Happiness is…

Back in the day….a day in the late 1980s, actually, we lived in a dream house. My ex knew a guy who knew a guy, and at that time THAT guy owned a house in the middle of a ten-acre grove south of Homestead, Florida, nearly to the Florida Keys.

It was a five bedroom turn of the century house with a screened in deck and fruitspool, and the grove had just about any tropical fruit you’d like to eat– mango, giant avocados, calamondin, tamarind, bananas, mamey, black sapote, lychees, a bunch more I never tried. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Of course, as long time followers of the blog know, this opportunity didn’t come without its down side. For one, it was just half a mile from the worst neighborhood in the lower end of Dade County. (see Shootout at the Mango Corral, above)

Also, it was in the middle of a fruit grove, so we had rats, and spiders, and even one night, a scorpion that nearly stabbed me when I was nursing the child.

But there were good times. Some of the best I remember were Sunday mornings, when the Miami Herald would come, we’d make a big pot of tea and take it out to the “veranda,” as we called our brick deck by the pool, and poolturn on Love94 Miami, which played Jazz in the A.M.

Full disclosure, ours was not nearly as fancy as this one, borrowed from Orlando Paver Pro, but with my feet up, reading the paper with jazz playing and the kids splashing happily in the pool, they were some of my best hours of the week.

It’s rare in this day and age to find a place that makes one feel content just being there, giving one an escape from all the other noise in the world. I know when I return to these mountains I now call home, I feel it, too.  What places make you feel like you are safe and content? Please share in the comments, with photos! blue ridge

 

 

 

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The Missouri Compromise

No, not THAT one.

You’re thinking, oh this will be a boring discussion of slavery and American history. But it isn’t.

I’m drawing on the delineation of Missouri as the “Show-Me” state.

Those of us with loved ones on the spectrum often feel that we aren’t shown that affection that comes so easily to many of our NT kids and family members. For me, I sometimes think that Little Miss and I are on different planets, even though we live in 5518991291_8c8164c5cfthe same small home. We intersect at meals, sometimes. But even then, there’s often a screen in view and we’re absorbed in parallel play.

This existence is lonely-making, certainly. Not that she notices–she’s perfectly happy in her own world. If she’s sing-songing her imaginary stories in her head, she paces and exists beyond where I can see. If she’s absorbed in a screen, she’s elsewhere, too.

So I’m alone, but at the same time responsible for this woman-child, an adult by chronological age, but still much younger than her years from time to time.

She had a boyfriend for her last two years of high school, which worried me at first, as boyfriends do to all parents of girls past puberty. But I didn’t need to worry. She treated him much the same as she treats me–more as a thing to be checked off a list. As in, teenaged girls should have a boyfriend, now I have one. She didn’t worry much over the care and feeding of such a relationship, and eventually he approached me and asked why she didn’t want to be his girlfriend.

breakup-couple-vector-stock_gg64149870What followed was a messy few days when I explained how she is (he also has disabilities, but more physical than autistic), and assured him that it was likely the best he would get out of her. We were both sad, and then he broke up with her on social media. UGH.

She immediately decided she had to have a boyfriend and had logged herself onto OK Cupid before I even knew what she was doing. I panicked and at least put her onto Autistic Singles–who knew they had that?– but I shouldn’t have worried. Within a few days, she was reabsorbed in her own world, and I haven’t heard anything about it since.

So in a way, that’s great. No huge emotional scenes, no pining, no starving to death, etc. She’s happily back to ignoring me.

concert4

pic by Sandora JW Brown

But every once in awhile, a ray of light comes through. Last night we went to a STOMP! concert, and she propped her elbow on my shoulder for the show. It was definitely a “together” moment.

So we don’t push -much- and wait for those moments, those actual expressions of affection and gratitude and empathy. We live for those. Please, kid, SHOW ME. Just once in awhile. Thank you.

 

autism hugs

 

Recipes? We don’t need no stinkin recipes….. :)

I’ve been the main cook in the family since I was about 13. I wouldn’t say I know everything about the subject, but I have at least learned enough of the rules to break the rest of them, as they say. 🙂

I am also often inspired by sister author Marian Allen, who likes to talk about the meals she’s cooking–also not recipe bound.  She isn’t feeding a starving horde, but for a couple of folks, she can whip up something that sounds yummy totally off the cuff.

Photo by Marilyn Acosta

So last night I didn’t have a real plan, but I wanted something that tasted wonderful. I’m also big on keeping up with what’s in the fridge, so I don’t have to throw away a lot of waste. (mutters about wasted romaine … ugh).

i’d picked up some markdown veggies, so I definitely wanted to use those–no harm, as long as you use them quickly. So a cup of sugar snap peas and a small bag of chopped butternut squash went into the skillet with a splash of olive oil and another of sesame oil. Half an onion. Some thin-cut pork slices. Two tablespoons garlic in oil. (no, Virginia, there are no vampires in my house. LOL!)

Then I added some dandelion greens Little Miss had picked the day before, and two cups of chopped kale. Add to that some turmeric and ginger (yay anti-inflammatory food!) and half a can of coconut milk and a cup of chicken broth, and cover to simmer a bit.

When the kale had wilted and become a beautiful dark green, I added this great quinoa/brown rice mix  that just needs to cook long enough to soak up the flavors. Top with a dash of soy sauce and voila! 

I thought it was amazing, spicy,  full of great veggie nutrition. Little Miss would probably have rather had boxed mac and cheese. Eh. We have likely never had the combo before and probably won’t again. But for this one night, I was happy with the meal. Thanks, world, and sister Marian. 🙂

Feels like pure joy

I was Hamilturned when I moved to Asheville NC two years ago by my daughter. I imagine I won’t ever get to see the show live in my lifetime, so I appreciate all the bits and pieces that trickle down from Lin-Manuel Miranda and his folks. I also grew up as a huge nerd, so Weird Al Yankovic was always a favorite.  I understand that some Hamilton purists are unhappy with this production, but it makes my day, especially because these three guys are obviously so overjoyed to be part of it. Hope it makes your day, too.

The closet under the stairs

When I was a child, visiting my grandmother’s farm in Indiana, I found her old house fascinating. It had been built in the late 1880s, and there seemed to be nooks and crannies everywhere.

Upstairs, there was my grandpa Joe’s bedroom, which I never fully explored, even when he was out in the fields. The curtains were dark and red, shadows filling the corners. When I read Jane Eyre, I imagined his closet was the room in which poor insane Mrs. Rochester was confined. Maybe that’s why I never went in.

Polished wood floors set the stage for the formal parlor with velvet chairs, the room that was never used except for taking official photos of the family. The basement was dark and spooky, vaguely hitched to the memory of tornadoes for me. We must have hidden there a few times. My mother told the story of a tornado passing right through when she was safe, down the angling road at the school house. When she walked home, my grandmother’s curtains were in the road, blown there by the wind.

But the most cunning place in the whole house was the little closet under the stairs. No budding wizard lived there, unfortunately–just a tiny rack for coats, and a hard chair next to a small table where one could find Image result for old telephonethe telephone.

Most people had to bend down to get inside, since the upward climbing stairs were above the space. Games and other things filled the angling back of the closet, but that telephone was a lifeline back in Bunker Hill, both for my grandmother and for the lives of others that she touched.

When we lived across the road in the 1960s, the phone was on a party line. You had to wait your turn to make a call–but oh, the things you heard, if you were rude enough to listen in. My grandmother would have been shocked and horrified to even consider such a thing. I doubt her neighbors were always as courteous.

She used the telephone to connect with others. As a farm wife, she didn’t always get out of the house into the community, especially in her younger years. There were people to feed, and chores to do. She called to set up her precious 7:30 Club, where ladies of the community would meet monthly in each others’ homes to visit and play cards.

The phone calls I remember most, though, were those on weekend afternoons, when she went in and left the door barely cracked open. She volunteered for the Red Cross, and her job was to relay calls from soldiers to homes, and from homes to soldiers. I sat outside the door and listened to the stories, bad news often, but sometimes good things like the birth of a child. That tiny closet became a microcosm of the world, gathering all the feelings and sympathy passed on from one caller to the next, bringing the news that really mattered to those who needed it most.

 

Why was this mission so close to her heart? I suspect it was because of her brothers, my great uncle Cmdr. Jim Moore, (left) who was a Navy veteran aboard the USS Antares at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, and Capt. Paul Moore, who was a POW of the Japanese. She, of all people, in a pre-social media time, would know how important it was to have any information about loved ones far away from home, serving our country.

I’m proud of her work. As much as she had to do to run a huge farm, she found time weekly to improve the lives of others.

What sorts of volunteer work makes you happy?

 

 

Sciencing the sh#t out of things….

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Eclipse at near maximum in San Jose, CA–photo credit John Wright Canon 7d thru eclipse glasses as filter, from the Fujitsu Planetarium DeAnza College.

After so many months of hype, we all finally got to experience the two minutes more talked about than the Kentucky Derby–the solar eclipse.

Little Miss and I began on the NASA broadcast from C-SPAN, watching as totality moved through Oregon and Idaho, Nebraska and Missouri, and finally went out when it began to darken outside here in Asheville.

But it was clouds!

Definitely dismayed, we moved around the yard until we could almost see it through our glasses. As clouds tend to do, however, these moved on, and we caught the first third disappearing. It was easy to understand how the ancients, not having the benefit of years of scientific study, felt like the sun was being devoured and might never come back.

Sitting back in a lawn chair, taking in the moment, I experienced so many sensations as the event transpired. The grass was freshly mowed, and it smelled wonderful. We charged my large rose quartz crystal. The quality of the light itself changed, taking on characteristics of bright moonlight, a grayish-blue tint to the scene around us. The temperature dropped, and it definitely darkened. (We were in the 99%, not 100% so we only saw the corona on television.  😦   )

But at the same time, even as that small fingernail crescent slid from the left, to the top, to the right, knowing 99 percent of the sun was blocked– it was still fairly light. It was warm, maybe 70 degrees. Even with that tiniest fraction of the sun. How powerful it must be.

What would happen if the sun really did disappear? Jonathan O’Callaghan has the answer for you here. Let’s not rush for that one.

Overall, it was an exciting experience, and just as exciting to know we were sharing the wonder with literally millions of others across our broad country. Finally something we could all share that didn’t come with a red or blue, black or white, male or female distinction.

Better yet, science predicted it, and we all believed.labkylie5

So if science can be right about this, can’t we give scientists back their funding? Can we support some of their other theories, like global warming and conservation and preservation?  To paraphrase Mark Watney–Let’s science the sh%t out of this world!