Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A family in mourning

She left her home on Monday with a bright red sweatshirt on, riding her bike and went to school.  She didn't stay but got on a Bart train heading to San Francisco.  A photo of her exiting the station shows her with her bike, wearing earphones for an iPod.  The last image of a beautiful young woman.

What happened to Allison?  What triggered her to leave with the intent to end her life?  I am torn up inside with the questions.  She was 15 years young the same age as my son.  She felt she had no friends is what my son heard.  They went to different high schools in our town, he didn't know her.  My son tells me this as we drive home from school today.

I want to hug my son but I am driving the car in the crazy school traffic outside the campus.  I tell him what he already knows, that he can talk to his dad and I anytime about anything.  That we love him so very much.  That he is loved by all his family.  

Allison left a trail.  I want to believe she wanted to be found and did not want to end her life, for why ever else would she have done this?  On her computer it showed directions from the Dublin Bart station to the Golden Gate Bridge.  Her bike was found, locked, in the Presidio area in San Francisco near the Golden Gate Bridge.  She left a suicide note at home and was considered "at risk".  Was she "at risk" before or because of the note?

They know she went onto that bridge because they have found footage of this on the two cameras at either end of the bridge.  She never walked off.

So now her family waits for the discovery of her body.  The pain they all must be feeling.  The pain Allison must have felt to plan her last day, her last moments.  

I have never been so sad or depressed to feel that I can not live in this world any longer.  I can't know that pain.  I only know that I wish that she could have been helped to know she was loved.  That she had a full life ahead of her.  She was in sports and will be missed by her teammates.  She will never get to go to Junior Prom or the Senior Ball.  She will never graduate from High School or go to college.  Never travel, never explore.  She will never find the love of a soul mate or have children of her own to love.

I hope that in the sweet hereafter Allison is being held in loving arms.  Surrounded by those who will let her know how loved she is.  I hope that her family are surrounded by loving arms as well because their deepest pain has only just begun.

Today started off rainy and grey and they gave way to blue skies and puffy clouds flying by.  The green leaves on the trees dancing and swaying in the gusty wind.  How can life be so beautiful but not beautiful enough?  Oh Allison I am holding you in my arms and wanting to sooth your troubled brow.  I want to rock you and let you know life is more than precious.  It is more than words can say. 


Clearing the head

My doggies and I had a lovely gentle hike yesterday.  Blue skies with a gentle breeze.  There is nothing like a walk in nature to clear ones head!  Just some photos so share and a short video of  what we saw.

The birds were singing, the once green grass is slowing drying out into the golden brown grass of a California summer.  We saw a lot of cows.  Young ones I would say, all lazy and not eating the grass that is so bountiful.  Maybe they have had there fill for that time of day.

Annie and Stewie doing the "doggie pant".  Oh do they love a walkie!

Me too needing some sun on my pale winter skin.  I love where I live!

Walking with the poochies from Ellen F. on Vimeo.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Goodbye but never farewell....

      I have no words only images.  Cherished moments held as close as possible, never will they leave my eyes, memory or heart...

Love you Arleen and Clark

For dear Arleen and Clark... from Ellen F. on Vimeo.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Mmmmm comfort food...

Comfort food....oh today I need comfort food.  I have no idea why curry gives me comfort.  I am not Indian or Thai yet the aroma of curry and coconut has this way of making me feel hugged.  I love to wake up the next morning still with the aroma of these two scents in my home.

I am sharing a wonderful soup that spells comfort out so well.  C-o-m-f-o-r-t...try it and tell me if you feel the same way.....

Curried Carrot Coconut Soup

2 T butter
1 small onion (I like a sweet one)
2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
4 tsp curry powder or paste
1 tsp kosher salt, (not table salt!)
2 lb. organic carrots, chopped
4 C good chicken broth
2 cans (15 oz each) coconut milk
1/2 C plain yogurt, homemade preferably

1.  Melt butter in a large soup pot over medium high heat.  Cook onion, garlic, curry powder, and salt until fragrant, stirring often, about 2 minutes.  Add carrots and broth and cook, covered, until very tender, about 12 minutes.

2.  Puree soup until very smooth, using a blender and working in batches.  Stir in coconut milk and heat until hot.  Serve in bowls of soup with a dollop of the yogurt on top.

Breathe in the lovely smell of curry and coconut and r-e-l-a-x.......

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The best parts of Mother's Day for me

I had a baby in my house for this weekend, my 9 month old great-niece E.
To hear the sounds of a baby in the morning was music to my ears and to my Love's as well!
She was here with her mommy and daddy to come and see her Great-Nana for the first time and we all had such high hopes for this.

This is my nephew K. with E. riding high on her daddy's shoulders.  Safe and secure as she tugs his hair.  My nephew who grew up from the little boy playing rough and tumble with his brothers.  He is a wonderful daddy, this I can see.  He is "hands on" as they say and I think of my Love and I in our first year as a mommy and daddy with our daughter K.,  our first child.  So much to learn about each other.

Her is E. with her beautiful mommy R.  Look at those smiles....

Miss E. with her daddy and my Love...oh he was so happy to play with a baby! 

Then there is E. and me.  Do I look happy or what?

My middle daughter E. came with a yummy, delicious, multi-layer cake that had a raspberry filling between the layers of the most moist white cake with a hint of lemon flavor topped with a lighter than air frosting that she torched!  Great fun to watch her handle a blow torch of my Love's.
Blow torch from Ellen F. on Vimeo.

My youngest daughter is in Rome so sadly we will not have her around...miss you M...knowing you must be seeing such wonderful places and delicious food.

These words that from a letter my daughter K. that she sent to me...just a snippet from what she wrote,  that touched me deeply....

I am grateful for the womb I inhabited in your body. I know it was a good place, being there with you. It was there that I began, dreaming. It is there I return, in Bret's arms while sleeping, in the forest under an embracing tree, in a hot bath that steams my being to stillness.

"I'm thankful

I'm grateful

To Spirit

To be alive"

I rained blossoms of compassion onto you tonight.
I sang a poem to you tonight.
I held you like you have held me a thousand times. 


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Dawn's light ears were awoken first.  The birds so loudly singing that it felt like I was in another place, not my bed, warm and cozy.  The birds were uproarious!  My eyes opened to see that first morning blue pink of the sky.  Still more dark than light.  The hills beyond my windows dark in shadow of morning's soon to come sunrise.  How full and crowded it felt yet I saw no birds only heard their chattering chirps.  A melody here and there.  A chorus of creatures intent on singing a song of life.

I lie in quiet peace knowing I needn't leave my nest where my Love and I have slept and dreamt.  He has not stirred.  The night was so warm that both my windows have been flung open to the outside world.  The first night of the new season of Spring that I could do this.  There are no curtains or shades upon my windows.  One large picture window and the smaller one that share two windows that crank open.  I have covered them from time to time but no one can see in our room and I have chosen to keep them uncovered.  Only nature and the sunrise, the birds, the deer, the busy bees that had been on the blossoming flowers of the crab apple tree that have all fallen now but whom will come again when the lavender blooms.  

As I fall asleep I look at the sky, to the hills beyond that rise up to the mountain I hold dear.  I see the lights of homes in the distance.  My mind relaxes and is lulled into the other place I live of the dream world.  When I was plagued with insomnia I would look out these windows, staring mindlessly, hoping that my eyes and mind would release and fall into slumber.  All quiet but me.  Then I realized that the insomnia had passed and I was finally able to fall as quickly to sleep as it took me to lay upon my pillow.  On then off.  Sleep....

Mornings feel lovely when you have a good night's sleep.  I no longer use my alarm clock to wake me as my dog's do this almost on the dot of 6:05.  I may not always want to climb down from my bed, and I do mean climb as it is a high bed where my toes do not reach the floor.  My dogs stretch, I stretch and I am followed to my closet to get my robe.  Each morning is unique and lovely this time of year.  The other morning while out with the dogs I heard a lone woodpecker pounding away.  A dove cooed.  The other birds had not started in on their morning song.  The air smells light and fresh, the coolness that awakens my eyes and body to come alive for the day.  
What comes to my mind is Cat Steven's singing Morning Has Broken ....

Morning has broken, like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for the springing fresh from the word

Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall, on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where his feet pass

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God's recreation of the new day

Good morning world!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

To Spring

In dedication to Arleen...because she felt nature and all it's beauty.

To Spring

       O thou with dewy locks, who lookest down
      Through the clear windows of the morning, turn
      Thine angel eyes upon our western isle,
      Which in full choir hails thy approach, O Spring!
      The hills tell one another, and the listening
      Valleys hear; all our longing eyes are turn'd
      Up to thy bright pavilions: issue forth
      And let thy holy feet visit our clime!

      Come o'er the eastern hills, and let our winds
      Kiss thy perfumèd garments; let us taste
      Thy morn and evening breath; scatter thy pearls
      Upon our lovesick land that mourns for thee.
      O deck her forth with thy fair fingers; pour
      Thy soft kisses on her bosom; and put
      Thy golden crown upon her languish'd head,
      Whose modest tresses are bound up for thee. 

      ~William Blake~

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Chicken Tagine with Apricots and Almonds

Want to try a delicious Moroccan spiced dish?  This is a favorite of my son's.  This goes very well over Basmati rice.  It may seem like a lot to do for this dish but I will break it down for the ease of preparation.

I don't own a Tagine dish to cook this in, I use a 12 inch round deep skillet that I can put a lid on and it works wonderfully.

Chicken Tagine with Apricots and Almonds

Step #1
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp tumeric 
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
2 T canola oil
1 large package of 6 boneless thighs

Stir together ground cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, pepper, salt,  and the oil into a large bowl.  Add chicken and turn to coat well.

Step #2
1 T butter
1 T olive oil

Heat butter and olive oil in skillet that has been sprayed with Pam, uncovered, over moderate heat until hot but not smoking.  Brown half of chicken, turning over once, about 4 - 8 minutes.  Transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.  Brown remaining chicken in same manner.  Set aside.

Step #3
1 yellow or red onion (I prefer yellow), halved and sliced 1/4  inch thick
4 cloves of garlic
1/4 tsp salt
small bundle of parsley tied with string
1/2 C chicken broth

Add onion and salt to skillet and cook on medium to low heat, uncovered, stirring frequently, until onion is soft, about 8 minutes.  Add garlic that is minced and cook, stirring occasionally for 3 minutes. Tie parsley into a bundle and add to skillet along with 1/2 C chicken broth and any juices accumulated with chicken on plate.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered for 30 minutes. 

Step #4
1 C chicken broth
2 T honey
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
1/2 C dried Turkish apricots, cut in half

While chicken cooks, bring honey and broth, cinnamon stick, and apricots to a boil in a 1 qt heavy saucepan, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until apricots are very tender (add more water if necessary).  Once apricots are tender, simmer until liquid is reduced to a glaze, 10 - 15 minutes.

Step #5
1/3 C whole blanched almonds that are toasted

Step #6
Ten minutes before chicken is done, add apricot mixture to skillet.  Discard herbs and cinnamon stick, then serve chicken sprinkled with almonds on top. 

Place a serving of Basmati rice on a plate and top with this aromatic dish.  The smell of the spices while this cooks it just heavenly!


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