Final Button 3First of all, I know that it is not October 25th today.  It is the 31st, but I am finishing my challenge of 31 days even if I spill into November.  This is Grace to me and bending the un-stone-like rules.  I had to pause for travels in soup country where the colors were brilliant and the weather required shoes AND socks every day.  And yes, I did eat Reuben soup at Russ’ restaurant. I was unable to get a recipe from them, but found one online by Taste of Home.  One reader said this recipe reminded her of Russ’ so it might be worth a try.

Celebration and food making happened in soup country, including  cooking with college kids and nearly failed chili, but more on that another day.

I’ve been stressed to the point my chest hurts.  It may be due in part to trying to keep up with all the people, paperwork, decision-making and deadlines required to buy property in South Florida.   Add a dose of worry about friends and family who are working through illness and recovery; a dollop of slow re-entry; a dashed hope of Thanksgiving in MN and a bit of being plain old tired and crabby.  On top of chest pain, some organ of mine under the ribs, twitched all day.  Deep breathing helped.  A long walk and a long night of sleep helped.  Holding my baby friend Emma today helped.  Prayer helped and so did food.

Last night I made a new cookie recipe, put a new chicken recipe in the crockpot and pulled out the rice cooker for my favorite short grain rice.  I chopped up a wok full of fresh veggies from The Boys.   Today I use many of my thinking moments deciding what I want to make for a One Year Celebration meal tomorrow night.  Food thoughts displace stress with anticipation.  Food’s preparation and planning are positively distracting and that helps my heart.

Less stressed thoughts are that no one is being mean or unreasonable and its ok if we close on the 7th or 8th or the 10th.  Calm thinking allows me to boldly bring my family, my friends near and far to the Throne Room and I’m reminded I am not God, but God is in charge and He is good.  This helps my heart.

Whilst I wax thoughtfully, I shall include that this month of putting  words about the love language of food on virtual paper has also helped my heart.  Now, off to feed the dog (he just reminded me that it’s 5:03, just 3 min late for dinner), and make Massaman Curry for the first time, with my planned over chicken from last night.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s “Interview with Mother Mary.”  I can hardly wait to share!

PS…opening this out of the blue gift from Tammy P. last night also helped my heart.  A reminder that when you cook tasty food, you will also dry the cooking dishes and that is part of the love.

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Day 17: The 2nd Sweet October 18, 2013

Final Button 3

On my birthday this year, I ate dessert for lunch.  I’ve discovered Kilwains Ice Cream since moving to South FL as well as Orange Leaf Fro Yo and recently, Burger Fi Frozen Custard.  Those are my go to favorite dessert spots.   What they have in common:

  1.  Someone else made it and I ate it.
  2. It’s a treat, not a staple
  3. So good after eating pizza
  4. Best if eaten in the middle of the afternoon or after beach time
  5. If I eat it after 6 pm, guaranteed ice cream dreams

I honestly don’t make dessert as much since Thing 1 and Thing 2 headed off for college.  If there’s company – you betcha , gonna have dessert.   If I make a cake or pie for the two of us – DANGER DANGER. Good thing I do have neighbors that don’t mind if I share!  In fact, one neighbor Sheryl is a great baker and we often get shared with!

The hubby does love his dessert.  I believe his three favorites are Cookie Monsters (his name for homemade chocolate chip cookies warm, topped with ice cream and chocolate sauce), yellow cake with chocolate frosting, and the recipe I am sharing with you today – Dana’s Blueberry Crumb-Top Pie.  The recipe comes again from the Daily Camera so many years ago, given by the owner of the Walnut Cafe.  They are famous for their pies, though most of the time I meet a friend there for breakfast.  You Can have pie for breakfast.  It’s no different than having ice cream for lunch.

As I prepared to share this recipe, I remembered the way I used pie once to love people and get them to a church meeting.   Once a year there’s this long and boring meeting that members of church have to go to.  You vote on boring things, listen to boring business, you get the drift.  Our little church decided to change-up a few things to un-borify what happened in the meeting and what happened after.  There was worship and sharing what God had done.  Even the usually super-boring financial piece got interesting – sometimes even humorous.  There was prayer and there was Pie!  It turned out that the church meeting fell on National Pie Day.  So a little group of people I was part of made some phone calls and whaalaa we had all kinds of home-baked  pie to share after that year’s non-boring meeting!   People came and people stayed hung out after.  Good job church.

If that stimulates an idea for your world,  here’s a heads up that National Pie day is around the corner, Thursday January 23, 2014.

And I have just the pie recipe for you to make and take!

Dana’s Blueberry Crumb-Top Pie

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 Tlb cornstarch
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen, slightly thawed)
  • Squirt of lemon juice
  • 1 pastry crust

Streusel Topping:

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter at room temperature.

Directions:

In a large bowl, mix sugar, cornstarch, salt and flour until mixture is uniform.  Mix in blueberries.  Mix in lemon juice.  Roll out crust and pinch edges.  pour in filling and smooth top.  Push crust edges in a little to hold filling and topping in place.

For topping combine flour and sugar evenly in a bowl.  Rub in butter until mixture is coarse.  Sprinkle evenly on top of filling.  Bake at 350 degrees until set, about 1 hour.

Serves 6-8.

Enjoy!

 

Day 10: The Best Room In The House October 11, 2013

Final Button 3It’s the Kitchen.  That is the best room.  I am pretty certain there is no house without a kitchen.  There are houses without laundry rooms.  Seriously, they put those in the garage here in Florida.  My non negotiable in this house hunting adplease let it end-venture is that I am not washing undergarments where we park the car.

I’m looking for a kitchen where food can made and so can friendships.  I care most of all that people are in the kitchen with me when I am cooking, doing dishes, or eating Saint Andre’ Brie andstandre2 drinking wine.  Today I had the privilege of helping a friend put the best room in her new house together.  She is someone who got to S. FL 6 weeks ahead of me.  She moved today.  I got to unpack pots and pans, find homes for knives and china, make space for spices and lots of pepper.  We talked about life and laughed.  Her kitchen gadgets had stories of aunts, grandma’s, & special events.  Her coffee mugs told vacation stories.  And she had the COOLEST salt holder I’ve ever seen.   I looked it up and its called a SALT PIG.  Isn’t that is hilarious!  Life on life happened in that new kitchen of hers.  I needed that today as last night I hit the wall with my kitchen hunt.    Tonight ended in our apartment kitchen with the newly moved sharing a bowl of 5 way Cincinnati Chili.  Somehow that helped a bit.

Thanks friends for letting me help christen your new best room in the house!

 

What I See At The Sea August 22, 2013

Filed under: Adventure,Change,Fun in Florida,Thankfulness,The beach — lauradegroot @ 4:37 am
Tags:

Morning

Do Not Disturb signs stationed by the sea turtle nests; the mothers laying work is done

and the eggs develop life under the sand.

Play

A father and a young daughter drawing in the sand; the water erases their picture; she inhales with surprise;

the father smiles, “We’ll never need a clean sheet of paper.”

Gathering

Armloads of seashore treasures are carried by two women;

they eagerly share their delight on the returning walk.

Escape

Shade, shade, and lots of books, in the early morning.

Patience

Tan young man training the small, fearless protege’s to surf.

Respect

Seasoned swimmer shares his stingray/shark sightings and insight on ocean exercise:

“This isn’t a pool!”

Sharing

The former Texan and his dog share the love of Florida living and paddle boarding – complete with demonstration and

an invitation to try it out given to an inexperienced stranger.

Wonder

The small group of people, bent at the waist, hands on their knees, feet in the water, faces pointing down…

waiting, wondering which shells will go home with them today.

Friendship

3 Elders sit waist deep in the sea.  Another brave one stands supporting the head and shoulders

of the fearful one who conqueres the back-float

Cheers

Clapping

Celebration

Transition

Eyes that see change inside me

while I walk by the Sea.

 

Top Ten List of Things I Didn’t Expect, Part 2 July 24, 2013

I did not dream about this list.  On one of my daily potty walks  with Calvin, (I walk, Calvin potties), I realized there were below the surface things I didn’t expect.  Here is the deeper counterpart to the list in part 1.  (see July 23, 2012)

1.  The rhythm is missing.  Seasons of weather give rhythm to the year – cooler color season, soup season, planting season, vacation season.  Here, it is always bathing suit season.  I’ve had a few soup Days, the planting happens backwards or continually, snow bird season takes up 1/2 the year and people come to FL for vacation year round.   Don’t misunderstand…I LOVE being at the water any old day and exchanging my work fancy pants for bathing suits.   I don’t miss the cold & didn’t expect to miss the natural changes which gave a reliable rhythm to my world.

2.   When I got married, I never thought about year 27.   I never considered what it would be like to drop my twins off at college 1200 miles from home; sing my sister into heaven; enjoy  a 16-year-old girl from Thailand living with us; pack up our home of 11 years and leave a state we had lived in for 27/40 year (myself/JR) and move to the nearly southest/eastest corner of the US  – all in a little over 1 years time.  And so I didn’t expect how meaningful, comforting, amazing the phrase, “I’m still here” would be.  It’s a highly repeated phrase we’ve shared the last 8 months. The phrase sits alongside gratitude for the friendship, partnership, mutual mercy and encouragement that has been flung back and forth between us.  I love my husband for better, for worse.

3.    I am capable of learning new things.  Not just about how to play sports, but about how to do life post kids in the house, post living in Colorado. How to do life here with a fresh white canvas to paint on and alot more awareness of who I am.

4. I am grateful for the funds to buy a lot of plane tickets.  Those connect me face to face with the people I love.  Physical proximity to family and good friends should not be taken for granted.   I did.  Forgive me.  Now I’m not.

5. Prior to moving, I was warned about Hurricanes, Alligators, Bugs – they’re all here.  No one mentioned the powerful instantaneous cow-and-horse downpours that happen here A LOT.  I’ve doubled the amount of umbrellas I own and have strategically situated them.  It is an awesome and beautiful display of the Creator’s beauty.  Rain appreciation club member here.  Who knew.

6.  Truly I HATE tight things – spaces, pants, bras, long sleeves, coats, and especially shoes.  Barefootedness feels like a type of freedom that I’ve been granted.  Barefootedness feels like childhood.  Great non-expectation.

7.  Henry’s beach, Santa Barbara California – home to many of my best childhood memories.  I’m nearly unexpectedly overwhelmed with gratitude  for the Oasis the beach is, on a holiday, on the weekend, on a walk.  I am as content  and joyful there now as I remember being when I was growing up.  Thank You Lord for this perfect, personal gift.

8.  Distance makes the heart grow fonder?  Yes it does.  So does watching my girls grow into remarkable young women via places I’ve never been, people I’ve never met, things I’d never do, experiences I’ve never had.  They are leaning into their lives full steam ahead.  I’ll take the Skype conversations over a phone call, and the individual visits over no visits at all.  In fact spending one on one time with each daughter has offered new depth to our changing adult relationships.  Didn’t see that comin…

9. The companionship of my dog in all of the unfamiliar is priceless.

10.  I’ve liked to watch birds on occasion.  Other than the shameless thief of the seagull nature, my eyes and interests have opened up wide for birds.  They are plentiful here and I’ve spent much time quietly enjoying them, appreciating & observing them.  Perhaps number 10 on the list points out the most unexpected of all, the relief and healing of having time to live at a sustainable pace and notice beauty, people, opportunity, blessing, potential.

And it took a move to Florida for this to happen.

I certainly didn’t expect that.

 

 
followingthewatershed

wa·ter·shed (noun) 1. an area or ridge of land that separates waters flowing to different rivers, basins, or seas. 2. an event or period marking a turning point, a change of course.

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noticing joy on the surface of simple things … the evidence of holiness happening in the daily grind.

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