Friday, September 11, 2015

Nine Eleven

All of us are remembering where we were 9-11-2001. Fourteen years have passed, but in my heart it feels like yesterday. Our life at the time was a flurry of family turmoils; our youngest daughter had moved back home to escape an abusive relationship, my Mother was on a downhill slide with her dementia and my brother was facing his last year with terminal heart disease.

That morning I was on my way to Mom’s farm 100 miles away to take her to a doctor’s appointment. I had an oil change scheduled early at the dealership and was in the waiting room watching TV when I saw the first reports of the plane crashing into the Trade Center. By the time they had the car ready and I was on the road to Mom’s, the second plane went down. The radio announcers reported the news in a panicked state and I remember feeling so vulnerable in a world I’d never known. I turned the car around, called Mom and told her to turn the TV on and to stay inside close to the phone. As I drove home I saw long lines at gas stations, really long…out on the highway, backed up to refuel in this state of emergency. My head spun with what to do first, call my husband…he had left that morning on a business trip and was on the road too. He too was in shock, turned the car around and headed home. We both realized our lives had changed forever. In the days that followed we watched in horror the coverage on TV. I remember thinking how worried I was about Mom’s declining health and Amy’s broken heart. Now those problems seemed so small compared to the grief so many were facing with the loss of their loved ones.

A lot has happened in fourteen years. Life has a way of going on. Regardless of what happened yesterday, one thing is certain about life…the fact that it’s uncertain. But that makes the sun coming up each morning so special.

Our gratitude to the many who sacrificed countless hours and months in all capacities to rebuild our country. Today I honor those who lost their lives, our thoughts and prayers are with the many loved ones left behind.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Pumpkin Spice Doughnuts

Pumpkin. Spice. Doughnuts. 

Those three words are dangerous all by themselves, but put them together and I have a "situation." I found this recipe on Pinterest last year and couldn't stop making it! It takes roughly 10 minutes to make them and 12 to bake. They were delicious and tasted very much like that famous place with the sign that says "HOT DONUTS"... you know the one! Keep this recipe handy for the next time you are jonesing for KK, it'll save you a drive across town!

Pumpkin Spice Donut Holes
1 3/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°.  Grease a mini muffin tin with cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, salt and spices.
In a separate bowl, combine oil, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, pumpkin and milk.  Mix well. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stir until just combined.  Fill muffin cups about 2/3 of the way full with your cookie scoop. 

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until they test done with a toothpick. Mine were perfect in 12 minutes.

Melt butter in a small bowl.  In a different small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon.  After donuts are done and have cooled enough to handle, dip them in the butter and then roll in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. 

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Pope Francis

Pope Francis' words this week reached so many people, a nation and a whole world that has lost hope, direction. Last night, millions were tuned in to watch the interview by World News Tonight anchor David Muir on 20/20. Never before have we had a Pope so public, his actions always precede his papal title. From the moment he arrived for the interview, he acknowledged everyone in the room shaking hands, blessing them. 

The virtual audience from chosen locations gave a hurting nation the encouragement we were needing. He spoke first to a teenager who had suffered bullying at school because of her skin condition. As she told of her feelings of embarrassment and lack of confidence, tears streamed down her face. Pope Francis asked her to sing for him and she could barely bring herself to do it. He told her, "Be courageous!" Another stunning moment when a mother and her two daughters stood up and she confessed she felt as if she had failed being the best Mom. Pope Francis' words, "I'm proud of you for being courageous and not having an abortion!" She was stunned that he called her courageous! Another young man wept as he told of losing his father at an early age and he now is the family breadwinner, his dreams of college are gone because he's the child of undocumented citizens.  

All the problems that we are facing right now are being addressed by this Pope. With public appearance, interviews and interaction he is healing us. His compassion and love is reaching out to those who need hope, those who have all but given up on society. 

I've added the Pope on my Twitter feed, my daily dose of inspiration... you can do that too!

The Lost Wallet

I know you can't believe everything that you read on the Internet, but when I read this on Facebook the other day, I wanted it to be real. You will too...


As I walked home one freezing day, I stumbled on a wallet someone had lost in the street. I picked it up and looked inside to find some identification so I could call the owner. But the
wallet contained only three dollars and a crumpled letter that looked as if it had been in there for years.

The envelope was worn and the only thing that was legible on it was the return address. I started to open the letter, hoping to find some clue. Then I saw the dateline--1924. The letter had been written almost sixty years ago.

It was written in a beautiful feminine handwriting on powder blue stationery with a little flower in the left-hand corner. It was a "Dear John" letter that told the recipient, whose name appeared to be Michael, that the writer could not see him any more because her mother forbade it. Even so, she wrote that she would always love him.

It was signed, Hannah.

It was a beautiful letter, but there was no way except for the name Michael, that the owner could be identified. Maybe if I called information, the operator could find a phone listing for the address on the envelope.

"Operator," I began, "this is an unusual request. I'm trying to find the owner of a wallet that I found. Is there anyway you can tell me if there is a phone number for an address that was on an envelope in the wallet?"

She suggested I speak with her supervisor, who hesitated for a moment then said, "Well, there is a phone listing at that address, but I can't give you the number." She said, as a courtesy, she would call that number, explain my story and would ask them if they wanted her to connect me. I waited a few minutes and then she was back on the line. "I have a party who will speak with you."

I asked the woman on the other end of the line if she knew anyone by the name of Hannah. She gasped, "Oh! We bought this house from a family who had a daughter named Hannah. But that was 30 years ago!"

"Would you know where that family could be located now?" I asked.

"I remember that Hannah had to place her mother in a nursing home some years ago," the woman said. "Maybe if you got in touch with them they might be able to track down the daughter."

She gave me the name of the nursing home and I called the number. They told me the old lady had passed away some years ago but they did have a phone number for where they thought the daughter might be living.

I thanked them and phoned. The woman who answered explained that Hannah herself was now living in a nursing home.

This whole thing was stupid, I thought to myself. Why was I making such a big deal over finding the owner of a wallet that had only three dollars and a letter that was almost 60 years old?

Nevertheless, I called the nursing home in which Hannah was supposed to be living and the man who answered the phone told me, "Yes, Hannah is staying with us. "

Even though it was already 10 p.m., I asked if I could come by to see her. "Well," he said hesitatingly, "if you want to take a chance, she might be in the day room watching television."

I thanked him and drove over to the nursing home. The night nurse and a guard greeted me at the door. We went up to the third floor of the large building. In the day room, the nurse introduced me to Hannah.

She was a sweet, silver-haired old timer with a warm smile and a twinkle in her eye.

I told her about finding the wallet and showed her the letter. The second she saw the powder blue envelope with that little flower on the left, she took a deep breath and said, "Young man, this letter was the last contact I ever had with Michael."

She looked away for a moment deep in thought and then said Softly, "I loved him very much. But I was only 16 at the time and my mother felt I was too young. Oh, he was so handsome. He looked like Sean Connery, the actor."

"Yes," she continued. "Michael Goldstein was a wonderful person. If you should find him, tell him I think of him often. And," she hesitated for a moment, almost biting her lip, "tell him I still love him. You know," she said smiling as tears began to well up in her eyes, "I never did marry. I guess no one ever matched up to Michael..."

I thanked Hannah and said goodbye. I took the elevator to the first floor and as I stood by the door, the guard there asked, "Was the old lady able to help you?"

I told him she had given me a lead. "At least I have a last name. But I think I'll let it go for a while. I spent almost the whole day trying to find the owner of this wallet."

I had taken out the wallet, which was a simple brown leather case with red lacing on the side. When the guard saw it, he said, "Hey, wait a minute! That's Mr. Goldstein's wallet. I'd know it anywhere with that bright red lacing. He's always losing that wallet. I must have found it in the halls at least three times."

"Who's Mr. Goldstein?" I asked as my hand began to shake.

"He's one of the old timers on the 8th floor. That's Mike Goldstein's wallet for sure. He must have lost it on one of his walks."

I thanked the guard and quickly ran back to the nurse's office. I told her what the guard had said. We went back to the elevator and got on. I prayed that Mr. Goldstein would be up.

On the eighth floor, the floor nurse said, "I think he's still in the day room. He likes to read at night. He's a darling old man."

We went to the only room that had any lights on and there was a man reading a book. The nurse went over to him and asked if he had lost his wallet. Mr. Goldstein looked up with surprise, put his hand in his back pocket and said, "Oh, it is missing!"

"This kind gentleman found a wallet and we wondered if it could be yours?"

I handed Mr. Goldstein the wallet and the second he saw it, he smiled with relief and said, "Yes, that's it! It must have dropped out of my pocket this afternoon. I want to give you a reward."

"No, thank you," I said. "But I have to tell you something. I read the letter in the hope of finding out who owned the wallet."

The smile on his face suddenly disappeared. "You read that letter?"

"Not only did I read it, I think I know where Hannah is."

He suddenly grew pale. "Hannah? You know where she is? How is she? Is she still as pretty as she was? Please, please tell me," he begged.

"She's fine...just as pretty as when you knew her." I said softly.

The old man smiled with anticipation and asked, "Could you tell me where she is? I want to call her tomorrow." He grabbed my hand and said, "You know something, mister, I was so in love with that girl that when that letter came, my life literally ended. I never married. I guess I've always loved her. "

"Mr. Goldstein," I said, "Come with me."

We took the elevator down to the third floor. The hallways were darkened and only one or two little night-lights lit our way to the day room where Hannah was sitting alone watching the television. The nurse walked over to her.

"Hannah," she said softly, pointing to Michael, who was waiting with me in the doorway. "Do you know this man?"

She adjusted her glasses, looked for a moment, but didn't say a word. Michael said softly, almost in a whisper, "Hannah, it's Michael. Do you remember me?"

She gasped, "Michael! I don't believe it! Michael! It's you! My Michael!" He walked slowly towards her and they embraced. The nurse and I left with tears streaming down our faces.

"See," I said. "See how the Good Lord works! If it's meant to be, it will be."

About three weeks later I got a call at my office from the nursing home. "Can you break away on Sunday to attend a wedding? Michael and Hannah are going to tie the knot!"

It was a beautiful wedding with all the people at the nursing home dressed up to join in the celebration. Hannah wore a light beige dress and looked beautiful. Michael wore a dark blue suit and stood tall. They made me their best man. If you ever wanted to see a 76-year-old bride and a 79-year-old groom acting like two teenagers, you had to see this couple!

A perfect ending for a love affair that had lasted nearly 60 years!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Spooning Weather

Accuweather has some bad news for us here in the Midwest. They say buy a snowblower and hunker down. Accuweather actually said, "People in Chicago are going to want to move after this winter." Now that's scary.

Here in Arkansas, we have a way to forecast our winters with the lowly persimmon tree. Not too much to look at, it's scrubby and rarely grows to it's full potential. They are plentiful on farms, mostly a fencerow tree. Wild animals are about the only ones that enjoy the mature fruit that is sticky sweet. Before they are ripe, they'll make your mouth pucker!  

But inside this golden little orb Mother Nature has hidden the forecast for winter. When you split the seed open you'll see the shape of a knife, fork or spoon.

Old timers say the knife forecasts cutting cold, the fork a mild winter and the shape of a spoon means we'll be shoveling lots of snow.

There's a spoon inside each of these this year. And the fact that the tree is loaded with fruit is yet another sign of a bad winter... Mother Nature providing for the animals.

The Farmer's Almanac doesn't exactly agree with Accuweather. They are predicting a milder winter than last. The Almanac was my Dad's "go to" source for weather and planting. He'd buy a copy and by the time he was finished with it, the cover would be completely worn off, the pages dog eared.

I hope the Almanac is right and it's not going to be as bad as last winter. We had record cold and record snowfall.

If I was smart I'd gather up some of these persimmons for Ozark Pudding!

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