Thursday, August 10, 2017

change of focus

When I spend time dwelling on things I can't control I'm doomed. 

Living alone is hard in that it is challenging to get out of your own head. 

But looking outside of myself, the bigger universe and how small I am, and finding joy in the 
little things... birds joyfully singing, white puffy clouds, a bubble bath, a loving memory, a child's hug or laugh, washing my hair, a fresh cup of morning coffee, writing a kind note, the smell of the earth after the rain, reading a quote of wisdom or hope ... fills me with the stillness and peace that I crave.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

a safe place

As I sit here with a homemade blueberry muffin and cup of coffee I think of how writing from my heart is my happy place... what people today call their jam. But expressing and going to that place in my heart where all the feely and deep things are has been a slippery slope. It's sometimes a place that's hard to sort out... and then when I do hit a sensitive spot I can flinch.

It seems I've been too much of a hyper-vigilant over thinker for too long now. I'm sometimes jumpy and often my faith has turned to fear. Loss and disappointment has left me hobbling along at times. Although I mostly function just fine, some parts may have to be urged along to catch up and get back in the program. I'll still manage to be in this dance of life, but might not know all the right moves or when the music starts and stops. But I haven't given up trying... to do better... as I learn to be better.

So today... as the storms come, real or imagined ... and the worries of life try to take over... I will find ways to be still. To find that place where peace and calm dwell. To seek it out... To seek out the One who knows me and loves me.... created me and kept me safe all these years. I will put my life in His hands and if I take it back again I'll be quickly reminded nothing good comes from that. I'll remember that it's not about trying hard all the time, it's often about letting go and surrendering. It's about finding the place where you know you're safe ... and can hopefully reach out a hand to encourage someone else find that place too.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

a distant memory

This was my dad's fruit tree "experiment" that didn't work out. About 45 years ago now.

He was always doing something interesting on our country property when I was growing up. We had chickens for a while and he constructed a coop and fenced yard for them. In the daytime they'd often be let out to forage outside of the coop's boundary. These were very healthy chickens and the epitome of happy and cage free!

One night I was walking home up to the house from a neighbor's (I had been babysitting) and heard a baaaaukkkkk that scared the daylights out of me! I had just walked past one of these little fruit trees that had a chicken roosting in it. She had failed to get back into the coop with the others to roost inside and flew into the tree for the night. A memory that has stayed with me.....

I was brought home from the hospital after my birth to this house. This was the home I grew up in. The one my memory returns to again and again. Though it has been inhabited by another family now for about 25 years, it will always be .....

.... my New Jersey home.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

life as it is

Real life doesn't always resemble a Hallmark card or Norman Rockwell picture. Not mine anyway. When I was younger I thought I knew it all. I thought I knew how to navigate my life and family in a way that would keep all bad influences out and I'd be able to control what my life would look like. I thought I could mold circumstances and people to ... yeah... basically be a picture-perfect family.

How could I be so naive?


On the outside it may have seemed all was fine, but it wasn't.

There was a divorce.

Then there was a new love that was everything ... Edd... How lucky... how BLESSED was I!! Beyond all expectations. But that wasn't to last when he got sick.... and had to leave.... (How I miss him! But that's another blog post.)

And I have a daughter who has struggled with drugs... for years ... and had a baby one year ago..... but has now been clean and sober for five months and that is a miracle in itself. My prayer is for her to continue for the rest of her life to learn and grow and mature.... to make up for all those stagnant insane years.....  This little grand baby is sweet and precious and it's hard to imagine the world without her.

Would I have chosen this one to come into the world at this time... and in this way? No.. but she is here now and deserves to be loved and cared for and .... to have a wonderful #1 birthday party tomorrow!!

Another daughter is divorced with a beautiful 20 month old daughter who is delightful and beautiful and adorable beyond words!! But there's been struggle.. and disappointment ... and pain. My daughter is awesome and a wonderful mother, hard worker and doing an amazing job.

Life. I sometimes handle things well, and other times feel like my emotions are being thrown around like clothes in the dryer... my heart isn't as resilient as it used to be.... if it ever was. I feel more fragile somehow. More vulnerable. I know now what loss feels like ... and I don't like it. I know I have little control over events and my faith has often turned to fear. Maybe that's the worst part of all.

But I am learning that all I can do is what I can do... I often can't nor could I ever make everything right... but I do have the ability to be kind and encouraging and offer my heart to others who need to know they are loved. To listen and be present. To love so someone knows and feels it. I fail though... often.... And I, all of us, need to have our own boundaries and know ourselves enough to be able to say no to things we can't handle... and let others handle their own problems. I can't save others... we just can't... as hard as it is to watch them struggle. We can offer a leg up though right? Sometimes we can.

But those who care... and are present... and kind.... and show compassion.... and let us know we have value.... they mean the world don't they?

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

life with a dog... my dog

I've tried several times to add another dog to my home and family... besides Norman and I.. and each time I've come to the same conclusion.

I'm a one dog woman.

We are just in sync to the daily activities. He knows me. I know him. We coexist very well and are vaguely equivalent to an old married couple who just get each other.

When I leave to run errands he waits for me in the laundry room that connects to the garage, sleeping in another little bed there, listening for my return. He knows I always come home again....

He goes to bed when I do. Waits for the signals and recognizes when it's time to retreat to his little bed next to mine. I tuck him in and tell him what a good boy he is and give him extra pats and scratches.

When it's time to get up he follows me to the kitchen knowing he will go outside first before his breakfast. He looks up at me for direction every time... comes inside and then chows down before retreating back to the bedroom to watch me eat a light breakfast. He waits to see if he might get to lick the plate .... usually not.... but he's happy anyway jumping up on the bed when I finish.... to get a few pets and scratches.

When I exercise and do my yoga he joins me in the exercise room. He jumps up on the chair and takes a nap until I'm finished and then we go back downstairs. He likes to stay with the pack... however small our little pack is.... he and I.

He follows me into whatever room I'm in. If I'm busy, he takes a nap. If I go outside in the yard, he wants to come. He is ready to do whatever I want to do.

Dogs really are the greatest of companions.

I've enjoyed taking care of other dogs on a short term basis, and I've wished I could have a larger pack, but it just doesn't feel right and would be more than I could handle being the only human living here. I'm just one person without anyone else helping out.

And that's okay. Sometimes you have to try things out to know what you can do... and what you can't.

So ... it's me.... and Norman....

Norman helped fill the enormous void after Edd died. He helped fill the void after I lost Nicky, the dachshund before him. He is a dog that's always been full of life and energy. Sometimes too much energy... And he's aging now as dogs ... and all of us ... do. But he's still faithfully by my side... and he's earned my respect.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

the cardinal in my yard

I first photographed this bird back in May. When I looked at the photos I noticed just how disheveled he was. His neck feathers were sparse and he looked a little sickly. He looks a bit worse now.

But it's July and he is still seen regularly in my yard and is active and full of life. He drinks from the birdbath and I throw him seeds from time to time. He returns day after day and just blends in with the life and rhythm of things. He sings beautifully as he sits on the roof or the bush outside my bedroom window. 

Tonight I heard his familiar song and stopped what I was doing to look outside. I followed the sound and saw him near the ground under the same bush... but he wasn't alone... he was feeding and seemingly caring for his spouse. He was definitely schmoozing up to a female cardinal. Although he looks as though he has had a rough life, he seems to be fairing just fine for now. He may be old. I read they live about 15 years! He's not a perfect specimen of cardinal, but I like so much that he hangs around. He seems very happy to have this yard as his home. And I like to keep fresh water around.... 

Legend implies that when a cardinal is seen it's a visitor from heaven. A reminder that you are loved. This one seems especially strong and worldly and wise. Like he's been around the block a few times. And he knows things. That's what I choose to believe anyway.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

how things change

Slowly..... consistently.... subtly.... so no one really noticed what was happening.... we've moved as a society. Mostly all of us have been effected, but those who are young and on social media most of the day are effected the most. As I think back to my own growing up... and then into my 20's and 30's, it was so different in that people didn't have so much information about what everyone else was doing. We had to call a friend up and talk to them or visit.... to know whether they went on a trip, or got their hair done, or went out to dinner, or got a new dog, ended a relationship, started a new one, or began a new exciting job.... Now people post about anything and everything. 

I'm not saying it's bad. I don't really know if it is bad or good. It's the way it is, but I do think there are certain changes that occur inside of us as we concentrate too much on what everyone else is doing. It wasn't as prominent back before this social media generation. People are so much more apt to compare themselves with others instead of living their own peaceful existence. Seems wherever you go people are so wrapped up in their phones so as not to miss something going on... and of course if you're doing something fun, you better let others know about that too.

Oh, that people were more present. Often at the checkout line or just walking my dog I pass people with headphones on... Whenever they have a spare moment people are looking down at their phones, in the car talking... and driving... often swerving a bit.... 

Am I getting too old and cranky? Sigh... maybe.

I just wonder where it's leading. I think of my own granddaughters and wonder how driven they will be to measure up to someone else's definition of what's valuable or fun or popular or worthy.

I so want them to know they are worthy just as they are. They are enough and they don't need to be  more or greater or compare themselves to anyone else. They are unique and valuable and precious.

I get excited to see this trend toward simplicity and I hope it continues. I really hope people can put social media, their phones, their devices into proper perspective  .... and give them a rest. I hope we can get back to some old-fashioned simplicity. 

I don't think everyone is depressed as this quote implies, but I do believe thinking others have it better than we do and reading what others are doing on a regular basis can make some think they don't measure up. 

Just my two cents.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

keeping it going

This week I have maintained a healthy diet every day. 

Every day I've used my elliptical machine for at least 30 minutes and also completed a yoga routine. 

Today I added a pilates workout and exercised for 90 minutes.

The pilates was hard.... and my joints hurt some.

But I took it easy and listened to my body...  and didn't go overboard.

It felt good to push myself. I know my body will perform better if my core is stronger.

So I will keep on this journey....

.... and be consistent.

I need to keep going and not give up.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

those who are gone ...... and those who remain

I recently found someone on Facebook with the last name McCormick. I knew she was a relative somehow since she was a friend of another relative. One who was my mom's cousin. I wondered who she was so I requested to be her friend on Facebook and connect with her... so I could ask.

My grandmother's maiden name was McCormick and she came to the United States from Scotland around 1926. This was the passport picture. My grandmother is the little girl with the bow on the left.

McCormick family coming over from Scotland. My grandmother and her mother and siblings.

Although these people I connected with on Facebook have not been in my life at all in a personal way, I have from time to time heard their names growing up.  Not for a long time, but when my grandmother was alive.... or when my mom spoke of them.

These two women were my mom's cousins, so that would make them my second cousins.

Betty McCormick Wern was my grandmother's brother's daughter. I remember hearing about my mom's Uncle John, but as a little girl I didn't pay much attention and we never got together that I can recall.

Betty and I have recently shared stories and photos and it makes me feel a little more connected to family. She lives on Long Island and shared a few things with me about family history and just some interesting information. She is at this time 76 years old and was eager to answer any questions I had which I found very heartwarming.

Her grandfather (my grandmother's father) died in the Long Island Hurricane of 1938. He was only 45 years old. I looked up this terrible storm and found quite a lot of information on it. It was called the Long Island Express and many lost their lives. I always thought my great grandfather died in a blizzard in New York City, but I found out from someone who knew that he died in a hurricane on Long Island. Not that important in the grand scheme of things I suppose, but the accurate information adds to his life story and the fact that he was a real live person who mattered and was desperately missed... and how everything changed that day for those who loved him.

My great grandmother lost her husband in September of 1938 during that storm, but she herself lived close to another 30 years. 

I wish I knew her. I wish I could talk with her. I know my grandmother loved her and honored her. She had a picture of her on her dresser in her home. One that I remember well. I don't remember the details, but I remember the feelings I had and that my grandmother missed her very much. She died around 1965 and though I don't remember her, my grandmother spoke of her in a very reverent way.

My great grandmother Margaret Toll McCormick. She had 6 children

We also talked about the arthritis gene that is in the family. Something I am probably feeling some of the effects of. Another reason I have stepped up my effort to stay in shape, exercise each day and do my yoga for strength and flexibility.

Probably what I enjoy the most is knowing she was my mom's cousin and knew her as a little girl. She sent me a picture and what I see is what I've always seen in my mom's face and in her spirit. She was a mischeivious girl who was a lot of fun... and loved by everyone. 

Mom is the tallest girl in the back. Betty, her cousin is the littlest girl in the front.

As I learn more about some of my relatives in Holland and Scotland and here in the US, I feel a kinship somehow. I see hints of strong women who endured hardship and yet lived long lives. I feel a oneness and connection to these women who I came from.

Like my great-great grandmother (on my mom's side... her father's relatives) who lived in Holland and died in 1935. She was born in 1849 and lived to be 86 years old even though she lost her husband when she was 43 and was left with 9 children!!

Like my grandmother who had many health problems but still lived to be 71. She loved family gatherings and playing Hearts and telling stories to me when I stayed with her during the summer. 

Like my own mom who loved her family and was taken too soon, unexpectedly, when she was 77. She loved sewing, and shopping, and reading and computers and traveling... and her family best of all. And what a cute kid she was. 

I miss her so....

My pretty mom and her brother, my Uncle Neil

My mom as a little girl

My grandmother and my 4 month old mom

Sunday, July 9, 2017


So here's the problem for me.

I worry. 

I worry about myself and things I can't control.

I worry about others that I love ... people I also cannot control.

I tend to think of the worst possible outcome and worry about that happening. 

Feeling it and suffering over something that hasn't even happened. 

Not good for the body at all. Gee. When did I become such a control freak? I've always been one?

So. I am issuing a proclamation.

I am not going to worry about you(*) anymore. I am not going to overthink everything and dwell on the "what ifs" of your decisions, choices, outcomes, LIFE. I am going to concentrate on my own life, my own choices, my own situation, because as I look at someone else's all the time, I neglect my own. I stay stuck. 

You have to navigate your own life and have been making your own decisions in your own way for a long time, without my input...  often doing the opposite of what I might suggest. So I am not going to worry about what happens because of that. It is YOUR life to do with as you will. To learn, to grow, to discover. If you choose wrongly and feel pain, I cannot stop that. I couldn't even if I wanted to. It's a part of the natural order of things. No one is stopping my pain when I choose wrong, if I choose wrong. And I can't stop anyone else's pain or discomfort. That very pain is supposed to shape you and teach you. Hopefully anyway.

We all need to find the path that is right for us. No one can provide the right path for someone else. 

*The "you" is anyone I may be worrying about at the time!

Okay .... now go and live it!

Friday, June 30, 2017

decluttering.... again and again

I grew up in a magical place. At least it seems like that now when I look back. I was a happy kid and felt loved. There was lots of fresh air and room to run and play outside. Woods to explore and a dirt road to ride my bicycle down. And just enough nice neighbors to play with...

I remember my best friend, Debbie. I think of her from time to time now... and wish I had been a better friend to her after I married and moved away... and even before that. She was a few years older than me and in many ways very different, but we were good friends. Since she was into collecting things and garage sales. I wasn't and have never been a collector. She was one to collect things... like old Avon bottles... she always had a lot of stuff around and whenever I'd call her and ask what she was doing she'd say, "I'm cleaning my room." Funny how that is a memory I now have of her.

I heard she died of cancer quite a few years ago and when I heard I felt very sad... and wrote her mother a note saying how very sorry I was....

The reason I write about her now is that I seem frequently be trying to "clean my room". I strive to get rid of extra clutter in my life, but there always seems to be more. I just did a internet search on "what to get rid of and declutter" right now to give me ideas. The lists made me want to open up drawers and cabinets and go through my closet and garage! Which I will do when I finish writing this!

I am always struggling with what to hold on to and what to let go of. In my home... and in my heart and life.

But decluttering just feels good. I long to live more simply and yet I still struggle with "should I really throw that out? I think I will use it" (though I haven't in years).

But back to the "really nice place to grow up" part. Yes, I am jumping from one thought to another and back again, but I'm still so thankful for my home on Goodale Road to this day and miss it. When I go back into my long-term memory storage bank it's filled with feelings of warmth and security. I will always be grateful to my parents for that. The house wouldn't be considered elaborate by any stretch of the imagination.... and I can hardly believe there was just one bathroom and for many years, no shower, just a bathtub. How did we all survive? In some ways I've become spoiled and a bit too expectant and impatient. One bathroom would still be considered a luxury in some parts of the world... even today.

Anyway.... off I go to do some more decluttering....

Just an early photo of my brother and me on our front steps. I just love those young faces!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

life in and around my neck of the woods.... in the month of June

Norman .... too tired and hot to go squirrel chasing

Cardinal coming to drink

Norman in the garden after the rain

Pippa exploring the little stones

Always taking the time to give Norman a pat or slap!

Five carolina wren eggs in a nest made in my flower planter

Pippa being cute

Baby birds hatched and ready to be fed!

"Who are you? You're not my mom... and you don't have worms."

Fledgling escaping

The bird family's home in the planter

Another fledgling ready to move on with life
Back patio flowers

Pippa the explorer


Paislee..... always sweet and happy

Monday, June 26, 2017

learn to let things go....

Live and Let Live

Learn to Let Go

These phrases are designed to help us keep peace and perspective and control in our lives.... not control of others, but control of our own personal emotions, tranquility, contentment and serenity.

Keeping a healthy balance is tough. For me anyway. It's something I have to work at and be aware of.

I was thinking about what it  means to Let Go... I know it doesn't mean we don't care. We care, but realize we can't fix things that aren't in our power, aren't our responsibility... and problems that aren't of our making.

There are many ways we can let go ...

Pay attention to what impacts your energy....

What drains me?
What rejuvenates me?
What exhausts me?
Depletes me?
What feeds me and charges me?

How do I feel when I eat certain foods?

Listen to my body.... emotions .... heart.

Let go of some things... i.e. people, places, activities, behaviors ....

And be gentle with yourself along the way.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

turning off the noise

It's true. 

I don't know how young people do it. The times are so different today than they were when I was younger and raising my family. It was simpler. There were less distractions. Young people today are pulled in many directions and never quiet and still. It's been so noticeable to me lately how everyone is walking around looking at their phone as they shop, as they take a walk, as they drive (oh God I wish this weren't so), as they do just about anything.  The world has so many things trying to pull us in and taking up our time that if we do not make a conscious effort to make it stop we will fall into that hectic way of life also. 

I think there has to be a change of heart and lifestyle at some point. The hectic and fast pace just can't be sustained over time. Burnout comes. Broken relationships, unhappy, frustrated, angry people without any peace seem to be increasing.

Just something I feel... and sense.... 

I've had to just say no lately and turn off the noise that just feels so heavy.

Facebook used to be a fun way to interact and keep up with friends. More simple. It's not fun anymore. Although I've tried using the tools to eliminate some of the "noise" and numerous ads (without success), it's become another thing that needs decluttering in my life, i.e. sorting through the meaningful and irrelevant or negative and discouraging to make room for something much better. Do I really need to see every comment a friend has made somewhere else... or something they have "liked"? I'm sure they don't want to see mine either.... 


So that brings me back to my original thought....which is.... 

The simpler my life... the happier I become.

.... and I'm happily shutting things down.... and letting them go.....

Monday, May 29, 2017

truth sets us free

I read something today (below) in a book I love that blew me away with its truth. The kind of truth that sets you free. I sat down to read... in my glider rocker... and had a resolve to learn and to soak in something good... 

I opened my book and indeed soaked it in....

Possibly we all have situations in our lives that we have tried to control when it's involved other people and their choices. We just wanted to fix things and make everything okay. We've seen someone's life derail and the choices they make seem to make them miserable. We want to tell them to "do it this way instead" or "stop doing that" or any number of other responses that try to stop the chaos or unhealthy lifestyle we are witnessing. But it doesn't work. We don't have that power. 

I did it in my first marriage. Tried to make an emotionally unavailable man ... available.


I did it with my daughter. Tried to argue and reason my way through her insane lifestyle and addiction to change her mind. I tried to make someone not willing to do what it takes to change ... change.... 


I did it because I cared. Because I desperately wanted things to change for the better, but it only brought stress and hopelessness and despair to my own life... and the feeling of failure.

Oh, there is an answer.... and it's to let go... Love... and let go.... Surrender.....

My daughter made this bookmark for me recently in rehab (she's 32!)  It touched me because she has little to give but chose to give me what she had.... she made it with the children of the moms in the rehab facility when they went on a nature walk. She said, "It's not much, but I made two and wanted to give one to you."

She is learning and wanting to change... Will it last? Will she keep moving forward in recovery and maintain health, sobriety, and sanity? ... I hope so, but that is up to her. I've moved on from thinking if I just say the right thing in the right way I can control or change a situation. 

And peace dwells in my heart because of that....

I don't know how other people's lives are going to turn out. I pray for them and I love them. I cheer them on.... but it's up to them... 

... as my life is up to me as to how I will live it. 

Powerlessness and Unmanageability

Willpower is not the key to the way of life we are seeking. Surrender is.

"I have spent much of my life trying to make people be, do, or feel something they aren't, don't want to do, and choose not to feel. I have made them, and myself, crazy in that process," said one recovering woman.

I spent my childhood trying to make an alcoholic father who didn't love himself be a normal person who loved me. I then married an alcoholic and spent a decade trying to make him stop drinking.

I have spent years trying to make emotionally unavailable people be emotionally present for me. I have spent even more years trying to make family members, who are content feeling miserable, happy.

What I'm saying is this: I've spent much of my life desperately and vainly trying to do the impossible and feeling like a failure when I couldn't. It's been like planting corn and trying to make the seeds grow peas. Won't work!

By surrendering to powerlessness, I gain the presence of mind to stop wasting my time and energy trying to change and control that which I cannot change and control. It gives me permission to stop trying to do the impossible and focus on what is possible: being who I am, loving myself, feeling what I feel, and doing what I want to do with my life.

In recovery, we learn to stop fighting lions, simply because we cannot win. We also learn that the more we are focused on controlling and changing others, the more unmanageable our life becomes. The more we focus on living our own life, the more we have a life to live, and the more manageable our life will become.

Today, I will accept powerlessness where I have no power to change things, and I'll allow my life to become manageable.

From The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie ©1990, Hazelden Foundation.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

things to remember.....

I've read some good articles lately... or listened to a TED talk... or watched an interesting program... all of which made me stop and think and reflect.  Some thoughts filled a void where there had been some lack of understanding. Some ideas just clicked and finally made sense. Some thoughts were convicting and made me see myself... or others... and what I didn't want to be... or do in my own life. It feels good to learn... and change (hopefully) for the better. Become more wise... and more at peace...

Some of the things I want to remember....

* I heard this said today... "Life is not about avoiding suffering, but finding meaning". Sure made me stop and think. Abruptly. Suffering has always been so tough for me to understand. It has taken me a long long time for this truth to travel from my head to my heart. Why? Why do some truths you have heard many times all of a sudden sink in where they can do some good inside of us? Sometimes the right person has to say it. Sometimes it has to come at the right time and in the right way. I don't know why things click when they do... but it clicked for me recently. Maybe I am finally (maybe) making peace with the reality that suffering is part of the human experience. Acceptance is a small, quiet room.

* Principles without practice equal... or result in... lostness. Just because we believe the right things (or say we do) means little without practicing... or living it out... in our lives. Makes me think of the Bible verse "faith without works is dead"... Worthless. Do... don't just say... or think.... or believe.... Do.

* Don't be a "right fighter". There are a lot of right fighters around. Always have to come back with saying something to disagree or try to prove another wrong, argue, never backing down... believing that is a virtue even... Just cannot keep quiet. This doesn't mean we cannot express an opinion, but after you have, let it be. And be kind on top of that. "Never miss a good chance to shut up".  My first marriage was with a right fighter... and I probably had some of that in me as well.... Not a happy marriage. But I have wanted peace for a long time now. I still have strong opinions, but I don't have to throw them around all the time like a weapon. Sometimes (often) peace is better than being right. Sounds harsh but... "I knew I matured when I realized every situation doesn't need a reaction. Sometimes you just gotta leave people to do the lame shit they do." It's true.

* Death is what makes life precious... gives life meaning. Dying is what creates preciousness... it's what gives us the impulse to make meaning. Death proves life.... (whoa!)  B.J. Miller TED talk is awesome. Just awesome.

More to come..............

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

morning kitchen activity

I love to cook and bake. Especially if I can share with others. But even if visitors aren't expected I enjoy good food and the process of making it for myself. I don't make every meal from scratch, but I have to admit when I do it's a whole lot better tasting than the freezer section of the grocery store!

It might be nice to have a servant who did all the cleaning up though! But even that can be satisfying ... to get the kitchen back to a clean and organized status.

I've had the ingredients to make Creamy Tortellini Soup and Focaccia bread for a few days now ... both using fresh herbs from my garden. It was as good as I hoped it would be and I will definitely make it again. It would be a good meal for company with a green salad on the side.

Norman is my ever-present-doggie-in-the-way-at-my-feet companion while I putter around in the kitchen. I'm sure he has learned that he gets lucky from time to time... 

... and it's always nice when something falls our way.