A Little Cup of Tea

One of Grandma Queenie’s favorite tea cups

When all is not well in my world all I really crave is a hot cup of tea with a whole lot of sugar to make my life a little sweeter.  I was reminded of this yesterday when I was trying to recover from being on my feet all day Sunday preparing and then enjoying Joey’s birthday party.  In all the work and fun my cast had rubbed my heel and the back of my calf in the wrong way and just the slightest movement made me feel like my whole leg was on fire so what did I do like any good woman would do, I took to my bed with a pot of hot, sweet chamomile tea and the book I was reading (Honeymoon with my Brother – an awesome read by the way for those of you who love travel and relationships) and immediately started to feel better, at least emotionally.

Every time I sit down to really enjoy a cup of tea it brings back all these wonderful childhood memories of my Grandma Queenie.  She was Australian and loved her tea and passed that passion along to me at a very young age.  Granted the initial tea I got was more milk than tea but she always served it to me and my friends in a china cup and saucer with a treat on the side.  While we were at school she’d be baking away in the kitchen making our house smell like a home and we never knew what delectable morsel we’d be enjoying when we got home but we knew we’d be enjoying something.  She baked everything with precision and love and from scratch.  To this day I don’t think I’ve ever had cream puffs as light and fluffy as hers topped off with just the right sprinkling of powdered sugar that would stick to your lips and make you look like the ladies in the magazines with their frosted lipstick.  And don’t even get me started on her homemade apple squares.  I have all her boxes of recipes and do you think I can find one for that – nope, just like her rice buddah recipe it was all kept up in her head.  Luckily I’ve managed to collect notes and copies from the parents of my childhood friends so I can at least try to attempt to recreate her tasty creations.

It seemed like no matter what was happening to me, a broken heart, a sprained ankle, or an argument with my best friend Dawn that all I needed to remedy it was a little cup of tea with my Grandma.  Or if there was something to celebrate like a 100% on a test or winning Best Sense of Humor in 8th grade we did it with a little cup of tea.  If it were my girlfriends birthdays we’d have tea and a special treat made with just them in mind.  As I got older I realized just how lucky I was to enjoy those mid-afternoon tea parties with my friends, with my Grandma, with my Mother.  A lot of who I am today was formed around our kitchen table and my long conversations with Grandma.  Upon reflection I also realize that the size of the cup she bestowed me with was a sign of how grown up she thought I had become.  Starting out with doll size tea cups and eventually working my way up to fine porcelain that was so thin you could practically read a newspaper through it.  Even on her passing tea was uppermost in my mind.  When I was asked what I would like as a keepsake of hers I requested the two child size cups that Dawn and I used to drink out of the most when we were in 2nd grade which I’ve now passed along to my niece Sarah, two of the porcelain ones that had colorful trees on them and her pressed glass amber beads that I’d like to wear when we were having a “proper” tea.

Nowadays I have all tea and no milk (though I still like to make it really sweet) and as the fragrance wafts up at me it automatically makes me smile no matter what is going on in the world around me.  To me a little cup of tea is a whole lot of love handed down through the generations.  Lucky for me I have my own little guy to pass that love along to and like his Momma he likes to have his great-grandma’s version of children’s tea too.

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What does God mean to you?

I’m always saying I don’t believe in a traditional God (much to my in-laws disappointment), that I align more with the Native Americans and their philosophy that you give thanks for all you have, treat others better than you’d want to be treated, and show respect to those around you.  Having said that I do believe there is a greater power or being that created this beautiful world we live in and I want my son to grow up knowing that in all it’s forms so that he can make his own decisions when he’s of the right age to want to do that.  We give thanks before going to bed, he and Daddy say a traditional Christian prayer, we talk to his friends about their beliefs, and so on.  As he grows I will take him from church to temple and out into the woods to help him gain knowledge that will ultimately lead him to believe what he wants to believe.  I hope whatever he chooses brings him strength and understanding.  As for me, I’ll go on believing what I believe and respecting other folks beliefs as well.

I came across this essay on one of my Fibromyalgia groups and it just grabbed hold of me because a lot of it aligns with my way of thinking.  In posting this I’m not putting down anyones beliefs, saying one type of religion is better than another, it is simply food for thought.  It is written under the name OSHO.

To accept this simple fact that your daily life is your temple and your religion-just the understanding of this simple fact is going to become a great transformation. Then you cannot do many things you have always been doing, because it is everywhere-the sacred land-and every moment you are dealing with God. You cannot cheat customers; you cannot be possessive of your children, because they are closer to God than you are. Their innocence is a bridge, your knowledge is a wall, a China wall; you can only be respectful to the children. You cannot act in the old way because you are always acting inside the temple, and each of your acts is a prayer. In each moment you are surrounded by God. His presence will be felt even in your wife, in your husband, in your friend, in your enemy, because except Him, nobody else exists…

To make the whole of life a temple, and the whole of life a religion, is the only way of the real seeker. He does not go to look into the holy books. Books are books; no book is holy and no book is unholy. Read them if you enjoy the poetry; read them is you enjoy their prose; read them if you enjoy their mythologies-but remember, no book can deliver you the taste of religion. Yes, a flower may be able to do it; a bird on the wing maybe able to do it; a tree rising high and dancing in the sun may be able to do it. The whole existence becomes your holy book: read it, listen to it, and slowly, slowly, you will become aware that you are surrounded by an energy of which you have been completely unconscious. It is almost like the fish who does not know anything about the ocean, because it is born in the ocean, it has lived in the ocean, and one day it will die in the ocean. It was part of the ocean, just a wave; it knows nothing of the ocean. The fish comes to know the ocean only when a fisherman pulls her out of the ocean and throws her on the beach in the hot sand. Then she knows that she has missed her real home, of which she has never been aware. Now she is thirsty, trying in every possible way to reach back and jump into the ocean. Out of the ocean she becomes aware of what she has missed. People become aware only at the time of death of what they have missed , because death comes like a fisherman, pulling you out of the ocean of life. As you are pulled out of life, suddenly you realize, “My God! I have been alive, and I never became aware of it. I could have danced, I could have loved, I could have sung-but now it is too late.” People become aware only at the time they are dying, that they have been continuously surrounded by the eternal energy of life, but they never participated in it. Your daily life is your temple, and your religion. Act in awareness, act consciously, and naturally many things will start changing.
I’ve come to realize since being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, amongst other things, that each moment is a gift and if I listen quietly and with purpose I can see and hear creation at work.  It also makes me savor each moment for what it is, to slow down and truly appreciate it and this is the gift that Fibromyalgia has given me.  I’m no longer that fish swimming in the ocean unaware of the ocean, I’ve seen land and the fisherman and now know just how delicate and beautiful the ocean is.  OSHO wherever you are thank you for sharing this piece of insight with me, I really appreciate the beauty of your words.
So what does God mean to you?

What are you doing with your dash?

I came across this on one of the blog sights that I regularly read, ‘be yourself… everyone else is taken’ by Beth, and it really hit home.  This is an excerpt from her post regarding the death of her sixteen year old nephew and his funeral service.

~Pastor George told us to notice how all the headstones in the cemetery have something in common, “the day you arrive here on earth and the day you leave this earth” but that that isn’t what matters.  What matters is the “dash” in between.~

I found this to be a startling revelation because it’s so true.  It made me ask myself what I’m doing with my dash.  Am I living it fully each day, each hour.  Am I being the kind of person that I see myself as – kind, compassionate, creative, funny, etc.  For the most part I think I am though I’m susceptible to the occasional bad day too especially when I’m in a lot of pain and I notice that I’m cranky and tend to get short and snippy with those I love the most.  It’s a work in progress.  It made me ask if I was doing what I love the most and doing it on a daily basis and my answer to that question was “yes and no”.  I get to have a family, love them and care for them, and that’s the number one thing I want to be doing but I also want to travel and I haven’t been doing any of that for a number of years.  I want to be more creative – writing and taking photo’s and I haven’t really been doing much of either.  I’m going to start saving today for a good camera, the kind I used to use when I was in my 20’s and carefree, where every adventure was captured on film from my unique perspective.  I want to get back to the joy of cooking and to doing it with my whole family as that makes it all the more fun.  I want to donate some of my time to my local battered women’s shelter and share my gift of massage therapy so that they can once again be reminded that touch can be a good thing, gentle and soothing.  And I want to do all those things now as I don’t know just how long my dash is and I want to make sure that when it’s carved into that headstone that it represents everything I ever wanted, did and received.

So I ask you, “What are you doing with your dash?”.

If you want to check out Beth’s blog you can find it here:  http://moredoors.blogspot.com/

Fall is HERE!

Finally it’s beginning to feel like Fall and I couldn’t be happier.  The weather the past few days has been in the 70’s with light cool breezes that are just strong enough to ruffle your hair.  I even smelled smoke in the air the last couple of evenings coming from some of my neighbors chimneys.  Fall is my favorite time of year, probably because the weather is kindest on my aches and pains and I feel as though I have more energy thus I get to do more fun things with my family.  Don’t get me wrong, I love all the seasons and out here in California there is only a slight variation between them anyway, but Fall is and always has been my favorite.  I love watching the leaves change color and to see my son have a blast in the piles that we have to rake up.  I love that we now can break out the crock pot and make all kinds of yummy soups and stews and that the chore of dinner becomes easier and as an added bonus the house smells delicious all day from the aromas wafting out of said crock pot.  I love that we can officially turn off the A/C and in turn reduce our utility bill – who wouldn’t love that extra bonus.  I love that sunset comes earlier and so we can watch it go down as a family right from our own backyard.

I’m looking forward to my hubby building us a fire ring so that we can have some fires in the backyard and do s’mores with Joey and all his pals.  Maybe even get one last camp out in even if it is just in the backyard.  Kind of hard to get away for those small pleasures when you have full responsibility for the care of your aging mother who has health issues.  That’s okay though, somehow we make it work with the help of good friends and we’ve adapted to finding creative ways to do the things we like to do closer to home.

 

Malana, Hoss, Joey, and Larry having some fun picking pumpkins

Fall to me equates to baking, cooking, having friends over for a big bowl of stew with some crunchy San Francisco sourdough bread.  It’s a slower season for me as I always seem to pause to take in the changes occurring around me.  The geese flying overhead looking for a spot to nest down for the winter.  Since we have quite a few little lakes around us we’ll be seeing them all through the winter months.  The Halloween decorations went up at our house over the weekend and we sparked a revolution with two other houses on our circle following suit.  We’re not quite done but we’ve gotten a spooky good start.  I’m so happy that I married a man who loves the holidays as much as I do.  Our house is always overdone for Halloween and for Christmas you probably can see our house from the satellite since he puts so many light up.  Plus we do all the others as well, putting up hearts and cupids for Valentines day, shamrocks and leprechaun houses in the garden for St. Patty’s day; eggs and ducks and bunnies abound around Easter time.  Every holiday, big and small, has a place at our house and I love that.  I’m so hoping that Joey will grow up with a love of all things and want to celebrate every special occasion like we do so that he can carry on the family traditions.

I like to sit at the table with Joey and whip up treats to share with our neighbors.  Yesterday we did a chocolate cake for Daddy’s birthday and shared it along with some banana cream pie ice-cream with everyone on our circle.  Joey is already asking if we can make the acorn treats we spotted on Pinterest and some spooky cookies for Halloween.  I think my little man is going to grow up to be a great chef or baker which would be fine by me.

The one thing I could do without at the start of the Fall season – colds, sniffles, and sneezes.  Take today for instance I had set up transportation for Joey to and from school since I can’t drive with this dang cast on my foot and then when he woke up I knew we would not need it as he has the sniffles, snots and sneezes.  Could be allergies but I think it’s the beginning of a cold and I didn’t want to pass his germs onto his school buddies.  I’m sure that this is just the first of many to come since he’s begun going to Transitional Kindergarten this year.  The bonus to it though is I get to spend the whole day with him cuddling and playing and just having some good old-fashioned fun.

Did I mention to you that I love FALL!  Here’s to many more days of cool delight, falling rainbows made of leaves, and good hearty foods.

Boys and their Toys

There is just something about boys, big and little, and their toys.  Whether it’s Hot Wheels and trains at 2 or Harley’s and boats at 42, from this girls perspective it’s always about boys and their toys.  Who has the biggest, the fastest, the shiniest, or the latest one on the market.  And I don’t think there is anything better than boys and their toys when it’s a father and son sitting on the floor playing together.  I’m the great co-conspirator in these types of happenings around our house.  I get to go out and secure the newest bauble – usually Lego’s as that is what Joey is really into these days and I get all the joy of giving him his specials prize and then when Daddy gets home from work he gets the joy of sitting down and creating the magic with him.  This time around it was the new Super Hero line and I picked the one with Superman, his nemesis Lex Luther and his flying machine, and just for old times sake a little Wonder Women was thrown in the mix.  A girls gotta sneak the girls in any way she can.

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They literally have their little routine down.  Joey goes running out the door the minute he hears his Dad roar up on his motorcycle to show him the latest treasure, Daddy gets a brief moment to kiss me hello, take a potty break, and then it’s all boys down on the floor.  First they have to sort each piece into piles based on color and size and once that’s done the fun begins.  Joey usually grabs up all the pieces that create the Lego men or women and assembles them while Daddy starts the gargantuan process of assembling the more complex components.  Joey gets to help by handing him the next piece needed and helping to press them down into place.

During this whole process I’m just a fly on the wall taking in their joy.  I think for those moments in time both of them have forgotten I even exist, or that I’m the wizard behind the curtain making it all happen.  They are 100% engaged in what they are doing and in one another.  Plans are hatched on the best way to assemble it, Daddy sneaking a math lesson in the mix as they count out pieces or reaffirming Joey’s color knowledge base and throughout it all there are smiles and giggles.  When the final project is complete they both sit back and admire their hard work, mirror images of one another, my two guys.  Joey declaring it his special toy which is code for no other kids get to play with it for a few days and Daddy saying he better keep it special because he’s not going to keep rebuilding it everyday (even though he does when Joey breaks something off or his friends accidentally decide to undo all that hard work).

Together, my two guys, make quite a great team and yes I’ll admit I’m a little jealous of their boys club but I wouldn’t have it any other way.