The Courage Litter

Almost five years ago, a video randomly showed up on my Facebook page. In it was a litter of newborn puppies from a nonprofit called Warrior Canine Connection. There were six of them, and they were called “Holly’s Half Dozen.”

I got hooked, watching those little Golden Retriever fluff balls. I watched the day that their names were chosen: Lucy, Grace, Ruby, Abby, Levi, and Penny. The WCC staff pulled the names out of bowl, from names suggested by their fans, the “Extreme Puppy Watchers.”

Feelin’ Groovy

As a life-long learner, I enjoy being a scholar. Here in Albuquerque, the University of New Mexico offers continuing education classes in the summer, fall, and spring. I always look through their catalogue to see what’s available.

By trial and error, I’ve discovered that I do better with classes that are shorter, that only run for a few weeks or even are one-timers, like the UNM Writers’ Conference “From Start to Sales.” It’s an annual day-long seminar for writers.

Revisiting Re-Entry

It’s snowing here. Ever so lightly, but snowing. The sun’s trying to peek through, but the clouds are winning. I’m watching the fat flakes fall as I eat lentil soup, bought at the deli over on Nostrand. I will miss being able to walk a couple of blocks to the deli. And the grocery, the bagel place, the bank, the health food shop, the nail salon, the hipster coffee shop.

Next week, I’m going back to the Land of Enchantment, where it’s sunny 280+ days per year and you have to drive everywhere. I might call it a trade-off…if I were a sun-lover.

The Best Problem in the World

I have the best problem in the world. What’s good about it? I have many, many friends.

So what’s the problem? They’re scattered to the four winds.

Last week, I read an article about how difficult it is to say goodbye to friends. The article was referring to the life of an expat who was preparing for a move to a new location. The author was concerned about “losing friends” in the move.

Year of the Book

“A beautiful sight. We’re happy tonight. Walking in a winter wonderland.” Love that song.

The reality, not so much, but it’s the price I’m paying for staying in New York through January.

I’m working on another book. For me, it’s back to the scene of the crime. I started this damn book…ahem, this work of art…eleven years ago when I was living here. It was my first book baby and I was overly protective of it.

8 Lessons Phillip Taught Me

As we say goodbye to 2016, I ponder what to write about.

Do I talk about a year that I’d rather forget? For me, 2016 can be summed up in one word–difficult. Nothing could have prepared me for the death of my son last May.

Do I concentrate on looking forward? For the first time in many years, I don’t have “plans” for the new year. I have some ideas and goals, but there’s no strategy for accomplishing them. And there are no travel plans. Yet.

Technically, I’m traveling now. I’m sitting in a brownstone in Brooklyn, NY. I spent Christmas with my BFF and Fran, my former student, who was visiting from Chile. Travel makes for interesting connections.

Mission: Parka

unnamed-4On Thursday, I will be winging my way to New York for Christmas. I’ll be joined there by Francisca, the young lady from Chile who was a student in one of my original English classes there.

Here in Albuquerque today, it was 61º and sunny. I went out wearing a light jacket and a scarf and discovered that I didn’t need either of them.

In New York, it’s 31º and snowing at the moment. Last week, I started thinking about packing for the trip. The winter coat that I have here is a long, black, dressy wool coat. It doesn’t button all the way up. It’s heavy. Hard to pack. Cumbersome to wear on a plane. Not as warm as I will need for freezing temperatures.

I survived winters in Chile wearing a wool “car” coat. I withstood last winter in Edinburgh, Scotland, wearing a short puffy “down” coat with a hood, a parka.

Arrival

random-acts-of-kindness-christmas-calendar-1 Many, many years ago, long before I got married or Phillip was born, I made an advent calendar.

It was made of felt, in the shape of Santa Claus. On his big, triangle-shaped belly were 24 little pockets. Each one held a felt Christmas ornament, which I also made. There were bells, balls, angels, snowmen, etc. All had sequins, beads, and trimmings.

The idea was to take one out each day and hang it on the Christmas tree. My Advent Santa was a decoration himself. He hung on the wall, and I pulled out the ornaments, one a day, during December.

Gobble, Gobble

img_0239It’s that time of the year, Thanksgiving Eve, and I’m watching my traditional “Thanksgiving” movie, Home for the Holidays.

Good sound track, great cast. Funny, sad, poignant. Holly Hunter, Anne Bancroft, Charles Durning, Robert Downey Jr.

I’d been planning a low-key Thanksgiving. Alone, but I’m okay with that. I bought all the customary, commercial food, a turkey breast that’s probably loaded with hormones and chemicals. Stovetop stuffing. Just add water, right out of the box. Fluff it with a fork and voila! Instant stuffing. Cover it with gravy made from McCormick’s gravy mix, added to the turkey drippings, and you’d hardly ever guess that it wasn’t homemade. I bought potatoes, both white and sweet, because you need mashed potatoes for that gravy, and sweet potatoes because they’ve got lots of fiber and vitamin something-or-other. Nahhh, I just like them. Last, but not least, I have the cranberry jelly that “slides out of the can,” as Lucy van Pelt famously said in Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving.

The Gingerboys

385855_10150405349473563_904533935_nMy cupboards smell like ginger and nutmeg and all things festive and celebratory.

I’m getting ready to make the “Gingerboys.” That’s what my son, Phillip, called them. I made these cookies for the first time for his third birthday party. They were a hit and became his favorite cookies. He looked forward to them every November.

That was 30+ years ago, Since then, I’ve made them almost every year. Sometimes, I’ve been able to give or send them to Phillip. Other years, it’s been impossible to send them, but I’ve made them anyway in honor of his birthday.