Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Blogging in my head

That's what I've done all week -- written blog posts in my head -- but I haven't had enough time to let them flow through my fingers onto the screen. New articles to write, places I have to be, tasks that must be done...

But here I am right now. There's a big pot of braised shortribs in sauce simmering in the Crock Pot, filling the house with a wonderfully spicy-tomato-y scent. I should let it sit overnight and skim off the fat, but it smells too good to wait -- so I'll skim off what I can from the top of the pot. These are good, Tehama-county-grown beef shortribs, too. I cut the very last of the Swiss chard from the garden this morning, so we'll have that along side, and I'll probably cook some whole wheat wide noodles too, to soak up that wonderful sauce. Yum. (Can you tell I'm hungry?)

I pulled up the tomato vines today and tossed what was left to the deer, saving a few green tomatoes for us. It's time for the garden to be done. I thanked the earth for all the wonderful food we enjoyed this season. In the next day or so, if I can find an hour, I'll RoundUp the whole thing to get rid of all the awful weeds we had this year. Then I'll pull up the dead stuff, till the soil, and layer newspaper and the good, dried manure that's waiting in a small trailer. Next summer ought to be a really good growing season!

Another article in the Record Searchlight -- and today I got a call thanking me for the story. Seems Gottschalks called and volunteered to wrap gifts and to donate a few more; a cookie store is making cookies especially for Adopt-A-Family; and they've gotten another few volunteers. That just makes me glow. I've got two more stories done that probably will run this weekend, and am talking tomorrow to one more person about the program. This has been a fun run.

But it's kept me hopping!

Saturday evening we went to the Red Bluff Christmas parade -- Tony took some photos, and I watched. It was a mild night for November, although I was in layers and my gloved fingers still got cold. I watched two younger teens next to us, dressed in sockless tennies and capri pants, eating cotton candy and watching the lights. They spoke to us a few times -- very pleasant girls. It made me remember that age -- BEING that age (yes, I can still recall that in this aging brain) -- with all its insecurities and dreams and desires. They were young enough to be unselfconscious about how they acted as they watched -- still slightly gawky in bodies that haven't reached full maturity yet. One had carrotty-red hair that could have been real; both wore a little makeup, but not excessive.

I wondered what they want for Christmas, if they have boyfriends, how they behave around their parents. I wondered what they like about school, if they participate in clubs or activities. I wondered what they dream about being when they grow up. They're still young enough to get excited about Christmas -- and I hope they each get something they really want, and have a Christmas tree, and are with family who love them.

I guess that writing these stories and talking to volunteers and staff, and browsing through some of the families in the Adopt-A-Family program has really heightened my awareness of how hard some people struggle to make things work, and how very, VERY lucky I am and always have been.

I'm a huge believer that we make our own destiny -- and that there are angels who are there to help us along the way, mostly unrecognized by us. For many of these families, the volunteers who offer gifts and food and money may be their angels, and just may make the difference between giving up and continuing to work hard. It's touching, and inspiring. I hope my stories make a difference -- from what I've heard, they have.

I am not going to have to search for the Christmas spirit this year -- I don't even mind the carols already playing in the stores -- although I was listening to Pavarotti singing "Ave Maria" in Latin in Walmart (of all places), and overheard a woman saying, "That music is just driving me NUTS!" (okay, no accounting for taste. Maybe she prefers "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer.") I'm looking forward to cookies and music and lights and the pungent scent of pine trees, and to watching bubble lights perking away on the tree. To hearing from old friends, and to writing them back. To remembering Christmases past, and being thankful.

I am looking forward to being with my brother and sister-in-law this year, and with my daughter -- this will be the first Christmas we've been together since Mother died, and I have so missed that family connection. Even though there's still all the shopping and wrapping and stuff to do, it's okay. I'm just grateful we'll be together, and that we have enough....of everything.

McMurphy update: he had one more (unanticipatedly is that even a word? expensive) test and seems to be fine. He is so happy to be home and with us, and seems a little quieter than he was before he got sick. We are so glad to have him back.

And that's all I have time for today. Hark, how the bells...

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