From My Kitchen Window

I am on a quest. I sit behind Don Quixote and Sancho waiting for them to lead me somewhere as I look out over my computer screen. I look down and see them looking forward across the pond and deserted golf course…4th hole , par 5. Before the property went belly up into bankruptcy, I watched parades of golfers go by. Heard their victory shouts when the ball sunk into the hole; watched them searching for it when it missed its mark; retrieved it once or twice if it landed near me while I was watering the roses. I tossed it back across, and someone was delighted to have it…what makes those small balls so important? Don’t mean to be snarky or facetious, but what is the meaning of golf, anyway? Don Quixote has been watching it for several years and I wonder what he thinks.


Photo on 2-12-18 at 8.57 AMI follow Don Quixote and Sancho from my kitchen window.  They are on a quest and I am right behind them traveling the world on my Mac or typing my own world into existence.  My father was fascinated by Cervantes’ strange and skinny hero who traveled the Spanish countryside righting wrongs and rescuing maidens. When dad passed he left me this house, this view, some paintings, and these iron figures.

I didn’t read the book.  But I did see the musical Man of La Mancha, based on the novel,  many years ago, on Broadway.  We sat up front, my ex and I.  Close enough to see the sweat on the actor’s faces and catch every nuance. Thanks to technology, I am again listening at this moment to Richard Kiley singing “The Impossible Dream.”  So many years ago, late sixties probably, I watched him standing alone on the stage, an angular, tall old man with gray beard, leaning on a sword.  It was the finale.  The audience stood, many of us in tears.  Silence for several seconds, the applause that followed went on through three curtain calls.  We didn’t want to let go.

Never let go.  When you stop questing, what is left?

New Mexico: Showing Off My State




My brother and sister in law from Massachusetts visited in early October for the annual Balloon Festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  We had to go to Sante Fe, of course. Every visitor has to do that.  We took the direct route north on I 25. Stark mesas, distant mountains, empty desert spread out before us  far and wide on the 45 minute journey.

I am always anxious when guests take the time and expense to visit.  I love it when they come, but I also want them to see the beauty in the dusty   brown desert and the mountains, kinder, softer than the Colorado Rockies. I want them to try the chili.  I want them to be oohed and awed as I am when the Sandia Range turns coral at sunset and look like it could burn the night away.

Santa Fe was intriguing as always.  Art galleries, boutiques, jewelry stores, the finest  the Southwest has to offer,  Santa Fe oozes opulence.  I do not live there, I tell my guests, but I like to visit.  We stayed long enough to soak it in, for me to purchase my first and long desired pair of western boots (75% off $350.00… a steal!), and left by 3 PM to take the scenic route home through the Jemez Mountains.

My brother Cliff, the driver of the rented Jetta, lives life on the edge and did not bring sunglasses to New Mexico.  As we started climbing and experiencing the hairpin turns Cheryl and I hid our eyes from the blinding glare and the steep drops inches from the wheels of the car.  Cliff followed the signs to route 4 skirting the edges of Los Alamos and Bandelier.  Too late in the day to stop at these sights.  As we rounded each curve we prayed the sun would hide itself behind a rock, a tree, anything. It pulsated relentlessly at us. Until finally, as we passed the last electric fence of a Los Alamos secret lab, it mellowed into the mountains to the west.

We climbed higher as the sun set.  Pine forests and rock fortresses on either side of the road blocked mountain views until we came to an opening up of the earth,   Valle  de Caldera, a magnificent meadow carved out by the volcanic explosion thousands of years ago that created the mountain range.  I have passed by the Valle Caldera several times, I expect it to be there, but I am always in awe when I see it.  I did not warn my brother.  He gasped when he rounded the bend and saw it laid out. The sky was bright coral over the dark outlines of mountains framing the meadow on the west.  Cliff parked the Jetta, grabbed his camera and took the photo at the top of this post.

I had sold New Mexico. Cliff and Cheryl will be back with sunglasses to see the sites they missed.  By the time we got to the Jemez Pueblo and the red rocks that stun you as you navigate up or down the mountain on Route 4,  it was dark.   The chili, well, it’s an acquired taste and hard on certain stomachs.


Of Use

I was hooked on the novels of John Irving at a time in my life when I moved around a lot and had no close friends.  I recall driving route 70 from St. Louis where I had spent a comfortable five years,  to a new home in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where I knew not one soul other than my spouse, who would become my ex a few years down the road.  I had left behind my children, then in college, several friends, and the best job I ever had.  Cutting ties again, a five year pattern.  In the passenger seat of our Ram Van I turned the pages of Irving’s Cider House Rules.

I fell in love with the sweet characters blown about by the winds of time, like all of us. Homer Wells, an orphan, is the main character mentored by the good Dr. Larch who runs an orphanage/abortion clinic. As Homer grows from a child to an adult encountering coming of age challenges he keeps the phrase “of use” in the forefront of his mind. He has been well taught. In all circumstances, be of use.

And that was the challenge I had before me as I settled into a new situation. It took me awhile, but I found a way to be of use there, and everywhere I have been since then. As I age I find this a continuing problem. I don’t ever want to stop being “of use.” And this phrase takes on different meaning all the time. Now it means staying active, physically and mentally, trying hard to remain positive when there is so much to worry about, keeping strong for my children who are grown and parents themselves. For if I am not “of use” I am a burden. So being of use may be selfish too.

The question is in what way was I of use today? Nothing grand. I paid a bill and had lunch with a friend. I made spaghetti sauce and walked my dog twice. I bathed her too. Did laundry, cleaned the toilets, washed my hair…of use???





I almost had three very good days in a row.  And then my daughter called me. Some good news.  My son in law’s latest job interview went well, and we are hoping an offer will come from it.  Her voice became lower and slower. “I have some terrible news.”  I braced myself.  “Do you remember the family that lived behind us in our old house?”  She mentioned the name of the couple, but it was long ago. I felt relief.  This was not about our family. Gracie, their little girl, my granddaughter’s first playmate.  She used to come to the back door to see if Maddie could play in the sandbox.  I don’t know why…but I pictured a little freckle faced strawberry blond in a summer frock. “She died yesterday. She killed herself.”

The same age as Maddie, a high school senior.  They did not know each other well in the growing up years, after my family moved to another neighborhood.  Gracie, a beautiful name.  I am devastated by this news. What happened to this child?  I do not want to know the details.  How did we fail her?  It takes a village, doesn’t it? Families, schools, churches all of us.  I wish I could hug the little freckle face girl with the beautiful name.  My daughter lives in a suburban community 900 miles from me, but I feel the ripple effect of Gracie.  Right now thousands of people are in a tidal wave of grief.  And I pray that Gracie is in God’s arms.



Black Holes Suck

Last night I watched Nova, all about Black Holes. Science has eluded me and amazed me all my life.  I still struggle to understand  the physics  dumbed down to my size by young scientists with  contagious passion for their work.  The photo images of galaxies taken by the Hubble telescope were like the paintings of a grand master.  Distances expressed in light years  gave some comfort to me that our planet was not in eminent danger of being sucked into those gigantic vacuum cleaner hoses and flattened into a tortilla.  But the nightly news continues to remind me that armageddon is just a button on a desk in the White House.

I am reading the Psalms again.  Scripture tells me that none of this is new.  I look outside my window at a pond and trees, some ducks swimming across without fear.  It could all disappear in a nanosecond.  Right now I am so awed by creation that I don’t care.  I wonder if we will ever know what is inside the black holes?

Psalm 8:3-4  “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him,  the son of man that you care for him?”

Christmas Eve 2017: A Crock!

This is not a FaLaLa Christmas story.  In fact, don’t go plowing through this blog unless you have a strong stomach.

December 24, 2017, my best friend Nancy and her malti-poo Emmy, a white confection of a pup, came by for some wine and snacks.  My Pippa is ying to Emmy’s  yang or visa-versa.  She is a rescue mutt, a canine combo listed at the shelter as Chi X(chihuahua mix), all black, all legs, deer headed and perky eared.

We had gifts for the dogs to open.  With my I phone camera focused, Nancy threw the packages to the dogs thinking they would tear off the wrapping and attack the two crinkly alligators with squeakies in their stuffed heads. After a few sniffs the dogs were indifferent and followed Nancy and me to the kitchen table where we had hoped to enjoy a queso dip and wine without the pups begging for handouts.

We both like the dip made from Velveeta cheese and Rotel.  I added some browned ground round to the mixture in the crock pot. Love that pot! It simplified the cooking and kept the contents warm and gooey as we chatted and dipped, and consumed a bottle of California pinot grigio.

So Nancy, Emmy, Pippa, and I made the best of Christmas Eve.  I sent Nancy home with a generous portion of dip and chips.  Emmy left with an alligator in her mouth.

I cleaned up dishes, rinsing them and placing them in the dishwasher.  I scooped the remaining queso dip into a plastic container and put it in the fridge. Then I filled the crock pot with water and left it in the sink.

Christmas AM 2017.  I woke up remembering Christmases past with my young children up before dawn.  Sweet memories.  It was a cold morning.  Pippa stayed under the covers.  The phone rang.  One of my daughters, perhaps? “Mele Kalikimaka!” No, my friend Lani checking up on me.  I was touched that she thought of me.

I made some coffee and ate some of the cherry nut bread another friend delivered the day before. I felt blessed by my sweet friends.

In the sink the crock awaited my attention. I tipped it slightly and murky liquid laced with queso flowed down the drain. I saw a shadow emerging, large and dark, from the depths of the crock.  It takes form.  First a tail, then a swollen torso. I knew this thing.  It had been tormenting me with reminders of its presence in my house.

I should be grateful it is dead. But I wanted to throw up. I threw a dishtowel over the top of the crock, lifted it out of the sink and ran to the garage.  I dropped the crock/coffin and its contents unceremoniously into the dumpster.  No prayers!

Will this measly mousely corpse grow into a terrifying rat monster who devours puppies? Will the chihuahua be strong and courageous enough to protect the timid malti-poo from the bloated dirty rat?



Mourning Glory

Quiet mourning.  The kitchen clock ticks on and on, measuring moments I throw away,  like garbage in the trash.

A near empty coffee mug needs a refill of warm spicy liquid laced with cream. Soothing. I sip and contemplate the day.

Ahead of me, without you is a blank canvas to fill.   I will.

Even without you things happen.  Others stumble into my world, as you once did, leave a mark on my soul, then move on.

But your mark on my canvas is huge, and contains every color, though it is not black.   I must paint around it, and over it.  It is permanent, and I want it to be.

Quiet mourning in the morning. The kitchen clock ticks on and on.  Keeping time as time keeps me, painting on my canvas until it’s done and I am where you are again.