Years ago someone said to me, “We all have our own cross to bear.” That made so much sense to me and has always been a guiding principle in my life. The other day I saw someone tweet that people were struggling with all the things they weren’t tweeting. Same thought, but it makes me aware of how we curate our lives these days. We present only parts of ourselves on Facebook or Twitter and hide the rest. We’re so public but at the same time, we’re so private. We’re still bearing our crosses, even in a world some consider completely without privacy.
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I remember as a younger person staring at the stars for hours. I learned to find the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper, Orion, The Pleiades, Gemini and many more. To really see stars, you have to go outside the city. The mountains of New Mexico are a good star watching spot. Best night of star watching I ever had was on the way to Lincoln, NM. We pulled off the road and laid on the fenders and just looked. Ghost Ranch in NM is another good spot. The Milky Way is so close and so bright you can almost feel it.
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When I had surgery my grandson gave me a get well card. All it said was kick some ass. It was an inspiring message and I tried to be a kick ass patient during my recovery. I think it worked. Kicking ass isn’t just about being an action star in a violent movie. It’s about being a leader, a voice, an organizer and and example. Go kick some ass.
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Last night I ate a Mozartkugel, a Austrian/German confection I’d never heard of before. Someone brought it to book club for the discussion of “The Afterlife of Stars.” It set me to thinking about favorite candy that I’ve loved. Chocolate has always been the favorite, changing over the years from gooey sweetness like Mounds bars to the darkest of dark chocolates I love now. Now I happily down the 85% cocoa bars that I would have found bitter as a younger person.
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It’s funny how many kinds of holiday food I loved in my childhood haven’t made it to the table in the present. I know why – my children didn’t like the same things, so I didn’t fix them. I long for mincemeat pie and cinnamon apples, pea salad and stuffed celery. The one thing we can all agree on, ripe olives, disappear so fast you’d think they were zapped by a ray gun. Food is part of the holiday experience, but having family around is more important to me.
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When my babies were tiny I wished they would talk to me so I’d know what they were crying about. When they were teens I wished they would talk to me so I could help them through the perils of high school. Now they are grown and they talk to me about all the other things that adults talk about: overwork, horrifying political events, worries over their kids, being stretched to the limit. I didn’t manage to raise them to have a better life than mine, which makes me sad.
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I don’t know how that particular recipe for mashed potatoes became the centerpiece of holiday meals. It’s been that way for several years. Everyone loves those potatoes and looks forward to them more than the pie or any other goodies at holidays. I could say it is the cream cheese and sour cream that get beaten into the mix, but it’s more than that. It’s about something special just for family. The . . .
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It’s a plaid Pendleton wool shirt that used to belong to my dad. If I wear it long enough to get it warmed up, I can smell my dad’s sweat. I don’t do that very often, just when I really miss him and know his smell will make me feel closer to him. I have other things of his – his pocket knife, a carved duck – but they don’t carry a scent like that shirt. It takes me back to . . .
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The mambo is popular in my exercise class, but the dance I learned early and used all my life for every kind of music imaginable is the two step. Not the country-western two step they do in Texas dance halls. The two step that is two steps one way and one step back. It works for swing, rock, even techno dancing. You know that old saw about how the world would be a happy place if every child was given a ukulele at birth? Well, I add that every child should be taught to do the two step as soon as they are steady on their feet.
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Do you remember how to do things the old fashioned way? What if you were in a place like Puerto Rico and had no electricity? Ignore all the rest of their problems like water and impassable roads and no medicine. Just imagine doing without electricity.
I could make a fire and cook over it. I have a fireplace in my house so it could help keep me warm. I have a few candles, not many, to keep the dark away.
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