Friday, December 31, 2010

Technology takes another bite

In a few hours, the photography world will lose a significant part of its history.  Many will not even know it has happened.  Not even photographers....well the amateur ones.  Technology has pushed a giant player down and it will never recover.  Don't get me wrong.  I love technology.  I am the queen of it in my household.  I have an iPod, and iPad, and iPhone, and laptop and a desktop.  After finishing The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins last night, I wanted to read the sequel right away.  With a few clicks of a button and in less than five minutes time, I had the sequel and never had to leave my house.  So I'm not opposed to technology, but it's hard to let go of  the past.
Kodachrome has had a 75 year run as the go to film for photographers.  It's complex processing gives dimension and color to images that digital cannot.  Kodachrome was the single most influential film and it changed the way the printed image was viewed.

Paul Simon dedicated a whole song to the film....with lyrics that say....

They give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world's a sunny day, Oh yeah
I got a Nikon camera
I love to take a photograph
So mama don't take my Kodachrome away"

One professional photographer, Steve McCurry, shot an image that was featured on the June 1985 cover of National Geographic.  He shot the image with Kodachrome film.  When he returned years later and found her again, this time as a grown woman, he shot that image with Kodachrome as well.  Steve McCurry received a special privilege.  He was allowed to buy the last roll of Kodachrome film ever manufactured by Kodak.  The very last image shot on this roll of film was taken in Parsons, Kansas.  It was a picture taken of a civil war cemetery there.  A fitting setting for the last roll.  This roll was processed at Dwayne's Photo in July 2010 and took up residence at the George Eastman House.

You may ask why Parsons, Kansas.  The answer is that the last processing center in the world able to develop Kodachrome film is Dwayne's Photo, in Parsons Kansas. Since Eastman Kodak made the announcement on June 22, 2009 that it would no longer produce the Kodachrome film, Dwayne's Photo has been developing 700+ rolls a day from all over the world.  And tonight, at midnight, it will cease for good.  Even if you have an old roll, biding its time in the coolness of your fridge, after midnight tonight, no one in the world will have the capability of processing your film.  The process is so complex, that it cannot be done at home in your own darkroom.  The chemicals themselves will be extinct as well.

So, the last photograph on the last roll of Kodachrome film is a cemetery. Dramatic?  Perhaps.  But this is the end of an age.  Pushed out by the digital world.  Technology's latest victim.  Gone are the days of taking a roll of film and carefully feeding it over the teeth of the manual camera rollers. Looking through viewfinder and lining up a photograph worthy of an image on that celluloid, will no longer be the patient art it actually was.  You took the picture, hoped it was good one.  Trusted what you shot was good and then you waited for the images to be developed.  An act of faith really. 

As a very amateur photographer, I now take many photographs.  I have my older, manual, film taking camera tucked carefully away and use my digital camera all the time.  My grandchildren will never know the act of taking a photograph and having to wait to see the image.  They can see the image in the second or two after it's taken.  I don't know if they can truly appreciate the uniqueness of photographs the way I do. But it will be my job to teach them about the past so that can have a whole view of their future.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Of Christmas' past

While on a visit to my brother's recently, (see last post), he posed a question to both me and our youngest brother.  He asked if we had any memories about Christmas' from our past.  Considering the fact that we had all grown up in a constantly moving, alcohol bathed, emotionally dysfunctional military family, I thought it was a fair question.  I did ask, though, that we not drag up stuff that was going to be dark and damaging to any of us and start us on a depressing diatribe of how screwed up things were.  I mean, we were all there and don't need to be all "survivor-ish" about it.  So I opened the door to the past and journeyed through the cobwebs of my mind to survey the holiday pictures I may have mentally taken along the way.  At first glance, I couldn't say any stood out to me at all.  I asked my brother's what they remembered and they said the same thing...nothing came to them at all.
And then I remembered.  The first Christmas I remembered with fondness was the year I turned 12 and got a Four Tops album.  I have a picture somewhere to prove it.  I'm in a robe with a short pixie cut and I am holding the album.  I was excited to have it.....I also have a memory about a silver (aluminum) tree with a color wheel that rotated and made it pink, red, green and some other color that escapes me.  Apparently, my brother's hated that tree.  I thought it was different, but not too bad as trees go.  But my most favorite memory is from my adulthood.  So maybe I stepped outside of the question that was asked, but it is a memory about Christmas so I shared.

My mother lived in North Carolina and my husband and four kids lived in Virginia.  We rarely traveled on Christmas, but decided to go down for Christmas that particular year.  Carting presents all the way down.  I didn't bring my kids up believing in Santa Claus, which I regret to this day, but that's another story for another time.  So we drove to North Carolina and got there well after dark.  At this point in my mother's life she was sober and had been for sometime.  With a firm foothold in AA, she had reshaped her life and in turn reshaped me as well.  We got into town and drove directly to her trailor.  Yup, mom lived in a trailor, in a trailor park.  She wasn't always the best house keeper, but this night was one for the books ~ or this blog as it turns out.  We fell out of the car and stumbled towards the door.  I walked into a Christmas wonderland.  Mom had Christmas music playing softly, candles were lit on this Christmas decoration that spun from the heat of the candles, all of the Christmas houses mom had hand painted were lit and displayed beautifully and the air smelled of cinnamon and cookies.  Her trailer was beautiful and clean and, well......home.  I mean, really home.  Her tree was decorated meticulously and she greeted us with a big smile.  I felt like I walked into a scene I had hoped for my whole life.  I do not remember what I bought my children, my husband, my mom or anyone else that year.  But I do remember that she made a memory for me.  One that I cherish even more, now that she is gone.
I have made it a point to make those memory sights, sounds and smells for my children and now grandchildren.  Having the opportunity to relive that wonderful moment made me ask my own daughter about the Christmas' she rememebers.  I asked my clients as well and almost all of them have said, it's not always the gifts (although sometimes special ones stick out), but it's the memories.  It's the time with family and far away relatives who come for the holidays that stick out. 
So for me, this season, I am doing my best to make happy memories. I am going to try and make it joyful and not exhausting.  It doesn't mean it won't be, but I know that I'm in charge of what happens so I will try and create an aroma of love when my family comes to visit.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Life is not a number....right?

I know my last post was...

A.  A while ago. Thanks for the reminder Lacey.    and...
B.  Led to the belief that someone out there might want to know how to can tomatoes.

Well I changed my mind about what my next post would be and decided to write about the mind boggling event that takes place today.

I am the oldest girl of two boys in my family.  Yes, I still refer to myself as a girl and my brothers are still "the boys".  Complete with y's on the end of each of their names.  The world may call them Mark and Bill, but they will always be Marky and Billy to me.  I know them.  Well, I kind of know them.  I knew them when we were kids.  I fought them and I fought for them.  The ole' adage that I can fight them, but you can't stood true.  I would have fought the world to protect them....and there were times in my young childhood when it felt like I did.  I was the oldest, so it felt right.  But I digress....

So today is one of my "baby" brother's birth day.  And he turned 50 today.  I don't know how this is possible.  Wasn't I just walking alongside of him holding his hand?  Didn't I just explain to him how deodorant might help his chances with the general population?  Not just women, but people in general?  Didn't my husband just let him borrow his Z28 Rally Sport Camero to take his date to the Cotillion?  Didn't he just get married?  Well, no, I guess none of these just happened.  But this is a real bump in my road.  It was one thing for me to turn 50.  Another when my oldest turned 30.  Big things for sure.  But this is my "baby" brother and I feel like I just got put into my place.  Like the universe just commanded me to sit up and take notice and realize that life was moving by me fast.  And that I don't really have forever to live.  Nothing morbid, just a check.  So I respond.  I notice....and I will live differently.  I have alot to get in before I go, so I got a whole lot more living to do.  I have grown complacent in this living in my fifties thing and I need to remember how to do it!  So here I go, starting again at your birthday party! 

  Happy 50th birthday Billy.  I know we each have alot more years to live outloud!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Red is a Spring and Fall Color

For some, the signs of winter's passing and spring's arrival may be the sounds of lawn mowers revving up for the seasons war on less than manicured lawns or the first crack of a baseball bat as spring leagues take to the field.  For me it is the glimpse of ripened tomatoes, grown locally in fields I have seen as I travel around the area.  It is the sign that announces that my local farmer's market is open and I can enter and partake. 
I enter the different vendors booths with a sense of anticipation. I am not someone who successfully eats the produce of the seasons...I know, I know Lauren (my healthy, earth friendly daughter) I should, but sometimes I need a BLT and the only tomatoes available are a winter shadow of the real thing.  Pithy. Pinkish and not red.  And no real smell to offer my acute sensibilities.  So when I can handle the real thing, and I mean handle, I am like the proverbial kid in the candy shop.  I go into the booths and run my hand over the vegetables as if I were a lover caressing the body of my one and only.  Don't worry I disinfect before I go.  I am aware of my actions.
I have tried for years to grown my own garden.  I have planted tomatoes, bell peppers, patty pan squash and herbs.  I rarely get the tomatoes to cooperate.  This year the underside of every tomatoe was black and rotten.  I was told this was bottom rot and that I could pick up something to help with this plant affliction. So I went to Roxbury Mills farm and Garden center,  A place that smells of all things growing...soil, fertilizer, bulbs, get the idea.  I walked in and a man approached me and asked if he could be of help.  Because I rarely think before I speak,  I told him that I had bottom rot and could he help me.  At first I couldn't figure out his quizzical expression, and then I realized my error and quickly did what I could to stop the flow of red to my face and tell him that my tomatoe plants were producing fruit with bottom rot...not me... and could he help. Even though he was most helpful and provided me with a spray that should have helped, I can never grow edible tomatoes that I would proudly serve at my dinner table.  I had luck with my patty pan squash...well I should say it took over the whole dang garden area and provided a little vegetable sustenance. So, I decided that herbs are my specialty and I will now trust the growing of all things vegetable to the pros.
Patty pan squash is my favorite and I buy it by the truckload every week.  I slice it, throw some EVOO on it with some salt and pepper and grill it.  It has a different taste than regular squash...a little sweeter.  A little more tender. 

Patty Pan Squash
I wondered for years what this odd shaped vegetable was until my friend, Lacey introduced us.  And I am thankful that she did.  These little pac man shaped veggies have been a treasure through the summer and whether grilled or roasted I can never have enough.

The summer has left and autumn is approaching.  The color of the vegetables have transferred to the trees.  The farmer's market stands are no longer full of the vibrant color of spring, but have begun to tone it down.  Apples, acorn squash and butternut squash have calmed down the splash of vibrancy, but are not any less tasteworthy.  However all is not lost.  Like many women before me, I decided to try and capture summer in the bottle and try and can the last of this seasons tomatoes.  Next post!! I will share how it all went.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day

There are fathers and then there are fathers.  You see them everywhere.  Pushing strollers.  Attending prenatal classes with their partners or wives.  Picking up diapers or formula.  You see them now....but that hasn't always been the case.  The generation that we see partnering as a co-parent is more for the current generation than the ones before.  It is expected.  It probably came in with the expectation that the men should have no problem picking up our feminine products while they were at the grocery store.  But it hasn't always been that way.  Nor is it always the norm now.When my father was told he was going to be a father, he was a young, single Marine.  I am told he was thrilled and immediately asked my mom to marry him.  He would become career Marine.  Doing 3 tours of duty in Vietnam and leaving my mother and my brothers and I stateside while he performed the duties for which he was trained.  But in the beginning....he took on the responsibility that was me.  An unexpected pregnancy that he could have run from or asked my mother to terminate.  While Roe vs Wade hadn't yet impacted the world, my mother could have easily done away with my existence. But both embraced the fact that I was gowing inside her and prepared for their life together. 
Within days of my birth, my mother contracted a breast infection that required her to be hospitalized.  My dad took her to the hospital to be treated.  I am told that when they decided to keep her, her thought he would leave me there with her.  After all, she was the mom.  But they sent me home with my dad.  Not only was he a new dad, but was unprepared for the two or four hour feedings I would demand.  He had to actually ask off from work for a day or two until he could find a sitter.  He rose to the occasion knowing there was no other recourse...with no family to help and new to the area, he pulled up his bootstraps and did what needed to be done.
As a Marine, my father was gone alot.  Sometimes for short stints in the field and school.  Other times it was for serve in a foreign country in a war that was so unpopular that even the nuns I was entrusted to at parochial school saw fit to inform me and my mother that any sickness I got was a direct result of my father's participation in Vietnam.  One of my strongest memories from this time period was of one of my father returning home. 
I had fallen from a very tall slide at my elementary school.  I had attempted to show off my remarkable climbing skills by climbing up one of the supporting poles of the slide instead of the ladder that was provided.  Just before I reached the top, I found myself falling to the ground.  I knocked the wind out of myself and had a hard time feeling my legs.  My hands were numb and tingly and I was scared.  They rushed me to the local hospital.  I was young and don't remember much.  I was admitted and they ran tests and did x-rays to find out why I couldn't feel my lower extremities.  In the end,after my body got over the shock of the fall, I was able to move my feet, my legs, and anything else they asked me to...but not in the presence of the nurses.  They were puzzled and looking back so am I.  I don't know why I didn't cooperate.  All I know is that I was 10 or 11 years old and laying in the hospital.  Nurses took care of me, my mom came and visited and I stared at the ceiling. One morning the nuses came in and bathed me.  They took special care to brush my hair and put on pretty pajamas.  At one point, I became curious and asked what was going on.  They explained with big smiles that I had a special visitor coming.  They all looked at each other with knowing smiles and continued to busy themselves with getting me ready.  Then they left.  My memory is hazy, but what I remember is hearing footsteps coming down the hall.  Familiar footsteps that bore the memory of 13 months of waiting.  Without bothering to consider that my next actions would reveal my false paralysis, I flung back the hospital covers and jumped out of the bed.  I could hear the heels of his shoes tapping against the floor making their steady progression toward my room.  I rounded the corner of my hospital room and there he dad.  He was in uniform. I ran as fast as my "paralyzed" legs could carry me.  He had a big smile on his face and he just walked towards me.  Smiling.  Real. Alive.  I ran and jumped onto him.  Arms around his neck and legs around his waist.  He was tan and his uniform was starchy and scratchy against my cheek.  As far as I know, I had already been discharged because he turned and carried me out of the hospital still holding onto him. 
A long time has passed since that day.  Years of arguments and agreements.  Smiles and walks down the aisle.  He loved me and raised me the best he knew how.  He made mistakes but also succeeded in teaching me things I can never forget.  I have terms in my head that will never go away.  Jokes that are no longer politically correct and cannot be shared with just anyone, but are there in my head, none the less.  I learned how to appreciate golf. I learned how to drive a car.  I learned how to talk to strangers and how to make them feel comfortable. 
Today is father's day.  It is a day to honor fathers.  Like I said in the beginning....there are fathers and then there are fathers.  My dad is from another generation.  A generation of stepping up to the plate and getting things done.  Of tough love and giving enough to help, but not enough to keep me from doing it on my own.  I am glad to still have a father I can call and wish a happy father's day.  I am glad for my dad.  So happy father's day dad.....I hope we have many more.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Sticks and Stones

How many times have you been given a token of love or friendship that took you by surprise? Sometimes we are given gifts that are unexpected; sweet gifts that elicit joy and a feeling of tenderness. We may feel overwhelmed by the generosity of others and their obvious feelings towards us. No one minds getting these kinds of presents. But the longer we live, the more we experience other kinds of gifts. Not the kind that come in a decorative box or wrapped with colorful paper and ribbon. But the kind of gift that actually doesn’t present itself as a gift at all. We generally call these….”lessons learned the hard way.” We don’t always see them for the gift they are because they don’t always bring joy or a smile or a feeling of tenderness. Instead these gifts can be delivered with a certain amount of pain and accompanied by tears and heartache. They may come from a friend or an enemy. They are usually unexpected and have the ability to feel more like a punch in the stomach. I was given one of these gifts recently and fortunately it didn’t take me as long as it usually does to learn from it.

An epiphany is described as a sudden realization…an intuitive leap of understanding, especially through an ordinary but striking occurrence. A moment of this nature sounds like it should be accompanied by musical instruments and a bright stage light or a cartoon- like bubble above your head containing a light bulb. I did not hear music or step into the pool of realization with any fanfare. In fact, I was busy sitting in a golf cart swatting at horsefly’s that were trying to make a nest in my curly hair. I was waiting for my husband to drive the ball down the fairway to distances far beyond my abilities. I was swatting and waiting and sweating. But I was doing it all in my new golf shoes. Shoes that I had to buy that day, before we went to the golf course. I had never owned my own pair of golf shoes. I had been walking on golf courses and hitting the tiny white sphere around for a number of years, but had never owned my own pair. I didn’t feel like I was a golfer, so why on earth would I spend that kind of money on a pair of shoes. I had been trotting around for years in tennis shoes and a couple of years back, a good friend gave me a pair she was going to discard to the landfill. I took them and wore them whenever I dressed up like a golfer. They were a little too small and pinched my feet, but they were free and I didn’t wear them everyday…right? They did the job they were designed to do, right up until I walked right out of the sole of one of them. Just like that they were done. I wanted to put on my trusty tennis shoes, but my husband wouldn’t hear of it. I argued I didn’t need golf shoes. I wasn’t really a golfer. I was a pretender. But his look said that he wasn’t going to listen to my well-intentioned yammering and off we went.

So here I sat in the golf cart, with my new golf shoes on, waiting for my turn to hit the ball two or three feet from it’s original destination. And I was wondering why I fought so hard against getting these shoes. It’s not like they were that expensive. With the amount of actual time I would spend in these shoes each season, I could wear them for a long time and get my money’s worth. I had wanted to wear my tennis shoes. The expensive shoes I had bought for the half-marathon I was in last year. The race I walk/ran. The race I trained for, for three solid months. The running shoes that replaced the walking shoes I had bought for the 3-Day-60 mile walk I did two years in a row for the Susan G. Komen breast cancer walk. In the time it took for my husband to walk to the tee box, look down the fairway, tee up his ball, align his body correctly and rope it down the fairway I realized what I had been saying to myself……….about the golf shoes, the tennis shoes, about who I am as a wife, mother, friend, sister, daughter…..person. I was saying I wasn’t worth it.

I had been listening to this kind of self talk all my life. I wasn’t really a golfer, so I didn’t deserve the golf shoes. I wasn’t really a runner. I hadn’t, in fact, run the whole half marathon, so how could I be a runner? Truthfully, I had walked as much as I ran. I had trained and walked  the Susan G. Komen 3 day-60 mile walk two years in a row, but I got tired at the end and didn’t feel I finished well.So all that effort couldn't be praised or thought of as an accomplishment.  Oh I could go on and on about what I wasn’t. I fought with my mom at the end of her life, while I was a care-giver and got frustrated. That made me a bad daughter. I had not always been a great wife. Forget about being a good mom….as many things as I did right in this arena, I had done plenty more wrong. A friend? Forget about it. I didn’t get meals to those who were my dear friends and could have used one. Or a card of sympathy or get well wishes. How could I possibly be a good friend?

What I had trained myself into believing over the years was that I was not worth it. Not worth praise. Not worth a kind word. Not worth the respect I should expect from my children, my family or my friends. I was just not worth it.

But in the moment it took for my husband to hit a golf ball and climb back into the golf cart I had, had my moment of enlightenment. It didn’t come with fanfare or illumination, but with the quiet knowledge that I was not a bad person. I was a decent person who made mistakes and, when possible, tried to apologize or make things right. I am worth a new pair of shoes. I am worthy to be spoken to with respect and kindness. I am a good daughter. I am a good mother. I am a good wife. I am a good friend. I am a golfer. I am a runner. I am a walker extraordinaire. When you look at the world you have built around you from the standpoint of being worthy to be treated with dignity….mostly from yourself….you daily life transforms into look outward and seeing how to treat yourself and others instead of looking inward and pointing out the flaws. My sweet husband thought it was just going to be a round of golf with his wife. A day of being together and sharing precious moments alone….with the hundreds of horseflies who followed us from hole to hole. And it was all those things….but that day was also so much more.

I started this story talking about the different forms a gift may come in….both delightful and painful. One of those hurtful and unexpected gifts was the beginning of this journey. It caused me to realize that my heart is special and fragile and worth being protected. So to the person who gave me the bittersweet gift of tears and heartache, who called into question my intentions of being a good mother….you laid me open with your words, but you also made me take a stand in defense of myself. You made me plant my feet on the ground and look at myself in a new way. So thank you…..I wouldn’t have asked for it but am glad to have learned from the lesson you taught me.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Valentine's Day

So it's been years since this book was written.  A blog was started and written about the contents of Julia and her inspiring book.  And then a movie.  A movie that ended up being the inspiration for the 2010 Valentine's Day dinner.  Every year, for sometime now, John and I try and have people over to enjoy Valentine's Day together instead of going out and fighting the crowds and paying more for a meal than necessary.  We do not need a day to show our love....we show it to each other every day.  But years ago we started staying home and creating an atmosphere where others, of like mindedness, could join with us.  The theme for this year's dinner was based on the movie Julie and Julia.  One of my friends was at our house for this event a year ago and wanted to know what we were doing this year.   After sharing a couple of glasses of wine that provided liquid courage, I proclaimed that I would make Beoff Bourguignon from the Julia Childs cookbook.  A lofty goal I felt would be challenging enough to inspire great cooking, but not so high that I could not reach it.  So I borrowed the book from our friend and neighbor, (thanks Adam for allowing to cook from this book before you had the chance), and started preparing myself for the experience. Adam's one stipulation was that I had to cook directly from the recipe in the book.  No deviations.  None! Period.
I watched shows about the dish, I read the recipe over and over,  I dreamed about cooking the meal, I walked through it like an Olympic ice skater going through her moves for the performance.  I comforted myself by saying, "I can do this.  I CAN do this.  I can DO this......and if I don't there's is always good friends, good wine and Papa John's pizza delivery."  It saw me through the intimidation factor. 

I red the wine suggestions from the recipe and wondered if these types were even around anymore.  Or if like everything else, there was a "new and improved" wine that would be similar.  I went to my favorite grocery store...Wegmans....and talked to our friend, Scott, who works in the wine section.  I asked him if he had ever heard of  wines called Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone, or Bordeaux-St. Emilion. Scott, being the kind and patient man that he is, smiled knowlingly and took me to the huge section of Cotes du Rhone and St Emiion.  He explained to me, the novice who obviously knows more about Scotch than wine, that these were regions that had produced fine wines for many years.  I acknowledged my own ignorance, thanked him for his time and helpful information and took his suggested bottles home.

I should state that if you have seen the movie, Julie and Julia, then you know that French cooking is not for the diet conscience.  My favorite ingredient is unequivocally ,BUTTER.  I'm talking about good butter.  Real butter.  Not the stuff in a tub that tries to convince you it might have butter in it, but the honest to goodness, melt in your mouth, make anything taste better  ~~ butter. So my favorite ingredient was definitely on the list along with real bacon.  All of these said ingredients required preparation and time.  Well, as it happened to this grandmother of 7, the day of this dinner landed on a day where I would have at least 3 of these grandkids in the house.  The added pressure of caring for, enjoying and entertaining these grandgifts while attempting to pull off the "Beoff" was daunting.  I reminded myself that I had done far more when I had 4 little ones running around, so I forged ahead.  I enlisted their help, which sometimes proved anti-help, and told them about the great meal I was making.  We found french music on my ipod's playlist (Soundtrack to the movie Somethings Got to Give) and moved forward. 

I sauteed the bacon.

I tied the herbs and got them ready.

I browned the beef.  Paying particularly close attention to patting the beef dry before attempting to brown.
I sauteed the veggies.

And then I set the table.  I got out the linen my father gave my mother some 50 years ago.  Linen he acquired in Ireland when he was deployed somewhere with the Marines.  Close inspection of the linen affords you the ability to see shamrocks that looked embossed onto the material.  I lit the candles. I decanted the Cotes du Rhone. I put on the music for the evening
I checked the instructions for the final touches on this meal before placing it in the oven for 31/2 hours.  I was to add 3 cups of wine.  After I carefully measured out the wine and poured it in, I realised that there was enough wine left in the bottle for the cook.  A half of a glass of wine to be exact.  A reward for the hard work and effort put into this meal.  A gift from Julia to me for taking on such a task.  And a gift from the Rhone region.
Our dinner was served and proclaimed a success.  Even Adam, who set the standard of following the recipe word for word, exclaimed he would never order this meal from a restaurant menu as he felt it would fall below the deliciousness this cook had served. 

No meal is complete without dessert.  My friend, Kristen, who had kindly reminded me that this was a party that should happen every year brought our dessert.  She spared nothing and decided to use one Julia's recipes as well.   This chocolate mousse melted in our mouths and was worth the effort it took for her to whisk and whisk and whisk. 
The most important ingredient for any occasion is friends.  I didn't get to have all the women I wanted with me this evening, but had two exceptional pals who make me laugh.  Their husband's joined mine in making this Valentine's Day dinner another success.  The only thing left to say about this meal would be ~

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The End of January 2010

Here we are at the end of January 2010.  I feel like I have blinked  and ended up missing this month.  I can recall almost everything that happened so I know I lived through it well, I am just surprised at how quickly it has gone by.  Here and gone.  And it is ending on a magical note.  Well magical for me.  It is snowing.  I wasn't looking forward to the snow this time around.  Not after the big dump last month.  22" or more that caused the Fredericksburg area to shut down.  I lost work because people couldn't get to me.  I secretly enjoyed the imposed confinement.  I couldn't get out and folks couldn't get in.  And then, I was done.  So when today's snow was predicted, I rolled my eyes and hoped that this time, the weatherman was wrong. ~~~  He was and he wasn't.  We didn't get the 5" to 8", we got 10" to 12".  Oh happy day.  It came down floating on a breeze which switched to gusts from time to time.  We were wiser this time around.  We got on top of things and shoveled early and often.  Then it was time to hunker down and play inside.  That same imposed confinement that releases the soul from feeling guilty about down leaving the house in a dance of busyness that really produces little for all it's effort. 
I went to the most favorite room of my house ~ my craft room.  I am going on a trip the end of February with girlfriends who enjoy crafting in ways that feed their own soul.  And that trip encompasses so many favorite components.  Other women of a like mind, crafting, movies, music and best of all...the beach.  I am a fan of the beach in the summer, but the beach in the winter is a different friend.  Her colors are different and she speaks with a bolder voice.  I look forward to the photographs that I can take with either a bright light that will be watery from the winter sun and lack a sense of warmth or the photgraphs that will be shot in flat light with a dullness that suggests the absence of life on a cold day near the water.  I long for the crash of waves and a distant sound of gulls on a blowing wind.  So today, I sat in my craft room and waded through 20 years of memories.  Pictures of faces much younger than the ones I see today.  My children as they once were....children searching out the way of their future journey.  I came across cards extolling my virtues of a Mother and of their promised unconditional love for me.  Their sweet faces peered back over several years and I was transported back to a time that was full of hardship but now tinged with a sweetness I didn't expect.  I came across pictures of my own mother, long gone from this world for 13 years. Pictures of her when she was younger than I am now.  And a pictures of her last year with me.  Several of these photos of her face smiling at me caused me to gasp with the overwhelming yearning I felt to hear her voice.  What a wonderful day today. 
So January is over at midnight tomorrow.  The month has held some good times with friends and some hard times in and out of the ER.  No results to know what has caused my body to begin acting out of character.  But I was blessed my friends who brought me lunches and dinners, flowers and cards and a quick witted conversation while we watched entertaining movies.  Enjoying time with my husband while I recovered.  Another time of imposed quietness that I tried to embrace for my own good.
So tomorrow I will plan February.  And then I will be surprised when new things take place without my planning them.  Both good and bad.  Tomorrow I will retreat to my craft room again.  I will watch the neighborhood wake up and play in the snow and I may even see a grandchild or two.  Farewell January....I am glad to start anew.