The Art of Christmas—It’s How We Remember

The Art of Christmas—It’s How We Remember

Christmas time is creative time. For centuries the birth of the Christ child was the main subject of art in all its forms. Not only were people eager to celebrate their religious beliefs, they also wanted to step away from the drudgery of work and the harshness of winter. Christmas might have been lighted by candles and fires centuries ago, but even today the art of Christmas breaks through the darkness and repetitiveness of life, filling us humans with wonder and giving us pleasure. The art of Christmas, no matter what your faith or spiritual life, is how we remember the light of the world, the lift in our hearts, the reason for love and goodness.

Who hasn’t written a Christmas verse or created a Christmas joke. At this time of year shops and stores are teeming with creative endeavors to remember the season: poetry books, novels and plays; ceramics adorned with the color and images of the season. Children make gingerbread houses or fold paper into decorative chains. Mothers and fathers bake fantasies–cookies and breads, cakes and bars. There’s the busy provider who even finds time to break away from work to hang sparkling lights everywhere and to bring home an evergreen tree or maybe a sled to make snow enjoyable. It’s all the art of Christmas.

Here are a few of my standouts–art that brings tears to my eyes, underlining not only the beauty of the season, but the love and creativity in the hearts and minds of the artists.

In 1978 English author Raymond Briggs wrote and illustrated THE SNOWMAN which became a favorite adventure story for the holiday season. In 1982 the book became an animated film. Millennials  and their parents all hold visions of James flying with the snowman as the music by Howard Blake makes your heart soar. See it here.

We’re walking in the air
We’re floating in the moonlit sky
The people far below are sleeping as we fly

I’m holding very tight
I’m riding in the midnight blue
I’m finding I can fly so high above with you

Far across the world
The villages go by like dreams
The rivers and the hills
The forests and the streams

Children gaze open mouth
Taken by surprise
Nobody down below believes their eyes

We’re surffing in the air
We’re swimming in the frozen sky
We’re drifting over icy
Mountain floating by

Suddenly swooping low on an ocean deep
Arousing of a mighty monster from its sleep

We’re walking in the air
We’re floating in the midnight sky
And everyone who sees us greets us as we fly.

The Night Before Christmas, The Polar Express, A Christmas Carol, The Grinch Stole Christmas, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe are all memorable stories for the season.

The Art of Christmas—It’s How We Remember

A favorite of mine is A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas. You can watch a short film interpretation of the story here. The following is the last page of the story:

Always on Christmas night there was music. An uncle played the fiddle, a cousin sang “Cherry Ripe,” and another uncle sang “Drake’s Drum.” It was very warm in the little house. Auntie Hannah, who had got on to the parsnip wine, sang a song about Bleeding Hearts and Death, and then another in which she said her heart was like a Bird’s Nest; and then everybody laughed again; and then I went to bed. Looking through my bedroom window, out into the moonlight and the unending smoke-colored snow, I could see the lights in the windows of all the other houses on our hill and hear the music rising from them up the long, steady falling night. I turned the gas down, I got into bed. I said some words to the close and holy darkness, and then I slept.

At this time of year, music is heard everywhere and for each of us, certain songs or carols are sweetly-sharp reminders of who we loved and maybe who we’ve lost. The Gian Carlo Menotti opera Amahl and the Night Visitors is a remembrance of my mother. And so is the song Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane. There are tears when I hear:

Through the years we all will be together
If the Fates allow
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now.

Though we hold dear all these examples of the art of Christmas–it’s the hug from a grandchild, the kiss from a spouse, the kind phone call from an adult child who won’t be physically present and the thoughtful gifts, no matter what they are, that truly are the art of Christmas. So when snow flakes begin to fall in your hair or lights from a tree shine in your daughter’s eyes or you hear the carols or the bells or the quiet darkness seeks you out–hold them close, remember them–for they light up our world that needs love and care, that needs more than ever a merry little Christmas.

The Art of Christmas—It’s How We Remember

The artist has placed the stable scene under a starry night.

Thanks to Pinterest and Google Images

The Art of Christmas—It’s How We Remember

Charming and meaningful.

For My Father-in Law, the Quiet Hero: It’s A Wonderful Life

For My Father-in Law, the Quiet Hero: It’s A Wonderful Life

Some of the survivors of the USS BUSH. Ed Havey top row, second from right.

For My Father-in Law, the Quiet Hero: It’s A Wonderful Life

My father-in-law’s medals.

The word hero might instantly bring a name to mind as we all have people in our lives that are heroes to us. Many of these men and women live quiet lives, their brave acts known to few. Often they don’t discuss their heroism and in retrospect it could be related to post-traumatic stress disorder—the memories are so painful that daily life is altered by flashbacks and nightmares.

My father-in-law, Edward Thomas Havey, was a quiet hero who rarely spoke of that part of his history. But he has something in common with Louis Zamperini whose name was not a household word until SEABISCUIT author Laura Hillenbrand asked him if she could tell his story.

The result was the best-selling book UNBROKEN and now the coming film, directed by Angelina Jolie. That’s stardom. But Zamperini’s story of competing in the 1936 Olympic Games, enlisting in the Army Air Force in 1941 and surviving torture in Japanese prison camps is only part of his heroic story. The event that led to his imprisonment occurred when his plane went down in the South Pacific. He and two other men were left to drift in a life raft for 42 days. When I think of that part of Zamperini’s amazing story, I think of my father-in-law, a quiet hero—a man reluctant to tell his own.

A lawyer, married with one child, Edward Havey was sent to Harvard University for three months to prepare for his assignment as a communications officer on the USS BUSH. He was 31 years old. There’s a picture of my father-in-law with fellow officers taken on the BUSH in July 1944. In that photo there are many more men than you see in the one above. The 6th of April, 1945 had the power to change the trajectory of many lives, including my own.

His ship was operating off the coast of Okinawa and from April 4th through April 5th, crew members worked tirelessly to repel Japanese planes that continued to attack them. My father-in-law related that the men were exhausted from the barrage and probably had little reserves left for the trauma to come.

On the 6th of April at 3:15 in the afternoon the first of three Kamikaze planes hit, causing the bomb or torpedo it was carrying to explode in the forward engine room. Damage was incurred, yet the ship was not a loss and help was requested. A destroyer, the Colhoun, notified the BUSH that assistance was on the way, but she was hit by another suicide plane and was severely damaged. Then at 5:25 p.m. a second kamikaze crashed into the port side of the BUSH’s main deck almost severing the ship in two. Fires broke out everywhere. Then finally at 5:45 a third plane hit the port side above the main deck. Ammunition caught fire and began to explode. Though officers felt the BUSH would break amidships, they held on feeling that those halves were salvageable.

But at 6:30 p.m. heavy waves began to rock the ship from all sides and her midsections began to list and cave. Everyone had to abandon ship. Naval history records that at that time they had already lost 87 crew members and that 227 went into the water.

There were lifeboats and the history states they were filled with men wearing life jackets who though they were in a vessel had to fight the pounding of the waves, taking in salt water that made them vomit. The report reads: some men become hysterical and violent. Although they were wearing life jackets and in all cases appeared to be physically unhurt, they would give up, slip out of their life jackets and go down or swim out into the darkness to meet the same fate.. Thirty-three men were lost in this period.

My father-in-law? Though he was an officer, he ended up in the water—no lifeboat, just a lifejacket and his desire to live. The history states that the water temperature was 68 degrees Fahrenheit, but felt cold as they went in under cover of darkness—a cover that did shield them from airplane fire. The rising swells continued to beat at them until 10:00 p.m. when they calmed somewhat, but the men had already been in the water for 3 ½ hours. My father-in-law fought each wave, struggling to keep his head up and hearing the screams of other men who were possibly being attacked by sharks.

But he endured, clinging to his life. Those hours when he fought each oncoming wave and prayed to his God remain holy, startling moments. Those are the hours I sometimes dwell on, realizing that within my father-in-law was the potential to live a wonderful life, to climb from the vise of death by drowning or hypothermia or the ravages of a shark and live to bring ten more children into the world—yes ten—the second to be born, his first son, my husband. Because my children and my grandchildren would not be if something else had occurred during those solemn hours while my father-in-law fought for his life. Thanks, Dad. And the world would not have the story of courage that Louis Zamperini’s life will be remembered for if he too had lost it while his raft continued to float under the hot sun, provisions dwindled and one of the men with him died.

We have said many times that the story line in the film IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE aligns with lives like those of Edward Havey and Louise Zamperini. Clarence, the angel, makes the Jimmy Stewart character, George Bailey, realize that if he hadn’t saved his brother Harry’s life when the kid broke through ice, that many other lives would not have been saved.

Edward Havey not only made it possible for a future family to spring from his life, he also saved the life of a fellow officer. Ralph Moses fought the waves too, but hypothermia set in. When my father-in-law saw Moses pass out, he reached for him. After 3 days without sleep and 8 hours in the water, my heroic father-in-law found the strength to stay alive and save a fellow officer. He held up Moses for over an hour.

Finally the USS PAKANA arrived and saved 89 men from the grip of the ocean. History reports that some men became excited on seeing the ship and tried to swim to her. Being exhausted they lost strength and sunk or were pulled under by the ship. Everything occurred in complete darkness, since enemy planes were in the area. Twelve men died after being hauled aboard.

My father-in-law hit the deck and collapsed.

Days later in Chicago, my mother-in-law read in the Tribune that the USS BUSH and the COLHOUN had sunk. She waited over two weeks to learn that her husband was alive, this helped by a cousin with connections to another member of the Navy who was able to discover that my father-in-law was at a hospital at Pearl Harbor. Exhausted and suffering from his experience, it took him time to realize he could contact his family. When he finally landed at Midway Airport in Chicago, his 3-year-old daughter immediately recognized him, but my mother-in-law did not. He had lost a great deal of weight and was not the fresh-faced wise attorney that had left for the war.

Edward Thomas Havey was promoted to lieutenant (jg) and received the Philippine Liberation Ribbon and the Navy Medal for Heroism, the latter being the same medal JFK received. But eager to resume his life as a husband, father and attorney, he didn’t want these medals. Two years later when the war was finally over, he was working at his desk on La Salle Street when his secretary ushered in two Navy men. They presented him with the medals that we now proudly display in our home.

My father-in-law dedicated his life to family and did not like to speak of his experiences—the quiet hero. Ralph Moses’ family contacted my mother-in-law when they learned of my father-in-law’s death. They were grateful for their lives and knew that Edward Havey had much to do with them.

Louis Zamperini fought more battles once he was state-side. But he won those battles and when you read or see his story, he will give you hope that you can win yours too. Being a hero means strength, but it also means sacrifice and giving. My father-in-law had a wonderful life. He knew it and lived it every day with thanksgiving.

Thanks to John Havey and Google Images

For My Father-in Law, the Quiet Hero: It’s A Wonderful Life

A photo before leaving for the war. Mr. and Mrs. Edward T. Havey

For My Father-in Law, the Quiet Hero: It’s A Wonderful Life


Feeding My Family or Why I’m Not a Gourmet Cook, Part Two

Feeding My Family or Why I’m Not a Gourmet Cook, Part Two

When food bloggers sit down to write, they usually have an incredible new recipe to post with mouth-watering photographs to enchant you. Their posts provide inventive creations for every meal of the day. But though I am again writing about food, this post is not a how-to. Because if you ate the way I used to eat, you also might injure your health. But–if you are tired of making lunches for someone, then read on about the one I made. I guarantee you’ll get fired from that sandwich-making job. And note: there won’t be a photo to illustrate, but the sandwich in question was creative and very inventive.

Scene: first year of marriage, both working. To help our budget, I prepare lunches. Things  go well, until one day there’s just not much in the fridge.

Scene: husband sits down in lunchroom with colleagues. He opens bag and takes out sandwich only to discover that this is liver sausage on cinnamon-raisin bread. And he has always claimed that this version had a frosted crust though I don’t remember that!

Climax: Everyone in lunchroom laughs, and though spouse eats sandwich, I am later informed that my duty as lunch-provider has ended. Oh well, he can still look forward to my chicken dinners (see Feeding My Family etc Part One.)

My adventures in the kitchen did gradually improve. But here is another confession: after moving to our first house we both had longer commutes to get to work, so often we snapped up Hostess Ho Ho’s or donuts for breakfast. That was the beginning of some problems for me. And again it goes back to understanding nutrition and that all foods are not equal. All foods fill the belly, but they do not guarantee good health and stamina. But we were adults who had decided we would just eat what we wanted to eat–even if one Ho Ho contained 42 grams of sugar! We certainly did not apply the same free-form of choice to the diet of our children as they came along.

So I still had much to learn about carbohydrates, protein and fats. And what happened to me because of my diet was subtle. I had my first child and did well, felt good. But as life continued and my daughter became a toddler more was demanded of me. Then after the birth of my second child, I was exhausted. And anyone with true knowledge of nutrition would have known right away what I was doing to myself to keep going. My diet: black coffee in the morning. Sweet cereals or coffee cake for breakfast. Colas with lunch. Sweet and sour sauces with some dinners. Always dessert. Even candy while I read before bed.

I was always tired, cranky and often ill-tempered. I had headaches and sometimes chest pain. I was even rushed to the local hospital in an ambulance because I thought I was having a heart attack. It was 1979 and at the hospital no one took a sample of my blood sugar. But that’s what was going on. I had hypoglycemia. I probably had a propensity for it most of my life, because though I was always active, I tired easily when attempting sports and was always thinking about my next meal. Being a stay-at-home mom afforded easy access to food which had been keeping me going–until I had a preschooler and a colicky baby and my diet contained too much caffeine and sugar.

But I was fortunate and after one appointment with a physician who specialized in diabetes and decided I would feel great on an all-protein diet (and I discovered that you can’t function without some carbs) I found a doctor in Chicago who knew what low blood sugar was and how to treat it. Change your diet, of course. It took me about two years to feel totally good again and that required that I eliminate all sweets. I could have fresh fruits and vegetables and complex carbs like whole grains. I had to eat protein every three hours and weigh my dinner meal. Dried dates from California were allowed in between meals to provide energy to a mother with two children. Dates are energy boosters as they contain natural sugars like glucose, sucrose and fructose. My daughters thought that every mother had a bag of dates in her purse. But I got better and that’s all that mattered.

Actually developing low blood sugar was great for my entire family. I bought cookbooks like Nikki and David Goldbecks American Wholefoods Cuisine, Adelle Davis Let’s Get Well, The Low Blood Sugar Cookbook and The Silver Palate Cookbook. For a long time I made desserts from oatmeal flour or carob or I used fruit to sweeten things. Bringing such a contribution to the table, my children would often ask: “Can you eat it?” and if the answer was yes, they declined. But as my daughters have grown into adulthood, they too struggle with low blood sugar now and again. None of us can eat a donut and coffee for breakfast without getting a headache and feeling tired.

Today the talk of diet and nutrition is hotter than ever. But in the early 80s when I was struggling to find ingredients (I even made my own mayo to avoid adding sugar) health food stores were the first choice. Gradually you were able to find peanut butter without sugar or high fructose corn syrup, unsweetened cereals, and canned fruit without heavy sugared syrup in the local grocery. Aspartame allowed me to drink cola, though now I don’t even bother with that. Water please.

But it all took time. Now gluten-free is all the rage–though it was created for folks with celiac disease–a condition that can be very serious. And when you or a family member has dietary concerns like a peanut allergy, eating at other people’s homes or in restaurants can provide a real challenge. But today, awareness has broadened one’s choices. Even some fast-food places provide menus with a list of ingredients and calories. So very helpful.

Healthy and having lots of energy, I stock my kitchen today with fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, cheese, and whole grain breads. When I crave sweets, I eat dark chocolate that is 70% cocoa. And now and then I do have a dessert, but I only eat it after a meal, when my belly is full and my body can tolerate the sugar. The Ho Ho’s were gone long, long ago.

So thanks for taking this journey with me. I have learned a great deal from my experience and am always eager to share that knowledge. For a while I taught Diabetes Education at the health department and that afforded me the opportunity to know others’ first hand struggle with nutrition. Please check out some of the links in this article on low blood sugar. And if you enjoy cooking, there are plenty of cookbooks out there to keep you healthy. I’m really fortunate–now my husband has taken up cooking, but you’ll never see liver sausage on his grocery list.

Thanks to Goggle Images and My Husband and Family

Feeding My Family or Why I’m Not a Gourmet Cook, Part Two

PS. If you enjoy Boomer Highway and find it helpful, please nominate the blog for the contest here.


Owning and Loving a Pet Helps Your Health

Owning and Loving a Pet Helps Your Health

Having a pet is good for your health! For starters if you have a dog and you WALK your dog, you are getting outside, getting fresh air and walking too. But even if you are elderly or physically challenged in some way, owners of pets report consistently that they feel healthier. Research shows that Alzheimer’s patients have less anxiety attacks with a dog around and the very nature of pets who will cuddle and sit with you, provides companionship for the elderly and those living alone.

Such positive information about loving and caring for a pet makes Celebrate Shelter Pets Day even more important in our communities. On this day you can contact local shelters or rescue groups by clicking on the link The site also contains adoption success stories and lots of information about the process of adoption. And you will be helping an animal as only 29% of those in American homes were adopted from a shelter or rescue. And though each year approximately 3-4 million pets are adopted, 2.7 million still lose their lives each year for lack of a home.

Animal behaviorist, Patricia McConnell, writes in her book, For the Love of a Dog, that levels of oxytocin, a mood-affecting neurotransmitter or feel-good brain hormone, can increase when one just pets a dog. That’s great news for your personal health.  And Dr. Horst Becket of the Berlin Longevity Institute states that cats have a calming effect on people, lowering blood pressure and slowing heart rates. This can add an average of 10.3 years of life to people who have owned cats since childhood, Becket claims.

But what about children getting allergies from owning a pet? That’s changed, writes pediatrician James E. Gern MD in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Studies now show that children growing up with “furred animals” dog or cat, or on a farm with small or large animals, have less risk of asthma and allergies. Blood tests on infants at birth and then a year later who lived with animals were less likely to reveal evidence of pet allergies: 19% vs 33%. Dr. Gern concluded that the exposure to allergens strengthened the immune response.

Watch this video about Jules, and see if you don’t immediately fall in love.

Animals lovers and researchers have first-hand knowledge of how much pets help humans stay healthy and connected:

  • many studies point to the fact that regular contact with pets helps reduce or lower cholesterol levels and speed recovery after illness
  • a study in the UK showed pet owners dealt better with a loss in the family than those who did not have a pet; possibly they were able to share feelings with their pet in a time when it was difficult to talk to humans
  • caregivers report that being around dogs and cats is beneficial to seniors, helping to remind them of normal home life and making them feel more comfortable and at ease; seniors get a sense of purpose and a cure for loneliness when caring for a pet
  • children who grow up with a pet often have an easier time forming relationships with  family members and friends as well as gaining confidence; having an animal also provides a means for making new friends.

So on this Celebrate Shelter Pets Day think about what a wonderful difference a pet could make in your family. Or maybe you have already rescued a wonderful animal that has improved your life. If so, share you story. I am happy to help animals who need to be rescued and wrote this piece in partnership with Element Associates.

Owning and Loving a Pet Helps Your Health Thanks to Flickr Images



Feeding My Family or Why I’m Not a Gourmet Cook, Part One

Feeding My Family or Why I’m Not a Gourmet Cook, Part One

I love coffee mugs, but it’s my husband who brews good coffee.

Food preparation in today’s world has broken out of the category of ordinary chore—rising to the heights of artisanal, fantasy and in some cases pure obsession. But being a person who enjoys balance, I’m still trying to get my head around it.

We all have to eat—I get that. And it’s really nice when someone else makes the meal. But in the 1960s when my mother took a job in downtown Chicago, I became the cook in our family. Previously, I was capable of opening a can of Campbell’s tomato soup, adding a can of liquid—always milk, please—and heating it up. But a dinner?

The night before, Mom and I would decide on the main course. When she got home at six o’clock and spaghetti sauce or a meat dish like chicken or a ham slice was ready, we could whip up a salad, prepare a vegetable and be ready to go. Often Mom had a sweet on hand because she baked on the weekends.

So how did this go? Not that great. Yes, all four members of our family were healthy and happy, but there was fallout. Everyone began to loathe the Friday choices, fish sticks or  cheese pizza. During the week, we sometimes actually ate a grilled sandwich that consisted of Spam mixed with grated onion and American cheese. Because this delectable had no title, my older brother named the sandwich The Igor, after the composer Stravinsky. You see, music was higher on our proverbial food chain, than, well, food!

But as my celebrity as a cool teenage girl with a boyfriend rose—my cooking skills, had there been any, plummeted. Still required to prepare the main course each night—I would race home from high school, grind up some corn flakes and whip an egg. These lovelies were applied to four pork tenderloins and then almost thrown into a pan and set at low oven heat. That allowed me to race to the local park to watch my boyfriend play baseball or just hang out. But the pork was always in the oven way too long, causing my younger brother to name it hockey pucks–a name that stuck, a meal I no longer prepare.

During my college years, I always ate in the cafeterias, having absolutely no desire to cook in my room. And this was before tiny refrigerators or microwaves. For lunch, I subsisted on hamburgers and fries, for dinner whatever Mr. Hewitt, our chef, had prepared. There was always mystery meat. We knew it was lamb only because he put out a bowl of mint jelly. Once in a great while I would go to Poppa’s for a warm and satisfying Saturday breakfast. But my budget urged me to eat the food I had already paid for. Thank God Starbucks didn’t exist, as I couldn’t have afforded it.

But once married—with a husband who also commuted to Chicago while I worked ten minutes from our home—I had to own up to the fact that those bright and shiny appliances, the stove and refrigerator, were truly mine.

“What are you making for dinner?” my mother-in-law always asked when we talked. This was because she liked to cook and she was damn good at it, often altering and changing a recipe. This was unheard of in my life—I mean would the thing turn out if you adjusted, changed or eliminated ingredients? My answer to her question as to the meal I was preparing was often chicken. It became a joke in my husband’s family—I made chicken. That was that. At least they had never had my hockey pucks, so I didn’t have to hang my head in complete shame.

But I got a grip on the married and working full time gig and began to look at recipes. My friend Jane actually explained protein, carbohydrates and fats to me. I had never taken home ec, but really liked the science aspect. I had a copy of The Joy of Cooking which my older brother had given me, probably hoping I would someday open it. The local newspaper had a cooking section with Jell-O recipes, how to use left-over roast beef and many examples of cakes, pies and cookies. Don’t laugh. This was the 70s.

Before children, my biggest gourmet fete was a Beef Wellington that I prepared for six of my college friends and their spouses. It took me forever, but I remember it was extremely palatable and very much appreciated. During the meal, I noticed a few too many little dark bits floating in the vinaigrette dressing on the salad. I had probably not washed the fancy lettuce well enough, being used to iceberg. I hoped that my diners just decided I went a little overboard with the freshly ground pepper.

Feeding My Family or Why I’m Not a Gourmet Cook, Part One

My Beef Wellington looked just like this. Really!


Of course my house was sparking when my guests arrived. I have always enjoyed cleaning and organizing my home more than grocery shopping and cooking. But that night I hung a spider plant in its macrame hanger from the tension shower rod in the bathroom, and during the meal it came crashing down sending mud and pottery shards everywhere. No tidiness in that room.

With this Part One history, you can conclude that my future career was never meant to include meal preparation or any aspect of it. But there are probably many chefs who also had to help prepare family meals, but unlike me, the responsibility fired them up and they rocketed into fame leaving iceberg lettuce and tomato soup behind. If you have a tale of great cooking success or major failure, please share. See you next week for Part Two.

Here’s a Recipe to excite the palate, and replace your image of my hockey pucks. 

Breaded Pork Tenderloin

Servings: 4
“Try this for breaded pork tenderloin that is lightly crunchy on the outside, tender and juicy with a hint of Mediterranean spice on the inside.”
1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup Italian-style dried bread crumbs
1 pinch garlic salt
2 teaspoons dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1. Slice tenderloin into 1/4 inch rounds. Place rounds between sheets of plastic wrap and pound until thin.
2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
3. Beat eggs and milk together and pour into a shallow dish or bowl. Set aside. In a separate dish or bowl combine breadcrumbs with garlic salt, oregano, salt and pepper. Mix all together. In a large skillet heat oil over medium high heat. Meanwhile, dip tenderloins in egg mixture, then coat with bread crumb mixture. When oil is hot, add coated tenderloin to skillet and fry until golden brown on both sides (not cooked through)!
4. Place browned tenderloin in a 9×13 inch baking dish lined with aluminum foil. Fry any leftover eggs and bread crumbs together for ‘breadings’. Add ‘breadings’ to baking dish. Cover tightly and bake in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes or until meat has reached an internal temperature of 145 degrees F (63 degrees C).
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2014 Printed from 11/30/2014

Feeding My Family or Why I’m Not a Gourmet Cook, Part One

Breaded Pork Tenderloin

Thanks to Google Images




On This Thanksgiving, Are All Welcome Here?

On This Thanksgiving, Are All Welcome Here?

The United States’ celebration of THANKSGIVING is rather unique, though Canada also celebrates a Thanksgiving Day in October. But ours is firmly planted on the fourth Thursday in November, due to a joint resolution of Congress signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941.

The day was set aside to remind us of our bountiful beginnings in this new world and the gratitude felt by the early settlers for a plentiful harvest. A celebration took place in Plymouth, Massachusetts and tradition states that Chief Massasoit and his Wampanoag tribe of Native Americans brought deer meat to share with the English settlers. Corn, shellfish and some other roasted meats completed the celebratory meal. All participants could look from the bluffs of the New Land to the vast ocean beyond and just wonder at the power and beauty surrounding them. All were welcome at that feast.

Similarly, when Marty Haugen wrote his famous hymn All Our Welcome (Let Us Build A House) there were times when in some churches the words coming from the pulpit were not inclusive. ALL were not welcome. Thankfully, that is changing because of openness in the hearts of many people, a deeper understanding of differences and a desire to share. Most wanted the change and believed in the change. They desired that the words to Haugen’s hymn would truly have meaning. And now in many churches and congregations all are truly welcomed.

But this Thanksgiving, when we gather with our families, there will still be people working to bring food to our Thanksgiving tables or clean our homes or care for our children and our gardens who don’t always feel welcome. They desire and need a pathway to come out of the shadows. It’s more change to get our heads around, but it needs to happen.

And I propose a test. Why not reread the words on the Statue of Liberty: Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door! With hearts and minds open to understanding, we can all acknowledge that we are a country of immigrants and that living by the words on mighty Liberty make us one and make us proud.

Let’s realize that the diversity of peoples in our country is what makes it strong and unique. When we do that, Thanksgiving Day will have the meaning it should have. My immigrant ancestors came from Germany but I bear no special privileges. Instead, I am totally grateful for my life in this country—grateful to my great-grandparents for making an arduous journey, grateful to my parents for loving, caring and educating me and grateful to the United States for the freedom that it still provides.

This year on Thanksgiving why not share some story of your ancestry—reach back and remember how you came to be celebrating Thanksgiving, a unique and special holiday. And remember to reach out to your family and friends. The treasures of life are not in some store that is staying open on a national holiday—the treasures are in the eyes of those you love and the hands you hold. The treasure lies with those who sacrificed so that all could be welcome in this land of thanksgiving.

THANKS TO GOOGLE IMAGES On This Thanksgiving, Are All Welcome Here?On This Thanksgiving, Are All Welcome Here?

When You’re A Caregiver, You’re Always Learning

When You’re A Caregiver, You’re Always Learning

It’s been some time since I wrote a post that dealt with being a caregiver and helping an aging relative or parent. Though my mother has died and the focus of my life altered, I still read about caregiving and I often advise my friends who are now where I used to be. My desire to help, to make a stressful and yet it’s-part-of-life experience easier to navigate is strong. I want people to use me as a sounding board for questions about the entire process: how to take the car keys away, how to protect monetary resources by taking over the checkbook, how to recognize the signs and symptoms of dementia, how to talk to someone with dementia, drugs that can often help dementia patients, the difference between palliative care and hospice care—and much more.

I certainly don’t have all the answers, and I know the entire learning process is ongoing. So when I’m helping a friend and we’re talking about what happens when your parent breaks a hip or the ins and outs of senior housing or just basic things like how to stay healthy when the person you are caring for is in a health crisis—I can advise them to access the AARP Caregiving Resource Center. 

The site is jam-packed with well-written articles that offer advice on a wide variety of topics like these:

1Caregivers Tips for the Holidays

2. Ten Ways for Caregivers to Nurture Themselves

3. Easing Age-Based Sibling Rivalry in Caregiving

There is even a Community page where you can find support and help for individual problems and questions. It’s a place where other caregivers share, get and give advice.

Even before the caregiving journey began for my brothers and me, my mother gave us an amazing gift. While still healthy and before she needed to enter a senior facility—she purchased a Long Term Care policy. That economic benefit was an enormous help as her care needs increased.

I have a Long Term Care policy—the importance of purchasing such a policy was one of the things I learned from being a caregiver. It’s very important to plan for the time when you will be the receiver of help and not the giver. Think about your own financial situation and check out this link from AARP, which discusses the process.

My mother was a giver who dedicated her life to caring for and loving her family. But one day we exchanged places and I was called upon to do the caring. It was sometimes a daunting task, as I lived five hours away from her. Debbie became me—a caregiver who lovingly provided hands-on care. She gave me peace of mind and we stayed on the same page through emails and phone calls. But in the end, the major decision-making fell to my brothers and me. We did everything we could to keep Mom comfortable and then to let her die in peace when she knew it was her time. May blessings always shower my dear mother and all the women and men who daily provide care. Every caregiver is on a continuum—learning something new every day. Every caregiver needs love and help from another family member or a friend. It’s a circle–and we all must join.

I’m pleased to partner with Midlife Boulevard to bring you this important public service information about National Family Caregivers Month.

(Read How to Care for Caregivers here.)

Watch a video of singer Amy Grant providing tips for caregiving here.  

When You’re A Caregiver, You’re Always Learning

It’s National Caregiver Month

When You’re A Caregiver, You’re Always Learning

When You’re A Caregiver, You’re Always Learning

Thanks to Google Images




Pictures on Your Walls, Dreams in Your Heart

Pictures on Your Walls, Dreams in Your Heart

A house in Huntington, Indiana by Peggy Brown

Picture One: The Translucent Home of Memory

Early in our marriage my husband and I purchased an original watercolor by artist, Peggy Brown. It’s an imaginative rendition of a home in soft blues and greys with tall barren trees surrounding it. The house has a turret similar to the old Victorian-style home my husband was raised in. And amazingly, the artist was from Huntsville, Indiana, the home of my maternal grandfather. When you look at it you can visualize the movement of hearts within. It’s filled with light and thus with dreaming. All these things made it logical that the painting spoke to us and that’s why we wanted to take it home. For 18 years it held a place of honor in our living room. In this house it is now in our bedroom, still a treasure, still able to evoke dreamy thoughts though its colors have faded.

Pictures on Your Walls, Dreams in Your Heart

Nana’s Gift, The Girl with the Basket of Grapes

Picture Two: Nana’s Gift

This picture has an amazing story connected with it and it’s my maternal grandmother’s story. When Nana was married in 1909, a friend of hers named Lena, presented her with a watercolor of a woman wearing a bright gold sash and holding a basket of grapes. The subject matter was rather odd for the 1900s in Chicago, but my grandmother proudly hung it in her home. Years later, Lena came to tea. She gazed at the picture on the wall, telling Nana that the real reason for her visit was that she had come for the picture. She said it was the best painting she had ever done and she wanted it back. Nana said no—it was a gift and it would stay a gift. Thus it hung in Nana’s home until she died, moved with my aunts to a new Chicago address and when they died it came to me. A real treasure. It hangs beside two water colors that Nana painted when she was in her late teens.

Pictures on Your Walls, Dreams in Your Heart

A World For Our Children

Picture Three: Two Girls and a Boy

My friend Gay Lynn sent me a card with a rendering of a painting by artist Steve Hanks. I was entranced immediately because it shows a boy and two girls sitting on a pier over the water. The boy is blonde like my son, the girls appearing to be the ages of my two daughters. Again, the art draws you in and you can almost hear the water rippling when the children move their sticks. A bird is singing somewhere and the sun feels so good on their cotton tee shirts. I framed the small card-size and later found a bigger version that I also framed. I dreamed of buying the original art, but never have—though Steve Hanks remains a favorite.

Pictures on Your Walls, Dreams in Your Heart

The Sea Hath Its Pearls

Picture Four: The Sea Hath Its Pearls

Art can call out to you from very unusual places and I found this at a store that has since gone out of business. It’s a reproduction of a Pre-Raphaelite painting, women often being the subject matter. I was in a decade of my life when I wasn’t totally sure of my path. Our daughters were gone to university, our son was busy with school and band. Maybe I felt like the woman on the beach, searching the water and the sand for a shell, a stone, some token that might whisper the future.

Pictures on Your Walls, Dreams in Your Heart

I felt this picture calling out to me.

Picture Five: Back to My Childhood Home

This final picture I purchased in Des Moines, Iowa. Again it’s a reproduction and I know nothing about the artist or its title. I was wandering a department store and found myself looking at art. When this picture of a home in autumn, the feathery trees, a reflecting pond and geese came into view, I had a physical feeling, a rush of remembrance. Of course I stopped. I had never seen this painting before, so what was I feeling. It didn’t take long to figure it out. Above the fireplace in our home in Chicago hung a picture of a house, a picture my brothers and I loved. (It’s the one thing my brother Bill wanted and so it’s hanging in his home.) I probably looked at that picture every day of my young life. Its colors and composition implanted on my brain feelings of warmth and security, peace and comfort. And though the composition of this department store painting was different, it echoed those feelings. It spoke to me. I purchased it happily.

Of course most of us have on our walls and tables iconic framed photos of our family members. They truly are the pictures that reveal the dreams of the heart. When I see photos of my children young, not so young and grown into wonderful adulthood I feel joy and gratitude. When I look at my grandchildren, I’m just about as happy as I can be. Photos of my parents and my husband’s parents are absolute treasures, as our photos of our younger selves. Do you have a favorite picture hanging in your home? No matter where it came from or who the artist is the value is in your perception–and the story of how it came to be yours, the story of some little dream that it holds–that makes it a perfect jewel, a memorable treasure.

 Thanks to John Havey and Google Images

P.S. My brother sent me a photo of THE ENGLISH COTTAGE that hung over our fireplace in my childhood home. Here it is.

Pictures on Your Walls, Dreams in Your Heart

Just Some Friendly Teacher-Troublemaker Advice

Just Some Friendly Teacher-Troublemaker Advice

As a blogger, I read articles about how to reach my readers. One article suggested I wear one of these hats: friend-hat, teacher-hat or troublemaker-hat. Spoiler: I’m going to be wearing all three. And another spoiler. Topic today: health. Again. Sorry. But we only go around once.


With my friend-hat on, I’ll make this simple and short. Boomers: do the following to insure that you won’t develop type 2 diabetes. Why? This disease can lead to other health issues including: heart attack and stroke, damage to nerves, kidneys and eyes, also skin conditions and diseases of the feet. If you are pre-diabetic or already diagnosed–then you know the drill.

1. Exercise 30 minutes a day. You can divide this 30 minutes by walking 15 minutes in the morning and lifting weights and stretching for 15 minutes in the evening.

2. Walk. When you walk or exercise, your muscles pull glucose out of your bloodstream for energy. This lowers your glucose levels and increases your blood circulation–so good for your brain, heart, lungs and all the organs in your body. And good blood circulation is essential for people with diabetes, as they have a greater risk of foot sores and disease due to peripheral vascular problems.

3. Make fiber your friend. Marjorie Cypress, PhD and president of the American Diabetes Association advocates fiber to keep blood sugar levels nice and even, avoiding up or down swings. That’s glucose control, Folks, and it’s good for everyone. You feel great when your blood sugar isn’t rising or dropping.

4. Know what fiber does. Foods high in fiber stay in your system, taking longer to break down, thus providing you with slow even amounts of glucose instead of sending sugar into the blood stream so quickly your blood sugar spikes and then drops. This improves  glucose tolerance and carbohydrate metabolism. Fiber improves insulin resistance because insulin isn’t called from the pancreas so quickly as it is with straight white table sugar. Women should aim for 25 grams of fiber a day and men for 38 grams a day.

5. Eat the Mediterranean way. Dr. Cypress states that the Mediterranean way of eating is really the diet of fiber-rich foods. Think: whole grains, vegetables and fruits. Then add fish and nuts for protein. Finally, limit or eliminate red meat because of its saturated fat.

4. Other Tips: 

  • If you are currently overweight, losing 15 pounds will decrease your chance of getting diabetes;
  • stress hormones raise your blood sugar so try to meditate or practice yoga;
  • use CREATE YOUR PLATE when eating out or planning meals at home. Read more about this easy method here;
  • If you already have diabetes or are pre-diabetic, purchase a glucometer and keep track of your blood sugar levels. Your healthcare provider will be better able to advise you with your glucose levels charted this way. Read about glucometers here.

Words From a Wise Teacher and Blogger

Dr. Roxanne Sukol blogs at Your Health is on Your Plate. The following is great advice from this doctor and mother:

When my kids were in high school, and they were in a complaining mood (I’m cranky; I don’t feel well; I’m bored; I have too much homework), I would always say, “Go for a walk!” It got to be a joke in our house. Being teenagers, they, of course, took it to the next level. Fever? Go for a walk! Migraine? Take a hike! Appendicitis? Walk it off! Broken leg??? Very funny, I said. You get the idea. But I felt then, as I still do, that a walk is just about the best solution for a whole host of problems. And going for a walk is one of the best ways to protect your mobility and your blood sugar as you move through the decades. Use it or lose it.    Love this and could not have said it better.

Some Conclusions

Do any of you have a dog? Yes? Great! You’ve got a companion for your daily walks. The rest of us either go solo or find a friend. I walk with my husband and if he’s not available, I walk alone, praying for awhile, listening to the birds and then maybe to music on my iPod. We all feel better when we are able to get up and move.

And who hasn’t been in a hospital, senior center or rehabilitation unit and been eager to just leave, to get out of there, being totally grateful that you can move, walk–even run. WARNING from this Troublemaker blogger — you better keep it going. Winter is coming, it will be harder to do. When I was a young mother with small children, I even walked in my house on bad weather days. My daughters set up posts where they checked me as I walked by. We made it fun. THERE ARE NO EXCUSES!

Finally, one of the most read and loved posts on BOOMER HIGHWAY is this one: Do You Have Occasional Low Blood Sugar? Read it and ask yourself if you have similar symptoms which indicate you need to alter your diet and move your body. Bottom line: take care and heed my friendly, teacher-troublemaker advice.

Just Some Friendly Teacher-Troublemaker Advice

Thanks to Google Images




Ideas for Beauty Inside and Out

Ideas for Beauty Inside and Out

Walking is so good for you–try to get outside and walk even in winter.

INSIDE: Beauty is health. We can’t see inside to the workings of our bodies, but we certainly can make choices that help insure everything in there is in working order.  And amazingly, a simple exercise that you can do almost anywhere, in any type of weather, with little cost–helps major organs in your body stay healthy. And you already guessed what that exercise is–WALKING.

The American Heart Association states that walking vigorously for 30 to 60 minutes three to four times a week is your best choice. The AHA also states that low-to moderate-intensity walking is certainly good for you, and so is just walking 20 minutes a day at a moderate pace.

WALKING PACES: To break it down:

  • A 20 minute mile is a stroll, low intensity but you are still getting exercise. Examples would be walking through the mall or going to pick up something at a nearby store. It’s an estimated 120 steps per minute for a person of average height. This helps your health. See below.
  • A 15 minute mile is brisk walking, the general pace of most walkers, about 135 steps per minute for a person of average height. Breathing: noticeable but you can carry on a conversation using complete sentences.
  • A 12 minute mile is advanced walking for aerobic fitness and for burning calories. It is typically about 150 steps per minute.

To maximize your time walking:

  • Walk outside where the unevenness of pavement, grass, sand etc gives your muscles a better workout. You also benefit from any inclines or wind resistance—both help you burn more calories. Walking on a treadmill? Crank up the incline and add bursts of faster movement.
  • Use a pedometer which will increase your activity by 27% a Stanford University  study says.
  • Make sure you have the right shoe—a lightweight walking sneaker that bends and flexes with the rolling action of a walk. Running shoes are often too stiff. Talk to a shoe expert.
  • Walk without weights as even the lightest ones can increase you chances of shoulder injury.

Here’s how walking will make your insides more beautiful:

  • You will maintain a healthy weight which is so good for all bodily functions
  • Keep your energy level up
  • Strengthen your memory
  • Strengthen your bones
  • Maintain and improve your balance and coordination
  • Prevent or manage chronic conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes
  • Decrease the risk of some cancers
  • Just plain make you feel good, elevating your spirit and sense of wellbeing.

Here’s a link to an app that keeps track of your miles, calories burned, ascent, descent, and keeps it all in a history.

NOW THE OUTSIDE: How we present ourselves to the world is often a biggy, something we worry about and at the same time truly care about. I really enjoyed these five tips from Dr. Val Jones who shared them after visiting her dermatologist–it’s about the skin we are in.

1. Throw away your 10X mirror. The dermatologist actually said this: “Honestly, no one sees your skin at 10x, so why should you worry about what it looks like so close up? The best way to make your pores look smaller is to quit looking at them under a magnifier.” In some ways I do find this comforting.

2. Lather on the physical block sunscreen every day. And what you must use is a zinc-based sunscreen that physically blocks incoming UV radiation. The hardest part might be remembering, so this is the final step after cleansing and makeup–if you use it. Also cover your hands and any other exposed skin that you want to keep youthful. And take a tube with you so you can reapply.

3. Remind yourself that you don’t need so much moisturizer. “Women think they need to apply moisturizer multiple times a day, but there is enough moisturizer in sunscreens and anti-oxidant serums to make additional products unnecessary.” Of course you know there’s a dermatologist who will disagree. Dr. Michael Lin, who practices in Los Angeles, recommends adjusting moisturizer usage to the weather. “…winds and indoor heating work together to remove skin’s protective oils and moisture. In extreme conditions the thicker the moisturizer the better. Vaseline is the ultimate moisturizer because nothing gets through it, but it clogs your pores. ” He suggests Aquaphor Healing Skin Ointment as an alternative. He also likes: moisturizers with hyaluronic acid and additional ingredients like mineral oil, beeswax, lanolin and aloe vera. He says it’s okay to layer two or three to get it all.

4. Sun damage. This is the big issue for Boomers who didn’t know we were ruining our skin while getting a tan or just living in the world. Skin-lightening creams often use hydroquinone that can reduce the appearance of sun damage. Hydroquinone acts to down-regulate melanin production in melanocytes. But this help can be easily reversed if you are getting UV sun exposure. So it will even out skin tone and lessen sun spots but only if you also aggressively avoid sun damage by using sunscreens.

5. Avoid the following: dryer sheets! Why? Dr. Jones’s dermatologist says: “Most contain a horrible chemical that no one can pronounce.” And this gets into your clothing in the dryer. Then while running, exercising or walking the ingredient gets reactivated by heat and moisture and the irritating chemical gets on your delicate skin, often guaranteeing a contact dermatitis in places where you sweat. If this is you, consider stopping the dryer sheets to see if the dermatitis clears up.

6. Don’t overuse Neosporin or other antibacterial ointments as they can cause the colonization of antibiotic-resistant organisms.

7. Cut back on using battery-operated exfoliating brushes. Dr. Jones’s dermatologist says they are overkill and might harm delicate facial skin. Consider if you are using products that contain exfoliating acids or you are also using scrub creams. It’s just too much. If you are cleansing your face regularly, you shouldn’t need other aggressive cleaning measures. But Dr. Michael Lin thinks using something like Clarisonic once a week is fine, he does say: “…don’t overdo exfoliation, particularly if you have sensitive skin or acne, or you’ll make your skin worse.”

Now that I’m living in California it is very easy for me to get out at least five days a week and walk. BUT….I am also now exposed to the sun–and a very strong sun–more than I was in the Midwest, so there are tubes of sunscreen in my jacket pocket, my car, my bag. Everywhere. And caps and hats too.

Though it can be challenging, getting outside to walk is good for your body and your spirit no matter what the weather. Read more in my post Nature Deficit Disorder: Why We Need to Go Outside and  You’ll be beautiful inside and out. Happy walking, happy sunscreen!

Thanks to BLUE, Winter 2014

Thanks to Google Images

Ideas for Beauty Inside and Out