The totally shame-free, actual-life, real-time blog where I tell all, show all--without nagging or whining (all right--maybe a little whining...)--in my attempt to stop being a fat middle-aged woman who avoids mirrors and clothing stores and start being a woman at home in her body...brought to you by a real woman, the Independent Weltha Herself. I won't give any advice, and I'm not asking for any--just companionship on my journey.

Every day...a new post. Every other real weight. Every pictures.

For every woman who has ever tried to just lose the extra weight and feel good...overall and about herself...and who lived to tell the story.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Day the 185th, Final Day for Advent, and Last Post of 2011

My very dearest Readers,

The holidays are in FULL SWING and here I am, writing my final true confessions, Advent Thought and Final Post for 2011. There just is not enough time and energy for more posts this year - BUT, I will be returning on January 3, 2012 with my True Weight (get won't be a Pretty Sight) and new blog posts, pix and heaven only knows what else, not to mention the Further Adventures of Weltha.

I have been swigging Coca-Cola (the Real Stuff, not that Diet Travesty) as if it is exiting Planet Earth in the next 7.3 minutes. I've eaten sweets and Lord knows how much fat and grease and bad combinations and not nearly enough fresh foods. You know, no matter how busy Poodle is, he includes a salad with his meal every single night. Oh well, something to add to my life in this New Year.

Choir Practice last night - and boy, was it a big one. We practiced with the Brass Quartet that is providing some 'before the service' music and then accompanying us on one of our anthems. And naturally, we are finishing the evening with The Hallelujah Chorus - or as I call it now that it has totally ragged out my lower notes [I keep tell Jeff the Choirmaster that I am NOT a natural alto and that I need to sing SOPRANO and he keeps IGNORING me...], the "HELL-lelujah Chorus."

My apologies to the appalled.

Tonight the Altoid Triumvirate (as we Three Altos like to call ourselves) are meeting at Kat's house and working on the H Chorus until we are either satisfied or so exhausted we can't remember the way home. We're almost there. I am so glad. Kat is determined that we just nail this thing, and that's good. Jeff the C. said that the altos are the one section he is never worried about - we are solid on our music, and we make an effort. And there are only 3 of us and we all read music to some degree. This is extremely helpful.

Today is my last day of work until December 27 (Tuesday) and I have been putting in extra hours this week - and will next week and the week after - because it is a 4-day week and yes, I've already explained all this to you. But, I get to leave at 5 today, and off home I go, until it's time to pick up Virginia the Alto and go to Kat's house.

Tomorrow morning eeeeeeeeeeeearly, I am going grocery shopping for the cooking that will comprise my Christmas gifts. This is not a big Christmas gift year because I gave a big gift to someone who needed it, a small gift to someone else, and then registered and insured the car. Can I be honest here? With the $$$ woes I have had, I went two solid years without being registered OR insured. Now, this is against the law, and it wasn't what I wanted to do, but it was what economic necessity forced on me for a while. And then, I accumulated the moolah to register (and pay fines...) and insure my own personal vehicular transport, and I am so glad. So...big money out the door but much peace of mind in the door. And after Christmas, I am off to the doctor's for an exam, a year's worth of prescriptions for my bipolar med, and then ordering it from Canada on the cheap (because me havee me no insurance, and why I'm talking in pidgen can probably only be explained by the embarrassment of such...oh well, this is not forever, I remind myself.)

One of my Christmas gifts to myself - in addition to a registered and insured car - is the recognition that I cannot make it without my meds. Someday, there may be an Alternate Plan B for me, and that will be great, but right now, I'm on prescription meds, and that's just how it will need to be. Funny thing. I have been back on them for 1 week - and although in theory that's not long enough to create a therapeutic level in my body, I feel much, much better. Other people notice it. I don't think it's merely the placebo effect. I think there is a difference. So, this is another Christmas gift to myself - being back on my meds. Permanently. When I order from Canada in January, I will receive a 3-month supply for a very good price. And I will take it every day. And yes, I'm happier and easier to be around (and it's easier for me to be around people and just deal with life) when I'm on my meds. World without end. Amen.

Anyhoodle, back to the Christmas gifts. I'm giving food that I made this year. Most of us middle-aged folk have all the 'stuff' we can use (my friend Poodle certainly does...what he does not have, he can easily buy) and having a homemade gift of goodies is...special, I think. Next year, I'm getting going with it earlier and making more goodies. My ideal is to be able to make about a dozen gift bags or mailing boxes to send out to everyone. Of course, the local folks get things that go in the freezer. My folks elsewhere can have the canned things. And yes, I can...can. (but not do the Can-Can - can't kick that high any more...)

And now, My Advent Meditation. Spoiler: She's gonna talk about Jesus. Again.

I always give my disclaimer, but here is the deal. I am a Christian. I have been one 42 years and counting (ignore the statement at the bottom of the blog. I turned another year older...), and that's what I am. At the core of Weltha is a Christian. Big "C." It's not that I'm the most devout or holy thing you've ever met (I'm not.) It's just that I'm desperate. I need God. I need a Savior. I found one.

At the heart of Christmas - a Christian holiday ['holy day'], not the commercial holiday - is the Christ child. I believe the classical, orthodox teaching that He was and remains fully God and yet fully man. That He was born of a young virgin in Israel, a Jewish girl, engaged to a man but not yet married to him. That He was and is the firstborn Son of God. The 'only begotten.' I believe He bore my sins and the sins of the world and that His sinless life and perfect death - and yes, I believe He was raised from the dead - paid for my sins and allow me to enter into a new life with God my creator and heavenly parent. I believe it all. I believe He lives and reigns today with God and that one day, I will be with Him. And that meantime, I am here to tell the good news of Him - of Jesus - and how He transforms lives and gives meaning to our existence. I simply cannot do it all or even any of it without Him. He is, as one translation of the Bible says, Source, Guide, and Goal of all that is, and of all that I am.

Today, I think on Him. How He entered the human existence in time and space. How God brought the King of the Universe to this world in the form of a baby, born in an animal stall. Born of a humble human family, in a not-very-important town in an outpost of the Roman Empire. He is not an idea or a set of ethics or teachings. He is a person. I can know Him and know His goodness and His power in my life. I am deeply thankful to Him for all He has done for me - through the good times and through the difficult ones.

And He taught of love. Love for God first, and then love for one another next. Let us do our best to love - truly, unselfishly love - other people, and in that way, fit ourselves to love the One Who has made us, our Creator and Parent.

I close today with the words of my favorite Christmas hymn, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing:

Hark the herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled"
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
"Christ is born in Bethlehem"
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Christ by highest heav'n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin's womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our EmmanuelHark!
The herald angels sing"
Glory to the newborn King!"

Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris'n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing"
Glory to the newborn King!"



Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Day the 184th and Day 20 of Advent

Oh Reader, I drank a Coca-Cola.

Is that so wrong?

It's Christmas (good golly Ned, how much longer can I use this lame excuse? Not so long...)

Last night, I got home around 8 pm because I had worked until 7 pm. Why, you ask? Because I am a contract worker. I get paid for the hours I work. Period. If I don't work, I don't get paid. So...I am putting in 40 hours in 4 days. Why, yes, that's an average of 10 hours per day. Today, I'm putting in 4 - Count 'em, FOUR - hours. Got here at 7:15 this morning. Am taking 15 minutes off my lunch hour and then working until 8 pm tonight. Worked 2 hours over yesterday. going to work 2 hours over tomorrow so that I can have a 'normal' day on Thursday. And we're off Friday. And Monday. Woo to the hoo...

Anyhoodle, I got home at 8 pm last night and just ate my chocolate mint bar. I know, I know. And this morning, I got nut mix at our cafeteria (it's packaged and very nice) and then, Reader, I broke down and got myself a Coca-Cola because I needed (wanted...) the caffeine (and the sugar, and the fizz...) Yes, I did it.

I have NO idea what I'm eating tonight. It will be 8:30+ when I make it home, and the cats will be fussing to be fed, and I will feel like dropping down in my bed. And then up early tomorrow so I can get here early and then leave at a reasonable time (having worked 2 extra hours) so I can get to Choir practice because doggone it, it's ADVENT and this is the last practice but one before the Big Mamba of services - Feast of The Nativity on Christmas Eve. Midnight Mass, you know. I know...I'm tired, too. And Thursday night, am getting together with our two other altos - Virginia and Kat - to work on the Alto Section of The Hallelujah Chorus. Why? Because we want to do a great job. Period.

Today's Advent Meditation is:

Odd Gifts I Have Given and Received

  1. All right, this is probably something I need to work through in therapy, but one year, my family drew names (and I usually got gifts from both Mom and Dad) but my dad drew my name and I wound up with 2 shirts. Period. Nothing from Mom (why?) And of course, my mom always got gifts from everyone so Mom was rakin' it in, and here was ol' me, with 2 shirts. Yes, I struggle with bitterness...

  2. Last year, I gave Poodle and Mischa jars of cashew butter (thought I had stopped writing about that, didn't you?) Poodle loved his. Mischa...misplaced his somewhere in the depths of his refrigerator and I have never heard another word...

  3. A set of towels for my Aunt Helen and Uncle Ted - Mom took one look and said, "Golly, I'm going to keep those and give them something else instead!" Thanks, Mom!

  4. A child's reel-to-reel tape recorder. Okay, it's not that odd, but I totally loved it, and I thought it was the coolest gift on earth.

  5. One year, I gave a [former] sister-in-law a handmade book of Christmas memories and poems and pictures. Why? Because I was broke, broke, broke and in Bible School. That's all I could afford - a little journal with a bunch of hand-done stuff...I don't know if she liked it or not.

  6. A pooping plastic reindeer - I don't want to say who I gave these to, but it was another year I was broke. Yeah, it went over just about as well as you think it the way, the reindeer 'pooped' jelly beans. I didn't want you to get the wrong idea.

Things I Have Never Received (And Hope I Never Will):

  1. This thing that helps you put on your shoes called a 'Shoedini'

  2. Big Mouth Billy Bob Bass

  3. Chia anything

  4. A Bedazzler

  5. A 'bumpit' that helps your hair stand up in a beehive

  6. Popeil Pocket Fisherman

  7. A hand-painted plaster of Paris wall plaque (extra points if it has a Christian sentiment; double extra points if any word is misspelled)

  8. A quilted, lace-trimmed Bible cover

  9. Jewelry from QVC

  10. Anything ordered from The Franklin Mint

I probably could go on and on...and on. And on.



Monday, December 19, 2011

Day the 183rd and Days 17-19 of Advent

Well, Reader, it is all a whole lot better.

As in a big ol', big ol', big ol' bunch better.

This weekend, I didn't eat all that terrible - mostly because I didn't have much cooking time and The Check didn't come until Saturday. So very helpful THAT was...I did eat some yummies at the party on Saturday night and had a glass of eggnog that was much more 'nog' than 'egg' if you get my drift. Yesterday, had a naughty Toaster sandwich at Sonic (which didn't look that naughty...) and Coca-Cola (this must stop; joints hurt today...) and then some guacamole dip last night. Very good and fresh.

Let's talk about what all I did: Friday night was the Choir Excursion to Trans-Siberian Orchestra with Dan the Hairstylist, and it was...entertaining. A little too glitzy rock 'n' roll for me and besides, call me goofy, but at Christmas, I like to hear about Jesus. Yeah, I know. How strange of me...there was something about a girl coming home and an angel in the first part and I just didn't get it. The special effects were...pretty doggone special but you know me...for my money, going to Tulsa Oratorio Chorus to hear Wachet auf and The Magnificat - well, that was special the other week. Nonetheless, Dan and I had a good time and laughed a lot, and Mischa sat on my other side so it was highly pleasant.

Saturday night was Landlords Pete and Rick's Party, and it was great. I met some lovely folks who are going to follow up with invites and hangin' out. I'm all over that. Food was great, company was great, took Poodle, and it was all too much fun. Really enjoyed ourselves and actually knew some of the other guests. Neighbor Paula went, too and brought a totally fun friend. I really had fun. Really did. Now I understand why people can enjoy parties...

Yesterday was: Choir practice, Church (I was Lector again...), a little more Choir practice (yes, we're climbing the Mt. Everest known as The Hallelujah Chorus) and a movie with Mischa and out to eat. We went to J Edgar, directed by the incomparable Clint Eastwood and starring the very gifted Leonardo diCaprio. It is so worth seeing. THEN, to El Chico where I had guacamole - neither of us were horribly hungry - then off to WalMart to grocery shop. Going to the store with a friend is WAY fun. WAY WAY FUN. We had a super time. I am so thankful to have Mischa in my life. He is such a dear - and we laughed like children.

This morning, I have had oatmeal with strawberries in it (no, it's not all that good...honestly, I need a pat of butter and some molasses...In fact, I threw it away) but at least it's not some big fatty deal with loads of junk in it. Lunch today is Extraordinary Work Salad Bar because I was too busy to cook this weekend. AND...I went to Work Salad Bar and it's sort of closed this week. So...I got some not-too-awful junk from the machine AND THEN some nuts and raisins (and a brownie-with-raspberries - too cakey and sweet and not enough raspberries...) from the Cafeteria and all in all, I just feel sleepy. OH well.
Friday - as you may remember was Not Weltha's Finest Hour, but the day improved. And now, I will tell you a sort of secret and make a true confession.

This is not a secret: I have bipolar disorder. Bipolar II most likely - not the high highs and low lows, but still...And I have not been on all my meds. There are a number of hoops for me to jump through in order to get meds without having insurance and still be able to, oh, I don't know, indulge in luxuries like gas in the car and food on the table. Or become a charity case. Nothing wrong with that, but it's not how I see myself and my response is always "that's for the people who REALLY need it!"

I knew I had some meds but could not find them (have you ever put things away only to lose them? Yeah, me too. All the time...) Finally, on Friday afternoon, I found them. I took a dose. And one Saturday. And one yesterday. And one this morning. And already, I am "doing much better." As in, MUCH better. People notice a difference.
I struggle with huge amounts of shame due to this. It's sometimes compounded by people not understanding how it all works and making jokes about my illness and my medication (generally, the people are not malicious, but boy, is it a knife to my heart...I have to realize they really don't understand.)

So...instead of 3 days of Advent Meditation, we are going to have a little message from Weltha on Mental Illness.

People sometimes have mental and emotional disorders. These are not character flaws; they are generally chemical or organic and pretty much distress the life out of folks. I have Bipolar Disorder and it can take me from an intelligent and interesting and kind woman to a sobbing angry witch. I do not like this. Not at all. It has damaged friendships and pretty much anything else you can think of in my life. I have to be on medication or I don't function well. Recently, I have been off my 'big meds' and have been holding on for dear life with the edges of my fingernails. It has taken all my energy to even remotely 'act normal' and trust me, it's wearing. I expend huge amounts of effort to hold it together, and as a result, I am weary and haggard and not in good shape.
However, after only 4 doses of meds, I am now acting like myself again. Yes, I am thankful. I'm probably not at a therapeutic level, but I'm getting there. I can live and enjoy life without the constant vigilance of monitoring myself and hoping I don't get worse....
You might be wondering if you or someone you know has a disorder. Go to the doctor (or encourage the other person.) Get diagnosed. And then work with a physician or a psychiatrist to discover what medication works best. Don't give up if the first attempt isn't so great.
What if you know someone who has a disorder?
Here are two things I can tell you that will make all the difference: don't treat everything about them as 'their disorder' or 'their meds.' This doesn't mean you put up with abusive behavior, but it does mean you recognize that the person is a human, with good days and bad days. A bad day doesn't mean they are 'doing badly.' And for Pete's sake, don't dog them about their meds. This is a fine line - if you are really close to them, go ahead and risk the 'are you on your meds?' question, but be prepared: being treated as if every upset is a 'meds' issue is damaging to people who have these struggles. We are more than our meds.
And please, don't make 'meds' jokes or 'mental illness' jokes. We don't find it all that funny. I think Goethe was right: Men show their characters by nothing more clearly than what they find laughable. Commenting that someone 'probably is off her meds' is pretty much a flogging offense in my book.
I am thankful for medication. It makes all the difference for me. ALL the difference. I become a person again and there is an ease and a buoyancy to me that I love. My meds are not 'happy pills'; rather, they restore needed chemical connections that allow me to be my real self, not the self that presents my disorder.
Taking meds is not some character flaw. Please don't imply that it is - that taking medication for an emotional disorder is a sign of weakness or of being terribly flawed and a mess. Diabetics take insulin. All sorts of people take all sorts of medications. It's just the stigma of mental illness that makes our meds a joke, a cross, an embarrassment.
As we enter the last week of Advent, I would like to ask you to think of people you know who struggle with emotional disorders - clinical depression, bipolar, ADHD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or perhaps even the really big ones such as schizophrenia. Ask yourself how you can treat them with acceptance and dignity.
Give that as a Christmas gift this year. All of us thank you - and no one more than I.
Friday was a bipolar near-meltdown. The friend involved understood and just said, "You had a bad day. It happens. It's all right."
Funny thing - it was and it is all right. I'm fine today.
And here's to a great finish to Advent.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Day the 182nd and Day 16 of Advent

O Reader, allow me to pose a question.

Have you ever made a complete and total idiot of yourself?

And involved your friends in your making a complete and total idiot of yourself?

All right. That's two questions. I am aware of that. I can count.

Without going into any detail, let us just say that by 9 am this morning - NINE AM - I had managed to make a total and complete idiot of myself.

No, this is not my finest hour.

Dinner last night (oh let's change the subject) was two slices of pork...something...with barbeque sauce because that's all I had and my check did not come. It's late sometimes. Once in a great while, it's early. Generally, it shows its pretty face on a Thursday. But not yesterday. So, this is an additional stress because I am supposed to have a dinner guest tonight AND I haven't cooked squat $$ for food.

Living on the edge is so...not delightful. Check will come. It may be there today. In fact, I'm taking 1/2 off (I worked all my hours...relax...) so I can cook and put it all together should the check come. If not, well, there you have it...My dinner guest fortunately is easy about such things. However, what really nails my hide is that I have made an idiot of myself, and I will have to see the people in whose presence I have made said idiot, and I will have to act as if I did NOT make an idiot of myself, and I feel like an even bigger idiot.

No, I haven't been eating all that great. Why do you ask?

Stress of the holidays, not eating so great, and more - and I'm not at my best.

I remember that line from A Tale of Two Cities (the film - the old one with Ronald Colman, how lovely he was, as Sidney Carton.) Carton shows up drunk on the street and hardly speaks to Lucie Manette (The Great Love Of His Life) and when he sees her again, he apologies. Her reply? "Well, we can't always be at our best." Well, here is living proof.

Today, no food. I'm getting off at 12 noon, and am going to be on my way home. So...a big ol' Mason jar of iced tea is doing nicely.

There is no thought for the day. There is no Advent Meditation.

Rather, a request.

Find someone who has made a complete and total idiot of themselves, and be kind to them whether they deserve it or not. Especially if they do not.

Try to be forgiving. People generally need forgiveness more than they need chewing out. All of us are jerks at some point.

Today is my point.



Thursday, December 15, 2011

Day the 181st and Day 15 of Advent

Reader, this one will be short.

Today, lunch was a homemade PBJ sandwich. Lo, how the mighty have fallen...

And dinner tonight? Not sure...I'm tired, is what I am, and I have a bunch of stuff to do...

Tomorrow night is Choir Outing preceeded by dinner with Dan the Stylist. Saturday night is Landlords' Christmas Party with Poodle.
Sunday is Choir practice, Church (and I'm Lector again), Choir practice after church, and then...J Edgar with Mischa and dinner afterwards...

Oh yeah, it's gonna be a busy one...meanwhile, I watched GLEE - Hold On To Sixteen - at lunch today. I love GLEE. I do...

And now...the moment you've been waiting for...Advent Meditation of the Day:


I know, this sounds so...juvenile, but recently, I had a chance to dump a friend. I had people telling me it might be a great idea. Giving me good reasons. Reminding me of how difficult life can be with some friends.

Just one problem. I love this friend. I see the things others don't. And that's in the midst of seeing some of the not-so-wonderful.

After all, this friend sees the wonderful in me in the middle of all my mess and difficulty. I appreciate that.

And it's a chance to start over, to draw the lines, to honor another person. To refuse to be devalued myself, and to refuse to devalue another.

Abuse? Get out of it. Time and energy leech? Probably not.

But someone who tries? Oh yeah, give them a chance. And another one if they need it.

We all need the chance to be The Better Person. I am sure trying these days.

So is my friend.

And the world doesn't have enough friends in it to throw a friendship away just because it's all tattered around the's worth a try. A real College Try - and if it doesn't work, then you gave it your all.

I know, I sound like a motivational speaker. But I had to make a decision.

I made it. You're my friend. You know who you are. I'm not giving up. If I lose you, I lose a lot.

I don't want to lose it. And yeah, I love you, too.



Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Day the 180th and Day 14 of Advent

Reader, I went to a movie.

People, this is HUGE.

It's not that I don't like to go to movies, because I do. It's just the time/$$ issue... I love to go to movies. I refer to theaters as the Temples of Cinema. I am a cineaste. I love film. I love it a big ol' whole bunch. I love trying to analyze shots, color pallete, symbols - but all too often, I am simply lost in the narrative.
As well I should be. Film should draw us in to its own reality. And I will tell you about The Movie Weltha Saw Last Night, but first...

No, I forgot to weigh in this morning (I know, I know; Freud says there are no mistakes. No, that's not what Freud said, but I enjoy saying that...) because I went back to sleep and woke up at 7:16 am and had to hightail it OUT the door to make it to work on time. Which I did. Very proud of myself.

In fact, I was very pleased that I had taken my shower and washed my hair last night AND had packed my lunch so that all I had to do was get dressed, wash face, brush teeth, feed cats, grab lunch from the icebox (do you enjoy the word 'icebox' as much as I do? I think I like it because it takes me back in time, and as I have confided on this blog, Grandmother Daisy - Mom's mother - had a real icebox, and besides, honey, we're Southerners, and we enjoy saying things like 'icebox' so don't mess with me and get all up in my grill, she said in a spirit of Christian love...) and scoot out the door, complete with iced tea in Mason jar (what? what? You don't carry around a big ol' Mason jar full of ice and iced tea? Really? You don't?) and off to work. Arrived right on the money.

Lunch yesterday was not only crackers, etc. from home (I'd think I was getting ready for a marathon by carb-loading...) but also some asparagus and some edamame from the Excellent Work Salad Bar. However, I have spent all my spare pennies because on the way home from the movie, I went to The Grocery Store (I love typing random words with initial caps...) and got the fixin's for...Hot Artichoke Spread.

And even though it's a TOTAL NON-DIET FOOD, I'm adding the recipe right here because it's so good and so easy.

  • 2 cans of artichoke hearts (NOT the marinated variety), drained

  • As many cloves of garlic as you can stand (I can stand 3)

  • 2 cups of finely grated Parmesan (I get the 3 Cheese Blend - and I do get extremely finely grated version and 1 plastic container = 2 cups)

  • 1 cup of mayonaisse (Hellman's or homemade - Miracle Whip is An Abomination)

  • 1 jar of sliced mushrooms, drained

  • Red pepper flakes

  • Squeeze the extra brine out of each artichoke heart.

  • Chop or grind them up so they aren't big lumps of artichoke.

  • Combine artichokes with pressed or chopped garlic, Parmesan cheese, mushrooms, mayonaisse, and as much of the red pepper as makes you happy. Or add Louisiana Hot Sauce. Or both.

Bake in a large greased baking dish @ 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes until the top forms a nice browned crust.

Spread on whatever you want, including kids, cats, and pieces of cardboard. (I always say that things like Artichoke Dip, Hummus, Baba Ghanoush, HP Sauce, Nutella, and Branston Pickle are so good you could spread them on cardboard and it would be worth the eating...)

It's not good for you. But it's so yummy...

And now, The Movie...

I saw...The Help.

I was disappointed. A serious subject, and the writer/director played way too much of it for easy laughs - black maids acting "all black" in a way that is not reminiscent of the 1960s setting. Ditzy white debutantes acting twitty at Junior League.

I love Emma Stone - and she did as good a job as she could. Sissy Spacek as the addled mother of one of the Head Debs was outstanding, but it was Civil Rights Lite. And I was disappointed. It hit all the notes - just prefunctorily. Filmed in colors that made it feel like a Disney cartoon...a waste of Viola Davis and more fine actresses than I can count. However, Leslie Jordan as Emma Stone's editor was a delight...but then, I love Leslie Jordan...I do.

The time to myself was great. I needed it desperately. I just wish it had been a more transcendent film. And on the way home I bought a copy of Defiance with Liev Schreiber, Jamie Bell and the ever-wonderful Daniel Craig as the Bielski brothers who built a kingdom in the forests of Belorussia during the Holocaust, saving themselves and others. It's not a great film either, but a better treatment of a serious subject.

And's Advent Thought is about...


Here is my list of favorites just as they occur to me, and why because we all know, I love me some lists...

  1. Christmas Story - I love Ralphie, and the Leg Lamp - "a major award."

  2. White Christmas - because we always decorated our tree while it was on, despite the cheesoid sets and doubly cheesoid excuse for a plot. Although anyone who has ever seen my Choirmaster and my Bishop singing "Sisters" at St. J's Karaoke Fundraiser knows that I love the movie just for that song.

  3. Joyeux Noel - I first saw it during the Christmas when I was awaiting aneurysm surgery and was on ox-felling quantities of Dilantin, making me even weepier than ever. I love it, and I love the cat at the very end. It's a tremendously sweet and touching story. I always hope "they" all survive the war and visit each other later...Diane Krueger as the opera star is transcendently beautiful.

  4. A Christmas Carol - the one with Alastair Sim, in all its Victorian squalor and a touching little Tiny Tim..."he thought they would be pleased to see him and think of the One who made the cripples walk." Dang it, Tiny Tim, stop it right now...

  5. A Wonderful Life - It never grows stale, it never becomes cliched - it's as fresh as they first time we all saw it. Thank you, Jimmy Stewart, and thank you, Frank Capra.

  6. The Bishop's Wife - both versions. I have to admit, I love the modern version with Whitney Houston and Denzel Washington. Denzel, you can take me ice-skating any day you want...

  7. Miracle on 34th Street - O Natalie Wood, how lovely you were. What a sweetie of a film.

And your favorites?



Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Day the 179th and Day 13 of Advent

Reader, I ate them.

Remember how a few days ago I posted that I had changed my ways, that I was no longer eating junk? Remember that?

I wish you didn't.

Yesterday, I received a gift of a lovely holiday storage jar, partly filled with...candy. Some chocolate, some not.

Wisdom would dictate that either I give the candy away (not hard to do at work...) or keep a few choice pieces and give the rest away. Wisdom would have done that.

I ignored the socks off Wisdom. I ate a huge amount of sugar yesterday. I saved (because I was too sugared out to eat more...) a few pieces for this morning.

And I didn't want to get up. I didn't want to get out of bed, feed the cats, and get ready for work. No, I didn't. Not at all.

My joints hurt. Oh, and last night, I ate a HUGE bunch of pita chips and other assorted snacks of that ilk (do you like the word 'ilk' as much as I do? Mom was Scots-Irish and she used that word with great contempt - "and others of their ilk!" Boo, hiss, and snarl...) washed down with mint iced tea (okay, that at least doesn't have a bunch of junk in it...)

And today, I'm having salad bar for lunch because...because I was too tired to fix my own lunch today. That's why. That's exactly why.

Not a Good Food Day. No, it isn't.

Tonight will be leftovers and it will be White Bean Chili and salad. A perfectly good meal. I meant to make brownies last night but did NOT and I'm sort of glad because...because I probably would eat them. HOWEVER, I am going to do just that because I AM asking Paula (hello? Paula? Are you reading this?) to help install my towel bars. Friday pm, Dan the Stylist is my dinner guest before we go to the Choir Outing. Very much fun - Dan is ONE GREAT GUY. I'd like the joint to look semi-human before he comes over.

You know what I mean...

Tonight, I may go see a movie at the Dollar Theatre because it feels so naughty...after I go by Pearl's and drop something off for her.

And Friday, I'm taking 1/2 day off to get ready for Dan the Stylist to come to dinner and just generally to relax a little. JUST a little.

And now...Advent Meditation


Good golly Ned, I love Christmas music. I mean, the good stuff, although I am partial to "Up On the House Top" because I learned it in kindergarten with Miss Tilley. I loved shouting "Ho, Ho, Ho! Who wouldn't go?" and so on.

But it's the "serious" Christmas music that I love. Let me list my favorites in no particular order:

  1. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing - I love "God and sinners reconciled" and "born to raise the Sons of earth; born to give them Second Birth" and "risen with healing in His wings." That John Wesley - he wrote some fine lyrics. And I've been known to pop out a dandy descant on the last verse. This one sums up everything I believe. It's my #1 favorite.

  2. Joy to the World - "Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!" Just like #1 - and this is the great classic of the carols.

  3. O Little Town of Bethelehem - It's such a quiet little carol. "The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight."

  4. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel - did you know that the "key words" in the 7 verses are actually a code? The first letters (in Latin) form this phrase backwards, as a reply to "come, Emmanuel", again translated from the Latin: I am here. This is one of the ancient tunes - at least fairly ancient. I love it

  5. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear - I love those shepherds...

  6. Angels We Have Heard on High - the glorias are...glorious.

  7. O Come, All Ye Faithful - I learned the Latin in Junior High and have always loved this one. I want to be one of the Faithful...

  8. Rise Up, Shepherd, and Foller...a great 'Negro spiritual' in the words of my childhood - and it still gives me chills.

  9. Chil'ren, Go Where I Send Thee - just like #8. "One for the little bitty baby born, born, born in Bethelehem..."

  10. I Wonder as I Wander - when you're just one generation out of the Ozarks, this song resonates with you

  11. Do You Hear What I Hear? In honor of you, Nancy Patterson...

  12. The Whole Doggone Messiah, particularly but not limited to The Hallelujah Chorus - "the kingdom of this world is become the Kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ - and He shall reign forever and ever." Says it just like I believe it.

  13. Bach's Magnificat. "The rich hath he sent away empty, but the hungry hath he filled with good things."

  14. Angels From the Realms of Glory - does anyone besides me know that one? I love it, too.

  15. Christians, Awake! Another of them that no one knows and I do...

  16. Lo! How A Rose E'er Blooming - yep, I like this one

  17. Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light - thank you, J. S. Bach.

  18. Rejoice, Rejoice Believers! Another one from my 1945 Episcopal Hymnal

  19. Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus - I heard a woman sing this a capella about 30+ years ago, and it haunts me still...

I've left stuff out. I know I have. But there is nothing that I love so much as this music. It transports me to the wonder of faith, the wonder of my childhood, the wonder of those years in which I groped unsteadily toward the God who was calling me. I am Weltha, Child of God, Beloved of Jesus Christ. This is my season.



Monday, December 12, 2011

Day the 178th and Day 12 of Advent

And here we are again, Sports Fans.

Back at the blog.

Today, I ate White Bean Chili with Chicken, left over from Saturday night's Decorating Mania with Paula, and also lots and lots of my Cement Spice Cookies (bless their hard black hearts) and also some AkMak crackers which I dearly love and which are yummy-licious with almost any dip on the planet. And probably some Kedem chocolate biscuits. I'm baking brownies tonight because I'm going to ask Paula to hang some towel bars for me. She's talented that way. Honestly, having a neighbor who is totally cool, loads of fun, a really good person AND able to do all things mechanical - it's great. I can cook. That's my contribution frequently. I can cook and I can listen. And boy, can I talk.

I'm feeling better than I have since Advent began. I'm more on top of things - the difficult decision I had to make has for the time being resolved itself. A broken relationship seems fixable if both parties work hard. I hang out with Poodle a lot (that's so great) and Pearl (that's totally great, too) and then there are other events that are fun and exciting. It's a good time right now.

I'm listening to Pandora's Classical Christmas collection, which is outstanding. If you aren't familiar with Pandora online radio, go Google it, sign up and get going with it. Great stuff. And so is Jango, but this Pandora Classical Christmas station is the bomb.

Speaking of music - and I was, wasn't I? - today's Advent Meditation is


If there is anything funnier than a small child singing Away in the Manger, I do NOT know what it is.

"A-WHAY in a manger, no crib for 'is beeeed,
The little Lord Jee-SUS lay down his sweet HEADDDDD"

And my Junior High favorite:

"We Three Kings of Orient are
Tried to smoke a rubber cigar.
It was loaded - it exploded...

We two kings of orient are..."

Then there's the one that deals with disabilities but I can't say anything about it or Mischa will read this and be Very Disappointed With Me (as well he ought, and no, it's not a Helen Keller joke...)

And there is nothing like an adult choir - a church choir, not an oratorio chorus - trying to wrap its brains and its tongues around Handel. Particularly the Hallelujah Chorus. This includes the melody folks who gripe just as loud as the rest. Hey! I'm an alto, and Alto Hallelujah Chorus is no walk in the park, I guarantee to testiFY!

And Silent Night with its Round John Virgin...I never sang it that way but that's probably just another of the Christmas miracles that I didn't.

Of course, for me, the funny comes from the carols, the oratorios, the cantatas...for others, it's "I Saw Mommy Kissin' Santa Claus" and my all time least favorite (because a friend's boyfriend really loved this one, and I couldn't abide the boyfriend), "I'm Gettin' Nothin' For Christmas."

You know, I make fun of little kids (because I'm nothing if not heart-warming...) but adults mess up the carols, too. Badly. Watch the next group of adults you know start out a carol and then sort of mumble the words because they get lost on line in, real lost on line 3...

Or they're like me and decide to trot out the descant on Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, but they don't actually know the descant. Great if you know music and can sort of make something logical up. Really lousy if you hit a bunch of clinkers.

And then there are the folks who make the words to the carols Politically Correct. Or as Kathy the Cantor says, "These people who think they know better than the Wesley brothers!" I'm with Kathy.

Do something meaningful today. Slow down. Drive past the lights and enjoy them. Put the carols on. Hum something really Christmas-y. Make some Christmas cookies. Buy a star for the top of the tree. Visit someone alone and lonely. Call a friend who needs to hear a happy voice. Talk to God especially if that's a really new idea. Listen, and God will talk back. And it will be good news. Excuse me, that's Good News.



Day the 177th and Days 9-11 of Advent

Oh, Reader. It was so busy this weekend.

Perhaps you remember a post I created (or did I? Did I just think it?) where I said that this weekend would be mostly about doing things I wanted and needed to do.


It got all sorts of wacky. I mean, all sorts.

Friday - while I was at work (yes, at work), I got myself out of the office to go get my car registered and deal with insurance. This was A Bigger Deal than you might imagine. (and for those who think I just disappeared from The Office, I did not. In fact, I told my supervisor I had 'this problem' and then off I went traversing the streets of My Town for 1.5 hours and spending all sorts of money...and when I returned, I worked until...uh huh, that's right. 6:30 PM. On a Friday night. Yes, it was just about as much fun as you think...)

However, off I went to get my Christmas Tree at Home Depot and found the perfect size for...$20. It is just lovely although next year, I do want a larger one, but this one was perfect.

And then couldn't get it to do what it ought to do in the tree stand. Fortunately, I knew that Friend and Neighbor Paula would be my guest on Saturday night to have dinner and to decorate.

Saturday turned into a little cooking and a lot of running around although truth be told, some of it was to My Favorite Pharmacy outside town where there are all sorts of totally cool gifts. I got a black-and-white tote bag, a black-and-white makeup bag (are you sensing a theme?) and a Willow Tree Angel of Harmony.

I'm not real big on gazillions of the Willow Tree stuff, but there were three angels I wanted - the one with the wreath, the one with the ornament, and the one playing the flute (Harmony) and they make a perfect little holiday grouping.

And then other running about. And finally, Paula came over at 6:30 and we decorated us some Christmas Tree. Woo and hoo. It was great. The tree is now decorated with tiny white lights, gold and red ornaments, gold and red ribbon, and a gold and red tree skirt. Oh yeah, it's some kind of lovely, it is.

I also received a Totally Great and Unexpected Christmas Gift that allowed me to do some things for other people and for myself. Thus, we have an Incredible New Ironing Board, an Incredible New Iron, and an Incredible New Ironing Board Cover. It didn't come cheap, I'll tell you that! But I am delighted. And other things, too. Things for me; things for others. I'm happy.

Sunday was supposed to be Quiet and Easy, with dinner @ Poodle's in the evening. First, I managed to be Late to Choir Practice. I don't like this, particularly because Kathy the Cantor and Interim Organist was filling in for Jeff the Choirmaster (who was off in another part of the world seeing a grandbaby get baptized) and we had...more unusual (but much to my liking) music. And then I was Lector and lectored my all-time favorite passage from Isaiah - Isaiah 61:1-3 (and more...) on the 40th anniversary (yesterday, December 11) of my water baptism many years ago in Virginia.
Now, my original plan had been, go home directly after church and relax and then go to Poodle's at 5:45 pm...

But no, I stayed for the Church Supper and part of the Annual Meeting. And then ran a bunch of errands and got home at...4 pm. And called Poodle and said, can I please come at 5:45 and not 5 pm like we said earlier in the day?

And got in bed and watched Harry Potter. I'm having a Potter-a-thon. I now own all 8 films, and yes, I am very happy about that.

And finally, made a salad and went to Poodle's and we watched "For Your Consideration" and I laughed myself senseless. It was huge fun.


And then home, feeling awful tired. I know, I know, it's "awfully" but hey! I am awful tired right now and cannot be bothered to be grammatical.

YES, I drank Coca-Cola at the church dinner. YES, I ate 3 chicken legs. NO, I did not have dessert. I'm eating things these days. My joints ache due to it.

Next weekend is the marathon of Choir Outing, Landlord Party With Poodle, and Movie and Dinner With Mischa. Something 3 nights in a row...

I understand letting the holidays get the best of you.
My apologies to anyone who thinks I don't understand. I do. I get it. It's easy to get run over by the holidays.
So, every night this week EXCEPT for Wednesday (Choir Practice), I am staying home and doing things I need to do. Or want to do. Either.

And now, Days 9-11 of Advent Meditation and Memory:


I've blogged a bit about this before but my dad was Mr. Particular when it came to the tree. He had grown up in a home that - typical Victorian/Edwardian era - had a tree with candles on it and a bucket of sand in the corner in case the tree caught fire. So...Dad, with his background in electricity, made a big deal of all the lights we could have, putting reflectors on the lights (and they are lovely - they really make the tree glow), using the famous 'bubble lights' (I think one of the Brothers inherited those...), and absolutely No Tinsel. I'm not sure why Dad didn't like tinsel, but he didn't, and we didn't have it. Ever. At all.

I remember one year in particular getting the tree. We went to Bridges' Tree Lot (I went to school with the son of the family and the less said, the better...) and there was snow on the ground, and I remember the tree was $1 per foot. This was the 60s after all. We had a green-and-red metal tree stand. And I remember decorating it at night with my parents, watching "White Christmas" on television (on our black and white...) and watching the water tower in the distance out our front window as the rows of lights turned red and then white in succession.

I miss my parents. I miss decorating the tree with them - looking at the ornaments we had in our family "since the boys were babies." We're talking 60+ years now. I have some of those ornaments...

But every year, I can decorate my own tree, and I experience the bittersweet feeling of missing my parents, but realizing how much they live within me and within my memories. Those memories bring very little pain to me, but much pleasure. And the tree...reminds me of my father, buying it, hauling it in, directing the decorating, and sitting next to it in the dark, with the tree lit, and one reading light on, as the Christmas carols played on the stereo...


Didn't do it last year. Didn't do it the year before. May not do it this year. But I love me some Christmas Carolling. I do. I might grab some of my guys from Choir and just go out one night. There is nothing like it. Get your voice warmed up first. Wear your gloves and hats. Bring your flashlights and hymnbooks. And sing, sing, sing about the One who was born in a manger...People love it, and no one seems to do it much any more...


Mom used to make a fudge ring for each of the 3 of us. Bill got one with Black Walnuts ("He's my black walnut kid!"); Bud got one without any nuts at all or maybe it was English Walnuts, and Sister here got one with pecans (because I love their toasty sweetness.) Mom just made the Eagle Brand fudge - she didn't do the whole boil the socks off it and test it with a candy thermometer and beat it until your arm fell off. She did that when she was young, and now as an older woman, she did it the easy way. Spoiled her 3 kids rotten by giving them exactly what they wanted. God love her.

And the Party Mix - you know, Chex Party Mix. Mom never made it quite as spicy as I liked (unless it was a batch Just For Weltha), but I ate it every time I went home, had it for breakfast, had it as an afternoon or evening snack, took some home with me...I loved it. Still do. Might have to make some. Hadn't thought about doing's a thought. A good thought.

I'll do a separate post later for today...No, I'm not working on losing weight right now. I'm celebrating. A lot. Eating imperfectly. Struggling - successfully - with difficulty. I'm pleased. Not perfect, but pleased.

And that's a good thing.



Thursday, December 8, 2011

Day the 176th and Day Eight of Advent

Well, Reader, it's quite an Advent!

And today is no-o-o-o-o-o-o-o exception.

But first, last night, I came home, made Molasses-Ginger cookies - they should really be called Molasses Spice cookies because the have ginger and cinnamon and cloves. All my winter favorites! And I made them with sorghum rather than refined white or even 'brown' sugar. I was very proud of myself.

Of course, the fact that I burned them and they are - as my mother would have said - hard as brickbats, well, that's not so much fun...

My oven doesn't cook as it ought, and I have to turn it up higher. So I did. And I baked them 15 minutes just like 'it' said - and their little bottoms are as black and slick as possible - and 'they' are...hard and crunchy.

But knowing me as you do - I won't be defeated, so I will try this again. Until I'm happy. Whenever that is...I would just like them to be a LITTLE LESS like building blocks...

Meanwhile, plans are afoot to decorate the Christmas tree on Saturday night with Friend and Neighbor Paula. Hmmmm...I may have to pop some popcorn and get some cranberries and make garlands of those, too. And I'm thinking tonight of getting applesauce and a 'great big ol' thing' of cinnamon and making those cinnamon ornaments which are EVER so much fun. I love them. They smell so good...and are so cheap and easy to make...

Today, I went to see Janis the Therapist and she gave me some good insight and some good direction for some changes I may be making. What a time of year to be thinking of changing things up! Nonetheless, I want to see some difference. Poodle and I are going to say "goodbye" to 2011 and bring in a New and Improved 2012. We think it is going to be a Banner Year for us both. I certainly hope so. But 2011 hasn't been all that awful and good things have come from it.

Lunch today was White Bean Chili with sour cream (I have got to figure out how to make it with yogurt) and waaaaaaaaaaaay too much shredded cheese. That's another thing - soy cheese is defo on the menu. I have got to stir my stumps, as Mom would have said, (and by the way - 'stir your stumps' is an Elizabethan means, 'get the lead out and get with it!') and just find some of that soy cheese. And maybe tofu sour cream. Hey! It's what I do, people. I eat a lot of soy and I try to stay away from the doggone dairy. It's me - whatchagonnado?

Oh, and I had 3 of my Cement Cookies...yikes-a-mundo. Meanwhile, I am going to go by The Mall tonight and go to a Macy's and to a J C Penney's, etc., and look at gloves. Yes, I got my lovely black suede daily driving gloves, but I want some brown kid gloves for Dress Use. And I want to see what the little buzzards cost.

And now...Advent Meditation of the Day:


Here's my motto: Have the Christmas you want.

Most of my friends - and I bet you feel the same way if you celebrate Christmas. And if you don't, perhaps you celebrate something else. - want it to be meaningful, unharried, happy and...special.

And what so many of us wind up with is: harried, in debt, upset, fighting with family, exhausted, doesn't feel like 'Christmas.' Heaven know what it does feel like, but it's not a real Christmas, that's for doggone sure.

So here is what I suggest: sit down with yourself and say, "Self, what do I want to do during this season? And, Self, what do I not want to do during this season?"

Then, go online and look for the things you want to do. Do you want to 'see the lights'? Get in the car - preferably with a friend -'s a thought...go see the doggone lights.

Want to hear the Messiah - look for a church or oratorio society that does The Messiah.

Want to Christmas Carol? Get a few friends, hymnbooks that you have marked with tabs, and have everyone bring something - and go sing!

Now...the things you don't want? That's harder.

You don't want to be exhausted? Ask yourself: what am I doing that just wears me out.

Christmas cards? Either write a one line note or decide that you are taking a break from cards this year. You can. I give you permission.

Going to 3 different houses on Christmas Day? Pick one - I mean, flip a coin, put slips in a hat, go by the alphabet, but pick one. THEN, tell the others that you will rotate through them during the following week. AND, that next year, thus-and-so will be graced by your presence on +mas Day, and so on. Tell them that you want to be at your best with them and being tired makes it impossible to enjoy their presence. Try to say this with a straight face...

Buying too many gifts? Easy - tell the folks you exchange with (generally family) that you want to draw names. If they don't agree - and boy, did my family really get into drawing names until we stopped and then I suggested it and they didn't want to - give a gift to your parents and tell the rest that you just can't afford it. Nothing says Christmas like giving gifts that you can't afford to unappreciative teenagers who sneer at them and can barely be prodded into whining 'thank you.'

Too many events? Choose the bare minimum. I mean bare minimum. You won't go to hell if you miss Cousin Lauren's Cantata but you probably will go to prison if you commit homicide on Christmas Day because you are Exhausted Beyond Belief and Not In The Christmas Spirit.

You can have the Christmas you want. The catch is - you have to say 'yes' to the right stuff and 'no' to the rest. The good news is that if you will slow down for an hour or two, you'll figure out exactly what the right stuff is...

I promise. Been there, done that, and am happy with the results.



Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Day the 175th and Day 7 of Advent

O Reader, I am so tired these days.

And Christmas is so expensive. And I hate that.

Yes, she's whining and she will now stop it.

Before I go any further, I want to be GRATEFUL for some things:

  1. Poodle, my BFF. I tell you, it's ALL FRIENDSHIP ALL THE TIME. I am so thankful for him. So. Very. Thankful.

  2. Julie's sweet email yesterday. She will never know...

  3. Wendy's sweet note on my FB page. Once again...she will never know...

  4. Work - it may not be 'my perfect job' but we're gettin' there, and it pays the bills. And there is always some left over.

  5. My new gloves that the 'left over' bought last night. I was at Wal*Mart - and I know, I know - but I found these LOVELY black Isotoner suede gloves with a knit cuff on them that keeps the cold from going up your coat or down your hands. They are GREAT! And so stylish. I love that.

  6. 'Extra Work' in the form of editing for Tracy the Seminarian. Thanks, my friend. It has been great!

  7. Friend and neighbor Paula - it's so cool to move somewhere and find out that your neighbor is also someone really great that you know. Life is indeed good!

  8. Pearl. There is NO ONE on earth like The Pearl and she is my buddy and my friend. I love Pearl. I love all the time we spend together.

  9. Debbie in California. I hope you read this. You're the bomb, woman. The total bomb.

  10. Knowing and enjoying the reason for this season. It is all going to work out. I will have the money for the things I need to do and want to do. God is good.

You will be happy to know that I did NOT eat a bunch of junk yesterday although I did eat a whole big thing of hummus from the store AND a bunch of crackers, so sue me. It could have been worse. It really could have been. No fruit this morning but I had some almonds (and my guy who first worked with me on how I eat said," Almonds qualify as fruit." Cool...)

My mood is so much better. The holidays are hard. I am making plans NOT to have Crazy Holidays. This weekend is just for Weltha with as little stress as possible, and the only 'activity' is decorating my Christmas tree (which I will be getting very soon...) with Paula. Woo to the HOO!!!

Lunch today, I am so sorry to say, may be some chips that I bought (some pita chips and yes, I ate up all the hummus, doggone it. I need to just MAKE SOME.) and probably some Work Salad Bar which is also the bomb! I have a few extra bucks and that's all to the good. Okay, reporting back - and it was WORK SALAD BAR! All vegetables, all fresh!

Today should have been a Weigh-In-Wednesday but Sister here forgot to do so (Freud says there are no mistakes...) so we may postpone this until next Wednesday...yeah...that's the spirit!

And now...Advent Meditation of the Day


Told ya I'd blog on this one.

Most of the time, when people say 'fruitcake' other people think of a brick that you use to keep the door shut. You know, nasty and mass-produced with lots of bitter yuckiness in it.

Sometimes, they think of Aunt Myrtle's heirloom fruitcake which would probably be really good but it's been soaking the last 15 years in Uncle Frederick's bourbon and no one has ever eaten a bite.

But my mom's fruitcake was a real spicecake with just enough fruit - all of it (except the marachino cherries in red and green) candied by Mom herself, combined with raisins, dates, pecans, English walnuts, and this lemon-coconut sauce...yes, Mom made it with real coconut from a real coconut that we bought, drained, cracked open and peeled.

It was by far the most labor-intensive food-type item my mom ever made. And for years, she made it every doggone Christmas. A HUGE batch with 2 big sheet pans full of fruitcake and then various smaller ones that went home with relatives or were driven over to friends and teachers.

I can't remember when Mom would start it but I have a feeling it was right around now (and by the way, today is the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. Let's pause for a moment and commit the souls of those who died that day to God and to eternal rest) because it took loads of time.

As I said, she candied the fruit - starting with dried apricots which she had the devil of a time keeping my brothers from filching. "This box is for you two to eat, and these boxes are for the fruitcake!" She candied them right on the stove in a sugar syrup.

And she candied pineapple. I wish I could say that she bought a pineapple, but she didn't. Back then, in our small town in the Midwest, pineapples just did not make an appearance in the grocery stores. So...she bought Dole tidbits and candied those. Nothing smells like the perfume of pineapple cooking in sugar syrup. She usually saved out a little bowl for me because I loved it so much.

Dad and I generally cracked the pecans and the English walnuts, and I seem to remember being handed a box of pitted dates and a pair of scissors to cut them up. Yes, it was messy. Yes, I wish I were back there now, with the heat of the kitchen and something - cookies? dinner? - perfuming the air, and the general hustle and bustle of a family of 5 all working at one time while my mother was Commander in Chief of the operation.

My brothers handled the coconut - one pierced it with an icepick and drained it (because Mom used the coconut milk in the sauce) and then they both cracked it out back with a hammer, brought it in where we all took paring knives to peel the black rind off. Mom put it through her food grinder - the same one I still have today, thanks to Ken the Car-Man (he knows what I mean.) The sauce, as my mother never tired of telling us or anyone else who would listen, was simply the coconut milk, the ground coconut, lemon juice, and sugar cooked to a sauce.

I remember my mom had a mammoth blue canning kettle - the enamel kind with the white speckles - and she stirred all that flour, eggs, oil, spices, fruit and nuts and whatever else in it. And then, she baked the fruitcakes. I think they all baked in the same evening, but I'm not sure.

Once they had cooled down, she put the sauce on them and let it soak in.

My family didn't do a whole lot together - my brothers were fairly independent and as a pair of twins, had lots of their own plans. I was almost 9 years younger. My father - who loved us dearly and absolutely worshipped my mother - was still a sort of solitary man. My mom was usually too harried by the demands of a family to "do stuff" with us.

But the fruitcake - we did that together, as a family, every Christmas.

My mother was a genius in making traditions EVEN when she wasn't trying to do it. She just did the same things year after year, and we fell into the rhythm of the season with her.

I keep talking about making Mom's fruitcake - and one year, I will. Maybe next year. Maybe NEXT year when I actually fit that rockin' black sweater and amber-taffeta skirt...

Today, I miss my parents. I listen to online radio at work, and I'm listening to Pantera's Christmas Classics. And I hear songs that take me back to our kitchen, to the table where my mother made her fruitcake, to a house that smelled of spices and sweetness and fruit, to the Christmases of my childhood.



Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Day the 174th and Day Six of Advent

Reader, I'll be brief.

I have totally changed my eating. I mean, I have said NO to junk. I am allowing myself ONE - and I do mean ONE - small carton of eggnog as we draw closer to Christmas. And one piece of pumpkin cheesecake which I will purchase so I don't have The Pumpkin Cheesecake That Devoured My Weight Loss.

Right now, I'm getting rid of the sugar and junk in my system. I have been feeling ROTTEN. I mean, detoxification is the pits. It messes with my emotions until I just want to run screaming into the night and SMACK someone. And my joints hurt - and here's some...well, I don't want to say 'advice' because this is an advice-free zone but if your joints hurt you and you're not a mere child anymore AND you have lots of sugar - or much of any sugar - and soda pop and who knows what else in your diet...well, there may be a connection, and that's all I'll say. But I have not felt so great - physically (and I've been tired, too) and emotionally.

Last night, no dinner because Tracy the Seminarian was coming over to work on a paper, and I needed to clean and then do some preliminary work. I did both. I feel better.

However, this morning...because I had extra $$$, I went to New and Improved Extraordinary Work Cafeteria and got myself...a bowl of fresh fruit. Raspberries, cantaloupe, and pineapple. This is the perfect breakfast for me. Oh, and I'm charting my water today. I need to drink 2 whole Britta pitchers (the skinny one...not the Big Mamba...yikes, I would SO be floating...) today. Okay, maybe ONE whole Britta's lunch and I'm not doin' so good on the water thing...

Lunch will be Salad Bar with extraordinary salad-type foods. And some chicken. I am so happy. Yes, you pay for some good food and this energizes you to eat right. In fact, now that I return to the blog, it WAS a lovely salad with some chickie, and it was great!

Tonight, grocery store with Pearl and to buy some gloves (2 pairs! an "everyday-driving-to-work-and-hangin'-out" pair and then A Good Pair to go with My Good Dress Coat.

Not only am I delighted, but guess what? I'M GETTING MY TREE RIGHT AFTERWARD! This is because I am editing for Tracy the Seminarian and it's makin' me some money.

I will probably have a rough day or two more - thank GOD for Bach Flower Remedies particularly but not limited to Rescue Remedy. I'm hangin' in there!

And now, Day Six Advent Meditation


Yes, I'm talking about Jesus again. Advent means 'the coming' and it's the coming of Jesus, so if ya don't like it...well, you know how to close it all down.

The last several days have been very difficult for me because it's the holidays with the pressures of the holidays, I'm single, I miss my mom and dad, and doggone it, I've been eating like a Junior High boy let loose in the kitchen with no parental supervision. emotions have been like [fill in the name of your favorite - or if you're like me and can't ride the doggone things, your least favorite - roller coaster, complete with almost getting sick and whooping on the second curve...] and I've really felt awful. I mean, really, really awful.

So boy, did I need me an early Christmas gift. And I needed one from Jesus because He knows what I need.

And Jesus being Jesus, I received not one, but two - count 'em, TWO - early Christmas gifts yesterday.

Let's talk about the 2nd one because it's great but #2 in importance. I went to my mailbox and there was a check. And I sure wasn't expecting it because it wasn't the right day in the week to be getting my check! I opened it (of course...) and looked at the amount and was...let down, because it was a much smaller amount than my weekly check. And then I looked at the check stub, and realized that it was HOLIDAY pay for Thanksgiving Day. And I have never received one of those - I'm a contract employee and we don't get 'paid holidays' as such. So here was this extra money. EXTRA. I wasn't expecting this. At all.

It's not a huge amount, but it's a great gift and I can use it for some cool things. I am all kinds of excited. I mean, I am ALL KINDS of excited - it means giving some help to a friend, it means getting my NEW GLOVES, and it means getting my Christmas tree! It means doing these things without creating great difficulty for myself. Okay, not great difficulty, but certainly a bit of the pinch. Woo and hoo. I mean WOO HOO!

But it gets better. This Sunday is December 11, 2011. I am Lector at St. Jerome's. This means I will read the Old Testament passage, read the Psalm responsively with the congregation, and then the New Testament passage (not the Gospel. Bishop reads that.) December 11, 2011 is the 40th anniversary of the day I was water-baptized in Virginia as freshman on a warm December Saturday right before my first semester finals. This was a great day in my life and very much a spiritual milestone. Great things in my life began that day and have continued up to this day. But it gets even better. I mean, a whole lot better.

The Old Testament passage I am reading this Sunday is Isaiah 61:1-3 (and other passages). This is my all-time favorite passage of scripture, and it speaks to me about my life. It's sort of my 'life Scripture' and I can never hear it without thinking, "This is me. This speaks to me."

During such an emotional time in my life, realizing that I am lectoring the passage that speaks to me about my destiny and purpose, and realizing that I am lectoring on the 40th anniversary of this incredible day that still speaks to me - well, it was just the best. I say with all humility, all reverence, and all enthusiasm, "Thank you, Jesus!"

And here is that passage - Isaiah 61:1-3:

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
For the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted,
To proclaim deliverance to the captives,
And the opening of the prisons to them that are bound.
To appoint them that mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness,
That they might be called the oaks of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified.

And yes, I just wrote that from memory.