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If Wishes Were Horses

Thursday, March 15th, 2012


I just want to say a few things today – keep it simple.  My life is too complex right now and I am preparing my income taxes, which are very difficult for me to do; I must do them right.

Last night I had a dream that reoccurred numerous times.  I was meticulously folding colored paper into a mask of a horse face.  The dream was full of my hands working and the stunning beauty that the paper was taking on in forming the different sections of the face.  The horse was a reddish brown color with a very dark brown, almost black, mane and there was a small white oval shape between the eyes and the darkening section of the mussel.

I was amazed at how the curve of the nostrils blended well as I tried and then discovered how to fold the paper to get the visual results I wanted.

My mask was deemed a masterpiece and found to be a highly prized sculpture – original and yet soft.

IT Girl and one of my friends are both exquisite at paper folding art.  My neighbor did a whole manger scene for her church one Christmas that just took your breath away.  IT Girl uses more color, but can make the paper perform in creative ways.   Library Girl can also do some interesting things with paper, and we are all surprised by her gift wrapping creations.

I have thought of this dream all day and decided it was important that I remembered it so vividly.  I think this is because I am quitting a medication that has ceased working for me and it is taking time to leave my system.  Then I thought I should look up the symbolism of a horse in my book:

“A horse symbolizes strength, power, endurance, majesty, and virility.  Riding a horse suggests one is in a powerful position.”

I started to think about horses in terms of how I am going to set goals for this next third of my life.  Since my original bucket list is either completed or cast off right now I seem to be in a space of opportunity to create – something of strength, power, endurance, and majesty – alive.   But what should I choose to do?

I vacuumed the whole house on this thought –

As I write this now, I am thinking the paper is simple and my hands are knowledgeable, whatever I decide it will endure majestically…

What do you think I should do and add to my bucket list?
Do you interpret the symbolism and dream in a different way?
Looking forward to your ideas and comments.  Thank you.

If you purchase anything from Amazon  or Powell’s   from this site, I will receive a few beans in my bucket.

Discover our words at Biking Architect or subscribe to our occasional newsletter at WiseEars.

Related Reading:
The Idea Factory
Move Your Money
Walter’s Muse
Unfinished Business

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So Far Away By ~Christine W. Hartmann

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

So Far Away - TLC tour info

So Far Away is a book that needs to cross the path of anyone who still has senior parents alive and well.  It may not be so comforting to those who in the throws of senior caregiving, but then it just might be reassuring that one is not alone.

This is a personal story about the end of two lives and how they differed and how their child dealt with their wishes and worked to comply and understand how the system worked.  It is the personal story of the author.

It is a loving story and exhausting; without a great plan A, B, and C it is just the kind of thing which will occur and be repeated many, many times.

Her parents were divorced when she was 9 years old and Hartman and her 8-year-old brother lived with their father; their mother lived in an apartment a few blocks away.  They were well loved but with both parents working as Engineers, they had many hours a day on their own.  Working hard at schoolwork was their best endeavor between them.  This arrangement emphasized the differences between their parents, who were immigrants from East Germany, and stopped the constant fighting.

Hartman’s mother was disciplined, organized, plain and controlled.  She was trained as a technician and always wished she had more education so studied on her own.  She had a small heart episode in her younger adult years, so walked regularly and ate an extremely healthy diet.  It was during her older years on these walks that Hartman and her mother talked and became close.

It was during these walks, that her mother revealed that she was planning on committing suicide before her 70th birthday so that she could die with health, not become a burden to her children, and to have taken care of her “ things”.  She was studied and organized.  She did end her own life.

This knowledge became a psychological burden to her daughter, who became anxious about it, and with good sense began regular counseling sessions and group grief work.   During her doctoral studies she even lived with her mother, and they found a closeness and understanding that was extraordinary.

Her father on the other hand was a bit more undisciplined.  Yes, he had selected a Quaker retirement community / assisted living center and he purchased a condominium for when he was ready to downsize.  But an early stroke, one of three made the decisions for him.  He kept putting it off and not talking about his wishes, then had the first stroke, recovering enough to get into the condo only to have another massive stroke and lay of the floor undiscovered for several days.

The burden of care fell to the author as this stroke rendered a personality change into a person who was hard to control, excitable, anxious, belligerent and needed constant care.

The time line of her father’s story was often confusing, but in the end it did not matter; the ever present exhaustion and fatigue of the author fed into all the decisions she needed to make and the 4 days a week of driving to the centers to make decisions and support her father’s life.  He was unclear about what he wanted and then medical people ignored the personal directives because they were unclear.

All the “stuff” had to be decided again and again.  Her brother was helpful as he could be, but he had a family of his own and lived further away.

It is a beautiful life changing story and extremely personal.  I believe the author’s social work background provided insights; the book was not full of research or programs or even advice, it was primarily just her story.

I believe we will be seeing more of these books as the baby boom generations dives into this area of their lives.  I think death and taking care of seniors is going to be a huge issue;  as folks shoulder more and more of the burdens and less and less of the joy of this part of life and living.

There was no discussion of a financial burden as part of this memoir.

Will your parent be organized or disciplined?  Will your parent be willing to have the tough conversations?  Where will the care funds come from and who will be responsible?  Tough questions with no crystal ball on which to rely.

I am not going to rate this book on my scale because I think it is an important subject matter and folks will benefit from reading this personal story

Related Reading:
AARP Planning Guide for Talking with Parents (AARP)
The Long Goodbye
The Smartest Women I Know
The Art of Racing in the Rain

I did receive a copy of this book from Vanderbilt University Press and TLC online book tours, but received no financial remuneration for the review.

tlc logo

If you purchase anything from Amazon or Powell’s I will receive a few beans in my bucket.

Oven Dies – Don’t Ya Just Hate That!

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Dear Readers,

On April 26th, PatriciasWisdom.com received notice that an image we had used on this page may not have had the public license we assumed. We removed the image immediately from both the blog and our server upon receipt of this notice.

All stock images used on PatriciasWisdom.com (excluding those provided directly by publishers, re-sellers, or authors) are pulled from FreeImages.com (formerly sxc.hu). This image was found on that site in 2011.

We regret that anyone took our actions to be of a malicious intent. It was most assuredly an honest error that was corrected as soon as it was noted.

Thank you,
The Patricia’s Wisdom Team


Getting ready to make Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins and wouldn’t you know it – the oven died. Yep, it just gave up and would not budge.   I could not nurse it or cajole it or get it to comply with my requests.   Oven Dies – Don’t Ya Just Hate That!

The control buttons and LED lights have not been working for about the last 2 years; I just know this professional piece of equipment so well, I could always get it to work for me.  First the light stopped working with a flash inside the oven, and then nothing but the clock would display. The oven came on and then shut down: repeat, repeat, repeat.   I sat on the floor in frustration.

I have a good story of how I got this fabulous oven.  When we were remodeling this 100 year old house and turning the 2 tiny bedrooms into the kitchen, I asked to please be able to pick the range, because I spend at least 20 hours a week in that kitchen and I am actually a person who cooks.  I am not a weekend warrior or healthy gourmet hobbyist.  I am a person who works at healing and promoting health with food.   I am not a nutritionist or a dietician but I do consult with them and I have very good results.

The head carpenter wanted me to pick the range, from a large box store, which was on sale.  My partner the architect wanted me to pick something white and which would fit in with his design and be energy efficient.  Of course, it could not exceed what he thought was a reasonable price.  So I found a brand new professional range with a 1900s design and a wood box warmer on the side. RED.  It was about $10,000.00 US.   This was 20 years ago.   I cooked with a clawfoot bathtub, refrigerator with a microwave oven sitting on top for nearly 2 years while the work was being accomplished.  My cabinet was our camping kitchen box.  I held on and held on to this new range idea until the very last minute.

Then I changed my mind to this one ( my true choice all along), which was available in the next big city down the pike, and only $5K.  They both hopped into the truck and went the 120 miles to pick it up and installed it the very next day.    It has been a love affair for me ever since.  All 10 chefs I interviewed about this range agreed with me, that this was an amazing cooking tool.

I will need to just mourn the loss of this great piece of equipment and then I will begin my interviewing and decision making process again.  The company no longer makes this version of a range and they are no longer offering anything in this price range either.   I am open and flexible, but I am looking for something that is truly amazing and will work with me and my style.  I will know it. It will be my right oven.

Now 6 people are coming for dinner on Friday night.   I will be creative and make do for my simply elegant dinner menu.  I do have a microwave convection oven which is new and replaced another oven microwave combination that caught fire the week after the warranty expired. Oven dies – Don’t Ya Just Hate That!

So have you had household problems or appliance failure, when you have had company coming for dinner?  Do you have a category you call:  Don’t Ya Just Hate That?  Have you experienced the end of an oven?

Looking forward to your comments.

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Related Reading:
Harvest Potluck: Free e-cookbook to fundraiser for Unicef
How we make Decision and Change
Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins
Someone’s in the Kitchen with Patricia

Holy Pie

Thursday, August 18th, 2011


I am a human food processor.  Yes indeed, I am picking, washing and putting food by on a daily basis right now.  My fingers and nails are colorful and I did not need to pay for the art.

With my partner off biking, I am getting too much for me to eat from the CSA (community supported agriculture) box and the garden.  I am too frugal for wasting anything so I cut, slice and dice into containers; fill the dehydrator and the freezer with all that I cannot eat.

Carrots are washed and diced and put into bags for use in the soups and casseroles that will come all winter long.

Celery roots, leaves are sliced and put into bags for future stock – and cream of celery soup (the base of the Bagdad Hash recipe).

There is just so much parsley, basil and mint to dry – and they will spice up our lives.

Garlic is peeled and chopped and each small bag is placed inside a larger bag for easy finding in the freezer.

Potatoes are cubed and steamed and either mashed or just frozen in form for future pie crusts, bread and meals.

40 pounds of blueberries are tucked away for the cup a day I need for my health.  Lots of strawberries and raspberries too have been processed.

I have pureed some fruits like peaches which are just starting, because I can make great dried fruit and leather without adding any sugar – and sorbet without sugar tastes so yummy in January’s cold and dark days.

All of this takes time.  And the time is named by each fruit or vegetable as it ripens; in its own season.

My favorite part of this whole season is making our Christmas Eve Pie.  It is a sacred experience.

My children always had parts in plays or choirs to perform on Christmas Eve so a fabulous dinner which was quick was important to enjoy together as a family.   The family consensus chose Frog Powder Soup (split pea) as their supper and, to remember and be grateful for summer’s bounty, Blackberry Pie.

I did not pick the berries this year, because no one was home to help with that task, but I did carry organic berries home from the Farmer’s Market.   I put a Christmas record on the turntable and began the process.   I sorted the berries and picked out leaves and twigs.  I cut open a “safe” plastic produce bag and lay it overlapping the edges of the pie pan.  Then I formed plastic wrap into the pan and over top of the bag.  I handpicked each berry from out of the bowl and layered them into the pan.  I sprinkled tapioca flour over the first layer of berries when I deemed it just the right height.

4 thin pats of butter were cut into 4 squares to spread around the first layer along with a slight sprinkle of nutmeg and 1/3 cup of grade A pure maple syrup.  The top layer was configured with the same berry by berry process and with the same supplements added to the peak.

I will make the crust in December several days before I put the pie in the oven.

The plastic wrap is tucked over and then the plastic bag.  I use a couple of pieces of freezer tape to secure the ends.  Out to the freezer in pan, it goes and when solid, I bring the pan back to the kitchen for repeating the process – usually with apples.  Apples are very slow this year.

I do not know if anyone is coming to dinner or even if we will be here for this event.  But I am trusting that the pie will be a holy treat for just the right moment in time.  It is a meditation to the fruits of this year: a bounty which beguiles us now and remains a mystery in the darker days to come.

I sign in contentment and now must peel and chop onions.  All that zucchini to go…

Do you have a holy treat you process now for the sweetness of times to come?  Please share.

If you enjoyed what you read here you might also enjoy reading my other sites  Biking Architect and Wise Ears – come on over and check them out!

Related Reading:
Food For Thought Holiday
Cauliflower Pie Recipe
Beats for Beets