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Hot Summer Sun

Our friends and family back in Memphis are suffering through temps at 104-108F, heat index is 115F. Reminds me of summer days of my childhood and has brought to mind memories that call for a change in our meals now.

When you say "dinner" what meal are you referring to?

When I was growing up, that meal was the big, mid-day meal, as in Sunday Dinner which was served after church. You probably need some explanation. When I was a child in the South, there was no air conditioning. So here's an example of how we lived.

My grandmother,"Momie", had a typical schedule. Up at 4am, make hot biscuits ( the best I ever had and have never been able to duplicate), eggs bacon/sausage and sent my grandfather, Poppy, off to work at the "store." This was the Piggly Wiggly Grocery store on the square in Philadelphia, Mississippi.

Momie earned pin money as a seamstress and would get her work for the day cut out and ready to baste. By 8am we were walking up the hill to town. She would get whatever veggies, meat she wanted for our noon meal, and visit any other shops as needed. We were usually home by 9:30am. That's when she began cooking "dinner." By 11am, her meal was done and the stove/oven was OFF. Poppy came home to eat and went back to work.

In the heat of the afternoon, the windows were open, but all the blinds were closed. There was this huge attic fan in the center of the hall and with all the windows open, pulling in air from the shady side of the house, we were fairly comfortable.

Momie did not turn her stove on again the rest of the day. So in the days before microwaves, how did she heat the evening meal? She didn't. After dinner, the dishes were left out on the top of the stove, covered in clean white cotton cloths. When Poppy came home, we ate the left overs at room temperature. That meal was called "Supper." Supper might also be just cold cornbread and buttermilk on a really hot evening. And there were almost never leftovers. All the food was made fresh for that day.

These memories came to mind as I thought about changing when we eat our main meal. It is going to be midday. We are already half way there because if we eat out, we do so at lunch --- portions and price are more reasonable for retirees. Also, I have more energy in the mornings. So, as I type this, my "dinner" is cooked and on the stove. Today, it is Swiss Chard, brown rice, golden beets, ham with red eye gravy.

Check back in a month or so and I'll let you know how it goes!


Annual Report

We have been here a year...and a little bit. Arrived June 24, 2010, and it is now July 25, 2011. It has been quite a year.

What has fulfilled our expectations?
How much we love being with our family, especially our son, his wife and our granddaughter. An added plus is John's cousins in the area. We spent Sunday afternoon with David and Diane. We have had gatherings with Tracy and Chris as well. We have gotten to visit with Allan's brother and sister in this past year since they come to visit their children!

The weather! When we hear the locals complaining about their cloudy days, the misty rain, we just laugh. This year Memphis had triple digit temps in May. Here, have only reached 80F one rare afternoon. We love the climate here!

We have booked many days doing damn little! After eighteen months of painting, fixing, landscaping, yadda, yadda, we are so glad to be in our cozy apartment where young guys with tool belts fix any and everything --- instantly! We are enjoying the amenities: the pools, the spa, the nature trails that surround the complex. Looks more likely we will never buy another home. 'Course anything can happen, but we are so comfortable it is hard to imagine what might compel us to buy a house again.

Health Care! We love the Group Health Coop! Our experience is what health care should be for everyone. Thanks be to God!

What surprised us?
Orientation --- so have you ever lived in a city laid out West to East and then moved to an area laid out North to South? My husband, whose sense of direction has saved us many times through the years, continues to be challenged. He just doesn't argue with the GPS as much now! Having never had a sense of direction and having spent years looking at real estate maps, it has been a little easier on me. Yes, I have enjoyed those moments, when *I* was the one who knew which way to go!

Shoreline, WA --- never planned to live here. Thought we would be out on the Olympic Peninsula. Instead we are twenty minutes from our son's and DIL house. We are less than five minutes from Costco, Home Depot, Radio  Shack, FedEx Office and Office Max. Less than two minutes from two grocery stores, drug stores and a movie theater that has bargain nights on Tuesdays for seniors. 

St Dunstans Episcopal Church --- most Episcopal churches in this area are very small, but St. D has everything I knew at Calvary in Memphis, but on a smaller scale. I love these people who have been so welcoming to me. I am singing in the choir and now doing Altar Guild. How much I love that work. Just the ticket for the anal retentive, obsessive compulsive!

Sunday Night Dinners --- that John and Jenny would want to do this and began it the week we arrived, which was like only a few days after they moved into their house, still has me shaking my head. I am so grateful. We now take turns hosting each week, often inviting cousins to join us. Jenny's sister, Holly, is a regular as well when she isn't running around in Alaska.

The Views --- in the West are the Olympic Mountains and in the East are the Cascades.  We can drive ten minutes to Richmond Beach and see this.  Or on I-5, we get glimpses like this. I can walk up the hill above our apartment and watch the sun rise from behind the Cascade Mountains. On a clear day you get to see Mt Rainer, which takes up a huge part of the sky.

So negatives?
Missing my sister, niece and nephew, my BFF, LG and other friends. Thanks be to God for Facebook. We talk on the phone, we Facebook, but still....I just want them to move here now.



Memphis Bridge
We flew into Memphis last Tuesday. First time back since we moved in June 2010. The days since have been so rich, filled with many meetings, greetings, laughter and the joy of being with friends and family.

We spent last Wednesday with my sister and niece and had a great time eating Memphis BBQ! First at Payne's BBQ and then at Central BBQ. Memphians, I know you would like to read a detailed description of the pulled pork and dry rub ribs, but I think I will just say that in both places the earth moved for me! OMG.

There is NO pork BBQ in the Seattle area that we have found. NONE.  We hope to go to the Rendezvous tonight. The will be more earth moving, I'm sure.

Thursday, Friday and Saturday we spent down in Mississippi with the Tynes family clan. Cousins, brother, sister, it was a great turnout of my husband's generation. Lots of stories and lots of good food --- of course!

We drove back to Memphis Saturday night.

Yesterday I had a wonderful morning at Calvary, my former church home. I had breakfast there and got to be with friends who go to the early service. Went to the 9am service and between services got to hear the 11 o'clock choir rehearse in the church. Both choirs' musical offerings were wonderful, but I have to say when the oboe began Rutter's Psalm 23, I got chills.

I loved just hanging out in the hall and having conversations with folks. In the afternoon, my Daughters of the King chapter had a special gathering and I got to be with them. 'Course it ended with watching the Memphis Grizzlies game against Oklahoma City! Sorry Memphis lost, but it was great to watch it with friends.

This morning I go to my client site, Ideal Chemical and Supply. I have a long history with this wonderful company and look forward to work and catching up with friends there.

We spent one morning looking at the Mississippi River flood waters and it is breath taking. Normally a mile wide at Memphis, the river is now three miles wide. Strangely, despite those few that have lost their homes, the flood waters are a huge tourist attraction and locals do down on the weekend for picnics! 

We have revisited many beloved places around Memphis.There is a graciousness here with the sweeping green spaces, the immense oak trees and wide, wide streets that I have missed. It has felt strange to drive around places so familiar --- and it not be home.

That's right, Memphis is no longer home. We have truly made the move both physically and in our hearts.


Doing taxes

PT Cruiser
Snow/ice day here in Shoreline removed all excuses for getting our medical expenses together --- and it was fun!

 We pulled out all those receipts, and check registers. I had downloaded transactions from our bank, so while I read the receipts, Allan checked them off or entered them into the Excel file.

Back in January 2010, there were all these medical bills for tests ---- what caused Allan's wonky eye? Several thousand dollars later all we knew was what it was not and we were very glad. Whew! The truest words were pronounced by the doc at Southern College of Optometry, "Sometimes these things just get better on their on!"

The neurologist scoffed at this, but the SCO doc was right!

What was missing was the beginning of Allan going to insulin. His doctor furnished free Insulin pens for months!

Then there were the receipts for antibiotic we got at Walgreen's in Hammond, LA when some scratches on Allan's leg got infected. We were visiting my Aunt Delma in April and from there, drove across the Mississippi Gulf Coast to Mobile, Alabama.

Then there were all the entries in Allan's check register for the money from the selling most of what we owned on Craigslist in June and the motel where we stayed after the moving van loaded our stuff. There were all the gas and motel debits on the road to Seattle and deposit on the apartment in Shoreline.

The last Sam's Pharmacy receipt in Memphis and the first one in Seattle followed by that Costco Rx receipt marked our introduction to our new life.

In September, the medical receipts started piling up --- we both had health care! Thanks be to God for Medicare and Group Health! Meds, doctor visits, multiple receipts for every week as our doctor wanted all these tests we had not done in years! Plus Allan had another eye event and my knee went bad.

My husband keeps a journal in his check registers. Almost every entry has a short description/explanation! So a snowy day and a  couple of hours of tax prep took us down memory lane of a most momentous year.

I am so grateful for our lives, but will be glad to for quiet 2011!


Reporting in...

Ballinger Commons
Been awhile since I hung out here!

We had a wonderful Christmas! Nothing like an almost three year old girl on Christmas morning. Our granddaughter has been captured by the Nutcracker ballet. Her parents took Viv to the Pacific Northwest Ballet performance in December and got the DVD of this version designed by Maurice Sindak. Vivian immediately needed to dance, dance, dance. She now refers to herself as "ballerina" or "Clara" so her Christmas was mostly about ballet: shoes, tutu, etc. That fascination has not dwindled a month later!

Here's a shot of me, Viv, John and Jenny opening presents and the "Ballerina." Uh, yeah, no way to get Viv to stand still for a picture!

My family came to the early Christmas Eve service! It took my breath away to see them from the choir loft. Honestly, I thought Jesus might come down the aisle next! Vivian was great. At least the Episcopal service has enough up and down to keep her interested, especially with children's pageant.

We spent a quiet and wonderful New Years, tucked in our apartment and celebrated the following morning with a festive breakfast.

We continue to gather every Sunday evening with our family. Here's a picture from a recent gathering --- our DIL's sister, Holly, Vivian and my husband sporting bandages from his recent skin cancers removal.

Click on picture to enlarge.

Allan's surgery wounds continue to heal well. We have joined the YMCA and have started going to exercise. Whoo hoo!
I got a great Cholesterol report, Allan got a good report on his eye check up so we are feeling most positive about our health in the new year.

We are so comfortable here in the apartment. We occasionally talk about buying a house, but I am not sure that will happen.I think we are still recovering from the rigors of the last two years. What I say now is some house will have to chase us down and tackle us!

So glad to say the biggest crisis we have experienced was our granddaughter accidentally hitting her mom in nose! That meant a trip to the emergency room for Jenny. Doc said he often sees this kind of injury! Parenting can be dangerous to your health!


Black Tree
Here I am up at 3am --- not sure why.  A little headache, too hot? Dunno, but these early hours in the deepest part of the night often pull me from bed and so ---- .

Quick report on Allan, who had a rugged day Thursday getting  skin cancers removed. As one was on his nose, some plastic surgery had to be done as well --- while he was numbed, but awake. Ugh. He is sleeping pretty well and the pain meds are keeping him fairly comfortable.

John, Jenny and Vivian came over last night. J&J did a little shopping and then came back and we all had dinner together. If there is anything more wonderful than spending time with our family, I have no idea what that is. They had been to a Christmas Kindermusik concert in the morning, had lunch with friends which included their son, same age as Vivian. Max has been Vivian's BFF since they were born!  Jenny said the two kids had so much fun  together, saying silly things to make each other laugh.

I pulled out some of our Christmas decorations, including this chest with twenty-fine little drawers, each containing a miniature decoration. Vivian had such fun opening each one and decorating the wire tree. She has this fascination with "Christmas Decorations" which she says with this awed tone. She decided three of the decorations needed to go home with her.

(Click on the pictures to enlarge)

What I loved the most was when John said how good it was to spend the evening relaxing with us. I love that he and Jenny can do that in our home. The other thing that happens when it is just the four of us --- we can just brag about Vivian, talk about Vivian, quote Vivian all we want without fear of being too proud, or too obsessive! We are all charter members of the the Vivian Tynes fan club!

All of this is a digression. What I really wanted to post this morning is the following poem. Three o'clock in the morning is also a time when those nagging inadequacies, doubts, shouldawouldacoulda surround me. This morning this landed in the inbox.

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Jelaluddin Rumi, translation by Coleman Barks


Shot full of Joy

Christmas Gift
Last night at the dinner table it happened again --- got shot full of joy. I have no better way to describe this sudden glow inside. OK, I do know just how hokey this sounds.

Let me back up a bit.

Yesterday morning was Advent 2 and loved the anthem we sang the Manz: "E'en So, Lord Jesus, Quickly Come."

If you are not member of a liturgical church, you may not be familiar with the "hard" readings of Advent.The Gospel verses we read on Sunday morning are challenging, to say the least. Yesterday was about about old John the Baptist yelling "You generation of Vipers!"

Then during the announcements we heard that the pledges thus far for next year were falling far short of our budget. Ugh. John the Baptist and budget cuts do not make an easy Sunday. Happy Advent 2!

Had so much fun at Bell Choir rehearsal! We are getting better and better and have so much fun doing so.

John and Jenny dropped Vivian off while they did some shopping yesterday afternoon. Our granddaughter roams around our apartment at will, moving stuff around, and generally having a great time. By the time her parents returned, we had a completely redecorated apartment! I just wish all decorators were as much fun!

J&J settled down in the living room and Allan got a fire started. The first of the season. We had the radio tuned to the station that plays all Christmas music and I made dinner. One of the reasons I love our cozy apartment is I can be cooking and still be part of the conversation. Dinner last night turn out great --- fried chicken, rice(cooked in chicken broth) with gravy and English Peas --- true comfort food! We ate and hummmmed all through the meal.

That's when it happened --- this wave of joy that welled up inside as I shared this meal with our family. It has happened before --- almost every Sunday night as we gather. When I think of all those months of hard work and then the long waiting for the house to sell, I can hardly believe we are here.

We are here and shot full of joy.

Happy Advent 2 --- do you think John the Baptist really ate locusts? The wild honey part I get,,,but really locusts?  And as he ate those locusts did he get shot full of joy??


Are we tame?

Our two and a half year old granddaughter this morning:

Out of nowhere, in the car: "Tigers are not tame, not like cats. Cats are tame. So are dogs." Pause, two, three, four . . . "Are *we* tame?"

Nope, not answering that myself. So glad she asked her Mom!

Oh, what did Jenny do? She used the Socratic method and answered with a question. I'll get back to you on how this turns out!

It is a cold, blustery, sunny day here in Shoreline. We should be out and about, but we are resting. I have muffins in the oven and the apartment smell delicious. The sunshine is pouring in and the wind chimes are providing a musical background. Life it good.

Been another one of those weeks: Just learned that a cousin's wife choked on a potato at a restaurant, passed out and cracked her skull as she fell. The good news is a nurse was having lunch and leaped to the rescue. An emergency crew was very close by and got her to the local hospital where she was taken by helicopter to a trauma unit in Baton Rouge, LA. Last report is when she came out of medical induced coma, she was responsive.

Just got a call about another family member (OK, not blood kin, but family). Looks like a heart attack, but is at a cardiac center and being monitored and appears to be OK at this time.

We have had doctor visits four days this week! One visit brought a change for Allan's Diabetes control --- he is now on sliding scale, which means he takes his glucose reading before every meal and gives himself a shot based on a chart of glucose levels. On the positive side, Allan got a "normal" report from the retina specialist. Whew! I also had made great progress on the knee therapy. PT put me on ankle weights.

In between crises and doctor visits, I'm looking forward to our first Thanksgiving up here among all the Tynes, but sooo missing my sister and her family and close friends back in Memphis.

And despite all the doctor/PT visits, we are feeling good and loving our life.

Back to the tame question. Jenny just posted she's thinking about taking Viv to a pet store and zoo to check out tame and wild animals and let Viv come to a conclusion herself. Is that great or what?

OK, my personal opinion  on the "Are we tame?" question is that most of us are well socialized, but wild nevertheless.


Just scratching the surface...

Ballinger Commons
I so enjoyed last Sunday's dinner with our family. My husband's niece, Tracy and her fiance, Chris, were able to join us for our India meal. I made Chicken Buriyani and J&J brought another Indian dish as well. There is something about sitting among our loved ones, smelling those rich spices, enjoying that wonderful food and wine, that wrapped the evening in a golden light for me. 

Our granddaughter, Vivian, was so great Sunday night! Playing independently for the most part, moving in and around us happily --- looking forward to the chocolate cupcakes!

I wish I had a picture of that gathering, but it will stay in memory. 'Course that could have been because of the incredible Ice Wine Tracy brought to share with our desert. I can report that Ice Wine and chocolate cupcakes iced with Ganache are a killer combination!

The meal also brought to mind fond memories of our neighbors, Rev Thomas and his wife, Aeyle, who often brought over meals when we had been working so hard on the house. Aeyle brought me the Chicken Buriyani more than once and wrote down her recipe for me. As I toasted the  the cardamon, cinnamon, and nutmeg, the fragrance put Aeyle's smile before me.

I went to my first guild meeting at St. Dunstan's last Friday. The last time I was at a woman's guild meeting( in the 1990s) I presented a report on how a donation was used for a well attempt on the Pineridge Reservation. Last Friday, I had a moment, when during the meeting they discussed how a donation would help get drinking water wells dug in another place far away. I like this group of women --- their pragmatism and their spirit struck home.

I really enjoy singing in the choir at St. D's and playing in the Bell Choir as well. The Christmas season is upon us, and any church chorister has to balance their musical duties with time for family. Years ago, I didn't do that, but this time, I have already said there would be services that I would not be able sing. I am always divided because I am the only church goer. This time around, my family comes first!

This weekend we visited our Shoreline Community Pool which is about three minutes from our apartment.  Great pool and I can hardly wait to get back in the water. My body has taking a beating from our lack of regular exercise due to the knee issue. In addition to the knee, which is much improved, I had a back issue last week and now this week have strained right shoulder that has caused me more discomfort than the knee! Dang! Thankfully, icing it everyday, has sped that recovery as well. What I need is to get back into the water, swimming two -three times a week,  and I'll get back in overall shape!

What I am grateful for is to have been able to do everything I wanted to do. Last week we took Vivian to the Seattle Aquarium. I was able to keep up with that little blond scamp! We stayed till almost closing. The view below is from the outside walkway --- sunset on Puget Sound. So beautiful!

Though it has been almost five months since we moved, we are still getting our feet under us. We are really enjoying the growing familiarity of this new home, but we have barely scratched the surface of this incredible place!



Ballinger Commons
Since my last post life has been so rich --- our friends, Gay and Tommy were our first official guests in our new home.  We got to do some exploring with them, Pike Place Market for breakfast Monday morning, Glassybaby glassblowing studio and lunch at the Ivar's Acres of Crabs on Tuesday.

The sun broke out on Wednesday, as predicted, and we had a great afternoon whale watching! Incredible weather, crystal clear sky and sunshine. We saw sea lions, porpoises, harbor seals, birds...the Puget Sound is teaming with life!

Though all that was exciting the best part was those quiet moments of talk, catching up.

Last Saturday, we met John, Jenny and Vivian downtown for a Kindermusick presentation for Halloween. Oh,,,such talented young people on stage! They had our two and half year old granddaughter totally enthralled. Sunday afternoon we all walked down to the main shopping area in their neighborhood for Trick or Treating. First time for Vivian and she took right to it! We had beautiful weather and the sidewalks covered in golden leaves. Viv really loved stomping in the leaf piles!

Our walk fulfilled my first goal for Physical Therapy ---- walk a mile! I did great! BUT --- this week, the therapist put me back on the cane. After observing me walk w/o the cane, she said I walked much easier and more naturally with it. I know she is right, but phooey. The new goal is to walk without a limp. Strangely enough, that why I need the cane. Who knew?

Our son is on a business trip so we had dinner with Jenny and Viv Tuesday and Wednesday evenings --- which we just loved!

Today the plan is to bake cookies for a church fair and then Allan has consult with surgeon about removing the skin cancer on his nose and scalp.

Our lives never stop! Thanks be to God!



Karen swinging and smiling
Karen Tynes

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August 2011


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