Man, I love myself a good acronym. Almost as much as a finely crafted mantronym (for those of you new to this blog, that’s a mantra that presents as an acronym).
The first time I saw “ISO” it was on a work email. One of the other social workers was “ISO” something or other. Probably a way to get rid of bed bugs, because that is the type of shit we had to help our clients with on a disturbingly regular basis. I had to read the body of the email before I understood that “ISO” was “in search of”.
My personal theory is that we are all “ISO” pretty much all the time. It might be a lost sock or cell phone. It might be recommendations for a dog walker. It might be for the best cheesecake recipe. Or it might be something deeper; like meaning, purpose, or peace. Or maybe a little bit of all of the above and more.
This song comes to mind as I’m writing this. I happened to hear a truly awesome version of it recently as I was tooling around in my CRV. Here it is:
I have gratitude for the fact that in this life I have found what I was looking for: a happy marriage, a place to call home, two awesome adult children, a grandson, a dog, and a career that have all brought me a lot of happiness.
But there’s still more I’m ISO.
What might that be? Well, a whole bunch of things honestly. But what it boils down to more than anything is balance.
Balance between writing/doing/connecting is what I’m searching for in 2020. Maybe I should christen 2020 as my year of Clarity.I need to avoid the “overwhelm” and remain rooted in the present, in my writing life, professional life, and personal life.
One of the major take-aways for me from 2019 is that working is highly important to me. Working at my part time job running the food bank. Working on my writing; improving my blogging skills. Working on strengthening the connections I have with the people I love and making new connections with those people I have yet to meet. I like staying busy, moving forward, accomplishing things.
What I know for sure about 2020 is that it’s incumbent upon me to work even harder that I did in 2019. Up my game at work. Find ways to improve myself professionally. So that I can contribute more to the team, to our clients, to our mission.
Another thing I know for sure about 2020 is that I will need to hyper-focus on my writing via this blog (and otherwise, but that is currently a batch of baby WIPS that will need some careful coaxing to show themselves to the world).
Suffice it to say: I have much to say about a variety of things-from my personal history, my current reality and the (hopefully) fabulous future. I have stories to tell. I have more to say about some of the topics I brought up on this blog in 2019. I have more to do and say in and about the present. And I have a freaking ton to say about the future.
While all of the above is true and right and good for me personally, I recognize that I can’t blow off taking care of myself. Because in real day to day life of the year 2020, there’s gonna be obstacles. Some I am fully cognizant of and others will be new and uninvited. So while I don’t anticipate becoming a self-care guru (because really, we have so many of them we can refer to on the internets and in real life if we are so fortunate), behind the scenes of this here blog, I will be aiming to practice a healthy amount of it.
I sincerely hope you stay tuned.
But first, please indulge me and answer this question in the comments:
What are you ISO in 2020? This particularly curious mind would love to know.
My mom loved Christmas. This woman went all out each and every year. In spite of the fact that she and dad worked full time and then some, many of those years operating their own business, we always had a beautifully decorated (complete with fake snow from a can) Christmas tree, perfectly wrapped presents underneath it, and copious amounts of cookies and holiday treats to enjoy.
I think somehow her Christmas spirit has been infused into my being this holiday season. I sure am missing her a lot these days.
In honor of my mom and the sense of peace and gratitude I’m feeling this holiday season, let me tell you what I’m loving about Christmas 2019.
More than anything else, I believe that giving is the most joyful and soul-affirming aspect of the Christmas season. This year, I found myself purchasing my first Christmas present for a loved one in September. That is truly unheard of for me. I usually hit the Christmas present shopping hard at the start of December.
So when I purchased this one small present in a cute gift shop in Estes Park when my sister was visiting, I determined right then and there that I was going to proceed with intention and purchase items that I believed would make the recipients feel my love for them. I enjoyed the heck out of keeping my eyes peeled for extra special presents both in store and online this year. I am so looking forward to hearing the reactions from my beloved family about their presents.
Then there’s the giving in my workplace, where my primary duty is running the food bank. On a daily basis, I get to experience the joy of giving our aging adults good quality, healthy food. However, this time of year I get to give them even more! Like the stockings filled with snacks, toothbrushes, word puzzle books and other fun items, which are donated by one group each year. Like the gift cards donated to our organization from local municipalities. What a joy this is for me-and our clients. The other day, I witnessed one of our clients weeping with joy as she went through the large bag of goodies her own personal Santa gave her. She commented that prior to becoming physically disabled, she was the one donating Christmas presents to the needy.
I couldn’t not write about one of my favorite things in the whole wide world for this Christmas blog post of mine. Since I respect my Hubs’ low tolerance for the music of this season, I have intentionally created a Christmas music playlist that appeals to both of us. That way, we do not have to suffer through Chipmunks songs or what ever totally changed up in not a good way classic Christmas songs performed by artists we don’t know on the cable tv Christmas channel.
I have only chosen the “best of the best” Christmas tunes for this playlist. Our favorite favorites, if you will.
Michael Buble’s version of “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas”. His 2011 cd titled, simply, “Christmas” is on repeat on my tablet this time of year.
Bing Crosby’s “Mele Kalikimaka”. Hubs is learning this one on his ukulele as a matter of fact. I get a lot of enjoyment from singing along. The goal is for us to get good enough at it to perform it in front of actual people next Christmas!
Amy Grant’s “Grown Up Christmas List”. It’s Hubs’ favorite Christmas tune, which speaks to the kind of human he is.
“Sugar and Booze” by Ana Gasteyer (yes, from SNL). This is a new one discovered while watching late morning tv during our recent trip to DC. A new classic for sure!
“All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey. This song to me is so fun and festive! And it’s featured of course in my favorite movie of all time, which also happens to be a Christmas movie-“Love, Actually”. Check out this charming and fun video I just discovered of this song here: https://youtu.be/_IlZu9X9W_k
While in DC earlier this month, I caught the black and white Christmas classic “Holiday Affair”. It’s about a widowed mom of a 6 year old boy. She is proud of the fact that she works hard to provide him with a good life and they have a very loving and playful relationship. She almost marries Mr. Nice Guy but along the way falls in love with a salesman who has a dream of moving to California to build ships. Mr. Nice Guy’s name is Karl Davis. The salesman’s address is on Christopher Street. I feel like I was supposed to see this movie this Christmas season, on account of sharing the same last name with Mr. Nice Guy. And, big news here, on account of the fact that in the new year a cat named Karl (and his 26 year old human parent, aka Spawn #2) will be moving in with us. And our grandson (living in Wisconsin with his mommy, Spawn #1) is named Christopher.
Of course, there will be a viewing of “Love Actually” happening in this joint soon, along with “Four Christmases” and “A Christmas Story”. If we’re up for more Christmas movies, we’ll likely add in “The Grinch” with Jim Carey and, if Hubs has his way, “Bad Santa”.
FOOD AND DRINK
Let me just tell you one thing I know for sure when it comes to the food and drink of this very merry season: my own personal Esther is running the show. If you’re unfamiliar with Esther, here’s a clip of Wanda Sykes that will clue you in.
But back then, I was interested only in telling you all about how others were reacting to my own personal Esther (note to self: name your Esther!). Now it’s Christmas time and she’s in charge. My Esther is having the time of her freaking life right now. She’s sampling all the chocolates that her co-workers brought in to work. She’s conned me in to making extra Christmas cookies after I packaged and sent the 24 or so dozen we made to our family and friends, you know, because there are other people that I love here in Colorado that would enjoy them. She’s currently plotting how many cheddar bay biscuits she can consume before feasting on seafood at Red Lobster with Hubs for Christmas Eve.
What she doesn’t know, however, is that come January 1, she is going down. Wish me luck on that one, because I know that bitch is going to fight me tooth and nail!
When we moved into our townhome in 2016, we realized there was literally no good place to put up a regular, standard-sized Christmas tree. So while shopping at the local thrift store that first winter, we snatched up a table top version for a pittance. We had it up the first couple of Christmases, but this year we left it in the garage. That’s not to say we don’t have any sort of Christmas tree up; it’s just that the beautiful peace lily my wonderful in-laws sent me for my 50th birthday a couple of years ago looked so damned lovely sitting atop our occasional table and we just couldn’t bear to move it. So we left it there. Then adorned it with those itty bitty led lights and hung our favorite ornaments along the edges of the pot.
I personally love it!
I wish each and every one of you fellow holiday celebrators who read through this goofy, happy, and weird Christmas inspired essay a beautiful holiday. May you enjoy time with your favorite people, music, food, and cheesy Christmas movies and marinate in the joy that is this season!
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Later tonight my spawn and spawn’s spawn will be here in my house. That is my focus. My priority. I am so full of joy that we will all be together for this holiday weekend. I am one flipping fortunate broad.
But first I shall blog.
I think it’s important to count our blessings, whatever they may be. This past Sunday at church, our friend who led the children’s message read a book aloud about thankfulness. It ended with the line “We are not thankful because we are happy. We are happy because we are thankful”. Simple and true. Here’s just a few examples of what I am thankful for in the here and now:
The comforts of my Colorado home
My smart, beautiful, capable and kind adult kids
Hubs and our wonderful grandson
My sense of humor. It gets me through a lot. This commercial is SO me.
Meaningful work. In my job, I get to procure nutritious and delicious food for aging adults. And give it to them. What a joy this is for me.
Writing my blog. I think back to my much younger self knowing it would blow her mind if she knew then that once she turned 50, she’d be pouring out her feelings, thoughts, and dreams out into the universe via a home computer. And that people would actually choose to read it.
That these two were my parents. This will be our first holiday season with both of them gone. It is so bittersweet for me. I’m grateful they are no longer suffering and beyond grateful for all they taught me and the love they gave.
Life is good! God is good all the time!
Please join with me in the spirit of Thanksgiving and share pics of what you are thankful for in the comments!
November is a special month for me. It’s been that way for me for years now but I’m only now starting to appreciate it.
First off, it’s the month both my mom and sister were born. So I have people I love to celebrate and honor.
Then there’s the crisp fall air and pretty blue skies here in Colorado mixed in with the golden and rust hues of the trees. There’s gaining an extra hour thanks to Daylight Savings Time.
And the new clothes. Cozy sweaters and leggings. Fun boots to wear.
And Thanksgiving this year is right at the end of the month. The perfect holiday, in my opinion. No expectation of gifts or the shopping for them that stresses me out. I’ve always enjoyed my Thanksgivings, though none of them end up being the same.
There was the Thanksgiving when Hubs and I were new parents living in Lubbock, Texas. We did not have the funds to travel to Minnesota to be with our families, so we made the best of it by hosting a lasagna dinner (I had yet to make a Thanksgiving feast on my own at that time in my life) for new friends Hubs made in grad school.
There was last year, when we opted to stay put in Colorado and got invited to church friends home for a lovely Thanksgiving dinner that included the bonus of lively conversations.
This year, Hubs and I are flying our two adult spawn and one grandchild out to Colorado to spend an extended Thanksgiving holiday weekend with us. I will massively enjoy the planning aspect of it (as a medium recently told me, I’m a “chip off the old block” because my mom was a compulsive yet very talented planner Of. All. The. Events.).
For my small and beloved family, I will be making homemade comfort food (in addition to the traditional Thanksgiving dinner on Friday. Yes, I said Friday-because I think Black Friday should suck it). I will be choosing an array of family oriented “feel good” movies for us to enjoy. I will be determining games we can play together that interest all ages, from 5 to 52. I will be reserving tickets to a movie or live show that we can all enjoy together.
Note to self: I will keep it together if any of these plans go kaflooey on me. Appreciating that we are all together in one place for this specific and relatively short period of time will be my focus. Like Clark Griswold taught me.
This song will be shared. Because it’s the song that I imagine will play at the end of the movie of my life (yes, I have a rich fantasy life). Accompanied of course with images of my beautiful family, which will have expanded by that time in probably unexpected ways. The setting will be our dream home/cabin in the woods on a lake in Wisconsin with plenty of windows, a stone fireplace, and a couple of happy canines.
This is merely a test. A test of my ability to use my scant photography skills to tell a story.
One of my personal blogging goals is to improve my photography skills. Truly.
So, here I go!
Top left: a picture of our present day, imperfect, life. As you can surmise, no acrobatic moves were employed to capture this scene.
You see my very plain, cheap looking kitchen countertops (which someday before long will be replaced with something that actually looks cool). There’s the bunch of lavender I bought because I was at a Lavender Festival a couple of weeks ago with my best Colorado friend, Adrianne, and it seemed like the thing to do. My original intention was to google what to actually do with this lavender; I overhead the lavender selling lady at the booth where I purchased this telling another customer about hanging it upside down and waiting for the oil to drip off of it. But I ended up getting distracted by life, per my usual, and 14 days (give or take) later the bunch of lavender remains on the top shelf of my kitchen counter. I guess I’ll have to toss it soon, but I certainly am up for suggestions if you have any.
Speaking of the Lavender Festival, Adrianne and I had a very relaxing time chatting and listening to tunes on the way home. I shared with her my new favorite summer song.
Adrianne informed me that this particular song was actually a cover of “Doin’ Time” by Sublime, which came out in 1996, so of course we listened to that version as well. I would have known about Sublime’s version of this tune had I not been busy mothering my spawn, who were 3 and 4 at the time. The genre of music I listened to at that time was “new country”. It was a phase of mine that thankfully passed.
What’s in the orange bowl? It’s a “rustic” bread salad, a recipe that came highly recommended by my beloved sister, which was surprisingly not a hit. But more than likely, I used the wrong kind of salad dressing. Then there’s the half pint of vodka, which has become our go-to liquor (on those days when we are craft-beered-out) along with the Mio stuff that you add to said vodka for flavor (another suggestion by my sis, though this one was enjoyed much more than the bread salad thingy).
In the brown bag, there was a delectable cinnamon roll that I scarfed down the morning after taking this picture. It was purchased at the Farmer’s Market closest to me. Someone’s got to support small businesses-bakeries included, right? It would have been rude to do otherwise.
Then there’s a selfie taken in our “en suite” (‘scuse me, I’m feeling fancy and I’ve probably consumed too much HGTV). In case you were wondering, this pic is very much not inspired by a Kardashian.
Then there’s the picture from ye olden times (resting atop my sister’s much nicer looking kitchen countertops), featuring my Grandma Pearl (one of two, not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this) as a child with her wacky hairdo. Youngest spawn has a mass of thick hair with a number of cowlicks.
Of course, being the obnoxious human that I am, I texted the photo to alert them that their hair is indeed genetic.
So for the actual beautiful pictures: the skies at my sister and brother in law’s place (aka my happiest place to be) in far northern Minnesota, when we were there last month visiting the fam. These pics capture the moments when we were sitting around the campfire, shooting the shit on a warm July night.
Then there’s the two pics of Hubs and I enjoying our first experience at Red Rocks. In the middle bottom pic, we are tailgaiting in the parking lot prior to the show. Good times.
The pic next to that is of my new pedicure. One of my self-care “quirks” is that my feet need to look nice and pretty at all times. I don’t know where this comes from. Probably because sandals are my very favorite type of footwear and I don’t believe in showcasing them on gnarly looking feet (or seeing others showcasing their gnarly looking feet in sandals for that matter). I love that the nail lady (there’s a proper term for this, right? Technician perhaps?) offered to add a flowery design on my big toes. She did it free hand, using three different colors. I found this quite impressive. I’ll be back to see her again for sure.
I invite each of you to share your imperfect, weird, real-life photos that tell a story about what you’ve been up to this summer.
I appreciate a good song. Just like when I was a teenager and I would tape the top 40 countdown directly from the radio (anyone remember Kasey Kasem?), I’ve got loads of thoughtfully put together playlists on my tablet.
One such playlist I titled “Current Faves”. It is a work in progress, but so far I’ve got 18 songs on it. It’s my way of staying current. But not so current that it’s loaded with pop hits from BTS or FXY or whatever the youths are listening to on their Ipods. This playlist is mostly focused on a genre I have been digging for the bulk of my adult life: Adult Alternative. While most of my other playlists are chock full of songs that would be considered “classic rock” or “pop hits from the 80’s and 90’s”, my “Current Faves” playlist is comprised of songs that were put out in the 2000’s.
Informer by Snow. I heard this song for the first time while listening to “The Current” on the MPR station out of the Twin Cities. I often listen to this program on my tablet as they always play a solidly eclectic mix of upcoming and formerly upcoming artists, and I often hear songs I have never heard before.
Now onto my “Current Faves” playlist.
I’m not necessarily what one would refer to as a fan of rap or hip-hop, but this song has such a catchy melody. It reminds me of songs by the artist “Shaggy”. I think my friend CJ at Feeding on Folly would concur.
Take a listen and you may see what I mean:
I defy you to not shake your booty to this!
A couple of months ago, Hubs and I caught the band Greta Van Fleet on SNL. We really dug them. They, to me, are reminiscent of classic rock bands from the 70’s (Led Zeppelin especially comes to mind). I’m always intrigued by band names, including of course this one. It’s not like there’s a lead singer by the name of Greta. The band is comprised of male millenials, after all. Turns out, the band was named after one of the band members grandmothers. Isn’t that the sweetest?
Don’t you just love how this band looks like it just walked out of a 70’s supergroup album cover? And the lead singer! What a pretty face he has, right? He kinda reminds me of Marcia Brady’s crush, Davy Jones.
I’ve also got a couple of Elle King’s songs on this playlist. She is something else! Feisty, talented, and entertaining! She makes no apologies for who she is and what she represents.
Check this out:
Next month, Hubs and I are finally going to see a show at Red Rocks, after living about an hour from there for almost 3 years. Honestly, our decision to purchase tickets to see the Head and the Heart there was more directed by cost (some of those shows are ridiculously expensive!) than anything else. However, I knew a couple of their songs and since purchasing the tickets have been listening to them more and more.
I have so far added their songs “Rhythm and Blues” and “Missed Connections” to this awesome playlist.
Now, there’s one song I’m going to be putting on a new playlist I’ll be creating: The Ultimate Classic Rock Jam playlist. It’s inspired by our new housemate, Radar.
So I’ve got a gazillion pictures on my cell phone of food with no place to go. Yes, I am one of those people.
I tend to not post these pics on social media because, well…they are not necessarily well received. People find it silly. Annoying. Pointless.
Truth be told, they are probably right.
But the thing is, I have a blog. And I am a foodie. And I love to cook. Well, most days anyway. When I’m not feeling the cooking mojo, I like to eat out. Try new foods, new places. And on top of it all, a large chunk of my job is running a food bank.
Thankfully, my dear Hubs is also a foodie (though he isn’t necessarily a fan of this particular term-don’t ask me why). He and I quite enjoy partnering up in our cozy (aka small) townhome kitchen and whipping up tasty meals on a pretty regular basis.
What makes it, um..interesting, is that I have a tendency to want to follow recipes to a “T” and he is a little more free-wheeling. He tells me that cooking this way indulges his creative side, which as an IT professional during the daylight hours, is a beneficial exercise. So, for the most part, I go with it. We decide which tasks each of us will do and we carry on with it.
Now for my food pictures.
I would be remiss if I didn’t include this pic of the nachos we made, which were loosely based on Chrissy Tiegen’s recipe in her new “Hungry for More” cookbook.
Pay no mind to my naked foot and focus on this beautiful plate of nachos. I never said that I was particularly skilled at taking pictures of food, people. They were scrumptious! Fresh mushrooms on nachos was a revelation for us. As I recall, the primary difference in our version of this recipe was we added chunks of pre-cooked chicken breasts. It was a meal unto itself.
Below I present you with Food pic #2. It’s a chicken breast sauteed in olive oil, slathered with homemade pesto sauce and mozzarella cheese with brown rice and succulent mushrooms on the side. Super simple to make, healthy, and delicious! This is actually on the menu for tonight.
Then there’s this gorgeous plate of authentic hummus I enjoyed with warm, fresh pita bread at a middle eastern restaurant in Kansas City when we visited friends there in February.
I recently made a pineapple upside down cake and brought it to work. I couldn’t resist snapping this pic below of the jar of maraschino cherries used in this recipe. “Real Cherries * May Contain Pits”. Quite the metaphor for life, don’t ya think?
Come on, fellow foodies-share your food pics in the comments!