More Winter Haikus

Cloudy Day Haiku

Gray clouds hide the sun

Makes us crave light, warmth and hope

For an early spring.

 

Frosted Boughs

Snow frosts the branches

In bright glittering crystal—

Diamond gloves for trees.

 

Life Below the Pond

Our ice-covered pond

Hides the life deep in the mud

That swims up in spring.

 

Sleeping Cat in a Warm House

They find the heat, cats—

Beds, blankets, and sunlit shelves

Their comfort comes first.

 

Hot Soup

Hot soup cheers and warms

Both heart, soul, stomach and hands—

Comfort in a cup.

 

A Bit of Patience

I am an impatient person disguised as a really patient person (because that’s how I would like to be all the time). Although I can easily give a pass to a crazy driver (it helps me to calm down by flipping him/her off well under the dashboard) or forgive an honest mistake, there are some things that, well—just pull the trigger for me. Such as this: when I want something done, I want it done right now. As you can imagine, this almost never happens.

The other morning I was making a pot of soup and needed some broth to thin it out. I called downstairs to the Crankee Yankee to ask him if he would please bring a can of it upstairs. I heard him say that he would.

As I was cleaning up the sink, the soup began bubbling. I turned it down and thought, ‘I could really use that broth now.’ But the Crankee Yankee was testing the new batteries for our smoke alarms and radon detector; I was glad he was taking care of this first; the broth could wait for the time being.

Meanwhile, the soup kept bubbling—and thickening. The Crankee Yankee often gets so focused on something that he forgets other things. However, I do the same thing when I am deeply involved. I have had whole days go by when I didn’t do three-quarters of what I swore I would do in one day.

So, on the excuse that I needed more paper towels upstairs, I walked downstairs and chatted with him while scanning the pantry shelves for broth. He said, ‘oh, shoot—I was going to bring that up to you.’

“Don’t worry about it,” I said, “I needed some paper towels so I’ll grab that can of broth while I’m down here.” But behold and lo; there was no canned broth.

I remembered then that I actually had some leftover chicken broth in the refrigerator, so I went back upstairs and added it to the soup. I congratulated myself on not getting all wound up over the broth situation. As I stirred the soup and enjoyed its wonderful earthy scent I thought about patience and what it does for us.

Patience smooths the ragged edges of things, including our thoughts. When we get so deeply mired in the “have-to-dos” and “must-dos” we may miss out on something important. What’s more important than getting everything on the daily list done? I, as a major slave of lists have discovered this truth: you really don’t have to get it all done in a day.

Of course, if you are an ER nurse and someone is bleeding profusely, yes; that needs to be seen to ASAP. We can name all sorts of emergencies and near-emergencies that demand our attention.

However, when I look at my daily to-do list, there are some things on it I know I can let go. Example: the other day we had some significant snow, so the Crankee Yankee and I worked inside the house on our various projects. I was beginning to get frustrated and bored with what I was doing, so I took a break.

And guess what happened? I saw—really and truly saw the stark and lovely symmetry of snow on bare black branches, the softly falling flakes, the pewter-gray of the clouds, and the mounds of marshmallow snow covering everything.

It was breath-taking. It made me stop, look and then listen to the soft whisper-y sound of falling snow. It was peaceful beyond imagining. What else might I have missed if I wasn’t so busy concentrating on ticking off the items on my list?

I realized then that my to-do list was actually making me more impatient; I was letting it take over my life. Honestly, it’s not all that important. I am pretty sure that, when I am on my death bed, I won’t be fretting about an item or two I didn’t attend to on my to-do list.

So here is my advice to you and me: each day, if we can, let’s take a short break (or longer) to look, listen and feel what miracle may be right in plain sight. All it takes is a bit of patience.

The Marks of Our Achievements

I’ve been playing my ukulele a lot since Christmas. I was inspired to as my oldest granddaughter, Ava, got her own ukulele from Santa Claus. We had fun playing together, and I found that my love of music has resurfaced.

I now have my finger calluses back; my badges of honor and dedication. I value them because I’m back to playing my old songs and am learning new ones. It made me think of all the other calluses we pick up in life, doing the things we love.

Back when I was in school, there were no computers, cell phones, iPads, etc. Any writing was done by hand. I developed a huge “writers’ bump” on my left left middle finger from writing with a pen. Since I loved to write, I was sort of fond of that bump; it marked me as a writer.

In my 20s, I ran two miles a day, rain or shine. I kept it up until I developed shin splits. So I switched to power-walking. Then I went on to take up Tae Kwon Do, and, in my 30s I attained four ranks of black belt. I and two other women ran a class together for a few years, and it was a lot of fun.

One day in a tournament, I received a direct kick to my right knee that sent me to the hospital for arthroscopy. Years later, I needed to have it done again. And now, decades later, I have a knee replacement.

See the pattern? The things we love to do tend to leave marks on us, either physical or mental. Each hobby I took up left its unique fingerprint on me. I can’t say that I don’t appreciate them; I do. They make me remember who I was in the past, and where I am right now, and where I may be going in the future.

I can remember way back in time when my skin was smooth, all my bones and sinews were strong, my vision was perfect, my hearing was excellent and my energy was never-ending. All along my own walk of life, I have picked up bumps and bruises, calluses and rough spots, scars and wrinkles and so on.

I find them all comforting somehow—they are the road map of my life so far, which has been well-lived. Besides—what’s a few more calluses, anyway?

 

Mug Cakes—Who Knew?

I have just discovered mug cakes, and they are fabulous. What IS a mug cake, you ask? It is literally a little cake in a mug. It’s the perfect dessert for when you want to have something sweet at the end of a meal. The mug cake is not a whole cake, so you can have your cake and eat it, too—but you won’t have a whole cake sitting there with one slice  gone, tempting you to have just one more slice.

Mug cakes are surprisingly easy to make, and they are delicious. I have tried two recipes so far; one for a luscious lemon curd mug cake, and one for a deep fudgy chocolate one. Both are so easy to make and are sooooooo good.

And get this: they take less than five minutes to make! This includes mixing the ingredients, and popping it into the microwave for about 1 minute and 30 seconds or so. Then bingo: your mug cake is ready to eat.

Here are the recipes for both:

LEMONY MUG CAKE

INGREDIENTS:

4 T. all-purpose flour

1/4 t. baking powder

2 t. granulated sugar

3 t. *milk

1/4 t. vanilla extract

1/2 t. vegetable oil (canola works just fine)

1 t. fresh lemon zest

1 t. lemon curd

DIRECTIONS:

1. Combine all ingredients except the lemon zest and the lemon curd into an oversized microwave-able mug. Mix with a small wisk or spoon until the batter is smooth. (Hint: dig deep into the mug to make sure that you have mixed the ingredients thoroughly. The first time I tried made a mug cake, I didn’t mix it enough so my last couple of teaspoons was mainly flour and baking powder. Yuck.)

2. Add in the lemon zest and lemon curd and mix until the batter is smooth.

3. Cook in the microwave for about a minute. Check it done-ness by inserting a knife all the way to the bottom; if it comes out clean, it’s done.

Let the cake cook a few minutes before eating. It’s at its best when eaten while warm (and also because why on earth would you want to wait any longer?) Add more lemon curd if you want to; it’s lemony deliciousness beyond compare. (I have been guilty of eating an entire jar of lemon curd myself.)

Here is the chocolate version:

CHOCOLATE MUG CAKE

INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

2 T. unsweetened cocoa powder

1/8 t. baking soda

1/8 t. salt

3 T. milk

2 T. canola oil

1 T. water

1/4 t. vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

1. Mix flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a microwave-safe mug; stir in milk, canola oil, water and vanilla extract. (HINT:  see hint above for the lemon mug cake; the same applies here.)

2. Cook in microwave until the cake is done in the middle; about 1 minute 30 seconds.

The next mug cake recipe I am going to try is the salted caramel one. (Can you hear the mug cake angels singing?) I can’t wait to try this one as I would prefer eating caramel anything at any time. (I would probably eat a shoe if it was dipped in caramel.) Once I taste-drive it, I’ll post the caramel mug cake recipe here.

Stay tuned.

*I use almond milk, and honestly—it doesn’t make a bit of difference at all.

 

 

 

 

The Operative Phrase is “In the Future”

The Crankee Yankee and I have been married for nearly 15 years. We have known each other since we were in our 20’s. Then we met and married other people, then years later divorced those people. We started dating in the late 90’s and got married in 2002.

Now—with all that time and history behind us, wouldn’t you think we would know each other pretty well? Evidently not.

Knowing his propensity for building demolition, I made the Crankee Yankee promise me that he would NEVER make me live in a construction zone. However, at the time we didn’t take into consideration that we would move into the house he grew up in.

As I’ve said in other posts, our circa 1953 house is a darling place; small and easy to manage. However, repairing and renovating it is the Crankee Yankee’s favorite hobby. This means that there is precious little on and around our house that hasn’t been torn down, replaced, repaired, renovated and so on. Most of it now is “in progress.”

Granted, the place needed lots of repair and renovation. There were and are necessary things that really have to get done. I get that; I understand. However, I can just about manage all the ongoing work that goes on for the exterior of the house; after all, it’s not going on in the inside of the house.

The Crankee Yankee has some grand plans for the interior, though, and while I applaud his creativity, work ethic and all his carpentry knowledge and experience, I can’t visualize things as well (and as quickly) as he can.

When the repairs and renovations are inside the house; in my face as it were, it makes me, as Michael Meyers (of Saturday Night Live fame) would say, “all *verklempt.” It is messy, upsetting, and intrusive. Usually he will give me enough notice so I can get out of the house and see a movie or do some errands or something.

So, the other morning when I was wondering out loud how I could better re-arrange and organize my beading area, which is currently in our office, he went into a full (and to me, terrifying) description of how he was going to “blow out” one whole wall in there to make a bigger closet.

That lead to a short dissertation on how it would be so much better for the house and for us if we had more of an “open air” concept. This way, he said, you can walk in the front porch door (that now opens to our living room) and go right into the office. Much better design and air flow, he said, not to mention a bigger, more useable closet.

And with that, he grinned at me and walked out the door—just as if I had clapped my hands, jumped with joy and told him what a clever devil he was to think of this NEW plan.

Well—I went full-blown verklempt over that one. What I didn’t realize is that he meant this as a future plan, not an immediate one. Had I known that (read this as: if he had just said so), I would have stopped having a near-aneurysm over it.

So, if anyone reading this has the same kind of partner as I do, remind them that it is all about how you present an idea. There’s the Crankee Yankee way, which is to just unload all your ideas, possibilities and general thinky-thinks right in a rumbling heap on the floor without warning.

Or there is the luluopolis way, which is to kindly explain that your grandiose (and assuredly messy and disruptive) ideas are for future consideration, not in actual fact something you are planning to do in the next day or so.

However, I did get to go see a pretty good movie that day.

*Yiddish for a person who is too emotional to speak.

 

January

January’s tricky, weather-wise; it makes us wary

Of ice and snow that turns all roads scary.

We bundle up in tons of clothes

With nothing showing but eyes and nose—

Colds and flu lurk in every breath that freezes

‘Til we’re racked with coughs and chills and lots of sneezes.

A “January thaw” seems quite amiss,

And about as common as a unicorn’s kiss—

And though we must live with all that sleet and ice and snow

And chill and frost and icy winds that blow—

It’s only Winter shaking its fists at the sun

Knowing that its time is short and must be on the run

Before warm Spring comes waltzing along,

Bearing flowers and green grass and sweet birdsong,

It won’t last forever

All this cold and icy weather—

So be of good cheer; warmer days are coming

Even though our hands and feet are quickly numbing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Girl in the Cupcake Hat

The Crankee Yankee and I went up to Freeport, Me the other day. While it was quite cold, the day was sunny and bright. The Crankee Yankee had promised me a warm coat from LL Bean as one of his Christmas gifts to me, so I was looking forward to the trip.

It was a cold, crisp day with lots of sunshine, and, blessedly, no wind. Everyone was out and about, from babies in strollers to folks our age and older; pink-cheeked and smiling. The smell of fresh-ground coffee was in the air, and everyone seemed to be cheerful and glad to be outside.

Being the frugal Yankees that we are, we headed first for the outlet store. My goal was to find not just a warm coat, but also a bright purple warm coat. In the outlet store, however, the choices are somewhat limited, but still good.

We found a pretty three quarter-length coat in a beautiful pomegranate color. I tried it on, but over my heavy sweater it was too snug. A winter coat needs to work easily with such winter gear to be effective. Nothing else seemed to catch my eye, so we moved on to the main store.

After a long and pleasant time in the main store where I looked at and tried on several warm jackets and coats, I came up empty. The coats I really liked were way out of budget (and I can fall right out of love when the price doesn’t work for me), so I passed them by.

We left the store and just for the heck of it, went back to the outlet store. I went through the racks again without much hope, but—wonder of wonders, there was a beautiful coat that met all my requirements. It fit as though it was made just for me, it was warm (the tag said it was effective to -35 degrees!), and there were zippered pockets and a hood.

It wasn’t purple, but it was that shade of deep sky blue that brings to mind the lake on a bright summer day. Or the sky in the fall when the geese fly by in a massive V formation, or the bright irresistible blue of Lego blocks. I loved it—and it fit and it was on sale!

As we walked happily out of the store and headed for the car, we walked by a little girl and her mom. The little girl had beautiful curly hair spilling out from beneath a wool hat that was shaped and decorated like a big pink cupcake.

We stopped and told her how much we loved that hat. Her mother laughed and said that it had been a gift; she said that she initially thought it was pretty garish. However, her daughter loved it and wore it nearly every day.

That little girl reminded us of our oldest granddaughter, Ava, who definitely has her own style. I knew that she would love a hat like that. Then I thought “who are you kidding? YOU would love a hat like that!” (And I’d wear it proudly, too!)

So the Crankee Yankee and I drove home, happy and content in each other’s company. I was thrilled with my Christmas present, and went to sleep that night smiling about how much I would wear and love that beautiful blue coat.

Before sleep took over, I wondered if I could find two matching cupcake hats; one for Ava and one for me. After all, what sets off a new coat better than a warm hat that looks like a pastry?