Tag Archives: family

Love People, Feed Them Tasty Food

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Love People, Feed Them Tasty Food.

Suresa Dundes had that on a bumper sticker on her car and it was the basic concept for an open house celebrating her life. Suresa, my sister-in-law, died in August after an 11 year battle with cancer.

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Suresa and Michael on their wedding day. Michael is the oldest of my five siblings.

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Suresa with her girls; Leah and Miriam (the one with the spoon). Clearly loving people and feeding them tasty food has been a life long practice.

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Suresa, Michael, Leah, and her boyfriend Robert, Miriam, and her boyfriend Nick.

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Miriam and Nick’s wedding celebration, moved up so Suresa could be there.

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Rest in peace, Suresa.

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Photo Album: Mom’s 80th Birthday

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We celebrated my mom’s 80th birthday last weekend.  Her birthday was actually in July but this was when all her kids could be there for the event.

Mom & Grandkids

All the grandkids were there too.

Before the event, I made a batch of invitations. I photocopied this sweet old photograph of my mom to put on the front.

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Each card was a little different from the next.

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The party was for lunch and after considering different ideas, we ended up having it at my mom’s house (at her suggestion).

Various family members assisted and I organized the party. We decorated with paper lanterns and flowers from the farmer’s market.

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Nestled in the arrangements were naked ladies, or pink Amaryllis Belladonna, flowers that my dad always loved, if only because it amused him to say naked ladies!

Here’s some naked ladies outdoors.

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The day was sunny and warm but not terribly hot not like the weekend before.

Michael and Suresa.

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Victoria and Caitlin, both wearing giant hoop earrings.

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Robert and Leah.

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Mom and Sarah.

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After lunch we had dessert: Kathleen brought angel food cake with strawberries and whipped cream.

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Leah made lemon bars from Smitten Kitchen.

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I made brownies from the Commonsense Kitchen Cookbook to round out a trio of delicious desserts.

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Victoria, Jake and Chelsea.

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Caitlin, Cooper and Sarah.

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Molly and Mom.

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It was really a big, extended family party.

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Gianna with Stella.

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Stella wasn’t the only one that was tired at the end of the festivities.

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Mom and I share an ottoman as we both put our feet up.

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Thanks to everyone for being a part of this special day.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

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Photo Album: Jake & Chelsea’s Wedding

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My nephew, Jake, and his bride, Chelsea, just after their wedding.

Here’s a little album from this special occasion on the first of August.

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I just have to say that it really doesn’t seem that long ago that Jake was a little toddler! Here he is, all grown up,  before the ceremony.

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One of Jake’s cousins, my niece, Caitlin.

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My sister, and Caitlin’s mom, Sarah.

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Victoria, mother-of-the-groom, with friends, Sam, and best man, Stu.

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My mom, Nancy, grandmother of the groom, being escorted to her seat by Jake’s younger brother, Sam.

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My brother, Beau, father-of-the-groom, with his fiancee, Pamela.

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Jake escorts his mom to her seat.

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Here comes the bride!

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I think Jake’s got hands like my dad, his grandpa David.

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The minister forgot about the rings and almost completed the ceremony without them before several people reminded him and we all had a little laugh.

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Jake & Chelsea recess

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Faw Family

Family Faw (though a few people are hiding in this picture and one brother and his family didn’t make it out from NY).

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Two of my nieces, Miriam and Caitlin, look like Amazon warriors next to their uncle Beau.

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I think my mom looks beautiful with her eldest grandson.  The wedding was just a few days after her 80th birthday.

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My niece, Leah.

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Rem and I.

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My sister Kathleen with her little sister Ariel.

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Card I made for Chelsea & Jake.

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Although the quality of some of the photos is not great, I want to share this event with you. Thank you to Dana for allowing me to share some of her photos as well.

Thanks for the visit.  Congratulations to the newlyweds.

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanksgiving Walk

These are pictures from my walk with Molly Thanksgiving morning.  We walked around the Las Gallinas Valley Sanitary District water treatment ponds.  It isn’t far from the freeway but it is a world away.  Fields and marshes surround the paths and the only sounds were gravel crunching under my feet and birdsong.

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It was a hazy morning and Mt Tam was just visible in the distance.

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As I walked along, I was thinking about all the goodness in my life.  There are so many things I’m thankful for.

I’m grateful for my wonderful, imperfect life.

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I’m grateful that I live in a place crisscrossed with beautiful paths to walk and hike.

I’m grateful to live and work where I see Mt. Tam nearly every day.

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Though we have no pets of our own in our small apartment, I’m grateful for the frequent visits of a neighbor cat.  She wants nothing more than to be petted and loved and soaks up any attention we give her.  I, in turn, get the benefit of lower blood pressure and raised serotonin levels.

I am glad and grateful to have a happy dog to join me on this walk.  When I go to pick up Molly, she greets me with exuberance.  I’m thankful to have my health to get out and walk or exercise most days.

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I’m very thankful for the latest health updates of two family members.

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My sister-in-law was just released from the hospital the day before Thanksgiving and is recovering. My brother continues to slowly heal from a major health crisis last spring.  I’m so grateful for their improving health.

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I work with people that I respect and I have their respect in return.  Some of my colleagues are sure to make me laugh and though I don’t see them every day at work, I can count on seeing some of them every week and for this I’m grateful.

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I have so many wonderful memories of my dad and though I miss him I don’t have that feeling of deep sorrow when I think of him as I used to. I think of him often and sometimes it is with sadness and tears that he is gone and other times it is just a sweet memory or something I think he would like.

Across one of the ponds I saw an old-fashioned windmill and I thought he would have liked it.  He liked old barns and this windmill made me think of him which made me glad.

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I’m thankful for all my friends and family.  I’m glad to see my mom every Saturday and eat lunch together.

The crafting I fit into my life, the books I get from the library every few weeks, and the singing I share with other women in the Threshold Choir all add richness, variety and even joy to my daily routines.  Writing this blog and having readers all over the world delights me and I’m very grateful for every one of you.

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The one that has my heart is Rem.  I am so very grateful for his humor, caring and love.

As Molly and I looped back around to where my car was parked, I looked again at the familiar outline of Mt. Tam.  I have so much that I’m thankful for.

Thank you for your visit and a special word of gratitude for every comment. I appreciate every one.

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Thinking About My Dad

Daddy Red Turtleneck

Saturday, May 24 will be two years from the day my dad died.  I’ve  been thinking about him.  The other day I saw something that made me smile and I immediately thought of telling  him about it.  A vendor at the Farmer’s Market was munching contentedly; a carrot in one hand, a bottle of hot sauce in the other. I imagined telling my dad the story and knew he’d think it was funny but in less time then it takes to read this sentence, I remembered he was gone.  With an ache in my chest, I knew I couldn’t tell him about it.

I haven’t been going to his grave as often as I did the first year after he died.  It’s been a few months at least, and it’s been on my mind to get down there.

This weekend I had the opportunity.  Rem and I were house-sitting for my mom and on Sunday morning, he needed an early-morning ride to the ferry.  He was heading into San Francisco to take photos at the annual Bay to Breakers footrace.  After dropping him off at 5:40 a.m., Molly and I went down to Fernwood.

The sky was just growing light.  A thin, grey comforter of fog was draped along the upper slopes of Mt. Tam.  Molly was delighted to be out of the car and went up the path ahead of me.

The hillside is covered with rattlesnake grass, wildflowers and eucalyptus trees.  Oh, and some poison oak too.

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It is only as I got closer that the stone marker was visible.

Papa's Tree

Papa's Stone

Roses for Papa

I laid some flowers and cried some tears.  I told him that Caitlin was graduating at Chico and that was where Mom was.  I talked about how sick Beau has been but that we’re so relieved he’s improving.  I sang two songs and watched some hawks circling up high above the trees.

As I walked carefully back across the hillside to the path, I searched for feathers but didn’t see any.

Molly was full of energy and I had plenty of time to wander around the cemetery, something I kept thinking about doing and never taking the time in my many visits down there.  Molly romped ahead, sniffing around and happy as could be.  I was thinking about my dad and how much I miss him.  I thought about how many lives were represented by the stones around me.

One message caught my eye and made me smile.

It all comes out in the wash and a little chocolate never hurts

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I think I would have liked this woman!

The positive attitude that came up with those words lifted my spirits and made me try to re-frame my sadness. I focused on all the wonderful years I lived with my dad in my life instead of the last three; the year of struggling with cancer and the two years since he died.

It made me think that although these gravestones represented loss and grief they also represented peoples lives.  Many stones have a name and two dates and little else, yet whole lives are lived in the space between those two dates.

As I followed a trail, I found a section of older graves and stones that were cracked and broken.  Some gravestones only show one date or a very short span of days.  Others list the age of the deceased and many lived short lives.  The oldest year I noted was 1907.

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On their website, Fernwood states the cemetery has existed since the late 1800’s.  Again, instead of thinking of all of those people dying, I walked around and thought of all those people living.

I saw this fragment of stone that just showed a single date.  I don’t know if Valentine’s Day was remembered as the birthday of a loved one, or the date someone lost a loved one.

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Walking around, exploring the cemetery, was very peaceful.  I looked through the trees at the view of Richardson Bay.

View from Fernwood hillside

Looking down the hill I see the pyramid skylight on the Fernwood Funeral Home, reminding me of the Louvre Museum in Paris.

Pyramid Skylight

Some things I had glimpsed while driving past and now I had I time for a closer look.

Like the Buddha statue in a tree.

Buddha in a Tree

A rustic gate open to a path curving around the hillside.

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A beautifully carved wooden Buddha sits atop a rough base created from a tree stump. In spite of missing a finger, he was very serene.

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Little talismans have been left in his hands: a bit of shell, a rhinestone rabbit  with a wreath of rhinestone flowers, and a sweet little green clay cat. with a pink neck scarf.

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Dia de los Muertos figures dangle on a cord around his neck, holding a dried orchid in place.

Face of Buddha

Day of the Dead figures

Molly and I have had a nice hike and I was in much better emotional shape than when we’d arrived.

Time has softened the blow of losing my dad.  The grief and sadness aren’t gone but they aren’t here all the time either.

Our family will be gathering to celebrate my brother Beau’s birthday on Sunday.  I imagine there will be lots of good food and laughter. We’ll probably share stories about Papa, and catch up with each others lives.  If we think of something that he would have found funny, I believe it will honor his memory if we share it and enjoy a good laugh.

Dad 50th Anniversary

Here is a link to the post I wrote last year at this time.  That post includes links to other posts written about my dad.

Thank you for your visit.

 

 

 

 

 

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Cards with Friends

Blue Butterflies

In January I got together with some friends from grade school and made Valentine’s.  We had such a great time together that we’ve made it into a regular event, calling it “Craft & Flash.”  Our last get-together was about a month ago.  Ladies: we need to schedule our next gathering.

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I was making a stack of birthday cards and recycling old greeting cards, maps and calendars in the process, inspired by crafting while on vacation.

Pink Butterfly card

I’d saved a pretty card with rows of different colored butterflies on a glittery green background.  I’ve had it for a few years and recycled it into new cards.

An old calendar from Paper Source provided artwork for a bird card.  I love the artwork on my wall all year long – they’re beautiful calendars and beautiful resources for crafting cards.

Blue Jay

Carefully cutting out the Blue Jay and adding a little glitter plus stamping a greeting on the inside and the card was done.

My friend Shook gave me some pretty place cards she’d bought and never used. I’m delighted to be the recipient when someone gives me something they think I might use in my crafting.  The cards add a nice detail when stamped with a message and glued inside the card.

Placecard recycle

For this one I used a scrap of the glittery green birthday card and some washi tape.  Another benefit of crafting with friends is expanded your supplies.  Everyone was generous and happy to share their goodies.

We had a variety of projects happening around the table. Creativity was flowing and I enjoyed seeing projects old and new.

Embroidery

Bees

Besides the production of birthday cards, an Art Journal was being expanded, tags and beautiful wrappings were being created for a series of birthday gifts, jewelry was being crafted and chocolate was being consumed.

Chocolate

All the best crafting events include chocolate.

As usual, the table was in creative chaos.

Craft Table

Or was that just my mess?

Glitter was spilled.

Glitter and glue pen

I got to try this ballpoint glue pen from Martha Stewart.  I will pick a few up next time I’m at Michael’s.  It is very fine, great for glitter and other detail work.  Like Dianne Dots.

The last time I was at Craft Gym at Once Around in Mill Valley, my  friend Margaret gave me the gift of a little shopping spree. Amongst the goodies I came home with was a package of cute paper embellishments. This butterfly is from that package.

Butterfly with Glitter

More glitter and an adhesive jewel, a few stamped flowers and paper from both an old textbook and an old bus schedule complete this card.

I’ve made a few of these cards with an old map and a bicycle stamp, but for this one I got a bicycle cutout from another of the Craft and Flash ladies.  I spent awhile coloring it. I love this card!

Bicycle Map Balloons

We crafted and chatted and laughed and ate.  It was lovely.

The dogs were happy sitting in the sunshine.

Dogs in the sun

Phoenicia made delicious chili, another great dish without a recipe.  If I recall correctly, it had beef, pork and sausage, and it was full of different veggies.  Write it down, Phoenicia!

Craft and Flash Chili

One last card I did that afternoon was from a 5-minute collage I’d made. A little extra embellishment and another card done.

Purple Collage Card

Sitting and chatting with my friends while crafting is the best therapy in the world for me.

It has been a very tough month since then with my brother spending more time in the hospital then out.  He was in ICU but is back in the regular ward and we expect him to be discharged in the next few days.  He has started dialysis and faces a host of challenges. The support and love we have all shared and received has helped make a really difficult situation survivable.

At first, spending long, anxious hours with other family members at the the hospital, I was too worried and upset to focus on anything more than mindless games on the computer.  Long days and nights of interrupted sleep meant I missed getting to the gym and I didn’t have the energy or inspiration to craft.

With some improvement in his condition, I’m returning to some of the things that have been on hold.  A trip to the library and new reading material I’m finally able to absorb.  I was able to spend time cooking together with Rem who has been a rock, taking good care of me.  And yes, pulling out the craft supplies and crafting.  I’m finishing up some cute cards and will share them soon.

Thank you for being here.

 

 

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You Just Don’t Know

California Poppies

You just don’t know who might be suffering around you. You can’t always tell at a glance or even at hello.

Your colleague may be coping with an aging parent,  your neighbor could have just lost his job and the checker at the grocery store may not be able to keep up the payments on her home.

Until about three years ago, when my dad was diagnosed with cancer, my life had been relatively smooth sailing.  I’ve had to cope with illness and injury in loved ones, and I navigated the sad waters of a failed marriage. But compared to the burdens some people have, I’ve gotten off pretty easy.

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Sadly, my younger brother, Beau, is critically ill and over the last month has spent more days in the hospital than not. In the last  week his already tenuous condition has turned even worse and the family has been circling around.

My mom said, when you don’t know what to do, you just show up.  She thought it was from Anne Lamott so I looked it up:

Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.

And it is hard work.  Just being there is tough, seeing the suffering, feeling hopeless, but trying to hold on to shreds of hope in the data from the medical staff or in the actions of a caring, skilled lab tech.  Showing up isn’t defined as being right there either.  Showing up means taking care of a load of laundry because the washer broke.  Or getting the dogs outside or baking some cookies or making a pot of spaghetti.

When I’m at work, I can stay busy for a few hours in the morning.  Distracting myself with email and phone messages and other tasks works for awhile, but I lose my focus and get antsy.  At night (it is currently 3:19 AM) when I can’t turn off my brain, and in the hospital waiting room, mindless games on the laptop, iPad or Kindle are sometimes the best I can manage.

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I guess I’m just trying to remind myself that all around me, even if I’m not aware of it, many of us are coping with some quiet heartache.

The best I can offer as a response is to suggest we all try and find love and compassion for those whose paths cross ours.  We should try and treat ourselves and each other tenderly; with empathy, respect and patience.

Update: A friend shared on Facebook that her husband had a friend tell him “When in doubt, choose the loving thing to do.” Exactly.

I’m grateful for the love, support and prayers offered on behalf of my brother, his family and friends.

Thank you.

 

 

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