Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve and Weekending

zzzzzzz....I'm late today.

As I should be because it is Christmas Eve! and there is sleeping to be done, and elving, and baking and, and, and lots of randomness for you today.


Pomegranate.

The boy's favorite.

So succulent.

What is not succulent?  Broken printer.


 
We made this cake (via Project Little Smith via Martha).

I had to hand write the $&%*#$ thing.

Holy hell, y'all, handwriting an entire recipe!  Shades of the 50's.

My cake was not nearly as yummy as hers looked.




Clearly no one minded.

(Note cute little bundt pan I thrifted recently!)

We did some rouge decorating in my hood ...






(Notice the shorts and T-shirt in late December.)


Lots of Solsticing happened ...







Lots of fooding happened ...


 
Texas snowflakes.

You take some flour tortillas and warm them slightly.

Then you cut them up like snowflakes.

Then you brush them with warm butter and cinnamon and pop 'em in the oven.



Mmmmmm.



Admission:


I treated myself to a little Anthropologie-ness while out shopping.

You know, just in case I didn't get any Anthro for Cmas or something horrible like that.  

(wink.)


 
Big, new tea cup and a little jam holder that I shall use for honey.




FinnigantheCurious and I are going to Grandmary's on the 26th so I supposed I will be away for the rest of the week.

I wish you all the very loveliest of lovely, no matter what you celebrate, or even if you do not.

I'm so excited about the new year.

This will be a BIG, really BIG one for me in many, many ways.

Yes, yes, I will tell you.  Never fear.  You know me and my big mouth.

Kiss your babies and your not-so-babies-anymore.

Kiss your loved ones.

Kiss your stinky Uncle Festus.

Kiss the strangers on the street.

Just get out there and spread some joy, y'all!

Merry Everything!!

Love,
Michele

Friday, December 21, 2012

We're Still Here! You?

La, la, la!

Merry Solstice to ye!

Wishing you a good fire and something yummy to eat on this ancient celebration.

If nothing else, I hope you can get outside at some point and howl at the moon.

Here's a wonderful Solstice piece from that site my friend Lorri turned me on to: The Power Path






The Winter Solstice is exact on Friday, December 21 at 4:11 AM Mountain Standard Time. This is one of the most important time frames in our history. Although the exact time of the solstice is important to note, the 48 hours afterwards is equally as potent and may be even more so in terms of where your thoughts, intentions, feelings and focus are.The energy is about honoring and forgiving the structure that has held life together up until this point. Move yourself into a place of trust that a new structure has been organizing itself in the quantum field through a collective intention of having a better world. It is on the brink of being birthed onto the physical plane. The best intention during this time is to be in trust.

Here are some suggestions of how to work with this time:

Stay away from negativity and martyrdom and be positive and optimistic no matter what.

Clear your mind and your environment from clutter so you can be open to the incredible insights available at this time and have a journal handy to write them down. Pay attention to your dreams and anything that is surfacing at this time especially old memories and recapitulations. If emotions grab you, let them pass on through.

Instead of thinking and thinking and thinking about maybe doing something or changing something, make a commitment to do it. Take some time to write serious intentions and don't be afraid to dream big and to leave room for spirit to bring you more than you can imagine.

Reestablish your connection with guides and allies through meditation and spiritual practice. Ask for help and keep "don't know mind" about how it may show up.

Be around friends and family and community that are on the same page.

Forgive, forgive, forgive.

Do a burning ritual: write down with total forgiveness what you are complete with and burn it ritually with some offering of sage or tobacco. Then write your intentions.

Say hello to the earth and the sun and the new frequencies they are bringing in. Be very conscious and present with your environment sending light and love into all the physical extensions of yourself (electronics, electrical system, vehicles, plumbing, clothing, appliances etc etc.) In this way you are "tuning" yourself to the larger energies of the earth and the sun and then harmonizing your personal environment.

It would be a good idea to clean your home and workspace with a cleansing smoke or whatever method you use. Bells and tuning forks work well too.

Light a long burning candle and place on your sheet of intentions along with a vase of fresh flowers.



This is the dawn of a new era and the one we have been waiting for. It is the time frame that marks the end of the hierarchical, competitive and success oriented approach to life and marks the beginning of a relationship, cooperative and community oriented cycle. It won't happen overnight however, we must take advantage of this time through our attention and focus. If you plant the seed right, a beautiful growth will follow.





I'm totally down with all of that, y'all.

Here's to forgiveness and a new era of peace and compassion.!

And here's wishing YOU a blessed, blessed  Solstice. 




 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The last one.

After today, I will move on.

A part of me doesn't want to.

It feels wrong - to move on.

We cannot stay here though, can we?

We must raise our eyes to the day and be alive.

And so we will, but I know I will do so tentatively and with reservation.

I will think of my little Charlotte Bacon every day.

I thank all of you who took my lead and picked a person to remember every day for one year.

I went back and added Adam Lanza to the list as well.

He is our child too.

 



Here is the last vintage photograph I have of me with Santa.




Isn't that some sweetness?

I remember that dress so well.

I wonder what that little pin is that I'm wearing on the front of it?

You can't see through my hesitant smile, but I'm missing my front teeth.

I keep thinking about the baby teeth of those children.

They should have all lost a tooth or two by 6, right?

Can you imagine that?  Those parents clutching a baby tooth.

No words for that kind of pain.

No words at all.



My dear friend and neighbor, Lorri, sent me this beautiful passage from a website she visits.

I thought it was so wonderful that I wanted to pass it on to you on this last day of mourning here with me.

It's from a website called The Power Path.

There is a lot of really, really good stuff there.  I do hope you take a moment to check it out.



Dear Friends,
Yesterday's massacre in a Connecticut school has left us once again holding another large scale trauma in our collective. Incidents such as this one have been part of a larger pattern of aggressive, predatory and violent behavior which has been prevalent in our global society as a pattern for a very very long time. It is truly time to change the pattern whatever it takes.
So in the next 24 hours if you can please light a candle for a time of prayer for the victims, and in the spirit of December's theme of forgiveness, forgive the pattern that has dominated the way of the collective up to this point, and that has driven us to operating out of fear instead of love.
To help those who are the victims of this particular event, take a rattle or a drum or two clicking sticks and use these tools to release their spirits from the pattern. Thank them for their sacrifice so that the rest of us can wake up. Using the same tools, help those who are the victims of the trauma to release what they can of the energy of the pattern.
And lastly look into your own heart and forgive yourself for any time you have acted out of hate, envy, fear or revenge, or have been aggressive or mean-spirited towards another human being. Find a way to love yourself more in these times with compassion and forgiveness.
If we are to shift successfully as a collective into a new pattern of responsibility and relationship driven by love and not fear, we must do this. Let those who have died to wake us up not die in vain.
With compassion, forgiveness and blessings,


I really like this: "... forgive yourself for any time you have acted out of hate, envy, fear or revenge, or have been aggressive or mean-spirited towards another human being. ..."

I close my eyes and breathe that sentiment in deeply.

My friend, Christi said (typed) this to me yesterday:

"Whenever I find myself paralyzed by this crazy, fucked up world we live in I come to a point where I have to choose to either let the despair envelop me or break out and do something....anything.  So, I'm at that point and have decided to do as much good as I possibly can.  It won't change the laws, policies or societal bullshit (although I do plan to work on that too) but it will make the world of the people around me a little better, and I expect they will do the same and the love will spread exponentially." 


Isn't that so right-on?

I just love that.

Thank you, Christi.  (And I can't wait to show you the beautiful swag she gave me.)

So ...  let's, shall we?

Let's all get out there and just do as much good as we possibly can.

OK?

OK.










Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Loving-Kindness

This is me at the same age as most of the children murdered last Friday in Connecticut.

I was 6 1/2 here.

Still full of wonder, and magic and belief.

Delirious with excitement over Christmas.

Completely trusting in the Universe.




Thank you all.

Thank you all beyond measure for your beautiful thoughts and words yesterday.

I felt such a connection with all of you in sharing our horror and grief.

I want to share two things that came across in the comments section:

One was from my friend Hillary.  She led me to this beautiful site that I used to visit and have not been to in years.  

What a joy to wrap myself in the loving blanket of Buddhist sentiment.

So missed.

So needed.

I was going to post the link, but I've decided to just post the whole thing here.

I hope you'll take a moment to read it.

It's just beautiful, and hopeful, and loving and more than earthly.

Loving Kindness Meditation with Children
by Gregory Kramer

How to do it . . .
This practice is slightly different from the one I do with my adult meditation students. There are nuances that I adjust with age and mood, to make the meditation something that kids can relate to directly and emotionally. As they mature and their world grows, the scope of the meditation can grow and still be congruent with the world.
By beginning with some instruction rather than the practice itself, I'm setting the stage and mood. This creates a transition from listening to stories to focusing on their feelings and then growing those feelings towards love. Another adjustment is that each person, group or region towards whom the loving-kindness is sent has slightly different words. I do not want this practice to become rote. By avoiding repetition, we help the meditation stay alive and relevant.
Then, we grow the feelings of love in the most fertile soil: logically the closest and most loved people (or animals or plants). The children themselves get the most attention, based on the simple fact that we all want to be free from pain, discomfort, and other suffering.
We extend loving-kindness toward ourselves, toward someone we love a great deal (Dad and Mom), toward others we love (The Brothers), then toward those we like( Our Friends at School) or at least feel neutral toward (Teachers, other Kids), then toward all beings. With adults, the practice goes from oneself to a loved one, then to a neutral one, then to one towards whom we feel anger, then out geographically. With children, we slowly grow the world; we are not "pushing the river." When they are ready, we extend the loving-kindness toward people they feel some agitation towards. Even with the youngest child I will occasionally add people he may feel anger towards. With my thirteen year old we do so often, though he seems to feel little agitation towards others.

There is an element of improvisation in the way I conduct this practice. If I feel the kids are in a particular loving place, I may focus more on sending love to their teachers. "May they really be free from difficulties and suffering." This would help them to see their teachers as regular human beings, with pain, with lives outside of the classroom, and not beyond error and emotion. I may also focus extra loving-kindness on someone in need, such as an ill grandmother. The child can then be helped to see that when there is need, you step outside yourself and give extra.
In spreading the loving-kindness geographically, I try to walk the line between it becoming a mental exercise ("Where is that town?") and being so general as not to invoke feelings of expansiveness ("Oh, we're at that spreading thing that I don't really understand, I'll just lie here."). This grows in sophistication with age.
But one must be careful not to turn it into a geography lesson, although a little intrigue doesn't hurt (" I sent loving-kindness across all of Asia, Africa, Australia; across all the oceans to all creatures in the sea"). The feeling of expansiveness is paramount here. From me, to them, to all on earth, to all in the universe, to all in all directions, with no exceptions. This helps the heart grow and soften. It takes children (or us) out of themselves in a gentle way.
Questions may come up with kids that may not come up with adults, like the time my youngest wanted to send loving-kindness to "Yellow Blankie." First, I said to him that Yellow Blankie doesn't have a consciousness. This did not impress him. Then I said we'd send loving-kindness to Yellow Blankie, figuring that "all beings" could include his fabric friend if my son so chose. However, when we began the loving-kindness practice, it went like this:
Me: "I send loving-kindness to Dad and Mom . . ."
My son: ". . . and Yellow Blankie."
Me: OK, and Yellow Blankie."

As my eldest son matured and his emotional understanding was expanded, I gently expanded the meditation. Compassion is an extension of love, further along this trajectory of going beyond ourselves to embrace other. So the eldest may, having been instructed, after sending loving-kindness to all beings, let himself feel the suffering of others, to let his heart resonate with the pain of others. This was done in a gentle and non-dogmatic way. There is a sense of respect and maturity that he may have felt, albeit subtly, for being able to grow in his practice in this way.
I can't say for certain, but it is my hope that this compassion will grow within my sons as they reach deeper into the rich and complex world of young adulthood and thus act as counterbalance to the arrogance and judgment that come with the territory. I particularly hope that they can develop a true compassion for those less fortunate than themselves, people without enough to eat, without adequate clothing or housing, people who are in war zones or are stricken by disease. In our privileged society, where many of us don't see the outer reaches of human suffering, I want to actively instil the capacity for compassion. The compassion itself will grow with their experience.
I will try to do this without too much attachment to results or to the process itself. If my children decide they don't want to do this any more, I hope I can let go of it lightly. But for now, as for the past sixteen years, they value this practice of loving-kindness. 


Finn does a morning meditation at his learning center, but I am going to incorporate this particular one into our other four days of the week.  

What could be more loving that to teach one's child compassion with a dedicated practice?

I think I'll hold the other until tomorrow.

Let us all "just be" with these gentle words of wisdom.


 

And so I sit, alone, my boys out with friends, wrapping presents and feeling such gratefulness for all that I have and all that I have not lost.

Grateful for all of you for helping me wade through my sadness and my grief.

Grateful to be alive.   

Monday, December 17, 2012

Will You Join Me?

I wanted to say something, but I didn't know what.

I still feel so grief-stricken, so shocked.

I still feel so shocked.

I feel like my heart is in my throat.

I cry a little all throughout the day.

Just here and there over small things.

I've been having a bit of a rough time anyway, but then this.

This horrid tragedy that allowed some tears to flow.  Tears for what I've been going through personally and  for what I hope to god I never, ever have to feel.

I keep staring at my child in a new way.

A more intense way.

A way that feels like ... what if you were gone in an instant?  

Would I have looked closely enough that morning?

Would I have been kind that morning?

Would I have smelled you deeply that last morning?




Last night, while sleeping curled up with my son, I dreamed that he had somehow been sent into another realm, like through a portal.

I had this little gizmo, sort of like Russian stacking dolls, and when the last piece was removed he was supposed to materialize back.

Except he didn't.

I could talk to him, but I couldn't see or get to him.

He said there was another little girl on level 7 and he would try to get to her so they could be together.

I was hysterical and I couldn't get anyone to help me.

I woke with my heart racing and tears coursing down my face.



I don't know what to say.

Except this:  We have a mental health crisis in this country.

I firmly believe gun control will help, but we have a mental health crisis in this country.

I have a dear friend who lives in my neighborhood.

Her twin brother suffered a head injury years ago and now lives in the state psychiatric hospital here in  Austin.

You should listen to her talk about what mental health care is like here in America.

How she finally had to get her brother arrested, repeatedly, so that she could get him some care.

How the only way anyone would, or could, help her was when it became clear to everyone that he was a danger to himself and to others.

It wasn't enough that she told them.  And told them. And told them.

She had to use the jail system as her "doctor."

I spoke with her on the street yesterday and she later forwarded me this piece from the Huffington Post.

I beg of you to read it because it will help you understand what it's like to live with a child like Adam Lanza.

This is what she says, " I am sharing this story because I am Adam Lanza’s mother. I am Dylan Klebold’s and Eric Harris’s mother. I am James Holmes’s mother. I am Jared Loughner’s mother... ."


Here is her story:  'I Am Adam Lanza's Mother':  A Mom's Perspective on the Mental Illness Conversation in America




I bought the New York Times yesterday.

Did you see the cover?

I sobbed.  All those babies' names listed in a row.

Babies who were 6 and 7 years old.

Babies and the heroes who cared for them every day at school.

This is the list:

Charlotte Bacon, 6
Daniel Barden, 7
Olivia Engel, 6
Josephine Gay, 7
Ana Marquez-Greene, 6
Dylan Hockley, 6
Madeleine Hsu, 6
Catherine Hubbard, 6
Chase Kowalski, 7
Jesse Lewis, 6
James Mattioli, 6
Grace McDonnell, 7
Emilie Parker, 6
Jack Pinto, 6
Noah Pozner, 6
Caroline Previdi, 6
Jessica Rekos, 6
Benjamine Wheeler, 6
Allison Wyatt, 6

Rachel Davino, 29 - Teacher
Dawn Hochsprung, 47 - Principal
Nancy Lanza, 52 - Mother of gunman
Adam Lanza, 20 - Mentally ill perpetrator 
Anne Marie Murphy, 52 - Teacher
Lauren Rousseau, 30 - Teacher
Mary Sherlach, 56 - School psychologist
Victoria Soto, 27 - Teacher




I know I can't do much.

I can write letters, sign petitions, talk, vote.

We must make ourselves heard, but the road will be long.

What I am doing today, and would like to invite you to join me in, is taking one name off this list and remembering that person every day for one year.

However you would like to do that.

I do it upon awakening.  I think of the child, their family, their friends.  I just think about them.

Will you join me?

Will you pick a person off this list and think of them every day for one year?

I took precious little Charlotte Bacon because she was first on the list.

If you'd like to, leave your name in the comments section with the name of the person you will be thinking of.

Maybe we should just go down the list in order?

I don't know what this does, or means, if anything.

It just seems like something.  

Something so we don't end up forgetting in a few weeks as we Americans, modern people in general, are wont to do.

We must do something.

PS I would also like to add this before it turns into an issue.  I do not believe that the mother in the Huffington piece is equating autism with violence in children.  She clearly states that many, many diagnoses have been thrust upon her child, but what remains true is that he is mentally ill.  Label or no label.  My personal experience is that I know plenty of children on the spectrum and none of them is violent in any way.




Friday, December 14, 2012

1966

OK.

Same paneling, but now we have a fancy Santa chair and a Goldfinger reindeer.

Wouldn't you just DIE to have that reindeer?

Notice what I'm wearing in DECEMBER.

A freaking tiny, cotton dress with foldover socks.

Not a coat nor a  long sleeve in sight.

Texas Christmas.

I see that I have a little bracelet on too.

Not so little, really.

I think, I think that these were a kind of paper mache type thing.

(Mama, do you know what I'm talking about?)

I have a vague memory of something like that.

You can see that Santa loves me.

Either that or he's looking at the clock on the floor wondering how much longer until he can hit the Jack.

WHY do we make such fun of these men, I ask you??

It's a NOBLE thing to portray Santa.  It is!  

I really mean this when I say that I just love and love and love every man who ever put on that suit and let a gazillion kids climb all over him with their earnest, and sometimes terrified, little faces.

BLESS THE SANTAS!

(May I please just say here:  Please, PLEASE do not make your child sit on Santa's lap if they don't want to.  It's total bullshit to terrify your child for a photo.)

Now, you want to read something TOTALLY hysterical and rather disturbing?

You've just GOT to go read this because I am telling you that you will just DIE because it is really, really funny the way "Eartha" tells it, but it is also funny/not funny, but SO right up my alley kind of humor.

Y'all know I LOVE this blog called RANCH DRESSING WITH EARTH KITSCH, right?

It's her post called:  The Santa Claus Smackdown of 1977.

Oh. Mah. Gawd.  You will be CRYING.

More baby Michele tomorrow.

Preview hint:  I'm getting hipper.

PS. I guess Friday Food will be back someday.  Just not today.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Lap dancing.

That's a titillating title, isn't it? 

Sucka.

Not to mention just downright naughty for thinking of lap dancing at Christmastime.

Heeeeee. 

So, I have a new little blog crush:  Project Little Smith

Just one of those blogs that hooked me.

Pretty, clean photos.  Beautiful baby and mama.  Nice people.

You know, like me.  

HAHAHAHA.

Well, kinda, I am.

Anyway, I just happened upon it, maybe via Pinterest?  

Not sure, but I do just love it so much.

She recently posted an old photo of her on Santa's lap and it got me all in a tizzy cuz I knew I had some such photos somewhere too!

And I did.

And I do!

I'm gonna post one a day because, quite frankly, I am out of Christmas swag, and I'm in a cooking lull, and in an all around funk-of-sorts so this is just the thing to save me old bloggers arse.

Circa 1965
Beaumont, Texas
Gateway  Shopping Center.
Santa's Workshop.



Just look at us ... oh my gawd.

My brother is like, Get the fuck away from me you perv and I'm all like, Hi!  I'm the perfect people pleaser smiling for you so sweetly where's my candy cane?

And does that Santa look mean as hell, or what?

Clearly my brother is smarter than I.

I just cannot tell you how clearly I remember that Santa's Workshop.

I mean like it was yesterday.

I remember just dying to get in there to see Santa and pose.  

Always the posing, for me.

Poser even then.

Could it be any clearer who is the extrovert and who is the introvert here?

Any of you extroverts grow up in a family of introverts?

Not for the weak of spirit, lemme tell you.

So, there ya go.

Cuteness ad nauseum.

Thanks to Project Little Smith for the idea.

Y'all go over there and look at her precious self in Santa's lap ... it's beyond adorable.

Be sure to leave a comment because that is a nice thing to do and it's the time of year to be nice.

You Ho. (Ho. Ho.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I have no idea....

why that old weekending post showed up today!!!


Or why I posted this picture of me taking a picture of me.

Mysterious, but ultimately of no consequence.

Carry on, y'all.

Weekending.

Good Morning!

How was your weekend?

Mine was ... blurry.

Slow blurry, not fast blurry, which is good

A delightful ladies' soiree on Friday night kicked off the weekend.


Saturday was a slow family day.

I think.

Honestly, I can't really remember.

I had most of Sunday to myself.

(Chorus of angels singing in the background.)

Putzed around with more Christmas decorations. 

Putzed around on Pinterest.  

A lot.  

You?

Whadja do?

OH CRAP, yes, yes!  I thrifted!!!

I totally forgot.

Look!!!




Really gorgeous, heavy wooden candlesticks.

Freaking love them.

I need to find some brown taper candles.

Mmmm, really, really digging the whole brown thing going on here.

It's shaping up to be a brown year.

This is good though.  I love brown.

Dirt.
Brownies.
Hot chocolate.
Wood.
Clive's hair.

All brown.




Little Nutcracker soldier stocking holder thingee.





Holiday movies.

(We always watch Peter Pan on Christmas night.)





Giant bear from Costco.  (Bosco's the name.)  (He's Russian.)

My Costco membership just expired.

I went twice.

Dammit.





More from the seemingly endless photo enhancement game.




This guy looks like he's telling a fish tale, doesn't he?

OR he's trying to impress the ladies, IYKWIS.

Hahahahahah




More candle holder / MCM lamp for you to drool over.

Have you noticed my new Target table cloth?

Woodsy too! 





Old  Fridgidaire sign we got this summer on our road trip.

Sort of thrifted.

Sort of stolen.

Love that thing.





Super not-thrifted bunny S & P shakers from a local toy store that carries mostly crap from China.

(NOT Terra Toys, fyi.)

That' it.

All I got.

Off to hiking day.

FINALLY freaking cold here.

Look at this ... yesterday afternoon:



Yes, Fahrenheit.

High today is supposed to be 49.

We'll see, but I'm sure looking forward to some winter weather.

La, la, la.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Unexpected Joys.

This shadow on my wall yesterday afternoon.



This happy rock face I stumbled across while out with my Monday hiking group.




We also found this gorgeous piece of art scratched (?) into limestone.



A startling view of the skyline after being soul deep in the Greenbelt.

All of these magical pleasures in one day.

Austin, I love you.