The road ends, but the journey continues...

Tag: transitions (Page 1 of 4)

COVID Clench, Pandemic Hair and Cardamom Braids

In my fantasies of what I’d do first once I was fully vaxxed, getting a haircut was the primo #1 Big Thing.

I’d been gearing up for the Big Leap into an enclosed, hair salon experience during the 2 weeks-after-my-second-jab clearance and figured it’d cross off two ToDos at the same time.

#1 – Getting that haircut!
#2 – Re-entering the world at large in a calculated and precise manner.

However, my teeth had other ideas.

Over the course of those 2 weeks, jaw pain, migraines, searing earaches, and weird teeth nerves asserted themselves to the point of my having to call the dentist for an appointment. Considering my last checkup/cleaning was in 2018, and we’ve since dropped dental insurance, I was a bit miffed.

Long story short, I passed my exam with flying colors. In fact, the dreaded cleaning itself was deftly performed by the dental hygienist with narey a wince on my part. Strange to say, but I had a fantastic experience.

So, what was the source of the pain? If not a rotting tooth, then what?
Something dentists are seeing a lot of lately – teething grinding (or technically, bruxism).

Aha. Makes sense. Only I’m calling it “COVID clench“.

The day after my dental needs upstaged that longed-for haircut, I called for an appointment and got in that very afternoon. I also got out in less than 30 minutes. The strange part was not the actual haircutting, but the torrent of words that flew from my mouth whenever I opened it to say something simple like, ‘please cut it a bit more’. Instead, a tumbling jumbling of words totally out of my control followed in quick succession.

I apologized to the hairstylist and ventured to tell her that I’m usually the lady in the chair who’d rather not chat with the one cutting her hair. But somehow that statement didn’t ring quite true to what was occurring at that moment.

Aha. Makes sense. Re-entry means remembering to use certain social skills.

Laura Bruno Lilly Mother's Day 2021
Luckily, I got that stringy Pandemic hair whacked off in time for my Skype Mother’s Day celebration…

As for those braids…(obviously not of the hair type)…I had a hankering to try out a non-sourdough bread recipe. Like many of you, my kitchen was dubbed The Sourdough Lab during the height of the Pandemic. I’m sick of it. All of it. But have a slew of very cool sourdough this and sourdough that recipes I created and perfected during that season of isolating in place. Someday they’ll see the light of day again, but not right now.

Instead, I treated myself to a non-sourdough bread making experience. Using Cardamom, a spice first introduced to me by my Palestinian sister-friend Hiam back in the early 80s while we were living in the Bay Area.

She used it as the defining ingredient in the making of her fabulous coffee. As a result, I have been enamored with other uses of Cardamom ever since.

Her basic recipe?
A handful of cardamom pods, a handful or two of sugar, a handful or two of whole coffee beans in a pot of water set to boil until it becomes thick.              

I’ve never been able to recreate that luscious and potent brew by myself. She did it best.

I miss you, Hiam.

Anyway, here’s the recipe for my Cardamom Braid Bread.

It makes for a delicate flavored loaf with a good crumb. Tastes good with both sweet and savory meals but I like it best by itself, smothered in butter!

Cardamom Braid Bread

Cardamom Braid Bread

Ingredients

  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 packages (1/4 ounce each) or 2 scant tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 1½ – 2 teaspoons ground cardamom (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups plus 2 tablespoons 2% milk, divided
  • 1/2 cup butter, cubed
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Directions
  • In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, yeast, cardamom and salt. In a small saucepan, heat 1½ cups milk, butter and honey to 120°-130°. Add to dry ingredients; beat just until moistened. Add eggs; beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a firm dough (dough will be sticky).
  • Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes.
  • Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide in half. Divide each portion into thirds. Shape each into a 14-in. rope. Place 3 ropes on a greased baking sheet and braid; pinch ends to seal and tuck under. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
  • Brush with remaining milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 375° until golden brown, 20-25 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool.

Thoughts Thought on The Longest Night MMXX

Can a 66 year-old woman begin her own designated Hero’s Journey? Again? Is it too late? Rather, is there time left in her life to dive into yet another Path that would surely reveal itself during that Journey?

In many ways, 2020 has been the dead-end to end the multiple dead-ends I’ve hit over the past few years in my creative life. One could say it has been the ending of an unconscious Hero’s Journey.

My generation has always championed the idea of jumping over one’s shadow. Elements of a traditional “Hero’s Journey” are hardwired into my everyday life. In fact, they were supported and modeled by my folks even as my life took shape. So, facing more adventures, twisty, turny changes, and making do are all just part of the mix. Mostly, knowing that in the midst of it all, surviving & thriving are not mutually exclusive and is a precious insight.

Somewhere along my (he)artist’s way, product and validation overtook process and creation. As such, the muse all but disappeared, the gift all but withered.

The focus to finish and get my project(s) ‘out there’ became so strong it obscured seedlings of exploration, experimentation and self-expression. And in the end, with little to show for that absorbing focus.

The good part to all of this is that the stubborn ruts I’d traveled were more easily seen for what they were – not an obstacle to the Path, but proof that I’d wandered from the Path.

So I have corrected my focus. I am firmly ensconced in choosing repertoire based upon pure desire to play/perfect what I want to play – not based upon some audience type or proficiency parameter. And the composing! Instead of keeping it in check so as not to overshadow my practice time and/or exploration of tangential instruments, I am fully leaning into those juicy sessions.

Yes, I have project(s) that are screaming to be ‘out there’. Many are in fact 99.9% ready to go…but I gave myself permission to just not angst over all the odds and ends I’m clearly not knowledgeable enough to do right now to finish them*.

In other words, I gave myself permission to do what I was meant to do: create music – play around with sound – and commune with the Giver of the Gift in doing so.


Meanwhile, this year marked the entry into one of my favorite type of birthdays – one of duplicate double digits. It’s just one of my things.

The last such marker was 5-5 Revive.

Surprisingly, this year’s spontaneously spoke forth as Route 6-6.

What? Taking to the road again, in this time of lock downs, life threatening environmental obstacles and lack of connection?

Yep. Maybe not literally, but certainly in allowing the muse, my music, to lead the way…instead of my dragging it along with me. Be the conduit, serve the Gift and enjoy the process.

If I am the only one to hear or see or understand what comes forth, then so be it.

But I’m willing to bet this ‘Hero’s Journey’ change in attitude might alter that solo scenario come 2021.


*That’s the extreme down side of all this DIY stuff that goes along with being an Indie (he)artist – having to do all the business stuff, packaging, marketing, registering, licensing, publishing, etc; and finding/hiring qualified people to do the production side of things. It simply is not as easily available as one would think. Not whining, just sayin’…

Specialty Feet

Soon after the first two weeks of my convalescence I set up what my sorella-amica Lisa called a ‘sewing sanctuary’ – a working layout that is user friendly for one such as I with ‘Specialty Feet’. I scrunched down the ironing board, placed it in between my desk and sewing machine and scooter around from station to station on my desk chair. Using the desk as my cutting table area, everything is amazingly manageable – at least in context of smaller projects. While I can (and do with blessings from the Doc) clomp happily around from place to place while in the boot, merely standing on my foot for no good reason is a no-no.

sewing sanctuary set up

My sewing sanctuary set up. Yeah, it’s a mess, but it works!


That same aforementioned sorella-amica challenged me to dig out the 2018 Row-by-Row quilt block kit we each purchased while visiting the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum last summer. Well, she didn’t out and out challenge me, but she texted me a photo of her completed block a few days before my surgery saying it was easy-peasy…except that the tiny flying geese border strips were a bit of a pain.
Who could resist that passive challenge? Not me.
Well, I stalled out at the sewing of the second half of those tiny flying geese blocks…ick, Too tedious and yes, tiny.
Tiny Flying Geese Construction

My ‘Specialty Feet’ resting while working on those tiny flying geese!


sewing machine accessory bible book coverNo matter, those circumstances pushed me to ferret out an excellent book I bought recently on specialty feet for the sewing machine and how to use them in various contexts.
(I bet you thought this post was only about my literal foot situation…HA! Fooled you.)
The Sewing Machine Accessory Bible by Wendy Gardiner & Lorna Knight is packed with information and advice on types of needles to use, size of thread, fabric idiosyncrasies and creative exploration of the assorted ‘Specialty Feet’.
This hands-on application on my Bernina is something I’ve dabbled in from time to time but never really got into as it took time away from my regular piecing and quilting projects. Now that I’m stuck at home* flittering between seated diversions**, I figured, why not go through this ‘get the most out of your machine – from using basic feet to mastering specialty feet’ book now?
wounded warriors specialty feetI can’t help but end this post with a slice of perspective…I will get out of the boot, I will resume my vigorous hiking in the mountains when we get back to where there are such places to hike, I will be able to wear sandals with my woman’s feet showing (even though I still maintain feet are pretty ugly under all circumstances!)…but for the many Wounded Warriors among us, their ‘Specialty Feet’ are permanent. Yes, enabling them more normal physical activities, but still composed of foreign materials and requiring new ways of thinking in their everyday usage.
 

“The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places.” Habakkuk 3:19

 
* not entirely true, I get out and about, just can’t drive myself yet – plus I tire easily!
**I am currently in the middle of season 3 of Call the Midwife (I so love this series, especially as it’s based upon the true-life stories of the main character), season 7 part two of Dr. Who (after a so-so season 6, I am sooooo into The Doctor once again!) I am also going through stacks of reading material – some books by indie-authors, some craft, some contemporary novels, assorted magazines and ‘comfort’ novels I re-read on a regular basis. Then there’s the more business-like stuff I can’t escape because I am supposed to remain more sedentary than active: transferring files to my new computer, reinstalling NOTION sound bundles and the seemingly never ending edits, layout issues, etc for my Swimming with Swans project.

Oh Happy Day – It's a Done Deal!

On Monday, September 17th, my bro and I signed over our folks’ house to a buyer who said, “I fell in love with this house the minute I set foot into it.”
In celebration of this event, I bring you a jam session of a favorite gospel tune, Oh Happy Day, in the spirit of my JazzMan Dad
(jump to 3:05 if you’re not a musician interested in the creative process)

Context of this piece is as follows:

Original youth group recording

This is track 5 from the 1968 album “Let Us Go Into The House Of The Lord”. Lead by Dorothy Morrison-Combs Written by Philip Doddridge Arranged by Edwin Hawkins. Edwin Hawkins was a pianist at Ephesian Church of God in Christ in Berkeley, California when he came up with the popular Latin/Soul version of the song “Oh Happy Day” in 1968. In an October 23, 2009 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, he explained that “Oh Happy Day” was one of eight arrangements he put together for the Northern California State Youth Choir, which was made up of 46 singers ages 17 to 25, and the plan was to sell an album of the songs to finance a trip to a church youth conference in Washington, D.C. The tracks were quickly recorded live in church on a two-track tape machine (industry standard at the time was eight-track), but the records weren’t pressed in time for the trip. They did attend the conference, and the choir placed second in a singing competition, where they performed 2 of Hawkins’ arrangements, but not “Oh Happy Day,” which Hawkins said was “Not our favorite song.”

Me: the bassline beginning at 2:40 through to the end is fantastic! – this is a stellar example of the vibrancy of live performances regardless of the limitations of available recording equipment…wow!

And the performance you might be more familiar with:


Me: this one is a vocal improv that is relatable to the Jam.

Oh happy day (oh happy day)
Oh happy day (oh happy day)
When Jesus washed (when Jesus washed)
When Jesus washed (when Jesus washed)
When Jesus washed (when Jesus washed)
He washed my sins away (oh happy day)
Oh happy day (oh happy day)

He taught me how to watch, fight and pray, fight and pray
And live rejoicing every, everyday

Oh happy day…

Two years ago on the 17th, I was scheduled to fly back to SC after a Summer of Dad visit. He, instead, changed my plans the day before by having a mini stroke. Hubby quickly cancelled that flight and rescheduled for another flight for the following week.

Dad passed away Sept 22…

September 17th, 2018 we closed on Ma & Dad’s house. Two nights before that, hubby and I slept in Ma & Dad’s empty house for the last time on our faithful air mattress.

A different sort of closing…

Ramblings in the manner of a NaNoWriMo word war

Been back from CO since Saturday the 4th
My folks’ house got listed Thursday the 2nd, then officially on the market on Friday the 3rd  with a Saturday the 4th Open House which yielded lots of foot traffic and 2 possible offers leading to an all cash offer on its 8th day on the market!
On the phone with my cousin a few days before returning to SC, I mentioned I was looking forward to sleeping in my own bed…and then when we finally rolled into town a little after midnight, we discovered mice had been at play while we were away – leaving calling cards in that very bed…AIEEEEE!
All this after admitting to my baby cousin that ‘Home is where your bed is!’ (a major positive affirmation to where we are currently sojourning)…talk about a humbling re-entry into life back in the swamplands.

MamaCass & Naomi on our front porch

MamaCass & Naomi on our front porch


Previously, leaving our little rental house in SC for any length of time, MamaCass stood guard on the porch; grabbing the critters, both rodent and insect, for snacks before they could saunter inside. Now that our beloved porch cat has a permanent home on the other side of town with a proper cat lady, we came home to an empty porch ‘non-greeting’.
And, with our little rental’s insides newly discovered by resident rodents.
Since our return, we’ve been busy de-mousing the premises and trying hard to not skimp on those necessary procedures even if we’re tired, sleepy and needing to clean and dry clothes/bedding/rags with a non-functioning dryer no less. Read: wash at the house then take it all to the laundromat to dry (new dryer installed Wednesday the 8th).
Really things are okay, just that this place that never ever felt like home is even less so without MamaCass on so many levels.
And on so many levels her life reflects our own since moving here:

  • Up and out after our 3 years between homes; her life of producing litters of kitties after kitties – rescued and put on a more healthy life path.
  • Trusting that where we are is where the Lord wants us regardless of it not being the best fit for our true needs/desires/way of life; her trusting us to give her a place of refuge on our porch, even though she wanted to come inside – a time of healing and reconnection, regrouping for what is next.
  • Giving support and caring for each other as a ‘purpose’ during the interim – our commitment to moving on only when our newest responsibility had a real home (our landlord forbids pets, so we could never formally adopt MamaCass, even though we captured her and got her snipped after her second litter appeared on our porch). She is a true South Carolina MamaCat and would not have done well moving with us across country when the opportunities for us opened up.

The fact that she’s finally got a forever home and moved on in her life gives me hope we are close to moving on with our own lives, too.
God’s speed, MamaCass – wish us luck!

“The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.” Proverbs 12:10 NIV

All in a Lady's Life

My cousin Dennis taking us for a boat ride on Lake Waco, TX

My cousin Dennis taking us for a boat ride on Lake Waco, TX


 
As hubby alluded to in the last post, we went to Colorado via the ‘long way’ earlier this May. First driving for 17 hours straight through to Waco, TX to visit my baby cousin and his family (and to do some business with a colleague in Houston).
Then off to Las Cruces, NM (a breezy 10 hour drive) – land of hubby’s adolescence, our newlywed life and ‘the compound’.
 
A favorite spot to wander the desert in Las Cruces, NM

A favorite spot to wander the desert in Las Cruces, NM

LCNM revisited (thoughts)

Sometimes ya gotta be away before ya can come back…or at the very least appreciate what ya left (for whatever reason).

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with this place known as Las Cruces, New Mexico.  Town where we moved for hubby to finish his degree at NMSU after we first got married; place filled with his side of the family or in other words: my in-laws.  Not inherently a bad thing, just harder to make one’s mark on a new marriage when there are lots of others hovering overhead.  Plus life in married student housing was fun except for the crash course in the myriad varieties of roaches and ants harbored and lurking within the requisite 300 square foot cinderblock walls…

Our first-born was indeed born there, in fact, she was the first baby born for the New Year that year (1982). Cool. We couldn’t wait for all the diapers and other baby items everyone said the city would be bestowing upon us because of that incident of nature; we really needed the help with that kind of stuff being poor students and all…except the year before, the city made such a big deal over Baby New Year that it backfired on them since there were some shady relatives, legal circumstances and secrets now publicly revealed surrounding the family that innocent baby was born into.

So, no freebies for us, though we did get a great write up in the local newspaper and enthusiastic announcements on several of the local radio stations.

Oh well, didn’t matter much since we left for the Bay area soon after hubby graduated – within the first month of our Havilah’s life – to pursue his new job at HP (Hewlett/Packard) as a little family without either side of our families too near. And that’s when we grew the most as a three-some; and when our hearts yearned to be closer to both our families…go figure!

After a few days we were back on the road. The familiar I-25 trail took us to Colorado in the usual 9-10 hour time frame. Also, since we know that route by heart, it is less stressful in terms of placement of rest stops and timing on the one gas fill-up necessary to complete the journey.

Bruno's Purple Giants - Irises in the family and transplanted in our various gardens for almost 50 years

Bruno’s Purple Giants – Irises in the family and transplanted in our various gardens for almost 50 years (last vestiges shown here in a corner of Ma&Dad’s neglected garden)


Once at Ma & Dad’s place, the dominoes aligned into classic form, readying for that one touch to start the tumbling of items needed to get their estate settled.
For good.
Now that most of the sorting and sifting of the stuff of lives has been completed, I still have much to do to get the house ready for listing, but as a professional real estate agent told me: “You’re on the right path…almost there.”
After a mere 10 days back here in SC for already-on-the-calendar doctor’s appointments/tests and other commitments, we’ll be heading out again to Colorado, land of my (he)art, gearing up and plowing through to the finish line to ‘git ‘er done*’ with all things related to selling the house.
The housing market is rich with possibilities, wish us luck.
* thank you Anna for lending me this phrase
On the day before this year’s Summer Solstice, I’m leaving you with a bit of Manc Music in honor of the turning of seasons. Here are Mancunian native sons, the Courteeners, with Summer.

Seed Quote, by Hope Jahren

Quote symbolA seed knows how to wait.

Most seeds wait for at least a year before starting to grow; a cherry seed can wait for a hundred years with no problem. What exactly each seed is waiting for is known only to that seed…

A seed is alive while it waits.

Every acorn on the ground is just as alive as the three-hundred-year-old oak tree that towers over it…they are both just waiting…the seed is waiting to flourish while the tree is only waiting to die.

When you are in the forest, for every tree that you see, there are at least a hundred trees waiting in the soil, alive and fervently wishing to be.

Each beginning is the end of a waiting.

We are each given exactly one chance to be. Each of us is both impossible and inevitable. Every replete tree was first a seed that waited.

From: Lab Girl, by Hope Jahren

« Older posts

© 2021 Laura Bruno Lilly

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑