We are in Texas.  Drove here, arriving yesterday late afternoon. Since then, we’ve already seen several friends, been to church, eaten catfish and also gone to an estate sale.

Right now, we are going to bed.  Never mind that it is not even 9 pm.

I will be checking back in once I have gotten a little rested.

Happy to be here.  Happy we are safe after that long drive.

Good night.


5-Star Dessert: Honey-Sweetened Banana Pudding with Cherry Topping

For Sarah’s celebration yesterday, I made a favorite dessert – honey-sweetened banana pudding.  But because it was an extra special event, I made a honey-sweetened cherry topping as well.  (This was per Sarah’s request.)

Rachael said today, “That pudding was so good, I could have eaten the entire thing all by myself and not even felt bad about it.”

Ha! Well, that’s a pretty good review.

Here’s the pudding and topping:

Honey-Sweetened Banana Cream Pudding for 6 – 8 people


  • 1 cup honey
  • 6 tablespoons corn starch
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2-3 bananas

Separate egg yolks into small bowl, stir to break yolks and set aside. In sauce pan whisk honey, cornstarch and milk together. Cook on medium heat, stirring often, until boiling. Turn down heat and stir until thickened. Remove from heat and add 1 spoonful at a time of the pudding mixture to the egg yolk, mixing completely between each addition. When egg yolk mixture is warm add it to sauce pan. Return to heat and stir constantly until it boils one minute.

Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla.

Cool until lukewarm.

Slice bananas into the bottom of a bowl. Pour warm pudding over and refrigerate.

Cherry Topping

1 package frozen whole cherries

3 tablespoons corn starch

1/2 cup honey

1 teaspoon almond extract

Pour the honey in a saucepan

Whisk in corn starch while honey is heating

Add whole bag of cherries

Stir until the cherries start to break down and the juice thickens over medium heat (3-6 minutes)

Take off heat and add almond extract.

Pour cherry topping over banana pudding and chill until the pudding sets (15 minutes minimum.)

This is a rich dessert that will not disappoint.  My kids would rate this 5-Star.

I didn’t take a photo so here’s one from Google images that looks like the one I made:

banana pudding with cherry topping

Graduation Day!

Today, Sarah graduated from the Family Medicine Residency program at Glendale Adventist Hospital. That is three years of hard work that have culminated in her and her fellow residents (8 in all) becoming Board Certified Family Physicians.

As it turns out, our middle daughter Liz is the coordinator of Glendale Adventist’s Family Medicine Residency program. (Sarah told her about the job opening and Liz applied and was hired a couple of years ago.)  This has allowed our two daughters to work closely together at Glendale Adventist Hospital.  In fact, Liz is the person, along with another co-worker, who was responsible for coordinating today’s graduation and luncheon and making sure everything went smoothly during the program.  She was also thanked by every resident during their speeches for her hard work in keeping their lives as sane as possible during these three difficult years.

The residency program director, Dr. Kanowyon, came up and told me that Glendale Adventist felt extremely lucky to have both Sarah and Liz working there and that they were wonderful young women. Apparently, our two older daughters have made a strong name for themselves at the hospital and I feel proud of them and their clear contribution to this program.

There were lots of tears up on that stage today as each resident thanked their loved ones for their support over this time.  When it was Sarah’s turn, she looked over at us and immediately got very teary. “I can’t look at my family and get through this speech,” she said.  “Let’s just say it has truly taken a village for me to succeed.  Thank you all for helping me.”

Of course, I cried.

The best part of the event was when the second year chief residents (soon to be the third years, as of Monday) came up on stage and presented several awards.  The last award was for the senior resident who has been the most influential as a mentor to both the first and second-years.  That person, in turns out, was Dr. Sarah Beaty.

Of course, I cried again.

Today is the result of 11 years of education for Sarah and her fellow residents: four years of undergraduate work, four years of medical school and three years of residency.  Wow. It is almost impossible to fathom that Sarah’s life might actually shift to some semblance of normal.

Thank you, Sarah and Liz, for being such fine examples of leadership.  How wonderful to see you both appreciated and celebrated today.

Here are a few photos of the event:




“Church People”

The other day when our four-year-old granddaughter Luna was visiting, she looked at me and said, “Grandma, why are you and Grandpa church people?”  This was no doubt prompted by the fact that her mother had packed “church clothes” just in case we got everybody up, fed and ready in time for the 10:30 mass on Sunday at St. Thomas the Apostle Episcopal Church, Hollywood.  (Nico can be a challenge to get all that done in less than 3 hours so there is always some doubt.) Anyway, being the good Episcopalian I am, which means we don’t usually evangelize (and knowing that Luna’s parents appreciate a light touch on these matters), I said, “Well, Grandpa and I want to go somewhere and be with people who want to talk about important things in life like love and kindness. Plus, I have faith there is something bigger than just this world.  And, besides, we like having a community of friends in this big city.”  (Yes, I know I omitted the words, Jesus and God.  This is part of that “light touch” since Sarah told me a while back, “Mom, I definitely don’t have the ‘religion’ gene.”)  Anyway, Luna looked at me with her big round eyes and said, “Well, I don’t like church.” I nodded.  “That’s okay.  But when you come to Grandma and Grandpa’s, we usually will try to go on Sundays.”

Sure enough, we did manage to get Luna and Nico bathed, dressed and fed (then rebathed for Nico) and still got to church just as the sermon started.  Luna, who was sitting next to me, said, “I love the ceiling.”  She pointed up.  “Yes, it is beautiful,” I said.  And those pictures are pretty,” she said, pointing to the Stations of the Cross hanging on the wall.  “Yes, they are.”  However, once the organ began to play, she rolled her eyes.  “I don’t like the music.”  “You don’t?” I said. “That is one of my favorite parts.”  She sat quietly then said in an annoyed voice, “Are we going to have to sing now?” “You don’t have to,” I said.  “That’s okay.”

We made it through the mass, then went into coffee hour.  After lots of hellos from my fellow St. Thomasites, who are especially fond of these two little tykes, Luna was ready to go to the Sunday School room so she could do some drawing.  I was happy to go too since Nico needed to be contained for just a little while since he had made two beelines up the side aisle during church and I had literally had to sprint to catch him.  While Luna was drawing and Nico was busy climbing up and down on a chair, I had time to think just for an instant about church and them.

I am a great believer in respecting people’s beliefs.  I think that is a fundamental kindness we need to offer to one another.  And while I have a deep spiritual side that brings me great comfort, I am not inclined to move into a sales pitch about why my beliefs are the right ones or even why they are right for me.  I will, of course, have a  discussion with any adult who wants to talk about faith in a kind-hearted and open way, but I don’t feel comfortable speaking about these things with a child, not even my own.  I am completely fine with them experiencing the community of our church, feeling the love that is extended from one person to another there (and to them), and even for them to sit in mass and experience what I think of as the magic of that experience.  But what is magical for me can be something entirely different for someone else.  That is his/her journey, not mine, even if they are four-years-old.

I realize this won’t sit well with some of the people I know who believe that children should be taught about Jesus and his life and the miracles he performed and his ultimate sacrifice, which subsequently provided His saving grace for us all.  However, I will just have to say that I believe children will find this information on their own when it makes sense for them.

I received some wonderful advice from an old priest friend of mine early in my marriage to Ray, who was an ardent non-believer.  Father Forrest said simply, “Don’t be rigid and don’t make coming to church a constant fight. Stay home some Sundays to show Ray that you respect his beliefs too.  I predict over time, he will show you the same respect and be fine with you coming to church.”

I agreed, though my mother’s words were a strident, “But it’s your obligation to be in church every Sunday!”

Alas, Old Father Forrest was right.  Over time, Ray became much more accepting of my beliefs.  He has his own connection to the church at this point, which is, of course, his own story to tell, not mine.

So, I have accepted that I will not be evangelizing to my grandchildren.  I will simply take them to church when I can and let the love and kindness of that community speak for itself, however that translates to Luna and Nico.

After all, love is the message, yes?

In my mind, absolutely.

st. thomas.jpg






Luna’s Second Story: A Happy Day

A Happy Day

by Luna

(transcribed by Grandma)

Flipperdee, the baby seal, was sitting on a rock by the ocean with his mother, Gloria.  Suddenly, a helmet dropped on Gloria tail.  The helmet had fallen off the head of a little girl who was riding her bicycle nearby. 

The little girl jumped off her bicycle and ran over to the seals.  “Excuse me, I am so sorry I dropped my helmet on your tail.” 

“That’s okay,” Gloria said. “It didn’t hurt.”

Flipperdee, who was very shy, just looked at the little girl but didn’t say a word.  Finally, Flipperdee asks one Flipperdee sentence, “What is your name?”

“Leah,” the little girl said then turned and ran way.

At that point, Leah’s mother came running up, saw the bicycle and helmet, and cried out, “Where is my sweetie?”

Gloria wanted to tell the mother that Leah had run off to the right, but seals can only talk to human children. So, Gloria scooted on her belly and used her flippers to go over to a ginormous grape vine that was growing nearby. Flipperdee followed her and they both started barking at Leah’s mother, saying, “She is hiding in here.” The mother followed them. 

Suddenly, Leah crawled out from under the huge grapevine and was holding the biggest, most giant grape that any of them had ever seen.  “Look what I found, Mama!”

Everyone was happy to see her.

Leah was so happy that she clapped her hands together hard.  She smashed the giant grape between her hands and it started raining grape juice everywhere. 

Flipperdee, Gloria, Leah’s mother and Leah all opened their mouths and got a big taste of delicious grape juice.

They were very happy.

The End

Luna's Picture and StoryLuna

Father’s Day at the Hospital

Today, we went to Sarah’s hospital, Glendale Adventist, where she is finishing the final week of the rotation from hell.  This is where we celebrated Father’s Day since she was on duty and couldn’t leave.  We got food from the cafeteria and headed into the residents’ quarters, where they have computers where they work and also couches for resting. We were able to stay a couple of hours before Sarah said, “Okay, you guys have to leave.  I have to get back to work.”  That was okay.  We’d had fun together and celebrated both Gregorio and Ray’s extraordinary fatherly ways.  Low-key, but filled with love. That’s all that matters.

Here are a few pictures of our Father’s Day celebration.  Rachael and Ariel were not with us.  They were in Las Vegas visiting Ariel’s grandfather who has been ill.  They were there in spirit.  We will see them for dinner early this week.


For Father’s Day

My dad was fifty when I was born. I was the lucky recipient of an adoring father who never wavered in his constant love and attention.  I know I am very fortunate to have had that kind of dad; one who treated me with kindness, respect, and as though I was someone special. I have known many people who did not have the benefit of a decent and solid father and several have told me what a profound effect that lack has had in their lives.  They have suffered in ways that I can’t even fathom and I have come to recognize what heft the simple gift of love carries throughout life.  My dad certainly had his share of flaws like we all do, but when it came to loving me, he was about as close to perfect as a man can be. Nothing flashy or showy.  Just pure and constant like water flowing from a natural spring.

When I think of my dad these days, I think about his cowboy hat, his boots, his old pickup truck and his penchant for waxing poetic about the beauty of the alfalfa growing in the fields.  He loved North Central Texas and the people who lived there.  I never once had the feeling that he wished he lived anywhere else.  He was home there, settled and happy, and valued his close relationships with his family as well as lifelong friends. When we went out to feed the cows in the pasture, I sensed that he loved those cows and calves, appreciated the beauty of nature and was at peace in his world. He wasn’t always at peace with my mother, but that is another story.

I’m sorry my dad is not around to enjoy his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  He would have loved every one of them just as he loved me, and their lives would be richer just from knowing him.  Alas, his memory is alive and well and I do my best to offer that same level of constancy to my own children.  Love does indeed beget love.

Happy Father’s Day, Daddy.



Flash Fiction, Memoir and Essay

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