Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Fitting Project

I have mentioned before how artistic my mom and her siblings are. She made these little clay hearts years ago, and we pulled them out earlier this week as part of a test to see how her focus and creativity had come back. This was not our intended project, but I ended up putting these necklaces together. It seems like a fitting tribute to her recovery.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Movie Review: The King's Speech

I think it is no secret that, in my opinion, any movie where I can gaze upon Colin Firth starring Colin Firth is probably worth watching. The Kingi's Speech exceeded expectation.

Firth won the Oscar for Best Actor, and the movie won for Best Film, and for once, I agree with the Acadamy's decisions.

The story is set in pre-WWII England, and is based upon King George VI's struggle with a stutter. After his older brother abdicates the throne to marry a divorced commoner (and an American, no less), the new King must make a very public, nationally broadcast show of strength as the country heads into war. I thought it interesting that while he fully understands that his position is as a figurehead, and that he has no real power, he takes his responsibility seriously that he "speak(s) for the people". He knows that if he is unable to communicate strength and national pride it will be detrimental for the country.

A beautiful friendship develops between the King and his speech therapist. Even though the therapist refuses to bow, and calls him "Bertie", he does so not from a lack of respect, but rather the opposite. He respects the King as a man, and wants to aid him in success.

I definitely recommend this movie. Mom does as well.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Quote of the Day: Oscar Wilde

Be yourself.
Everyone else is already taken.
~Oscar Wilde

Saturday, January 14, 2012

For My Love

Saguaro Cactus by Ansel Adams
For your sake, I hurry over land and water:
For your sake, I cross the desert and split the mountain in two,
And turn my face from all things,
Until the time I reach the place
Where I am alone with You

In the Sonoran Desert

Welcome to Arizona. The US Border Patrol helicopter flew over while I was taking this picture. I don't think the smiley faces are standard.

 Things are prickly here. This tree looks so nice and fuzzy....

Until you look a little closer.  I know some people like that. But that's another blog post.

These big ones are Saguaro Cacti. They are pretty darned awesome. Please keep in mind I've only seen them in pictures before. This one was about 20 feet tall.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Thai Curry Chicken with Peanut Sauce

Here is the trick to this delicious dinner: I cheat.

Marinate (for the day) a couple of sliced chicken breasts in most of a can of coconut milk and liberally sprinkle with some good curry. Saute. Preferably in peanut oil.

For the peanut sauce, I use a bottle of House of Tsang's Bangkok Padang Peanut Sauce, heated and mixed with about 3/4 cup peanut butter and 1/2 cup coconut milk. This keeps a bit of the kick without knocking you on your tush.

Serve with rice noodles.

Tonight we added a romaine salad with mandarin oranges and apples, topped with mom's homemade poppyseed dressing. It was the perfect combination of spicy and sweet.

Couldn't be easier, or yummier!

The Wall

Well, it had to happen. Mom hit the wall. Yesterday was the energy day. She wanted (understandably) to escape the house, so we went to the library for chick flicks. (Les Miserables, Calendar Girls, The King's Speech) Then, she wanted lunch. Are you up for it? Oh, sure. So we hit Chick-fil-A, yet another first on my culinary venture here in Arizona. Yummy. Then to the grocery store. Which is going out of business. Which means everything is on sale. Which means mom was in there wandering around a whole lot longer than she had any business doing.

So today we have been taking it easy. I did drag her to the park. In my defense, it's a short walk, and she's supposed to be walking. Then back home to watch Julia Child videos on you tube. If you haven't seen Julia (we're buddies) on David Letterman, watch this. Unless, of course, you had open heart surgery a week ago. Then it will hurt to laugh.

So she's back in bed. Wiped out. Not understanding why she's weepy. My goodness! She has no idea how strong she has been, and how incredibly well she is doing. I've seen a lot of post surgical patients, and I don't know of any who have done better than her.

I need to keep reminding her that post-procedure, today might not be better than yesterday, but next week will almost certainly be better than this one!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Quote of the Day: Judy Garland

For it was not into my ear you whispered,
But into my heart.
It was not my lips you kissed,
But my soul.

~Judy Garland

I find myself missing you lots today. Can't wait to be home with you.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Book List 2011

My reading has slipped a little this year. I have, I confess shamefacedly, been watching too much television.  But here's an abbreviated list of some that I either read, or listened to during my commute.

Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery: an old favorite. It's like comfort food. Non-fat comfort food.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: Somehow this makes my list every year. I don't always read the whole thing, but it's one that I can pick up at anytime. This year, however, I listened to it. And laughed aloud in the car. Here are a few comments on P and P.

Right Ho, Jeeves by PG Wodehouse: I love Wodehouse's dry wit. Bertie Wooster makes me giggle. For the longest time, I had a terrible time watching House, because Hugh Laurie will always be Bertie in my mind. He's an accidental genius.

Little Women, Little Men and Jo's Boys by Louisa May Alcott:  The first two I had read years ago, but it was fun to reread them, and to finish the story and see my favorite heroine Jo, not only as a young woman, but as an older, married, and surprisingly mature woman.

North to the Orient by Anne Morrow Lindbergh: Anne has a way of writing that makes me think I could have been an adventuress with her. I am kidding myself. This is her journal of her trip with husband Charles through the arctic circle to China in an all-too-small (in my opinion) plane.

Quiet Strength by Tony Dungy: Yes, a football book.. Sort of. It's really more of a pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps and live-your-faith-in-action book. Great read for men.

Murder at the Library of Congress by Margaret Truman: The late M. Truman was the only daughter of President Harry Truman. She wrote this great series of mysteries set in DC in a way that is realistic about politics without being terribly cynical.

Creating a Beautiful Home by Alexandra Stoddard: Another one that is ALWAYS on my bookshelf. Stoddard's philosophy of home-keeping (not housework!) are inspiring to me and strike a chord.

Made in America by Bill Bryson: subtitled, An Informal History of the English Language in the United States. Bryson is funny. I mean, I read a whole book not just IN English, but ABOUT English. And mostly about how we Americans have butchered it for years.

The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle: Brought back fond memories of reading this to Michael when he was about seven.

For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhaun: An interesting compilation of survey info about what men really think. Pretty eye opening.

King Solomon's Mines by H Rider Haggard: Read my review here.

Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts: A sweet easy read about a girl whose life begins as a train wreck, but who finds a family in Wal-mart. Okay, that's an over-simplification, but it was a nice bedtime read.

Happiness for Two by Alexandra Stoddard: Pointers on making your honey happy. For a lifetime. Written in short chapters so I kept it in my purse for when I was waiting for something. Usually my honey.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Road Begun

Seeing my mom, my very vibrant and youthful mom, in her post-surgery condition was really tough yesterday. Even though she has struggled with joint stiffness and some relatively minor aches and pains in the past, she has never been down for too long.

I think this recovery may be hard on her emotionally for that very reason. She's the doer, the fixer of problems. When the surgeon today asked her if she regularly took anything for anxiety, she literally did not comprehend the question. Of course she doesn't. (I, on the other hand...) But I saw discouragement on her face numerous times today. While she was puffing into her spirometer (measuring her lung capacity), I watched her face as she was willing the bubble to rise higher. It didn't. I saw defeat in her face as she could only do one lap around the ICU. And I saw near panic as the doctor told her she could most likely return home in two days.

What she doesn't realize is that I also saw huge steps being taken. Yesterday, the walk around the ward was the shuffle of a sick, old woman. Today, those steps were much more certain and sure. Today I watched them remove the chest tubes from her wound. And most encouragingly, I watched her tease the ICU nurse, and in fact, make him laugh so hard he was shaking.

She has a long road ahead of her. My prayer is that she will see these milestones as what they are, steps on her road back to "normal".

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, And to [those who have] no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the LORD Shall renew [their] strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. ~Isaiah 40:28-31