Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Monday, December 28, 2015

Monday Musings

Of course the end of a year brings about the desire to assess.  My dreams are filled with a re-hashing of events past.  Reading an article on aging, I remembered how I used to cry when t.v. commercials came on.  Especially:  Cotton.  The fabric of our  lives.



I would weep with the profound sadness of the collective unconscious.  I was grief personified.

In my twenties, depression got the best of me.  Literally.  Stole years.  My thirties were full of raising my daughter, feeling mentally stronger, stepping out of the closet, divorce, dating, working hard at the university, learning I had diabetes and all that entails.  Diabetes and menopause did their destructive dance and humbled me.  I became reliant upon the western medical model.  In the Winter of Love, my girlfriend and I were married across from the Mayor's office in San Francisco, the grand rotunda, witness by hundreds of other couples.   To be dissolved later, first by the California Supreme Court, and years later, by myself in Family Court. 

Menopause is now 8 years behind me, leaving the university 6 years.  Moving from my home of 33 years now 4.5 years behind me.  The grand experiment of moving north proved to be one of the best decisions of my life. Heartbroken and exhausted, the urban environment breathed life into me.  I fell in with a group of lovely people and we still have breakfast together on Sundays.  I took classes at Sacramento State College, and in my second semester met my future husband in a photography class.  I was done with relationships, happy in my independence, with that "I don't give a fuck" attitude of one's fifties.  The rest is history.

It occurred to me recently that, if all systems remain in-tact, I may have another 20 - 25 of good life ahead of me.  Anything is possible, I have come to understand.  I may be discovered for the great photographic artist that I am (right).  I may learn another language, or a new musical instrument.  And I would love, above all else, to travel and see new places, break bread with people whose lives are vastly different from my own.  Learn all that I can.  Revel in this existence.  Ride the waves of inevitable grief.

And in between, savor the little moments that make life so rich: playing with the grandchildren, cooking up a hearty dinner for friends, raking the leaves, kissing my darling.  Loving.  Kindness. Peace on Earth.  I choose to conclude this year on a positive note.  

Happy New Year to  you, dear readers!


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Friday, December 18, 2015

TGIF

Just in:  Konditorei Austrian Pastry Cafe is once again offering a free Christmas String Quartet concert from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 24, at 2710 Fifth St. in Davis, next to the Davis Police Department.

We have another concert on the 20th in Sacramento.  And this past week, while in Yosemite, we attended a spectacular performance by a choral group made up of opera and light opera singers from around the San Francisco Bay Area.  They perform at the Bracebridge dinner every December, and offer a free evening concert while there.   We sat with a fun couple, Jeri and Ray, who live in Danville.  They encouraged us to put the dinner on our bucket list.  After hearing them describe the event, I decided we should do it some year soon.  It is food and pageantry of the highest order.

In our 4 days in the park, we talked to many fascinating people:  the fellow who came from Romania 20 years ago for a vacation, and never left.  This is a common thread for park employees.  They come, they fall in love, they stay.  Cost of living is high there, but they all site quality of life as the big draw.  I can understand.

Tara Crowley, All Rights Reserved
We were lucky to drive in before the predicted snow fall.  We spent our days and nights walking the park, photographing, warming up by the fire with food and drink, and freezing our arses off.

The Ahwahnee Hotel has been hosting the Bracebridge Dinner since 1927.  You can feel the vibrations of decades of visitors within the walls of the hotel.

During our lunch there, our waiter admired our cameras and we began an off and on again conversation about photography.  He is quite accomplished, and I thought, at first, a bit snobby.  But as it turned out, he is a true creative artist who is still shooting in large format film.  We exchanged thoughts about film vs. digital and the pros and cons of each.  We share the belief that all serious photographers should start out with film.  The lack of instant gratification teaches one how to see and plan for an image.  Not to merely click away rapid fire and hope one of your images works.  So, here we have yet another park employee who works in Yosemite in order to live the dream and have time for their creative work.  The thought of doing this is very tempting, I must admit.

So, that was the week that was, and now it's time to turn my focus on up-coming guests and Christmas day.  I must say, however, that trip was all the Christmas I need or want.  I came away thinking that I would like to stay in the park for Christmas day some year soon.  Attend the Bracebridge dinner, hike in the snow, photograph every gorgeous scene that presents itself.

Peace on Earth.

Friday, December 11, 2015

TGIF

This.  This young woman.  Her story inspires me absolutely.  That she is only 29 and has done so much for so many in 10 years just knocks my socks off.

The article and interview with her is long, but worth the read.  Here is someone who followed their heart and their head.  United in love for people, she joined with locals to solve myriad social problems in a small village so very far from her hometown in New Jersey.  She has decided to use her blessings, her privilege to help others.  She knew this at age 19.  She and her partner were also smart enough to team up with locals, so projects were driven by neighbors, family, townspeople.  She accepted the wisdom of the people as to what they needed.  How rare and beautiful.

I've been looking for inspiration in these depressing times, and her story makes me realize that not all is lost.

One of my husband's daughters has also decided to eschew holiday presents this year and is encouraging those who would give to her, to give to a worthy charity instead.  I think we've decided to go with the International Rescue Committee and their funding for a year of education for a young girl across the globe.  IRC has several  other ways to give a "Rescue Gift," such as providing warm clothes for winter, and bee-keeping essentials. 

This day, I choose to give praise to those who are making the world a better place.  It's a worthy area for my attention, as opposed to giving my attention to all that is wrong right now.  It's easy to forget, especially if you are touched by mass media, that most of us are good.  That this earth is still a blessed place.  We are, and it is.

Have a wonderful weekend.
n places like Afghanistan, Congo or Lebanon, including girls in schools is critical: educated girls become smart, strong women committed to leading their communities toward stability. In Afghanistan alone, we helped educate more than 13,000 girls in 2014. $58 can supply the tuition, books and other supplies a girl needs to attend school for a year. - See more at: http://gifts.rescue.org/product/education/year-school#sthash.yuKnzbxT.dpuf
n places like Afghanistan, Congo or Lebanon, including girls in schools is critical: educated girls become smart, strong women committed to leading their communities toward stability. In Afghanistan alone, we helped educate more than 13,000 girls in 2014. $58 can supply the tuition, books and other supplies a girl needs to attend school for a year. - See more at: http://gifts.rescue.org/product/education/year-school#sthash.yuKnzbxT.dpuf
n places like Afghanistan, Congo or Lebanon, including girls in schools is critical: educated girls become smart, strong women committed to leading their communities toward stability. In Afghanistan alone, we helped educate more than 13,000 girls in 2014. $58 can supply the tuition, books and other supplies a girl needs to attend school for a year. - See more at: http://gifts.rescue.org/product/education/year-school#sthash.yuKnzbxT.dpuf

Monday, December 7, 2015

Monday Musings (on Food)

On the second day of Hanukkah, I got down with the Jewish fare in the kitchen.  I made 2 traditional dishes with nontraditional twists.  First was a brisket which I cooked with prunes, prune juice. thyme and Merlot wine.  Both recipes may be found on Epicurious website.

The second was potato latkes, but instead of white potatoes I used sweet potatoes and put in spices like curry, cinnamon, nutmeg, and onion powder.  Served with the traditional sour cream and apple sauce.

We were quite pleased with both, though my husband thought the latkes were made out of carrots!

I even ate cold latkes later, sans sour cream and apple sauce.  Delicious, and will become a part of my regular cooking repertoire.

We don't usually celebrate Hanukka, and we're not really doing that this year.  I just felt compelled to try new recipes and decided to give it a go.  The menorah remains unlit, but present on the buffet table.

  Happy Hanukkah!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

What We are Left With



A rare Saturday evening post (pun intended).  Steve took this photo for our cards this year and we must've been 4 hours working on it in various editing programs.  Curse words were uttered.  Tempers flared.  Bribes were offered.  And, as Steve finally said, "Nobody will even care!!!"  "But, we are artistes!" I cried.  He is out walking the dogs now.  Peace in the land.

This wreath on our door sums things up nicely for me: 'tis the season and we're filled with exasperation over the state of our nation.  Joy turns to "OY" and there you have it.

Zie ga zink, y'all.




What Lies Beyond

"Grief Sucks.  Life moves on."  I recently read this.  And, yes, indeed, grief does suck, and life does move on.  Eventually, even...