Well it’s turkey day again and for the third year in a row I’m sidelined except for making the pies; coconut cream and pumpkin, if you must know. I remember well the first turkey dinner I made after I married; I didn’t know what I was doing but it turned out great. So after 51 years of slaving in the kitchen to make this day special for my family I guess I’ve officially passed the torch to the next generation, not that I mind [at least not much].

I was pretty tired by the time my pies were all finished and ready to be admired but I’ll never admit that to my family. No, I’ll act like it was easy breezy lest next year they take that away from me too. Funny that I could once zip around multi- tasking in the kitchen and never break a sweat or lose track of what I was doing….that’s what I call the good old days!

This is the season, and day, to remind ourselves of the many things we have to be thankful for and I have many. I was born of goodly parents; I was married to the love of my life for 53 years who also had goodly parents. I’m blessed with seven successful, talented, law abiding children [and their wonderful spouses] and I have many grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins, friends and a brother who are each, individually and collectively, a blessing to me.

I’m relatively healthy and still have most of my mind [not that that’s saying much]. I have a nice car, a good safe place to live and I want for nothing materially. I also have, right at the top of my list, my God and my church family. What more could one want, and how could anyone be more blessed?

As this day progresses filling with family, and my tummy filling with all manner of good food, I sincerely don’t know how I managed to be so fortunate. My heart aches for those who struggle, those who aren’t as blessed as I am. I can only pray for them and pay it forward each chance I get. Truly this is a time of thanksgiving for me and a time of self-reflection and determination to make a difference in the life of someone less fortunate.



“It was a dark and stormy night which made the resident spirits restless”….I’ve always wanted to write a story using that phrase and since this is ‘National Novel Writer’s month’ I thought I’d just throw that out there because that one sentence is as close as I’ll ever come to actually doing it. For as long as I can remember my favorite pastime has been reading and as a child I imagined I’d become a famous author. I had a good example before me as my mother was a prolific writer who had many things published. She was forever jotting down thoughts or phrases on scraps of paper or napkins as they came to her; she had notebooks full of the same. It was not uncommon for her to wake in the night to jot down an idea on a pad of paper kept by her bedside. Too bad her talent bypassed me; my brothers on the other hand got it to varying degrees with my youngest brother getting the largest share. He constantly writes and has a couple of forums and blogs which are serious, informative, and very intellectual….it blows my mind to read them!

I have niece’s and a granddaughter who have been bitten by the writing bug too and a son who is a serious writer. He, like my mother, has always written but is now concentrating on his first novel, hoping to have the first draft finished by the end of the year. He’s promised I’ll be one of the first to read it and I can’t wait! My other children all have that writing ability to some degree as well, manifesting mostly in short stories or poems and songs….which are quite delightful.

It seems I was thwarted in all other areas as well. There was a time I longed to be a singer but, well, the voice just wasn’t there even though I spent literally hours and hours singing. I’ve had to be satisfied with enjoying my husband’s and children’s beautiful voices and musical talent which is large and varied. There’s something to be said for that however, because listening is much less stressful than performing.

Another aspiration I harbored as a child was of being a ballet dancer…oops, I don’t think I ever told anyone that before. This desire was fueled by my uncle Wood who declared, on more than one occasion, that I had dancer’s legs…said as I was dancing around on my toes just as a ballet dancer would do in my homemade crepe paper tutu.

As I grew up none of these childhood fantasies materialized, what did materialize was a crop of children. No regrets though, I can honestly say that my career of raising children has been totally rewarding and has encompassed all the aspirations I had as a child, they’ve just been used in a different setting than I once imagined.

Now that I’m old and alone with no one to answer to but myself, I can once again resume my foolish desire to be a writer of some sort. So to finish the sentence I began with….”and the goosebumps ran down my spine as I listened to the howl of the wind, or was that the wind?”


Why are we always in such a hurry? We’ve forgotten how to stop and smell the roses, how to enjoy the sun on our back and the wind in our hair; I’m in that category myself. People usually walk for exercise these days but there was a time when people walked wherever they needed to go. Indeed there are some cultures that still do that, just not us pampered Americans. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking our love for driving where ever we go or when we need to get somewhere quickly. A case in point is one involving my mother’s 14-year-old sister Annie, who got very ill while at school one winter day. She walked several miles home in the snow before she died of a ruptured appendix…an automobile ride might have saved her life. Walking is one of the best, and most natural, exercises we can do. When my mother was alive I often walked with her and she, having spent a lifetime of walking out of necessity, walked as if she were going to a fire, which necessitated my learning to keep up or get left behind.

My sons all have much longer legs than I so I have to walk fast to keep up with them. Even when I was a child I, like most children, ran everywhere I went so I’ve literally been hurrying all my life. I never learned to walk slowly; to amble, to mosey, to sashay, to meander….until I met my husband who had the art of ambling down to a science. He didn’t walk to get exercise [he got plenty of that in his work], he walked for enjoyment and that certainly didn’t include hurrying. Sometimes it irritated me, but most of the time it was a revelation to see his enjoyment of everything around him. We always came back from our walks with some token of nature. It might be wild flowers, a colored rock, or perhaps a bird feather. Depending on the season or location it could be seashells, driftwood, blackberries, huckleberries, muscadines, hickory nuts, pecans or even persimmons. Sometimes it was only a handful of colored leaves, but whatever it was it made a satisfying memory; memories that I look back on with fondness today.

I’m so happy that Bruce taught me to slow down and take note of this wonderous world we live in. We had many lengthy ambles over hill and dale and dusty country roads. Sadly since he’s been gone I find myself reverting to my old habit of hurrying. I have to purposely slow my steps and remind myself to enjoy the beauty around me. The other day I even found a quarter lying on the ground as I was ambling along. It wasn’t much of a find I’ll admit but it was enough to bring back memories of other days and other finds. The quarter went into my pocketbook instead of the big family bible to be pressed as so many other things have been over the years…I’m still surprised every now and again when something forgotten falls out when I open my big bible. That quarter I found served as a reminder that there are treasures to be found where ever we are if we will only leave off hurrying and engage in the art of ambling.


I’m constantly on the lookout for dessert recipes [yes I’ll admit I have a sweet tooth] that are not only low-calorie/low-carb but are tasty as well. I frequently see such recipes on Facebook and, sucker that I am, try many of them only to take one bite and toss the rest in the trash. Yes I know that’s wasteful and that there are starving children in India, but come on, what were they thinking?! Do people seriously believe that stuff is good? Have they no idea what good food tastes like, low-calorie or not? Since I’m diabetic I must make my choices count and I have no tolerance for food that doesn’t taste good.

So to address this problem I have a wonderful brownie recipe that’s low-calorie, high protein, high fiber and high antioxidants, sugarless, and dare I say it….delicious! I’ve made them several times and served some to my family members. Most have liked them a lot, the only exception was one son who said they were too chocolatey. What!? How can anything be too chocolatey? I personally adore them and don’t feel even a twinge of quilt when I eat them. Indeed, they help me keep my A1c right where I want it while allowing me to indulge in rich chocolate goodness.

This recipe has a secret base ingredient that no one could guess—black beans, which are low on the glycemic index, full of protein and fiber and are one of the healthiest beans a person can eat. When eaten regularly they have the distinction of being able to lower blood pressure, help manage diabetes and heart disease, prevent cancer, promote healthy digestion and weight loss.

Another ingredient in this recipe is cacao nibs. This is what cocoa is made from and is chock full of protein, antioxidants, fiber, minerals such as iron, calcium, zinc, potassium, and magnesium. The cacao nibs aren’t essential to the recipe so if you aren’t a true hard-core chocolate lover you can leave them out. I’ve made these brownies both with and without the nibs but I like the texture they give the brownies and the extra depth of flavor.

The black beans, coupled with the cacao nibs, cocoa and semi sweet chocolate chips make for a healthy low-calorie treat….that tastes good. So eat your beans, you should be eating 1/2 cup a day anyway, in the form of a brownie. You want be sorry you tried them unless you are ho hum about chocolate.


I woke this morning with the realization that my husband has been gone for almost a year and a half and that I’ve made a life without him; there was a time I wouldn’t have believed that possible. For those of us fortunate enough to have a long-term marriage, the simple things in our everyday life can eventually be taken for granted, but when one is left alone it’s those simple things that suddenly become monumentally important….and hard to cope with. Sometimes it’s the little things that bring home just how hard it is to be alone.

For instance; Who will find and scratch that illusive itch on your back? Who will massage that perpetually achy shoulder? Who will warm your cold feet? Who will open that pickle jar or medicine bottle that your arthritic hands can no longer manage? Who will help with that necklace your fingers can’t quite fasten? Who will put medicine on those pesky mosquito bites that you can’t reach yourself? Who will bring you a hot bowl of soup when you feel ill or run to the store for a few items when you don’t feel like doing it?

These are such small and yet such monumental things. Man [or in this case, woman] wasn’t meant to be alone….we all need a help meet. I’ve come a long way, I’ve almost conquered the loneliness of being by myself by playing music all day or leaving the T.V. on for background noise. This method works 90 percent of the time…the other 10 percent we won’t discuss.

My toolbox has been getting a workout lately, especially the hammer and pliers; one or the other seem to work pretty well on jars and even small items such as eye drop bottles.Thankfully my sons had the foresight to make up a well stocked tool box for me from my husband’s tools.

I’m learning some alternate ways of taking care of myself. I’ve acquired a long back scratcher that works on the worst of those itchy spots, and Salonpas help with that achy shoulder. Socks in bed work well for cold feet but some of my shorter necklaces may have to be retired. When I don’t feel well I drag myself to the kitchen, open a can of soup using my electric can opener, and heat it in the microwave. As for those hard to reach mosquito bites, well they just continue to itch; happily I don’t usually have many. And if my hands are particularly stiff I forgo things that have to be peeled and fussed with. Most of the time I have enough fresh food on hand to last a few days without going to the store. In all fairness, my children would be happy to help with shopping or anything else I need. It’s just that sometimes it’s the little things that need attending to at a particular moment in time that make you realize how hard it is to be single. I suspect that it gets harder and harder as one gets older but I won’t dwell on that, because for now I’m learning to be creative in my management skills as a single adult.

Yes, sometimes it’s the little things that trip us up, that make us want to say ‘uncle’, that make us think outside the box, that make us more creative, that build new talents, that give us more empathy for others. And spiritually speaking, sometimes it’s the little things that make us or break us, that keep us on the straight and narrow path or cause us to take a fatal detour. Sometimes it’s the little things that have the biggest impact on our lives. Watch out for those little things for they can turn into our biggest hurdles….or our greatest blessings.


It’s been a long hot summer but after days and days of dry triple digit temperatures a cold front managed to slip through bringing us a shower and a brief respite from the heat with one glorious day of mostly sixty degree weather. It didn’t last of course but it was enough to put me in an autumn state of mind. With children back in school and September knocking on the door, we’ll soon be seeing summer in the rear view mirror. I can’t wait but I wonder how long it will take for me to wish for hot weather again? Well certainly not until we’ve experienced a few of those bone chilling days…..and that seems like a mere dream to me right now.

Autumn is my favorite time of the year; crisp cool days, colored leaves [I saw a Facebook posting which expressed my sentiments exactly. It stated, “October is my favorite color”…and indeed it is with those vibrant yellows, oranges and reds],  muscadines, hickory nuts and pecans, pumpkins, apples, and chrysanthemums, to name just a few of my favorite things about the season. While some of these things are no longer available to me, they will forever be associated with autumn in my mind. The days are getting noticeably shorter and I’ve already heard geese flying overhead in the early mornings…to a country girl that’s a sweet sound and a sure sign that summer will soon relinquish its hold.

Labor Day allows us to have one last hurrah before we unofficially bid summer goodbye and say hello to autumn. This year I won’t have to rake, burn or bag leaves so the falling of them will be only enjoyable. Sometimes I long for past autumn days when I made jars and jars of homemade applesauce and muscadine jelly, or the end-of-the-season garden produce into relish and chow-chow; but then I remember how much work it was and I’m content with making only a crock pot full of applesauce and buying a single jar of chow-chow.  More


The dog days of summer have taken on a whole new meaning in my area. Every night on the five o’clock news, pictures of dogs cooling off in pools, lakes, sprinklers, and water slides are shown. They have displaced pictures of children doing the same things; children swimming is so yesterday while dogs swimming is much more trendy, besides these pictures do fit the ‘dog days’ theme.

It’s definitely hot enough for man or beast to take comfort wherever it can be found. I personally prefer good ole air conditioning. I never liked hot weather [what am I doing in Texas?] and I never cared for frolicking in the sun and water only to wind up with a dreadful sunburn despite using a gallon of sunscreen. When my family was young they got used to my eccentricities and if we went swimming it would be in the late afternoon when the sun’s strongest rays had dissipated and the shadows were growing longer. Even then I kept to the shade as much as possible, slathered on sunscreen, and kept my fingers crossed for a minimal sunburn…usually the crossed fingers [or sunscreen] didn’t help much.

It’s hot as hades where I live but we’re experiencing extremely hot weather all across the nation so I have no cause to complain about conditions here, especially in view of the fact that my home state is even hotter…right now I’m patting myself on the back for moving away from that furnace.The Pacific Northwest is breaking 100 degrees, and the East Coast has had record highs. My son and his family on the coast of N.C. are used to fairly mild summers but it’s been so hot there that the last time they went tent camping it was so unbearably hot they went home and bought an air-conditioned camper! Smart, that’s the only one sure way to beat the heat when camping.

Well so it goes; the ‘dog days’, so named for the dog-star Canis Major [Sirius] that rises and sets in tandem with the sun from July third to August eleventh brings the hottest days of the summer though contrary to ancient belief the dog-star doesn’t add its heat to make it hotter. We’ll have to live with these dog days for a couple of weeks longer and in truth, the continued heat even longer than that so do whatever is necessary to make it bearable…dress is light clothing, eat cold watermelon or a popsicle, swim, run through the sprinkler, or hibernate indoors under cool air, as I do. Oh, and don’t forget to make your pets comfortable too. And if you live in my area send the pictures of your dog cooling his heels in water to the NBC local news for a brief moment of pet fame, maybe that will make you a ‘dog days’ fan.

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