Sunday, January 30, 2011


God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

A daylily says "ahhh"

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;

A gladioli straggler in bloom
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

--Reinhold Niebuhr

Trumpet vine
Reinhold Niebuhr was the Billy Graham of his day. A minister of great political and cultural influence.
Egypt and her people are in our prayers today.  As the American theologian Niebuhr wrote-

"Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary."

My prayer is cautious. Unrest led to the founding of this great nation. It is also how Castro took Cuba.
The rioting in Cairo- the antiquities in one of the worlds great museums at risk.
The end result is not certain, only that with change comes risk. Change with risk usually involves great pain.

Billy Graham expressed the wisdom of his years in an article on Politics Daily. One full of irony, where it is reported given a chance to re-walk his influential career, he would have sidestepped time seen in the political world. He went on

"Whenever I counsel someone who feels called to be an evangelist, I always urge them to guard their time and not feel like they have to do everything."

Replace the word 'evangelist' with any profession.  Guarding our time is wisdom without borders.

Plan A was for a new recipe to go up today. But an accident just ahead of me on Brea Canyon Road just north of the Tonner Canyon exit changed the rhythm of the day.Diamond Bar Patch has a photo I snapped from my cell phone. Hopefully there will be no more news to report from the one car rollover.


The images of flowers were taken in my garden before the rain began to fall. I like their resistance to following instructions; with advised of only one bloom a year. This being the middle of winter, evidently,was not good enough for them. The surprise of their color in the middle of the winter: my serenity. What is yours?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Invocation Excerpt/ Grief

Trouble creates a capacity to handle it.  I don't embrace trouble; that's as bad as treating it as an enemy.  But I do say meet it as a friend, for you'll see a lot of it and had better be on speaking terms with it. “ - Oliver Wendell Holmes
Reno, Fresh from The Youth Science Center Gala 2007

Remind us count our blessings. A lecture on educational trends of other nations is not necessarily bad. However- as long as more people choose to immigrate to than from our shores- we need to recognize that not all is well in nations seeking to overcome our leads in business. Other nations do not offer the educational opportunities that we do to all children. They do not adhere to our environmental standards. Their citizens not compensated as well as ours.
Reno, a month older
Rather than worry about the “other guy”- restore our ability to reach for a goal in ways the bureaucrats do not imagine. We were once concerned that a communist empire would reach the high ground of space for military advantage. President Kennedy set the goal to reach the moon.

Tahoe's second day with us 2007

The greatness of this nation is the creativity of her people unleashed. The engineers decided what needed to be done for man to safely traverse into outer space. Today we have GPS on cell phones, microwaves in our kitchens, computers in our homes.

 In the words of Albert Einstein, "Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions."

Sunset at Diamond Bar and Grand
The original text was longer than usual. More lamentation than usual. Imagine: a writer with mood swings):-  Not to excuse, simply to explain. I am discovering grief delayed- is grief delayed.

Sometimes we think we are "handling things well" only to find we entered a state of disengagement. Then it hits. 

Trimming and prepping the rose bushes is as much a ritual for me as getting ready for the hunting season is for the men in my family. One that for the  past 15 years preceded bountiful bouquets created for my mother's enjoyment. 

The purpose of my garden is irrevocably altered when she died.  Mom, I miss you so much. I miss your wisdom, your encouragement, holding hands and  the smell of  your Aqua Net hairspray. I miss it all. Until we meet again, May God watch over your sweet spirit. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Patient Shouldn't Have to Die

Before the State of the Union is delivered, I wanted you to be able to read this. Annotated  from a retired US Military friend., his situation clarifies the real life concerns about changes in health care commonly referred to as Obamacare.

"It seems that TriCare just doesn't give a damn....... They are going to save money.

TriCare canceled all of my medications, yes, even all of my heart meds...

I have been on 'Brand Name' heart meds for 12 years because I have severe adverse reactions to the Generic ones. TriCare Insisted that 'Justification' be made for me to retain my Brand Name meds. 3 Doctors, with a combined 45 years of Education and a combined 135 years of experience in the practice of medicine and their written justifications were not enough for the admin clerk enforcing the New Rules for ObamaCare.

I have been cut off. Totally. Completely. Nada. Nope. TriCare did not say anteing except "NO" but they did recommend "Generic" drugs as the FDA has said that they are an 'equivalent" to the Brand Name drugs. It didn't matter that I am allergic to the Generic ones and have wound up in the ER a couple of times... I have lost 30% vision in my Left eye due to Amiodorone (Heart Med) and have various serious reactions to others.... etc............ ALL of which was spelled out by my doctors in their scripts which stated: Medically Necessary, NO Substitution, Brand Name Only".

They wouldn't even refill the scripts that they had originally filled to give me time to see my doctors and plan for an alternative treatment plan with newer drugs. Nope ! You're Done ! Next !
I have contacted my Representative's office and a very nice lady Aide is trying to make sense of it all, but even she is getting angry with the lack of common sense on the part of the Government change in the regulations !

I did receive a letter of apology from TriCare where they are attempting to cover their backside and scrape me off of their plate. The Aide, (name deleted), laughed and then she got pissed -- and got on the phone again on my behalf.
So........ I have 3 choices:

1. Purchase the drugs for $1,412.00 per month
2. Take the Generics and end up in the ER.....
3. Take nothing and die."

It seems that TriCare just doesn't give a damn....... They are going to save money.

If physicians are to be the gatekeepers of our medical care, it would seem the government should respect their judgement as to when a specific brand formulary is appropriate. The generic is not always equal. The patient shouldn't have to die to prove their case.

We promise health care for life to our retired military. Is this how we as a nation honor our promises to men and women willing to make as their career a job in which they have little to no say in where they serve while promising fidelity to our safety over their own?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Outside In: The Gardener and Cook

Rosa 'Our Lady of Guadalupe' & ''Mutabalis' (Butterfly) clippings with hips
It's all in the attitude. Pruning sounds like a chore. "Gathering Roses" sounds so much more elegant for the same result.

The backyard provided the bouquet for Sunday supper.  They came from when backyard roses were stripped even of their leaves. Handfuls of worm manure and Jersey green sand thrown at their feet. The soil conditioned, allowed to rest.

In updating the garden look, I am going for maximum impact for minimum dollar. The potted tree roses are moving from the entrance to the backyard to stand with the arch at the back of the lawn. Moving that first pot used muscles that have been in hibernation since the year I decided the piano should be on the other side of the living room. Which led the next decision.

I have read that tree roses should not be totally shorn. It felt- literally- like a good year to try this change in maintenance.

Finch at the Feeder
When I profide refreshments, God sends the entertainment. The line to the feeder bunches up in the formidable arms of the Italian Stone Pine. If traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange turned into tiny yellow birds, that is the behavior of yellow finches.

Brick scrubbed and sealed with 'Wet Look" Product
Sealing is the easy part. Moving furniture then running the floor refurbisher to prep the surface... Do not start that machine anywhere near a plate glass window. Unless you want new windows, that is.

The tangerine tree is the fruit equivalent of zucchini. What to do with all of the bounty? Yesterday's Road Map Recipe....

Girlfriend's Coleslaw Chicken Salad
  •  Coleslaw mix
  • Dried cranberries
  • White raisins
  • Chicken meat, diced
  • Glazed walnuts
  • Tangerine wedges halved, seeds removed
Mix in a bowl of an appropriate size for the number of people you are serving. 

  • Chinese Chicken Salad Dressing
  • Mayonnaise
 Toss the other ingredients with Chinese chicken salad dressing just until moist. Then add a layer of flavor richness by stirring in mayonnaise to coat.
  • Wonton strips
This dish is just lovely served on a glass plate. At the very last moment, present the salad sprinkled with wonton strips and if there are any dried cranberries or whole tangerine slices- the more the merrier.

Kitchen wisdom:

For those with smaller households- with just 2 people to be served, buying pre-mixed ingredients is not
always more expensive than home prepared. What goes in the compost heap is gold disguised- what goes in the trashcan is waste.

Glazed walnuts are so easy it verges on sin to purchase ready made. A bit of butter, a scoop of sugar in a pan with enough nuts to absorb the coating as the sugar caramelizes. However, this step requires your absolute devotion stirring or you have blackened walnuts-which even the garbage disposal might object to being fed.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Road to Inner Peace and Happiness

"First say to yourself what you would be' and then do what you have to do."


Born a Greek slave in  AD 55, Wikipedia describes the stoic as believing philosophy is more than a state of mind. It is a way of life. The authors there condensed his thought o the road to personal happiness and peace of mind to be, "Suffering arises from trying to control what is uncontrollable, or from neglecting what is within our power...human beings have a duty to care for all fellow humans." 

The quote was found on the Diamond Bar City Hall Weekly News issued today by City Manager James DeStefano.  

Wisdom is timeless. She is not bound to economic class, ethnic origin or political party. To live in a city which honors these words of a man born a slave- is priceless.

Diamond Bar Community Center at Night

Image of Community Center at the top of Grand at Summit Ridge from the Diamond Bar Photo Album

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Life is not Low Maintenance

Purchase info below
This purse loads with credit cards.
In today's political climate, it is probably a bit politically incorrect to wear very many places. Which makes it charming. I dream of a day when talking heads lighten up. Life is serious: but it deserves to be enjoyed, too.

Life is not low maintenance. Embrace it. Or clean it. The past couple days I have been wrestling with getting the patio back into the state of "country sophisticate" enjoyability. Heavy patio furniture lifting was followed by bronco-busting  in a commercial floor finisher. I wrapped up before big planes of glass became sideline casualties. The wet-look sealer makes the floor shine like in the White House.

In 2011, we will watch less TV. Who wants their headstone to read "She watched lots of TV"

Our "Run to the Borders" (bookstore) does not have to be saved for weekends. Neither do Italian dinners.

 Last night's menu:
  •  Marinated artichoke hearts
  • Eggplant Parmesan
  • Pumpkin ravioli with browned butter sauce with crisped sage leaves
  • Curled spaghetti lavishing under Oregon Sue's Marinara sauce
  • Mini Meatballs and Italian sausage
Bet you are glad you didn't have to clean my kitchen. I am satisfied that the leftovers will warm well.

When we arrived at our local Border's, the evidence suggested the weekend was very busy

When you run into a section like this at a bookstore, do you straighten up?

 Being this was a date with my husband, I stopped short of alphabetizing by author. However horizontal and vertical and vertical planes were restored before I left the store with 2 new books.

Perhaps this oddity is a function of becoming a writer. I see a shelf  with contents overturned and I read it as an though an anthropologist surrounded by ancient rubble. The book collection is robbed of its dignity by nomadic people devoid of  the awe of appreciation.

Writers, photographer, editors- each book on the shelf are the children of every person involved in the production of a book. Corporations took a chance investing in their gestation. When the book is born, a retailer risks what happens when the stacks are explored.

Fact. The public rudely trashed the place. Shouldn't it be a civic duty to help correct? If we believe in personal responsibility- disheveled books ought to be treated like beach litter. Not just the obligation of staff.

Resolve to not  be a part of the problem. Make it a habit to be part of the solution. 

The purse is in stock at S. Barton's Fine Gifts. They are moving around the corner from 121 North Citrus Avenue, Covina, CA 91723-2002. Call (626) 332-0326 ‎ if you get there and they are gone.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Thoughts on Martin Luther King Day

In the spring of 1856 Booker T Washington was born a slave on a Tuskegee tobacco farm. Plantation records estimated his commercial value at $400. 

On emancipation, dire poverty disqualified him for regular schooling. But he worked towards the goal of an education at every opportunity. He became an educator and in  1901 his memoir  Up from Slavery: An Autobiography first published.

Mr. Washington was a very practical man. He prioritized the need for economic stability ahead of  codifying rights. 
In honor of Martin Luther King Day, I would like to share some of the wisdom of Booker T. Washington, who rose from slave hood to one of the most influential leaders in education of politics of his day.

"I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which one has overcome while trying to succeed."  

"No race can prosper 'til it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem."

"The world cares very little about what a man or woman knows: it is what the man or woman is able to do that counts."

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Garden Blooming Blog Day January 2011

"The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender. "
 -Vince Lombardi


This close up of rosa 'Brigadoon' is like rainbow sherbet for the eyes

She's one of the taller roses.

Even at night, her petals are luminescent

The fuchsia at the front door is proving to be ever-blooming. Perhaps because this is such a convenient place to remember to pinch the blossoms back):-

With leaves unfurling like a flamenco skirt- ornamental cabbage doesn't need flowers to be decorative. 

We didn't get our cold spell until the first of the year- so the tangerines are late in coloring up. Here they hang sweet to pick and eat straight from the tree like these are juicy balls of candy.

To garden is the opportunity to battle for beauty.  

Friday, January 14, 2011

What Loss Gives

"My Dream is of a Place and time where America will once again be seen as the last best hope of earth."
-Abraham Lincoln
Images by Gene Sasse
"Youth is not entirely a time of life: it is a state of mind. Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years. People grow old by deserting their ideals. You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt: as young as your self-confidence; as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair."
-General Douglas Mac Arthur

Easy Does It™  Rose

"...when we lose someone in our family - especially if the loss is unexpected. We're shaken from our routines, and forced to look inward. We reflect on the past. Did we spend enough time with an aging parent, we wonder. Did we express our gratitude for all the sacrifices they made for us? Did we tell a spouse just how desperately we loved them, not just once in awhile but every single day?

So sudden loss causes us to look backward - but it also forces us to look forward, to reflect on the present and the future, on the manner in which we live our lives and nurture our relationships with those who are still with us. We may ask ourselves if we've shown enough kindness and generosity and compassion to the people in our lives. Perhaps we question whether we are doing right by our children, or our community, and whether our priorities are in order. We recognize our own mortality, and are reminded that in the fleeting time we have on this earth, what matters is not wealth, or status, or power, or fame - but rather, how well we have loved, and what small part we have played in bettering the lives of others. "
- President Barack Obama

Loss gives us perspective. It reminds of of the temporal and precious nature of life.

God bless Tuscon. In the wake of unspeakable tragedy, many stupid things were said at the outset. Such is the nature of grief. It is unfortunate that modern communication has broadcast words best forgotten. "Forgiveness is divine." It is also appreciated.

Today Montana Becky sent me a note. It included a thought for the day:" If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it." What a nice thought. To be so special to God as to have Him save a spot for my picture. I hope it isn't one of the fat ones):- 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Comfort food . Historical Perspective. Prayer.

The news yesterday was stunning. Arizona Congresswoman Gabriella Giffords shot at a district open event.

Heroes deserve their names to be known. Not criminals and misfits. The idiot who shot her- now that his name has been announced- the mute button is made for when it is about to be restated. The perpetrator's name ought to be replaced by a descriptive, perhaps "the devil who shot up a gathering at a local shopping center." Or a big "bleep" played as his actions have changed his name into an expletive.

Puerto Rican flag over island
This is not the first time shots have been taken at Congressmen. In 1954 the matriarchal side of "my people"- Puerto Ricans- unfurled the island's flag  and started shooting in the Washington DC Halls of Congress.  5 Congressmen were shot.

 That was the year before I was born. Still, as a child I understood that when some with shared genetic code do something wrong- it is your duty to make it clear - in words and actions- you will have no compassion for those who violently go over the brink. Further, you have to develop some empathy for disapproval sent your way based on the actions of others. Wise words and good behavior are the only slow weapons available to win them over.

Fidel in 1974
For those who do not understand the intensity of feeling against the rein of Fidel Castro: Fidel's release of several American CIA agents being held in Cuba on espionage charges was concurrent with President Jimmy Carter's freeing the assailants still in prison. Coincidence? Does that exist in foreign relations?

The air is heavy with grief. It bares down on all Americans of every political assignation. It is a good time to make food which requires minimal attention and is filling. The air outside is gloomy- a perfect backdrop for split pea soup. In the style of Nigella Lawson- this is a basic "road map recipe."

Soak in water to cover plus an inch or so in deep pot. At least 1 hour will give you creamiest result
  •  Dried package of split peas- ( for the 2 of us, half the package will keep us full)
Drain off the soak. To peas in fresh water add
  • smoked ham hock
  •  celery stalk or 2 sliced
  • a small sweet onion, diced
  • a handful of carrot slices
Spice it up to taste with
  • a bay leaf
  • salt
  • white pepper
  • Tabasco sauce
Simmer until the meat is fall off the bone tender and the peas are mushy. If more liquid is needed ,  stir in water of chicken broth.  Pull marrow from the bones, discarding the hock. The bay leaf should likewise to in the trash.

Ladle by ladle, steam rising from bowls of homemade split pea soup warm the coldest of circumstances. A calm mind sees more clearly what it can do- and what it must let go.  

Dear Father in Heaven,  Bless this Nation, comfort us one and all. As we go forward, may we remember the responsibility is ultimately the gunman's and any accomplice. May we be circumspect to keep our words and actions out of the realm of encouraging wrong-doing. We give our pain to you and ask we be granted wisdom to avoid the ugliness of yesterday.

As this is the custom of my faith, I ask this in the name of my Savior, The Lord Jesus Christ.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Build on Creative Foundation

Our collaboration on the stained glass memorial to my mother, "Ethel's Garden" is entered in to a contest. The grand prize is a trip to Italy. Click over to the write up at  Woodcraft.

Most people are too sane to design an intricate window to fit in a garden folly. But when visitors see the hand selected, cut and wrapped glass at night, they understand. The leaded and copper foil garden- themed transom window's coupe de grace is the solar lighting.  

My collaborator, my husband Gerry is an engineer by training. Everyone knows engineers are good at math. Great engineers are creative.

My mother said after a visit when Gerry wove weeks away from home with weeks of unpaid overtime." I always thought they made so much money. But no one ever asked me to work like that."

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


As a child, it was odd to have my birthday mid the 12 Days of Christmas. There was never spare money for a present like my sisters got for their summer celebrations. Now that I am 56, I am grateful to have been granted one more complete year. And the chance for another.

It wasn't so when I was a child- as an adult I am about the healthiest person I know. Good health is a present from the Almighty that requires diligent maintenance. As a reminder of His gift's greatness- tonight's prayer will include the names of those not so lucky.
So what's been up in Lydialand?  It isn't exactly a vacation or staycation. It is more of an annual feng shui  for the soul.  

The garage ceiling and the brain are nearly cleared of cobwebs. Decorations and ideas were dealt with in the same way. The inner editor made decisions. Projects were reviewed with the future in mind. Some judged dubious in value; the worthless went in the trash. The worthy, but off target, given away. Some have value added by re-purposing. Others deserve to either be treasured just as they are.

With decisions made, when Epiphany bids good bye, everything is in order to move 2011 forward successfully.

Until we we meet again- I wish you Godspeed .