Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Truffle Hunter

It's a well-known fact that pigs have an extraordinary nose for locating and rooting out the coveted fungi known as truffles. So in our family, a truffle-hunter is a white-gloved euphemism for, ahem, a pig.

* * * * *

As I prepared to leave the house this morning, I did all the normal things that people do as they prepare to go out for the day.

I grabbed a quick breakfast,
gathered up my keys and purse, 
and Gracie-proofed the house.

I stashed the half-full compost bin behind a cabinet door; she can and does lift the bin out of its normal place in the extra-deep kitchen sink and carry it off to the family room floor where she dumps it out and sorts through the pistachio shells, lettuce cores, and other delicious treasures.

I scrubbed out the delicious oils someone left behind in a pan after preparing their breakfast; she is entirely capable of jumping up with front feet on the counter, scooching her back feet up close to the cabinets, stretching her elegant neck deep down into the sink, and nimbly licking out every tidbit.

I rinsed out a mostly empty bottle of ketchup abandoned in the sink; no doubt my girl would haul that bottle off and work it over on the family room floor, leaving tiny splashes of red in a five foot radius.

And of course, I lifted the cats' food bowls from their eating spot on the laundry room counter, which she can easily reach, and tucked them safely on a high shelf.

This is all completely normal, right?

Then, feeling reasonably confident that I had anticipated and eliminated Gracie's every hope of finding a snack while she was home alone, I kissed her on the head and walked out the door.

* * * * *

Three hours later, my third-born and I came home to this little surprise:


Lying upside down under the couch, a good fifteen feet away from the kitchen counter, we found a family-size plastic storage box full of homemade oatmeal cookies. 

With craisins and chocolate chips.  

Apparently, I overlooked the box during my inspection, and left it sitting out on the counter while my truffle-hunting missy was home alone.

And thank the Lord that the seal held, because there were at least twenty-five cookies inside. Had Gracie managed to pry the lid off - and I have no doubt that she tried her darnedest - she would have scored herself quite a scrumptious feast. 

After yesterday's Skittle party, this would have been two huge back-to-back scores for my sweet-toothed sneak.


But alas, today, Gracie had to settle for kibble.

* * * * * 

To read the full story of Gracie's Skittle score, go here

Monday, April 29, 2019

Just Another Day


Today, Gracie ate two-thirds of a full-size bag of Skittles.

She also

got her tail fringe sucked up in the vacuum cleaner,
laid out in the sun near the front sidewalk while I gardened and  politely greeted several passersby,
and hunted down four squirrels on her walk.

Apparently, she did not get a stomach ache from all the candy.

Just another day in the life of my wild Irish lass.

* * * * *

To read about how Gracie's sweet tooth got her into trouble the next day, go here

Spoilers

For Christmas that year, my mom bought me the book version. I treasured it and still 
have it to this very day, even though my dog, Casey, did take a big ol' chomp out of the corner. 
What can I say, he was a chewer.

Back in the fall of 1965, I went with my neighbor, Vickie Terry, to see Mary Poppins in the theater.

I was six years old.

This wasn't the first time I'd been to a movie - I'd seen One Hundred and One Dalmatians in a proper theater when I was three, though my mom reports that I spent most of the movie asking her to take me for a drink of water, and then enjoying the long, slow climb up the wide, carpeted stairway at the majestic old Michigan Theater rather than getting the wits scared out of me as Cruella de Vil attempted to kill puppies. I'd also been to the drive-in once or twice, though that mostly consisted of wrestling my brothers for the bag of homemade popcorn and struggling to see the movie out the front window of the car.

But this was the first time I'd been invited to a movie by a friend.

Oh, those the double page color illustrations! Can't you just imagine the blast of wind that would send these nannies gusting off into the skies over London?


And it was the first time I'd been to see Mary Poppins.

Now back in those days, in small town America, popular movies blew in and out of town like the wind. A successful original run might last a month or two, then maybe six months later, that movie would pop back up again for a second run, and play for another few weeks. Immensely popular movies, like Gone With The Wind or Fantasia, returned year in and year out.

By the time I saw it, Mary Poppins was on her third run.

Now, I had never seen the movie before, but boy, oh boy, had I heard about it.

I'd watched countless previews and teasers on the weekly Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color TV show.

We'd been singing the songs from the movie in my music class at school for months.

But more than anything else, my friends had told me all about it.

Yes, many of my lucky schoolmates had caught a first or second run showing of this wildly popular movie, and countless recesses and lunch hours been devoted to their recounting endless details of the show. I'd heard about the talking parrot on the umbrella handle, the toys flying around the nursery, the sidewalk paintings at the park, and the carousel horses galloping off the merry-go-round and cavorting off into the countryside.

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. 
What a perfect word for second graders to use in nearly every situation. And we did.

My best friend, Marilyn, had also seen the movie. She introduced to the Banks' parents' peculiarities - what's a suffragette, anyway? - and puzzled with me over Mary's relationship with the kooky chimney sweep and rooftop dancer, Bert. Was he her boyfriend? Her husband? Her brother? And what about the mean men at the bank who end up laughing so hard that the oldest one dies? Could that actually happen to a person?

Suffice it to say, by the time I sat down in my red velvet seat with Vickie and her mom, I was completely familiar with the story that was finally about to unfold in front of my eyes. I enjoyed every minute even as I anticipated every plot twist and knew exactly how the movie would end.

In today's vernacular, my Mary Poppins movie-going experience had been utterly and completely spoiled.

But with the basics under my belt before the movie began, my six-year-old mind was able to wrap itself around every magical detail and colorful character I saw. Rather than feeling confused or overwhelmed, I loved every single minute of the show.

* * * * *

This weekend, as the highly anticipated Avengers: Endgame and Game Of Thrones' The Long Night episode both hit screens for the first time, there has been a lot of chatter online about spoilers. 

To sum up the conundrum, when it comes to spoilers, there are two kinds of people: those who watch new releases right away and want to talk about what they've seen, and those who expect the world to maintain radio silence till they get a chance to watch.

Honestly, I don't get the fuss about spoilers. Most storytelling is fairly predictable - The Sixth Sense, Inception, and several episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation notwithstanding - and it doesn't take a crystal ball to predict that the Avengers are going to use time travel to prevent Thanos from accumulating the Infinity Stones and thereby killing half the population of the universe, including many Avengers. Some way or another, the good guys will ultimately kill the bad guy, rewrite time, and bring all the dead folks back to life. I expect most of the Avengers to recover, except for a few whose actors' contracts were not renegotiated. 

Similarly, anyone who's been with Game of Thrones can safely assume that most of our heroes - Jon and Dany, for sure - are likely to survive the culminating battle against the Army of the Dead and one way or another, take the next step on the way to the Iron Throne. And since killing the Night King means certain death for the entire army, it seems logical to aim for his jugular. Sure, there are many secondary details to be resolved and Lord knows the GOT writers love to upset expectations and knock off important characters. But harming either Jon or Dany would be like killing Frodo and Sam on their way back from Mordor to the Shire, and it's a safe bet that's not happening. 

To be perfectly honest, I am fine knowing the key plot points of a movie that I'm about to watch. With those hand holds in place, I can better appreciate the richness of the characters, the details of the setting, the subtleties of the actors' performances. A movie takes on more texture and dimension, and I can more deeply enjoy every aspect of the artistic creation.

Just like that time I saw Mary Poppins

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Luna And Gracie


When Gracie first came into our lives, she tormented our poor cats. Though they were polite and reserved around her, the big red shaggy newcomer had no qualms about chasing them with wild abandon, barking at the top of her lungs and gleefully tracking them to whatever hiding place they could find in a hurry.

This dog was a bit of a menace to our poor cats.

But. Times have changed.

Within a few months of her arrival, Gracie dialed her responses back from frantic to playful, and the cats learned to stand up to her. Never once did they scratch or hiss at her, but their feline brains soon computed that if they didn't run away, Gracie didn't chase them.

We achieved d├ętente.

And now, we have this. 

Nose kisses. 

Between cat and dog.

No more dust-ups between these two supposedly natural enemies. Cats and dog have learned to love one another, and peace reigns in our home.

Oh, what the world could be if we only learned to live like Luna and Gracie. 

A Working Kitchen

After a full day of chores, grocery shopping, and a lovely walk with my dog, I headed back into the kitchen to start dinner. Before leaving on the walk, I'd taken a few minutes to tidy up so I rounded the corner ready to take in the calm and soothing tableau of my still-new simply-styled open shelves.

What I actually found was this. 


^ Now, I know this isn't exactly a mess. But the level of clutter here is far more than my eyes care to see, and to be honest, as I surveyed this busy scene, I felt deflated. 

There are a lot of things sitting around that don't belong here.


^ Next to the sink, I see four cans of cherries and a bottle of bourbon, ingredients for my husband's birthday dessert, a bourbon cherry crisp from Sally's Baking Addiction

For most of my birthday-baking life, I've baked birthday treats on the day of the actual birthday, but finally it dawned on me that with our typically busy birthday schedules, I'm creating extra stress and pressure for myself on these special days. My goal now is to proactively prepare birthday desserts on the day before, and since I'm planning to whip up the crisp before dinner, I'm pretty proud of myself for staying properly on task

The garlic bulbs will be roasted for tonight's pizza toppings. I peep off all the outer papery layers, use a serrated knife to trim off the top of the bulb so each clove is exposed, the drizzle about a teaspoon of olive oil inside. I wrap the whole mess in foil and pop it into the over around 400 degrees for a half hour. Don't be like me - let the garlic cool before handling it. But with a simple squeeze from the bottom of each clove, a perfectly roasted bit of garlic will pop out the top. Put it on pizza for a taste of pure heaven. 


^ Over here by the cook top, we have mushrooms and arugula for the pizzas, as well as three Boboli shells. We usually make our crusts from scratch, but my third-born who has been denied the joy of a good Boboli pizza during her many years in Asia, made a special request.

The raspberries, rinsed and sorted, will accompany the pizza for dinner tonight. Fresh and simple.

And the oats are another ingredient in my husband's cherry crisp.


^ Up on the shelf, I spy four apples for Gracie, and hiding beneath the checkered napkin, a tiny wedge of coconut cake left over from Easter. The apples normally sit on the marble stand, and our cakes usually live on a different cake stand that sits above on the top shelf. But this cake is a three-layer cake, too tall to fit under the glass top of the other stand. And so it lives here, and the apples must find a new temporary home. 


^ I turn around and come across evidence of my mid-afternoon menu-planning session. Several cookbooks sprawl across the bit of counter space; Instinctively, I flip the books shut and stack them  before taking the picture. 

* * * * *

As I survey this busy scene, I still feel my original sense of dismay. I prefer to start cooking in a perfectly tidy kitchen, I tell myself. I think of the immaculate, not-a-single-thing-out-of-place kitchens I see in shiny magazines, TV shows, and online photos, and I can't help but feel like I am falling short of the design world's standards for pretty kitchens.

And then.

I realize how completely silly that is. 

My kitchen is not an ornamental space.

It is not meant to be an object of art, nor a place of purely aesthetic appeal.

This is a working kitchen. And while I definitely want a room that pleases my eye, I can't feed my family if I'm cooking in an art gallery. I want a workspace, a place where projects are always in process, where I can allow myself to make a good and proper mess. 

And take joy in the process.

Because there will always be time to clean my working kitchen up when I'm done. 


And my faithful dog, Gracie, will stay with me until I'm done. 

Friday, April 26, 2019

Reading Inspiratiion


The Year Of Less by Cait Flanders

This millennial personal finance guru and mindful consumer wannabe set some intense goals for herself: aggressive decluttering and editing down her possessions, living on about half of her paycheck, and enforcing a self-defined shopping ban for one full year. What Cait loses along the way is far less than what she gains; this book breaks down her journey and celebrates her discoveries. Though she and I find ourselves in different seasons of life and face different challenges in our growing edges, Cait's story inspires and encourages me to act. 

* * * * *

The Year Of Less intersects my life at many key points. Like Cait, 

I'm an avowed declutterer and minimalist.
I love to set challenges for myself.
I believe that self-discipline sets me free from my own worst instincts.
I value the potential energy of saved money. 
I am a superfan of mathematical statistics and metric data to track my progress.
I am always looking for new ways to grow.

And most of all, at this point in my life, I am impatient. No longer do I want to wait to get things done, to make changes, to improve myself. Now. 


These forces, strikingly similar to those that drove Cait to make changes in her life, are demanding a response from me. As I read the final pages of her book tonight, I felt the gauntlet thrown down within myself. I've decided to commit to my own Year Of Less.

My Year Of Less will be based on Cait's plan, but not exactly the same. I'm going to spend the next week or so mulling over the changes that I want to make in my possessions, my savings account, my shopping habits, and then I will share my plan.  

I'm committed to starting my Year Of Less on May 1, 2019.

Thanks, Cait. You have inspired me. 


Thursday, April 25, 2019

Reading Recommendations


A cloud of interesting book titles forever floats around in my brain, and I'm never without inspiration for what to read next.

But when someone puts a book in my hands and says, "Read this. I think you will like it," I snap to attention. More often that not, that book shoots to the top of my to-read pile and I get to it as soon as possible.

So it is that within the past few months, two books have landed in my lap this way. I cracked open both books with curiosityand a certainty that something inside of them was meant just for me.

I was right. These books are interesting each on their own right, but they fit together especially well as a pair of fascinating opposites, completely different types of books that teach me about both the cruelty of life and the infinite goodness of what comes after.

I recommend them both.

* * * * *

This Earth of Mankind by Pramoedya Ananta Toer

Minke is a young Javanese student, intelligent and sensitive, coming of age in nineteenth-century Indonesia. Struggling to find his place among the native colonized peoples and the Portuguese colonizers, he meets a beautiful young woman and her family who face the same challenges in different ways. Spoiler alert - the story does not end well, and I came face to face with the fact that European colonial powers could grind even the most gifted and promising native people into dust. 

Forever Ours by Janis Amatuzio, MD

The author is a contemporary forensic pathologist from the American Midwest, and in her profession, she uses autopsies and other clinical evidence to scientifically establish causes of local death. But her investigations also lead her into deep conversations with grieving families, and in this book she documents the dozens of stirring and inexplicable stories they have told her about the transition between life and death. This record fills me with hope, and I've begun the practice of sending copies of this book to friends and family who have recently lost loved ones. 


* * * * *

Read more about what I've been reading:

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

My Homemade Cookbook

"Recipes are important but only to a point. What's more important than recipes is how we think about food, and a good cookbook should open up a new way of doing just that."  -Michael Symon

"Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up." -A. A. Milne

* * * * *

I like recipes. 

I like to try my hand at cooking dishes that I normally eat only in restaurants. Pad Thai, I'm looking at you.

I like to take inventory of my fridge and then Google around to find a dish that will use up whatever leftover ingredients are accumulating. 

I like to experiment with new flavors and new combinations. 

Recipes not only inspire me, but when I strike culinary gold with a new dish, they give me a trail to follow for next time. 

However, the truth must be told that I rarely if ever follow a recipe with exact precision. From my formative experience as a teenage sous chef, I gained crazy confidence in my ability to wing it in the kitchen, and to this day, I fearlessly adapt and substitute my way through any recipe that crosses my path.

Just last night when making sauce for a pasta dish, I swapped out three ounces of cream cheese that I didn't have for my last triangular wedge of Laughing Cow and a healthy dollop of whipping cream. No one in the family was the wiser.and the finished product got rave reviews.

Still, other people's recipes give me a solid jumping off place for making my meals, and I collect them in many forms. I have 

a healthy collection of new and old cookbooks, 
two scrapbooks full of old school recipes clipped from magazines and newspapers, 
a handful of classic recipe notecards,
and a Pinterest board devoted to dishes I'd like to try. 


^ But perhaps the most used tool in my recipe-collecting arsenal is this three-ring binder 

Rather than squint at my phone to reference online recipes, wiping my hands 500 times before scrolling up and down the instructions and cursing Steve Jobs as my display locks between each and every step, I prefer to use hard copies. 

And, years ago, as the drifting sheets of paper recipes began to flutter across my counter tops and otherwise make a complete nuisance of themselves, I bought this binder and gave them a home. 


^ Just one tiny problem with that organizing system. In order for it to work, I have to actually punch holes in the pages and put them into the binder.


^  But here's the truth. After a long period of neglect, my binder had become nothing short of a hot mess.

Sigh.

And as long as I'm in a truth-telling mood, I will confess that I don't always tackle problems like this the moment they rear their ugly heads. 

I do not like to organize on demand. 

Instead, I prefer to wait until my internal desire for order shifts from neutral to drive, and suddenly nothing seems as delightfully pleasing and important as tackling that certain mess.

Where my messy recipe book is concerned, today was that day. 


^ So I tackled the project with gusto.  

I sorted through all the recipes,
threw out the ones that no longer inspire me, 
grouped them into suitable categories. and
ran them all through the three-hole puncher. 


^ Because I am always a fan of going the extra mile, I made homemade tabs for each section using old ledger paper (I'm a former accountant, remember?), baby Post-its, and packing tape in lieu of conventional lamination. 

I am also a huge fan of lamination. 


^ Not only do the tabs look fairly legitimate, they also color coordinate with the notebook's cover art. Whattttt. 


^ At this point, my enthusiasm was gathering steam like a pasta pot on high heat, and I decided to extend my original reach. Three of my daughters have been tested to identify a number of food intolerances which inform my cooking when they are eating at my table, so I tucked that data into plastic pocket protectors and filed the pages at the back of the book. 

Can you guess how I feel about plastic pocket protectors? Mm hmm. 


^ And let's be honest, once I broke into my supply of plastic pages, I was unstoppable. I used another one at the front of the book to safeguard my list of pantry must-haves, and I was in heaven. 


^ Now my job is complete. My stash of recipes is safe and sound in my homemade cookbook, a picture of organizational beauty and an inspiration for many meals to come. 

Monday, April 22, 2019

Easter All Over Again

At this point in my life, our family traditions are pretty much set in stone.

Partly, that's because it's just our immediate family over here on this side of the Rockies, and other than missing a stray Streicher daughter or two, the guest list doesn't change much. 

Also, Easter is Easter. A simple and straightforward holiday. Our activities don't vary much from year to year and I daresay that we do what every family does on Easter Sunday, more or less. 

But the most important reason why our Easter Sundays play out more or less the same, year after year after year, is because we love traditions. I may be speaking out of turn but I believe everyone in my family loves familiar and comfortable traditions that play out over the decades,again and again and again. .

Here's a breakdown of our day today, a very typical Easter.  

1. We worship God.

We go to a little Lutheran church in our neighborhood, where our daughters grew up and many, many Easters have been celebrated. Though certainly the church has changed in many ways over the years, I feel grounded as I listen to the Easter story unfold in such a familiar place. 


These baskets have been in my daughters' lives since the very beginning. I bought all four when my eldest was a baby, hoping but not knowing that someday they would all be put to use. They make me well aware of my blessings whenever I see them. 


2. We find baskets delivered by the Easter Bunny.

I know, I know. My daughters are full grown adults and they have already enjoyed more than enough years of raking in candy from the EB. But their tried-and-true baskets are still adorable, and when one of the daughters is missing on Easter, as was my second-born today, I feel a bit less lonely to see her basket there with the others, just as it has always been. 

* * * * *

Daughters Three, One holding Four, and Two (from left to right.). Their ages are 6, 4, 2, and 0.

3. We reminisce. 

Since growing up, my daughters have come to enjoy a quick trip down memory lane as they pull out their childhood photo albums and scan for holiday pics - in this case, Easter pics - from years gone by. This photo dates back to my youngest daughter's first Easter, and I remember that day in bittersweet and vivid detail. 

* * * * *

Strawberries, pork tenderloin with rosemary, deviled eggs.

My plate features strawberries, salmon, asparagus, scalloped potatoes, deviled eggs. 

3. We eat a midday meal.

Every year we discuss what to make for Easter dinner, and every year we choose the exact same menu. Well. We used to have a running debate over the protein - we have strong camps for both pork and fish, and an unwillingness to compromise. 

But I fixed that problem a few years back by preparing two main dishes, and peace has descended upon us ever since. 

* * * * *

4. We rest.

Kitchen clean-up happens.
Naps happen.
Dog walks happen.

One by one, we crash and burn and slowly recover in order to eat again.

* * * * *

My eldest baked this gorgeous coconut three-layer cake at her home and brought it to my house to be frosted. 

The recipe was new this year, but we have been wrapping up our Easter Sundays with a beautiful home-baked dessert ever since my girls were old enough to not eat their entire basket full of candy in a matter of hours. 

5. We eat dessert.

 Rather that enjoying our final course at the end of our meal, it's a time-honored Streicher tradition to hold off on dessert for a few hours after dinner. It's possible to interpret this practice as an exercise in self-restraint, but the truth is that we just want to better enjoy every delicious sugary bite of our Easter dessert.

* * * * *

After dessert, our festivities wind down. We tidy the kitchen, watch a little TV, smother our pets with affection. My eldest daughter heads back to her apartment, and the rest of us spread out around the house after a day of togetherness. 

Oh, I'm always a bit blue when holidays wrap up. After days, even weeks, of preparation and concentrated planning, the holidays themselves fly by so quickly. All the eager anticipation gives way to a few short hours of pleasure, and as usual, this day flew by in the snap of a finger. 

There is sweet satisfaction, though, in getting another successful Easter Sunday into the record books. And soon enough, the year will fly by and I will be faced with the happy challenge of celebrating Easter all over again. 

* * * * *

More Easter stories? Yes. 



Sunday, April 21, 2019

About Easter

If you have a firm and solid grasp of the true meaning of Easter, then I salute you. Feel free to skip over this story and move on with the rest of your life.

But.

If, like me, you scratch your head over this whole dying on the cross and rising from the tomb situation, then let me invite you to puzzle through this with me.

I'm not saying I have all the answers about Easter. But I can tell you a few things that I have worked out to be true.


I believe in a loving God

who made us with thoughtfulness and care and good intentions,
who stays with us through all that life throws at us,
who never holds a grudge,
who loves us during every instant of our lives, from our first breath to our last.

I believe God wants us to feel so happy and safe and secure in his love that we naturally want everyone else in this world to feel that same joy. He wants us to share his love - each of us in our own special way - with other people, to spread his love around the world.

When we really get in tune with God's love this way, we are helping him to bring in the kingdom. That's what we were born for. That's what sets our hearts pumping and gets us tingling from head to toe. Bringing in the kingdom makes us feel alive like nothing else. I believe it's the deepest purpose of human life.

I believe there is just one thing that sometimes gets in the way of this amazing flow of love. One really big thing.


Sin.

Sin is big but sin is simple. Sin is anything that

sets us at odds with God, or
puts us in conflict with one another.

We humans are imperfect. We fall into little traps of sin every darn day, and it just can't be helped. Sin is nothing to be embarrassed about or ashamed of, any more than we should be embarrassed that our fingernails grow or ashamed that we sneeze from time to time.

Sin is part of being human.

Now here's where sin becomes a bigger problem. Some humans get a little prideful about sin.

We like to imagine that there are different categories of sin, different levels of sinfulness. We tell ourselves that whatever we might be doing wrong is nothing compared to what other people are doing wrong, right?

Wrong.

In God's eyes, sin is sin is sin. It's all the same to him.


Some people find that truth to be annoying, unfair, unacceptable. They insist that, for example, losing patience with a grouchy toddler is nothing compared to kidnapping that toddler. They spend hours scouring the Bible for specifics about which sins are the worst sins.

And my human brain can kind of see the logic in that.

But I believe that is not how God sees it.

See, God does not want us to waste our time on sin.

He knows that we can't help sinning. But he wants us to learn from it, get over it, put the sin behind us as quickly as possible, because he's got better things for us to be doing.

He wants us to focus our time and energy on love, on helping him bring in the kingdom, right?

Right.


And that's where Easter comes in.

God let Jesus die on the cross so he could say,

"Look, my dear children, I brought this amazing person named Jesus into the world so he could explain my heart to you, so you could get in tune with my love, so you could help me bring in my amazing kingdom.

"But even in the midst of that beautiful plan, I allowed sin to run wild and I allowed Jesus to get nailed to that cross and die, all so you can see that I'm serious about forgiving sin.

"I forgive all sin.

"All the time.

"When you're feeling bad about something you did or said, ask me to forgive you and I will. And then the sin is gone. Forever. Without a trace. I wash you clean and give you a completely fresh start. And I will keep forgiving you, every single day, as long as you keep asking.

"And when you learn to accept my forgiveness and let go of your sin, every single day, you will be transformed. Just as Jesus walked out of that tomb on Easter morning, pure and shining and fully alive, you too will reborn into a new life of love and light. A life where sin has no hold on you. A life where love triumphs over sin. A life where you help me bring in my kingdom."

* * * * *

Now I'll be the first to say that I can't be sure about all this. But I think about Easter a lot. And I believe, just maybe, that this is true.

* * * * *

More Easter stories? Yes. 


Saturday, April 20, 2019

Gracie Goes To Kalaloch

"I doubt whether the world holds for anyone a more soul-stirring surprise than 
the first adventure with ice cream." -Heywood Broun

"...or with the beach." -me

* * * * *

On September 12, 2017, just two months after she came into our lives, Gracie made her first trip to Kalaloch. Based on what I know about her previous lives, I daresay this was also her first trip to a proper Pacific Northwest beach

Little did she know what was about to unfold.

^ Wait. You want me to lie on this rug in the middle of a weird little gravel patch in the middle of the woods, and watch while you scatter unfamiliar contraptions with names like "tent" and "cookstove"  all around me? And you tell me that this is called "going to Kalaloch?"

Alright. I have no idea what that means. But I'll play along. 

^ Ohhhhh! What's this?! Sand and water and endless sky. Let's go!!


^ Hey, this is a great place to run and run and run!

^ And splash through the water, and then run and run some more!

^ Hang on, I see something else that's interesting. Follow me.

^ Birds! So many birds to scent and stalk and scare off my beach. I have the power to make them fly.

^ I also have a powerful thirst. The water in the waves doesn't taste quite right but this little stream is delicious. Give me a minute; this is going to take a while. 

^ People! Dogs! Birds! And endless space to run. Is this heaven?

^ My people have an interesting ability to walk on top of these big silver logs. After a few wild leaps and crazy falls, I am getting the hang of it too. 

^ Now we go back up under the canopy of trees, and as my people rattle around in the back of the car and carry strange items here and there, I think I will close my eyes for just a minute. 

^ And when I awake, this is happening. Hmm. What is this strange beast?

^Whatever that flickering yellow creature might be, it seems to create food. My people ate this and shared none of it with me. 

 
^ Now we get to go back down to the big open place and it's more beautiful than ever. 


^ The wind has kicked up and my fur is blowing every which way. My ears are about to fly off.

 
^ And then the sun sets. And even I am ready to stop running and watch the sky turn to gold. 

^ Next morning, and the next, and the next, we are at it again. Walking,


^ and eating

^ and playing in the waves. 

I'm still not exactly certain what a Kalaloch is but now I know for sure that I love it. 

* * * * *

My family and I go to Kalaloch a lot. Here are stories from our trips over the years:

2019

2018 

2017 

2015

2014