Sunday, June 9, 2013

On aging and being alone... with recipes and food for thought

Breezy summer days in Cincinnati are welcome!  In a climate that is usually humid, the moderate temperature with cool breezes invite time outdoors.  My sister was visiting from Nebraska this week, and we had a lovely lunch with my friend on her garden patio, shaded by a tree.  Her roses are in full bloom, and her raised beds were lush with blossoms and the foliage of a myriad of plants.  Lavender spikes rose majestically over broad-leafed rhubarb, and the gardens were alive with color.  It was a day to be savored, with good company and surrounded with beauty and the intoxicating scents of a summer garden.  It brings to mind the mornings my husband and I spent on the deck admiring our gardens below.  I am not mobile enough to garden anymore, but the memories of
those times are still green in my mind.  Last weekend was my son-in-law’s 60th birthday, and my granddaughter’s 20th birthday. We celebrated the weekend at my home with his two oldest daughters and his two grandchildren here, also.  It was a special time, with a Sunday brunch that included all of my family here in the area. 

(Bob, the birthday boy, shown at the right with baby Leola, 5 months old.  On the left is Leola with her mother, Abby. Alaena Violet is the birthday girl, shown below left with her nephew, my great-grandson, Lucas, who will be three this month.)

Although we grow older and less able to accomplish things we once took for granted, we strive to continue a lifestyle adapted to our circumstances and diminished capabilities.  No one told us it would be this difficult to age!  And when we were young and our bodies were strong, we never thought the time would come when the flesh would not cooperate with what the mind believed to be true!  Perhaps the most difficult thing for me to deal with is being alone.  When we have lost our best friend and life partner, there is no one who knows us intimately enough to share the shattering of our dreams and the frustration that comes with diminished mobility.  I have always treasured time alone, and still enjoy my alone time, but that is a completely different thing than feeling like a lone person, adrift in unfamiliar waters.  I want to be supported emotionally, encouraged and even praised for the things I can still accomplish… but destructive criticism is not welcome in the new world I am being forced to create.

My eyesight is failing, but I still can… and need… to create things of beauty, whether it is knitted, crocheted, or quilted.  Sometimes, it is writing words on paper… transcribing emotions into form and substance for others to read and perhaps identify with.  My physical limitations do not prevent me from baking and cooking, although now much of the preparation is done sitting at my kitchen table.  And what once took minutes to do, now often takes me hours and sometimes days to complete!  But that is acceptable… time is the one commodity I still have, although it seems to have taken on more momentum at this time in my life.  As children, we can’t wait to:  get bigger, get older, reach higher, stay up later… and the list goes on.  Time moves slowly.  Now, time races by… I can almost hear the calendar pages swooshing as they flip from one month to the next!  Instead of anticipating what is to come, I find myself pulling up memories from my past to savor over and over again… the births of my children, watching them grow and learn, moments spent with beloved family and friends.  Just moments, but they were indelibly written on my heartstrings and still play beautiful music in my mind. 
I am growing older, but I am still learning… I find shortcuts and easier methods of doing the necessary things.  I am never going to be an immaculate housekeeper, but that was never my priority or goal in life.  Long ago, my beloved grandmother told me people are coming to see ME, not how clean my house is, and if they criticize my housekeeping, they are not my friends.  That was good advice, and if you are one of those people who takes pride in an immaculate house, that is wonderful.  I am not one of your number, however.  You will seldom be able to write your name in the dust on my tabletop, but I do not dust on a regular basis… just when I see it needs to be dusted.  But you will always find a warm hug when you enter my home, and usually a cup of coffee or glass of iced tea.  And if you see stacks of fabric and quilt blocks laid out on the floor, you will also find finished quilts to snuggle under… and hopefully be able to share some laughter while we visit! 
I do not drink, smoke, or spend money on traveling to exotic places, but I do love fabric and yarn!  And if I choose to spend my money on those things I love at this time in my life, I feel free to do so.  I know I will never live long enough to use it all up, and that’s fine with me… I enjoy the process of acquiring it!   If none of my children want it when I die, I hope it will brighten some stranger’s day to receive it in a bag at Goodwill. It does not mean I am a hoarder, although perhaps I am, when it comes to some things.  (My son-in-law, Bob, says I have 44 cake mixes on my storage shelves... I'll take his word for it, because I don't have time to waste counting them!)  But let these words be a testament to my philosophy of living… I enjoyed each day, and filled my time with things and people I loved! 
Here are a few recipes I have made and liked... quick and easy! 
Angel Bars:
1 boxed angel food cake mix
1 can of pie filling, any flavor,
OR 1 large can of crushed pineapple
Mix the dry cake mix with the can of pie filling
or the crushed pineapple, juice and all.  Spread in
a sprayed 9 x 13 pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for
25 to 30 minutes.  Pictured at right are the bars
made with pineapple.  Lemon bars were my
family's favorite.
Taco Log:
2 crescent roll tubes
1 LB ground beef 
1 diced Jalapeno pepper, seeds removed
1/2 cup chopped onion, optional
1 packet of taco seasoning
 1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
Shredded lettuce
1 or 2 diced tomatoes depending on size
1/2 small can sliced olives if desired
Sour cream optional
sliced avacado optional

Lay out the two tubes of crescent pastry, thick sides in. Use some of the left over crescent rolls to to make the center a bit thicker.
Brown beef and add taco seasoning.
Lay beef in a circle inside of the laid out crescent rolls
Add cheese to the top
Pull over crescent rolls and tuck in under meat and cheese.
Add cheese, lettuce, tomato, black olives, sour cream or whatever you desire for your tacos, in the middle.

Follow cook time on the pack of crescent rolls, and once it's done, you're good to go!
 Brown beef, pepper and onion and add taco seasoning.
Omit the pepper if you don't like "hot" things.
Lay out the two tubes of crescent pastry on a
cookie sheet, thick sides in. Put the beef mixture
on the center of the crescent rolls.  Top beef
with 1-1/2 cups shredded Fiesta blend cheese.
Fold crescent rolls over the filling, covering as much
as possible of the filling.  Bake as per directions on the
crescent rolls. 

Serve with any of the following garnishes: 
salsa, guacamole, shredded lettuce, tomatoes,
shredded cheese, diced green onions, black olives, or
sour cream.
I leave you with this thought for the day...
Night thoughts...
Just one word:
One, separated from all by just one “L”
A Lone One
One soul alone
Simply One lone word
Adrift in the dictionary of life
What if the missing “L” is love?








  1. Aleana, This was such a moving post! I cannot say that I understand about the alone feeling because your best friend has passed, but I understand about the body not doing what the mind thinks it should. Bravo on this post. Love the recipes also.

  2. Oh I just loved this post! And the Angel bars!!! I have to try them :)


  3. A very moving post that will reach and touch the lives of so many.
    You have always been my hero and my inspiration. I love you friend
    Judith Ann