Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Most of the time when I run out of bread, I make whole wheat oatmeal muffins, an adaptation of mine from an old Betty Crocker recipe of the 1960's. Very moist and yummy. Other times I make buckwheat pancakes and spread them over a couple of days in place of bread. Cold pancakes may seem odd, but they are actually quite good.

Today I didn't want to take time with muffins--thought they would take too long to bake, so I opted for pancakes. But being out of mix--I like Bob's Red Mill's Buckwheat Pancake mix--I googled for a whole wheat buttermilk recipe.

Here is what I found

Yummy. They smell wonderful as they cook and puff up so that they are unbelievably light and airy. They would be wonderful topped with yogurt and blueberries, but I enjoyed just honey.

Perfect on a cold fall afternoon as lunch.

I am grateful for the Internet, which returns recipes at my fingertips and for food in the house that I can turn into quick and interesting meals that are also fairly nourishing. Happy eating!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Year Later, Giving Back

A year ago I was a patient at the Spinal Cord Injury Unit of Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. I have written several times about that in this blog. To recap.

Last year, the day before Halloween, I could not stand up to rise from bed. After many years of living with the lifetime effects of polio, which I had as a child during the last big epidemic of 1953, and the somewhat more recent arrival of arthritis, I needed help.

That help came from the wonderful team of professionals at Rehab 1, as the Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Unit at Valley Medical Center is known. There I was cared for with much kindness and outfitted with new durable medical equpiment and taught a whole range of new skills. For the very first time in my life, I was given the sense that living with disability for so long and simply caring for myself, was an accomplishment. It is one that I celebrate everyday now as I use my beautiful power wheel-chair, more valuable than a sports car to me, in place of the old manual chair and wooden crutches that had been my daily companions for decades.

Now, for the first time in many years I am doing simple things like exploring the neighborhood, joining a friend for coffee or lunch, going for a haircut (by myself!), or shopping in a physical store instead of only online. Now, I am living my life as a real person, instead of a virtual person. Having the freedom to do this is lovely.

I want to give back to the people who have helped me so much to continue to help their patients. So I have the following fundraiser to offer.

I am a Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant. For the Fourth year in a row Mary Kay will donate one dollar from the sale of each of its three special Beauty that Counts™ lipstick shades that sell between Sept 16th and December 16th, 2011. I plan to match this for each of these lipsticks that I sell with $1 to Valley Medical Center Foundation for use in the Spinal Cord Injury Unit.

I will also donate one dollar from each of our hand creams that I sell for the same purpose. We have two hand cream fragrances, Peach and Fragrance free. Either of these would make a very nice hostess gift, stocking stuffer, gift exchange present or other small present. Consider buying a few extra to use as presents during the winter for non-holiday occasions.

Please help me to give back and to build my Mary Kay business by buying one of these lipsticks or hand creams for yourself or as a gift. I will, of course, be happy to show you more from our line of excellent products. Thank you so much.

You may order directly from my Mary Kay website

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Travelling by Internet

I have never been to Tennessee, but the other day a little of Tennessee came to me. Via the gift of the Internet and the United States Post Office, blending new and old technologies, beautiful beeswax candles and delicious, piquant honey arrived at my door. Here is a photo

I bought these items though Local Harvest

I could not find candles near by so opted to go to the Heartland. Local Harvest is such a great venue. It can put us in touch with local producers, especially to see who vends at our Farmer's Markets and who provides Community Subscription Agriculture boxes in our local area as well as help us find more regional specialties all produced with care in small batches by small businesses throughout our country. This is an excellent way to help the economy become stable again!

I am grateful for this little bit of Tennessee and for the woman whose fine handwriting on the address label as well as her care in packing in addition to the products themselves showed me a glimpse of someone who cares about what she is doing to earn her living. May she, and all of us, prosper.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Bread, the Staff of Life

A friend gifted me with the most sumptuous and scrumptious loaf of bread that I have ever had. Here are some pictures.

My bread never rises this high! I need lessons, or maybe I just need more patience.

My friend, who is a busy, busy person, said that she has found the time to work bread making into her schedule because the cost of bread has risen so much! I have seen this in my own grocery shopping. It is a comment on the bad state of our economy, I think when something so basic as bread becomes unaffordable.

On the other hand, it is good to regain control of something so basic as the bread that we put into our mouths by making it ourselves. Somehow, I think we need a revolution in this country to regain our time and do for ourselves the things we have allowed big companies to take over for us. So I will be making bread again.

First, though I want to know how my friend gets her bread to rise so much. Oh, and it tasted every bit as good as it looks!

I am grateful for bread, for the time to make it, for the friend who shared it and for friends to break it with.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Art by my Friend, Fe Langdon

Today my friend Fe, whom I first met when she came from our local church as a communion minister, brought me lunch from our local Hobee's.

Fe is a gifted photographer and artist. She has been making cards for about as long as I have and in the course of our conversation as we talked about our art and craft, as well as catching up on our lives, she shared her website with me. The website, which she designed herself, is at this url

Fe has expanded her art by taking classes in the book arts and graphic arts programs at Foothill College. Trained originally as an electrical engineer--Fe holds a Master's in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University--her eye for the artistry in nature is, I believe, inspired from that discipline and then transcended by her spiritual quest and gentle personality.

I commend her art and her website to you. She will be away for part of this month and part of next, so if you send her an order, please be patient. She will respond, I am sure.

Fe is one of the people who gifts my life with her friendship and I am so grateful for her and grateful to be able to share her art with you.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Another Wheelchair Throw

For years I have enjoyed knitting washcloths. Here is a patchwork throw with an elaborate pouch attached that is made from sewn together washcloths.

This is photographed from the viewpoint that the user would have. It is made from Lion Cotton yarn that is made in America and it is washable. I love this yarn because it comes in beautiful colors and knits into a soft fabric.

Pattern coming soon.

I am grateful to see this project coming to fruition.

Friday, July 8, 2011

First Wheelchair Lap Throw

My knitting lately has consisted of making lap throws that will fit the needs of a wheelchair user. These need to be sized so that they do not drag and catch in the wheels and they need some way to hold them in place so that they don't slide off the lap of the user.

The first problem is solved simply with the use of a measuring tape. The second is solved by attaching a tab with a buttonhole so that the tab will loop over the user's seat belt and then button onto the throw. A pocket is also part of the design, made to sit on the person's lap.

Here is a picture of the one I am currently finishing made from red, white and blue Lion Cotton (yarn made in America).

The ungainly looking hole is actually a knitted in slit for a pocket that will be added to the wrong side. Here is the pocket before it is sewn together and then sewn in.

The tab is made but not yet attached, so that will be a photo in the next post.

The pattern will be posted on my Etsy site as a pdf file for immediate delivery. I plan to donate a portion of my sales for this and similar patterns, to Valley Medical Foundation for the Spinal Cord Injury Unit's use.

The most difficult part of the design, I think, will be writing the instructions for placing the pocket to be sewn into the throw. I got it wrong several times before I got it right, just in the doing yesterday, so writing it will be an interesting challenge. If it is truly never to late to learn, then I guess it is not too late to become a technical writer, even if it is just for my own patterns.

I am so grateful today that the heat wave has ended and I am making progress on projects I have been planning for several months.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Fourth of July, 2011

Technically, I am a day early. Once the Fourth of July was a holiday. Now it is a long weekend. For a while last week, it looked like it was going to be a winter holiday complete with cold and rain. Now it has warmed up considerably. Better for watching fireworks displays and back yard barbecue. I am engaging in neither--will probably watch the Capitol Fourth special on PBS.

I love red, white and blue not only for the signal of patriotism that they bring to mind but because they are a gorgeous color combination. My knitting project is a red, white and blue lap throw designed to be sized for use by a wheelchair user, like me. (Will post soon.)

It is difficult to get excited about red, white and blue, in the patriotic sense, this year, because the economy is still such a mess and so many other problems abound, here and abroad.

It is also difficult not to be cynical about patriotism because there has been so much co-opting of it by politicians serving their own interests and not the common good.

The spectacle of California's annual budget debacle, which occurs ominously close to the Fourth of July each year, was mitigated by the fact of a signed budget. It would have been a better budget if the sales tax and vehicle registration taxes had been extended.

A total government melt-down at the Federal level looms large and threatening if the debt ceiling is not raised. This must be done. I am disgusted by the posturing of politicians who threaten the well-being of every one of us by their blustering.

Social Security and Medicare, the biggest fuller of budget deficits, could, I believe, be fully funded, with a small increase in payroll tax or getting rid of the cap on the amount of income that is taxed. (In other words, tax all of it--the percent might actually decline.) What a federal budget drain could be eliminated if we would just pay for what we need! Instead, we cut providers payments and threaten deeper cuts and changes in these programs. We have a government that creates dependency and then threatens to pull the programs away--not a great model of a "social contract".

We then feel helpless to do anything about it, although we can do more than we think by participating in government. Voting, writing letters, joining caucuses and action groups, setting up new co-coalitions are all things that we can do.

It's also a good time to think about buying American, and buying small. Patronizing local businesses and helping to set up more. How can we invest in one another, not in giant corporations?

2011 is such a time of discouragement and disgruntlement with our economy and our government that it is difficult to feel celebratory. Maybe we need to look to the Founding Fathers, who got together and did something about it.

What can we do after the bunting comes down and flags are put away and grills are cleaned? Let's make something together--a more civil, decent, healthier and more economically viable America.

I hope so. I think we still can. After we give thanks for the Declaration of Independence and for our freedoms and our democracy, lets get involved in it again.

I am grateful today to have the Fourth of July to celebrate. I am grateful too for beautiful weather, for a friend who is expected this afternoon and for friends who visited on Friday. Grateful, for the opportunities to think about what can be done and hopeful that more will be accomplished.

Today, this eve of the Fourth of July, I am asking myself what more can I do, how can I become more involved?

Saturday, June 4, 2011


Normally, it doesn't rain in Northern California in June. Today I woke to the sound of rain on my gravel roof. Real rain, not the drip-drop, wish we could do it, but we're not quite making it sound of the last week or so. According to the weather forecasts by next week it will be warm. We'll see!

Since it has been so cold this spring, I have put off pricing cooling devices for the outside of my house. Many yards, which used to have trees, have now sprouted umbrellas. According to neighbors whom I've talked to, these actually do work.

I have also looked at shade sails online and at coolaroo screening and bamboo or vinyl shades. I know that the day will come when I will wish that I had swathed the exterior of the house in something. Hopefully, those days will be few and not during the longest days of summer.

Volunteers from a local group, SILVAR, Silicon Valley Association of Realtors, came a few weeks ago and rearranged my living room furniture!. It looks and feels so much nicer now--I wish it could have happened ten years ago!

Then a young friend, who had some brief vacation time between the end of school and the beginning of her summer internship in the nation's capitol, came and moved more furniture from one bedroom to another and inside of the one that is now my sewing room.

All of this makes me so happy and so grateful. The house that I have lived in all of my life is finally becoming my home.

So I may be a little chilly today but I am profoundly grateful, too. It is a day for doing cozy things and puttering at decluttering--putting back the things that were moved so the furniture could be moved.

Thank you to everyone who has been helping me so much!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Roll Around My Neighborhood

Yesterday, while friends worked on my yard, I took myself off for a roll around my neighborhood to look at the roses and other blooming things. So many pretty yard treatments! When I returned my friends had moved into my backyard. It has been almost fifteen years (maybe longer) since I have been in my backyard. Yesterday I looked at the pavers and thought that the wheelchair and I could do it. (Probably not regularly, though. I don't want to wear out my chair.) Here I am sitting in my own backyard!

Here are some of the roses that captivated me as I rolled and photographed what I saw.

The white roses where fragrant as well as beautiful. What a lovely day. I am so grateful.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

More Made in America

A few posts back I wrote about "Made in America". Here are a few more knitting projects made from American Yarn,

This small pink bag, made with a crocheted button and designed to fit over a wheel chair belt first appeared as a swatch. It is made from Caron, Simply Soft. The button is so cute! These buttons are also great fun to make. At the beginning, the little project doesn't look at all like a button, not even button like. Then at the last pull through, pop, a button! I found this tutorial,

I hope to have a pattern for this little beauty up on Etsy before too long.

The next two projects are made from a pattern that I adapted from a kit. I believe that the seller is Country Wool, . Country Wool carries yarn from Brown Sheep Company.

Here are the pictures

I am grateful for the fun that I have with knitting; that the things that I make are useful and pretty and that I can still find yarn that is made in America.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter already

When I last posted it was still early in Lent. Time has been telescoping on me, but I am spending time in tinkering and crafty and cooking pursuits. (Anything to avoid writing, which is what I should be doing!)

Friends gave me this lovely lily

I have been making Feta and Green Onion scones following the recipe for Savory Cheese and Green Onion scones on Farm girl foodie (link under blogs to the right.)

I am going to watch the Easter Vigil from the Vatican on EWTN, savor the music and the beauty, while remembering friends near and far and some gone now whom I celebrated with when I was young. Our priest, who always sang the ite missa est twice with the alleluias after it, because he couldn't resist the sheer joyful beauty of it.

A blessed, joyful and beautiful Easter to everyone. I am so grateful to be here and to have these memories and traditions. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to my life so far.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Made in America

I have been following ABC's World News Tonight's feature, Made in America and decided to look at some of my own things. To my dismay, my bears, who keep me company while I type, and are quiet while I tear the house apart no matter how much they might want to talk back, are all made in China!

Some yarn, however, is made in America. Below is a small knitted pocket that I am making from some left over Dazzelaire, a Caron acrylic. On the back of the label is a small logo that reads, "Made with pride in the USA". I have had the yarn for sometime though and could not find where the yarn is currently made when I went to the company's website.

Here is the yarn in its wrapper along with the pocket or pouch, which I am designing to be worn over a belt. My new wheelchair has a belt and such a pouch would be most useful, I think and might be useful to others as well.

Sometime ago I made a wrap-around or circular shawl using this yarn and it has seen much use and washed well.

Another scarf from another Caron yarn, Simply Soft is here.

The star in the label below to the far left has the made with pride in the USA wording around it.

Finally, I found a swatch in another color of the Simply Soft, that I will probably make into a small purse or another over the belt pouch.

I am grateful to find some things "Made in America" in my house. Can't help wondering if the hand-dyed yarn that I have thoroughly enjoyed using, which is largely natural-fiber and more high end, is also made in America.

Knitting again is also good. It is something that I missed while I was in the hospital and wasn't sure I could take up again, since the set-up of the new wheelchair is so different from the old one. But accommodations and adaptations are being made almost daily here proving that one is never too old to learn. I am grateful for this too.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Spring Not

And then it got cold. Some elevations near me received snow. Very pretty in the news. Not so much so for gardeners near those higher elevations.

The news casters talked about the last two times it snowed in the Bay Area low enough for it to stick in San Francisco.

In February 1976 it snowed and I have pictures of Papa scraping snow off the windshield of my 1964 Rambler Ambassador. That is the nearest that car came to snow.

In January 1962 I woke up one Sunday morning (at least memory calls it a Sunday) to look out my bedroom window on a backyard that looked like someone had taken a giant sugar duster to the yard and sprinkled powdered sugar all over it. I couldn't believe my eyes and I hurried out to the dining room to open the floor-to-ceiling drapes for a better look! Wow! It wasn't powdered sugar at all ! It was snow. I woke up the rest of the family to come see my amazing discovery.

This time it did not snow at the lower elevations as predicted on Thursday and Friday. In fact, it barely rained. Some weird convergence of pressure systems made for unusual weather.

Is it global warming or some other source of climate change, or just odd weather? Humans have always noticed and talked about the weather. After all, at its extremes weather can wreak havoc with our lives, remind us of how fragile we are and how much we are not in control of nature.

Maybe that is why we like the theory of global warming so much--it puts us in a central position and in control. Not to say we should be wasting fossil fuels the way we do, but I do think there are other reasons not to waste.

I would love to see less waste, and I would love to see the true cost of our wasteful misuse of nature's bounty factored into the cost of the things we buy and discard so haphazardly. I have wanted to see that since I was an undergraduate in college in the 1960's and a fellow student in Econ 1A raised the question of how we could or should factor in the cost of the use of non-renewable natural resources. It is a disappointment to me that almost fifty years later we still don't have any formulas for doing this.

If someone knows of a history of climate or weather that I could request next month from the library as one of my monthly books, I would appreciate it. The historian in me questions some of what I hear as science. (Just a skeptic at heart, I guess.)

I am grateful to live in a free society, where I can be a skeptic, and where I can even show what may be my ignorance without worrying about reprisals. Grateful too, very grateful that I have a warm spot to hunker down in today, more than enough tasks to keep me busy--which ones to choose first--and that the weather is warming up.

A blessed Sunday to everyone.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Signs of Spring

Daffodils blooming in the ground and in the flower pots show that spring is here. Flowering plum blossoms, with their beautiful pink flowers, are opening to the longer days. Blue hyacinths and grape hyacinths bloom. I would go out and take pictures to illustrate this post except for one major un-Spring like thing--a blast of cold air is coming at us from Canada. Rain, mixed with snow and snowflakes are predicted for tomorrow and Saturday.

It is so cold that I just want to hunker in front of the space heaters.

Girl Scout cookies are another sign of spring. Two boxes of Thin Mints--my absolute all-time cookie favorite have arrived and disappeared. (I definitely cannot eat just one Thin Mint!

Another sign of spring is cleaning! I am rearranging the middle, and smallest, bedroom in my house to be a true sewing and crafts studio. This involves a lot of packing and hauling things from one part of the house to another. Then unpacking and inventory work is completed.

Far more fabric has emerged than I would ever have thought that I had, saved for decades. Books that came home from graduate school and were neatly stowed beneath the bed await disposal in the garage. (Either the local library for their on-going friends sale or the Salvation Army will receive the books, I hope.)

Less yarn than I thought that I had has emerged--guess I've knitted most of it and don't really have a stash-exceeding-life-expectancy after all!

It is a good day to re-do my Etsy shop, which I have been re-arranging, read blogs and research recipes. Spring will come. In the meantime, I am grateful that it isn't any colder than it is! Praying also for no power outages, like the one that hit Toledo earlier in the week as a result of an ice storm.

Stay warm and dry everyone!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Equipment for Independence

I am using a power chair now. A friend took this picture of the chair.

Slide boards are an integral part of the day's routines now. The first is my wooden one.

The next one, my acrylic triangle board, custom made by TAP Plastics, is a work of art and of community. The whole team of Physical Therapists and one of the Occupational Therapists pitched in to help, taking measurements, snapping a photo and emailing it to me and finally drawing templates. I loved the process and the way the team interacted. It was so great. I think of them whenever I pick this board up, which is several times a day.

I think this is a thing of beauty.

I am grateful for these tools. The power chair allows me to get out of the house. Two weeks ago a friend walked with me, in the mild spring weather we were having, showing me the route to take to our local shopping center, where I got my haircut. This week I will go out for a doctor's appointment and I began the year with a trip in the rented wheelchair van to go see another doctor in San Jose. Three outings in the first five weeks of the year! Wow! If I don't count going to hospitals last year, this is more than I got out in the last two years.

I am grateful for friends who are helping me to develop new skills too.