Jump, Jump, JUMP

I enjoyed an afternoon and evening with grandsons Joey and Oliver. After picking them up from school, we discussed possible activities for our time together. Checking the movie theater, we didn’t find a film that we wanted to see. And the boys had recently played miniature golf. Our quest for fun ultimately took us to Northpark Mall, in Joplin. 

At the mall we visited the remote control shop, and watched the sales clerk fly a drone over our heads. The boys tried on masks at the recently opened Halloween store and discussed ideas for costumes. 

It was while we were leaving that store that the boys spied the jumping trampolines and harnesses at the end of the corridor. Their eyes lit up as they turned eager faces to me. 

It looked fun to me. Of course I said yes! 

It was fun! Joey and Oliver harnessed up and I snapped pics and shot video while Papa Greg held our stuff. We laughed as we watched our grandsons jumping, spinning and flipping, 30 feet up in the air. We were envious. Twenty five years ago, Greg and I would have harnessed up as well. I was impressed with the acrobatic maneuvers that the boys executed. 

After very entertaining performances from Joey and Oliver, our little group settled into a booth at Garfield’s off of the mall food court. The boys dined on quesadillas and nachos while I had a plain baked potato with a side of steamed broccoli and Greg enjoyed fish. Garfield’s, with their white paper tablecloths and cups of crayons, provided the perfect opportunity for a fun game that we play. 

Joey started us off by drawing a crackling fire. Each of us then took turns drawing more objects, contributing to the picture and expanding the story, round and round, until we were all giggling over the result. Our food arrived and in our excitement I failed to get a picture of our finished masterpiece. This activity is a great way to express creativity on several levels, laugh together and engage in conversation. 

I loved spending time with two of my grandkids. I listened to their stories, and laughed over their antics. My grandchildren are all adept at going with the flow and seeing what unfolds. And when a fun opportunity presents itself, well….they jump right in.

Watch Joey and Oliver JUMP

Star Trek 50th Anniversary 

Fifty years ago today, a sci-fi series began on television that was so groundbreaking, it changed the world. And if that claim seems preposterous, I can add that Star Trek, at least, changed my world. 

Created by Gene Roddenbery, this series, originally described as Wagon Train to the Stars, premiered on September 8, 1966 with the episode The Man Trap.  William Shatner, as the daring Captain James Tiberius Kirk, provided the voice over for the opening monologue, promising that the voyages of the starship Enterprise would boldly go where no man had gone before. 

And they did. 

Set in the 23rd century, Kirk and crew showed viewers in the late 1960s a future that offered equality, diversity, acceptance and hope. As they explored the far reaches of space, they also explored the depths of humanity, the mysteries of the unknown and the strengths of friendship. They boldly went, and we went with them. 

That first series only lasted three years. But in syndication the franchise continued to grow its fan base, eventually launching six more tv series, including Discovery, premiering next year, and 13 feature length movies. A reboot began in 2009, introducing a younger generation to Star Trek. Add in hundreds of novels, comics and video games, and the huge scope of this fandom can be seen. 

Star Trek not only inspired additional series and movies, but influenced technology and science as well. We are using, well before the 23rd century, devices that in 1966 were the stuff of fantasy. What was imagined then, has become reality. The list includes small handheld computers, flip phones, diagnostic beds, tractor beams, hyposprays, computer tablets, voice activated computers, bluetooth headsets, transparent aluminum, GPS, automatic doors and a VISOR for the seeing impaired. 

I couldn’t let this day pass without recognizing this extraordinary show and the impact it has had on the world, and on me. As a young teen figuring out my place in this often confusing world, Star Trek expanded my mind and heart and taught me to think about and see a bigger reality. In ways that go immeasurably beyond being a fan girl, the Star Trek universe was my safe place for years. In that expansive space I had the freedom to explore who I was and what I could do, and discover what I could offer to the world.

I was thrilled with Facebook’s commemoration of the day by switching the response emoticons to Star Trek based ones. And I added a Live Long and Prosper banner to my profile picture on that social media site. This evening I enjoyed the episode The Naked Time, from season one of the Original Series. A virus allows repressed and hidden traits within each crew member to surface, creating hilarity, vulnerability and anguish. Star Trek was genius…and light years ahead of its time.

I am grateful for Gene Roddenbery’s vision. I hope Star Trek journeys on, so that in another 50 years my great, great grandchildren smile about their Trekkie Yaya who embraced that  vision and lived a bigger life because of it. And then go visit me in the holodeck. 

Live long and prosper, Star Trek. Happy 50th!

White Bean Kale Soup

I love soup. It truly is my comfort food. And while some save steaming bowls of soup for the cold winter months, I enjoy it year around. When I found this vegan recipe for White Bean Kale Soup, I was excited to tweak it a bit and try it out this evening. 

White Bean Kale Soup

1 med onion, chopped

1 Tbs olive oil

2 carrots, diced

2 stalks of celery, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

3 Tbs tomato paste

8 Cups vegetable broth

3 Cups cooked white beans (2 15 oz cans or cook from dry beans)

1 28 oz can diced tomatoes

2 Cups sliced zucchini 

4-5 large kale leaves, stems and ribs removed, chopped

Salt & pepper to taste

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil and sauté onion until soft. Add carrots, celery and garlic, stirring over med high heat until crisp tender, about 5 min. 

Add tomato paste and stir. Add broth, beans, tomatoes and zucchini. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes, or until zucchini is tender. 

Add kale and simmer 10 more minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. 

This recipe was super simple to make. While the soup simmered I had time to clean up my mess…a good cook is a messy cook, right?…and appreciate the marvelous aroma wafting from the bubbling pot. My appetite was whetted for sure. 

The soup tasted as good as it smelled. The broth was rich in taste without being heavy. And the beans, kale and veggies blended their flavors perfectly, creating a savory soup that was plant based and high in nutrition. 

I’m glad this recipe made a large pot of soup. I’ll enjoy several bowls this week, for hearty lunches or dinners. I used to say that I could easily survive on nothing more than soup, bread and diet Pepsi. I stopped drinking soda about six years ago. I’ve recently chosen to eliminate bread as well. However, soup stays, especially one such as this White Bean Kale Soup, full of veggie goodness. I can not only survive eating such fare, I am thriving. 

More soup, please! 

Read a Book Day

Today is Read a Book Day. And what is better than reading in one book? Reading in six! I always have several books going at once, since my interests change throughout the week or even during a single day. 

Dr Seuss said, “You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book.” 

I discovered the magic within books at a very young age. I learned to read before I ever stepped inside a school. My kindergarten teachers didn’t quite know what to do with me. Reading wasn’t taught until first grade. I have a clear memory of sitting on the floor in the “big kid” library, reading aloud to a group of perplexed adults that included the principal. 

I overheard their whispered conversation as they discussed whether I was actually reading or had somehow memorized the story. The principal pulled book after book off the shelves, and invited me to read. At last he shrugged and suggested I be allowed to visit the library every day and have a reading time. I’m grateful that rather than ignore my interest, they catered to it. 

My parents had no such confusion about my ability to read. They enrolled me at age five in a book club. Each month a new book arrived, wonderful classics such as Black Beauty, Alice in Wonderland and Big Red. I loved holding that new book in my hands every four weeks, aware that a fresh adventure was about to begin. I still have that set of classic books. They are a little worse for wear, as my sisters and I read through them often and played school and library with them. They still possess magic. 

This is my current stack of reading material. No classics there. Instead there is an eclectic mix of fiction and nonfiction, cookbook (if a book full of recipes for raw food can properly be called a cookbook!) and creativity. I’m rereading Anthony’s life changing book, Medical Medium, after purchasing a second copy so that I can loan out my first book. 

The Whoniverse feeds my love and knowledge of the Doctor Who fandom and came from the Joplin Library. Dean Koontz is an amazingly complex fiction writer. I’ve read many of his books and introduced his writings to daughter Elissa. That’s her book! And Walking in This World continues to awaken my creativity. 

I mentioned I was reading in six books. Although I still prefer the feel of an actual book in my hands, it is convenient to have the Kindle app on my iPhone. If I am waiting somewhere, I can easily read to pass the time. E cubed is a fascinating sequel to E squared, with energy experiments in it that prove how magical the universe really is. 

I don’t need an excuse to read, however it is nice to have a day set aside for celebrating the wonder of books. I’ve traveled through time and space, learned about other cultures and countries, and found a way into my deepest heart, all by way of a ticket with B O O K stamped on it. 

It is not a surprise that writing naturally flowed from my love of reading. I hope to open up new paths to new adventures for others, as so many authors have done for me. 

Aviary Cafe in Springfield

Today was a great get out of town day. On this, the third day of a three day weekend, Greg wanted to check out tents at the Bass Pro complex in Springfield. We both wanted to stop by Barnes & Noble. And I wanted to find a new restaurant to try, with vegan options on the menu. 

Greg successfully found the perfect adventure tent. And I picked up a couple of books at Barnes & Noble. However, I struck out at the restaurant I had selected using Google. I didn’t take into account that on Labor Day, many restaurants would be closed. 

One of the things I appreciate about Facebook is that I can ask ask a question and someone among my friends supplies an answer. I asked for recommendations for restaurants in Springfield that had vegan options. And I immediately got responses. My friend Elesha recommended not one, but two vegan friendly choices. One of the restaurants was also closed today. But the other one, Aviary Cafe, was open. I was excited!

We had a little bit of a challenge finding the cafe, being unfamiliar with anything off the main thoroughfares in Springfield. And my phone’s GPS took us in the wrong direction. But two phone calls to Aviary and Greg’s perseverance got us there at last. 

It was worth the wait. 

I loved the classy interior. The wait staff was considerate and friendly. We dined well after lunchtime, and before the dinner crowd, however several tables were full and more diners arrived while we ate. Our charming waiter helped me customize a vegan meal by answering my questions and making suggestions. 

I began with Brussels Sprout Crispers, roasted Brussels Sprouts lightly tossed with olive oil and garlic. They were wonderful, to me! Greg, who doesn’t care for this vegetable, wasn’t a fan. 

For my meal, I enjoyed a Venetian Garden Crepe…sautéed vegetables, without cheese, rolled into a thin, perfectly browned no sugar, no gluten crepe. On the side I had a bowl of fresh fruit. Perfection. I savored my meal, eating half of it and bringing the rest home. 

I even loved the way the bill was presented at Aviary Cafe, and how often can one sincerely say that? The bill was brought tucked within a French children’s book. Guests are encouraged to draw pictures or share their thoughts on the inside cover pages. 

What a novel idea! I was happy to add a note, chronicling my first visit to this cheerful and delicious restaurant. It won’t be my last visit. In taking care of myself, and being mindful of my health, restaurants like Aviary Cafe are allies to me, partners on my healing journey. 

I highly recommend this restaurant. Thank you again Elesha, for the suggestion!

Calendula Tea

Today was the complete opposite of yesterday, and just as enjoyable. While yesterday was a go with the flow kind of day where I was drawn to different events throughout the day, today could most accurately be described as a do nothing day. As my favorite Pooh Bear says, “Don’t underestimate the value of doing nothing”!

There was great value, and restoration, in doing a lot of nothing today. At the end of my day of resting and reading, playing and watching videos on Amazon Prime, and my one foray into the world…dinner out…I brewed a new-to-me kind of herbal tea. 

I have greatly enjoyed creating teas from the herbs growing in my garden. So far I’ve sipped on teas crafted from thyme, mint, lemon balm, lemon grass, bee balm, and rosemary, all plucked fresh from my backyard. 

This week I read a post from Anthony William about the many health benefits of calendula tea. I was excited about the info. I’ve grown calendula in my garden for three years. That’s it in the picture above, slightly to the right of center. I have the yellow flowers planted in the big black kettle that I have plus more growing this year in a tall metal bucket. I collect seeds from the plants in the fall and sow them every spring. 

I use calendula and calendula oil in skin products that I make. I was delighted to learn from Anthony that drinking tea made from the dried flower petals is so beneficial. I have a container of dried blooms. Tonight presented the perfect opportunity to brew calendula tea. 

Calendula is classified as a medicinal flower. Consumed as a tea, it is highly beneficial and soothing for ulcers, indigestion, colitis, heartburn, gall bladder and liver problems, and inflammation. Calendula is antiviral, making it excellent in supporting the lymphatic and immune systems. 

The flower has anticancer properties and it is known to combat a variety of cancers. It contains carotenoids that reduce the signs of aging by decreasing wrinkles and nourishing the skin. At a cellular level, calendula has the ability to provide healing from the effects of radiation and chemotherapy. 

This is a powerful little flower! 

I added a heaping teaspoon of the dried petals to a cup of very hot water, using my little mesh strainer to hold the herb. After covering the mug, I let the tea steep for ten minutes. 

The tea was aromatic as I brought the steaming cup to my nose. I’ve been sipping on it as I type my blog post. The tea is flavorful, without being heavy, with a hint of earthiness. Although the dried petals have lost their bright yellow color, the tea is a light golden brown…sunshine in a cup. 

I love trying different herbal teas. Each has important health benefits. Most of all, I love that I am growing these hebs and flowers in my backyard garden. I feel like I am actively participating in my health by growing plants that can nurture and enhance my healing. 

And that is the best feeling of all. 

The Rhythm and Flow of Life

Today was one of those days that ideally illustrates my go with the flow way of living life, especially this year, as I am mindful of surrender. I was like the River, rolling along, no resistance, flowing where opportunity opened, shifting and continuing on when the way was closed. I loved the day. Flow with me through it. 

The day began in a most interesting way, as I was awakened by an earthquake. The neighboring state of Oklahoma frequently experiences these earth shaking events. This is only the third time I’ve felt the tremors here in Joplin. With the epicenter in Pawnee OK, the 5.6 earthquake sent aftershocks throughout the midwest. I woke to my bed shaking, and to the sound of furniture and keepsakes rattling and clinking together. This was the strongest, longest lasting earthquake that I’ve experienced yet. 

Rather than bemoan the fact that I was awake earlier than I intended to be, I wandered out into the backyard garden. It was a fresh, cool morning, drenched with sunshine. I pulled weeds and watered containers, and watched hummingbirds dart to the feeder. This  was the first time I’ve actually seen the tiny birds flittering there although I’ve observed the dropping nectar level. Today was National Hummingbird Day, appropriately, and I would have missed the early morning sight had the earthquake not awakened me. 

I also enjoyed drinking my morning smoothie as I sat in the glider beneath the Redbud Tree in the front yard. This metal glider belonged to Greg’s dad. I’ve spent hours sitting next to him, gently swinging as we talked and watched the world pass by. Today, I thought of him as I appreciated the beauty around me and watched Joplin wake up. This will be a favorite morning spot this fall, to drink my juices and smoothies. 

After a fun visit with my daughter Adriel and her fiancé, I joined my son and his family mid-afternoon for Tiger Football. This is my grandson Oliver’s first year to play, and grandson Joey’s third. I’ll alternate between the boys’ games. Since I had not seen Oliver in action on the field before, I started with his game. Number 3 moved on and off the field, playing earnestly. We were his cheering section, whooping and applauding. 

I so appreciate the support and encouragement that my grown children and their spouses surround their kids with. The childhood years pass by quickly. It is crucial to have witnesses to our lives in all stages of life, but especially so when we are young. My grandchildren are allowed to discover their gifts and do what they enjoy. And if joy is not present they can try something else. What valuable lessons they are learning. 

The day concluded with a family outing to the miniature golf course. My granddaughter Aubrey and my sister Linda’s granddaughter London are technically second cousins. But these girls considered each other sisters and best friends. As often as we can arrange it, and with everyones schedules it’s not usually easy, we get these two young ladies together. 

My mom visited with the girls for a bit. And Greg and London’s Papa Roy joined us for dinner. Then it was a special evening at Range Line Golf. As Greg and Roy emptied a bucket of golf balls on the driving range, Linda and I followed the girls through 36 holes of mini golf. They didn’t care about technique, although they were both quite good at the game. What these two girls cherished was chatting and giggling together and running off energy on the mini golf course. Linda and I were content to let them take the lead and simply enjoy their close relationship. 

This day was beautiful. The moments flowed, carrying me from one to another and then the next one, effortlessly. Those moments pool and collect to create precious memories, while strengthening connections between loved ones. At the end of the day I can turn those memories over, and examine them, and then store them away, treasures to look at as often as I wish. 

The river runs quietly and deeply tonight, bringing me to a place of rest and complete surrender. Tomorrow I look forward to seeing where I am swept off to, just around the river bend. 

Meatless Stuffed Peppers

Tonight I tried a classic favorite revamped into a more healthy version. Thanks to sites like Pinterest, I am finding many great recipes that support a plant based diet. 

This Vegan Stuffed Peppers recipe is from mumstheword.com. I adapted it further to bring it into compliance with my allowed foods. 

1 onion, diced

1 1/2 cups brown rice

1 15 oz can no sodium organic tomato sauce

2 cups vegetable broth 

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp cumin

2 15 oz cans no sodium organic kidney beans, drained

4 large bell peppers

In a large cooking pan combine diced onion, brown rice, tomato sauce, vegetable broth and spices. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and cover, simmering until rice is tender, 30-45 minutes. 

While rice mixture simmers, cut tops from bell peppers, remove insides and slice in two. Lay peppers, hollow side up, in 13×9 baking dish. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

When rice is tender, remove mixture from heat, stir, and add kidney beans. Fill peppers in baking dish. There will be enough mixture to fill peppers and fill in around peppers. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. 

Spoon into bowls and top with chopped avocado. Season with sea salt and coarse black pepper. Makes four servings. 

And the verdict? These meatless stuffed peppers were wonderfully filling and satisfying. I didn’t miss the ground beef that I have always used. The kidney beans added flavor and protein, as did the brown rice that I substituted for white. 

This recipe surpassed my expectations. I’ll definitely make meatless stuffed peppers again. 

Butterfly Mural at Mercy Park

A quick blog post tonight, featuring the new mural that was unveiled at Mercy Park yesterday. I was unable to attend the dedication, however I drove by yesterday and caught a glimpse of the completed wall. 

This evening, I spent time at my mom’s house. Mercy Park is conveniently located nearby. I stopped on the way home to take a closer look at the mural. 

It is gorgeous. The setting sun lit up the mural, which is made up of individual tiles. This form of art is known as Tangle Patterns and the Mercy Park Butterfly Mural is currently the world’s largest such tile mural. 

The artwork was created by AJ and Jordon Wood, and the tiles manufactured and installed by Whitehill Enterprises, LLC. 

I stood looking at the mural, the fresh cool breeze swirling around me, and thought of how far we have journeyed since May 22, 2011. Seeing beautiful works of art such as this reminds me that hope prevails over despair and love wins over powerful destructive forces. 

Each tile contributes a part, and combined with the others, creates a bigger picture that can be seen more clearly. That’s my community as well. We are individuals who bring our own unique gifts as we join with others in creating a better city. 

The butterfly represents protection during the storm (read a previous post HERE about the Butterfly People of Joplin), and rebirth and transformation. As a city, we are changing, growing, stretching our wings as we overcome challenges, and soaring. 

We are Joplin Strong. 

Pay it Forward, Pass it On

I’ve had two interesting experiences at my neighborhood McDonald’s since I’ve been blogging. The first one occurred during my year of firsts. Aubrey and I stopped by to get her an after school snack. She wanted to eat inside. After I placed the order, the young man behind the counter said, “Sing. Sing and your purchase is free.”  We happened by on the first day of a new campaign. 

The only song that I could think of, put on the spot like that, was Happy Birthday. Yeah, as in “happy birthday to you…happy birthday to you…happy birthday dear McDonald’s person…happy birthday to you.” Aubrey hid around the corner. I’m sure my cheeks were bright pink as my voice trailed away. But we got our purchase for free. And it’s a funny story now, that Aubrey laughs about. 

The second experience happened today. 

As I was headed home after a trip to the grocery store, I swung through the drive-thru and ordered a large unsweet iced tea. As I stopped at the first window to pay, the friendly cashier thrust his arms out in a “stop” gesture and told me with a grin that the car ahead of me had paid for my purchase. 

How cool. 

I’ve had fun doing that several times in the last couple of years, however this was my first time to be the recipient of such an act of kindness. I love pay it forward activities, and I wanted to continue it. I promptly paid for the purchase of the car behind me. While I had only ordered a drink, the person behind me had ordered a meal plus an additional burger and drink. I didn’t mind the difference in cost at all. 

I waved merrily to the car ahead of me, wordlessly expressing my gratitude. The cashier beamed when I paid for the car behind me. He expressed the hope that everyone else in line would continue to pass on the act of kindness. 

As I pulled forward to receive my drink at the next window, I glanced behind me and caught a glimpse of who was in the car. And my eyes filled with tears. 

Yesterday I was in a situation where I didn’t know what to do. I had lunch with my granddaughter at her school. As we ate, I couldn’t help but notice a boy near us. He was eating a lunch brought from home. And it wasn’t much of a meal. He had food. But not the best food. 

I wanted to go buy him a school lunch. But I was unsure if that was the right thing to do. My thoughts swirled around…What if he is offended? What if he packed his own lunch and this is his choice? What if it’s not allowed, for me to buy a child a meal? In the end, I did nothing. 

And for the rest of the day, I regretted my inaction. Over and over I wished I had simply gotten up, bought him a meal, and let him decide if he wanted it or not. 

Ultimately, my question had been, “Does buying one meal for a child  one time make a difference?”  I knew I wouldn’t be present in the lunchroom the next day or the next. Did it matter? 

The question went out…and today, it was answered. 

As I drove forward I saw into the car behind me. A young woman looked surprised as she was stopped from paying for her food. She looked my way and smiled as the cashier gestured toward me. And behind her, in the back seat, was a small child. I had bought his food. 

“Does buying one meal for a child one time make a difference?”

Yes. Yes it does. No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. I got the chance to feed a child afterall. And if I ever see the boy at Aubrey’s school again during lunch, I will follow my instincts and buy him a lunch. 

Because it matters. 

Pay it forward…pass it on.