Warm Cookies With A Whiskey Chaser

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Friday, September 18, 2020

The Presence of Breath


             "Hawaiian Mother and Child" by Jim Stickley, Hawaii Kai 1970



I have been awake since 2:30 am today.  Usually, when I wake, I listen for two things; the breathing sounds of my husband, and the breathing sounds of my dog.  I usually hear Charlie first, and if I do, then I do not move one iota.  Because if I do, then Kili will hear that I am awake and he will start the "Oh good! Finally you're awake and we can start the day!" process.  Which will then wake up my sleeping husband.This morning however, as luck would have it, Charlie was also awake, as was Kili.  So here we were, the three of us lying in the darkness trying to decide whether to just get out of bed. I went first....straight to my computer.

You see, this day is the anniversary of the day I first became a mother.  I've been thinking about it quite a lot this past week. That hasn't been easy. It's been a pretty rough week for me.  In fact, the last two weeks have been positively grueling emotionally, mentally, and physically.  In between that trifecta of going through the motions, have been the little vignettes of thoughts falling upon my brain to remind me of Averie's upcoming birthday. What to say that hasn't already been said?  How to impart to my child the weight and merit of her place in my heart, in my life, in the depth of my soul. 

Charlie and I have always worked so hard at not taking for granted that each one of those three that we are responsible for bringing into this world know unequivocally what they mean to us. I remember once many years ago, Charlie having a conversation with his father about one of his sisters.  He asked his father if he ever told his sister that he loved her. I knew the question arose because Charlie said his father didn't know how to say those words. That he had never said them to Charlie. That Charlie never heard him say those words to his mother.  His father scoffed and said; "No. But I don't need to. She knows."  We both were saddened by that answer. We weren't even parents yet, but later that night, we had a long talk about how, when we had children, they would never question our love for them.  They would always know. We would always say the words; often and with meaning. 

As I danced with these thoughts, it dawned on me that this year has been a year of struggle for everyone.  The entire world is upside down and topsy turvy.  Everyone is doing their best to just get from one day to another.  And I went right back to this morning and the daily routine of listening for the breath sounds of my beloveds.  The kukui (light) went on....

Averie Joy Maikalima O Makua, you have been the absolute definition of ALOHA during this past challenging year.  It sounds so very trite to the malihini ear. As if we're all attending some touristy kitchy luau in Waikiki. But I think you, more than anyone, will appreciate what comes from my heart to you.  ALO (presence) HA (breath) literally means "The Presence of Breath" or "The Breath of Life".
That is how you have handled everything that has come your way this past year; good, bad, ugly, beautiful.  You have done it with an enormous amount of grace, class, integrity, soul, and an endless depth of character that makes me cringe at my own faults and foibles.  

Your presence of breath, your breath of life, your true and noble Aloha may just seem to be a second skin to you.  But to those who are witnessing it from the outside looking in (because really, that's all any of us has been able to do this year) it is a litmus test for what humanity can and should be. From your volunteering, to your standing up for those less fortunate.  From giving your voice to the voiceless, to trying to represent those who have not been represented.  Even in your darkest hours, when you were trying to understand the reason for the knives in your back when you should have been receiving accolades, you stood head high.  Yes, you had your moments, but you took those deep breaths and propelled forward, always forward. Only one way to go; IMUA. You give of yourself when you are pained physically and when your body wants you to stop. You give of yourself monetarily when the country we live in praises selfishness and capitalism.  You give of yourself creatively to bring truth where history would rather leave the coffin nailed shut.  The presence of breath. The breath of life.  That is you. That is the depth of you.

From this mother's heart, I send YOU all the Aloha, in celebration of all the Aloha you've gifted to this world.

Hau'oli la Hanau kaikamahine.  Aloha wau ia oe. 

Mommy
                                         

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

Forward Momentum

 


This last trip to Mexico was a pretty good one.  We ended up finding a house we really liked, and it was even better that my sister and brother-in-law were there to see it with us.  Mixed in with the margarita-drinking fun, we fell into another "Serendipity Place" south of the border.

We got a lot of very good information, some sound advice, and on our own, we have done quite a lot of research.  So, when we saw this house, we both knew it was exactly what we wanted.  Location, price, all the amenities on our checklist, check, check, check.  Intent to Purchase Agreement drawn up and signed, and a good faith deposit check delivered.  We have two months to work out the lease details, and make a solid offer agreeable to the seller.  Even better, the seller is not in a big hurry to sell or move, as she's building another house in the same neighborhood, just three doors down from the house she wants to sell.  So, she needs a place to live until her new house is finished, which is expected to be in the spring next year.  It all just seemed to fall into place.

Yes, there is still much to do and yes, things could go pear-shaped. But we're used to stuff like that.  What will be will be. We will work through whatever comes our way.  I do know however, that Mexico is definitely where we'd like to be, and that house is definitely the house we could happily live in for the rest of our lives, in a place we've loved for decades.

More to come as we move toward the goal.  Mexico 2021.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Galletas Cálida con un Perseguidor de Tequila



After a month of lying awake staring at the ceiling in the darkness of pre-dawn and running scenario after scenario through our thoughts, voicing them to one another, the decision has been made.

We are moving to Mexico.

This is not a decision taken lightly, nor is it one just decided upon after only a month.  Our family has been going down to beautiful Baja Malibu for many years, in fact decades, with our friend Nancy.  I've written many many blog posts about our trips south of the border to enjoy time at her little "Bird Nest on the Ground" in Campo Torres at K22.  We've enjoyed celebrating many happy occasions there.  It has become a second home.

When we first started traveling there, it certainly was just a dream to sit on the patio or on the beach and think about the "What ifs".  But here we are today, after decades of joyful days looking out on the horizon and watching the sun set behind the Coronados, thinking about owning our own home at K22.  Only now it's not just thinking.  It is not just dreaming. It is the new journey of our lives.

Where once we watched Averie, Caris, and Bryson play in the sand, surf, enjoy the company of friends, and imagined that we would one day retire, the days of simply dreaming are over.  We're taking the necessary steps to finally make our dreams come true. There are many other reasons that the time feels so right to move forward in this journey; not the least of which is ironically, to feel safer.  Especially for ME to feel safer after 4 years of feeling less and less safe in the city I basically grew up in.  However, many more reasons will be shared as we move along.  

We expect friends and family members to run the gamut of reactions; surprise, shock, disdain, discomfort.  But we hope more than anything that they will be happy for us.  Of course, we hope for their excitement and support for our decision.  However, we don't really need it.  This is our life, and we're ready to enjoy the life we dreamed of  together.  We've always told our kids to pursue their dreams and we've supported each one of them as they worked toward their goals.  Now it's our turn.  It's time for us to realize and work toward our dream. Truth of the matter is, not only do we love Mexico and the people of Mexico, but realistically for us, it's what we can afford. For us, the dream of retiring is not attainable in the US. If we have any hope of enjoying whatever time we have together in the future where we are not still chained to jobs until we die, then we have to go.  

It seems especially fitting to come to place of deciding so close to the eve of my 60th birthday.  Again, it's never too late to blossom into the life you want for yourself.  I've wanted this a long, long time.  I'm overjoyed Charlie is now, completely onboard.  They say that the journey of 1,000 miles begins with the first step, and though our destination is a mere 100 kilometers (give or take), we expect this journey's timeline to take between one to two years to be finalized.  We're taking you along with us by chronicling our adventures here, as always.  As it was in the beginning of Warm Cookies, so it shall be with Galletas Calida.

We're ready to take flight and say "Adios Estados Unidos!  Hola Mexico! Vamonos!


 

Friday, July 03, 2020

Oh, Did We Sing....


When I started this blog in March of 2003, it was called "The Abyss".  I started it because I needed an outlet.  A place to vent, share, write, brag, cry, and throw tantrums if I wanted to.  After all, I was the mother of three teenagers. It was better than drinking.  Okay, who am I kidding? I did that too.

In what today seems like an eternity but was really only two years, I made friends pretty fast out here in the ether. My blog family grew. I "collected" treasures from all over the world and put them into my blog basket. They listened, they commented. I went to their "houses" and I listened and I commented. Soon, real life phone numbers were exchanged, and real life adventures were shared.  Real life everyday friends were doling out warnings about "stranger danger" and asking questions like how I as a mother could put my family at risk by sharing so much with people you don't really know. They would admonish Charlie for "allowing" me that much freedom, or they would roll their eyes and call me crazy. I shrugged my shoulders and carried on. I received so much love and acceptance from my blog family that it really didn't matter to me what people who lived in my 3D world thought.

This blog was my saving grace. The family I gleaned, the treasures I collected, the world I was a part of here in the Blogosphere rescued me.  Soon "The Abyss" became a happy world. My writing blossomed. My stories came to life. My joys overflowed. And one day, my daughter said to me that I needed to change the name of my blog. "The Abyss" did not fit anymore.  I remembered an email I received from my darling friend Hot Toddy, wherein he said:

    "Your entries are like a plate of warm cookies with a side of whiskey to me. Just the right mix of comfort and shenanigans."

That's how "Warm Cookies With a Whiskey Chaser" was born. It came forth from the most appropriate place; Hot Toddy's Toaster Oven.  The irony and joy of that, for those who knew him at this time, perhaps even later in life, was that dear Toddy, by his own admission, was a disaster in the kitchen. But for me, he's the "Baby Daddy" of my blog.  He'd laugh at that and ask me if Charlie minded. As with everything in my life, my husband never minded. He was joyful in my joys, happy in my friendships, proud to be a part of a shared world that made me smile, and laugh, and love.

I know this is a weird way to pay homage to someone; to talk about my own blog. But the truth is, I really don't know of another way to express how important this family was, and is to me, and how so much of my life was filled with the wonder of the souls who allowed me in.

Yesterday, after getting a message from Byrne, and feeling the great disturbance in the force at the loss of beloved Toddy, I first called Auburn Pisces because I knew she would need a hug, or ten. After leaving her, I sat down for a long time in quietness, with Kili across my lap and occasionally nudging me in the neck with his nose. Then, I did the only thing I could do with my helplessness; I came to the sanctuary of the Blogdom, and went straight to the Toaster Oven.

I read, and I read, and I read.  I stayed there for hours; crying, laughing, crying, laughing.  The man had a wicked sense of humor.  As MzOuiser said as we shared our shock and pain; "He was the funniest MFer" and we both shared our favorite posts of his.  She said she had just reread "Reader Testimonial", or as she likes to call it "Magma Mouth". I responded with "OMG! I just read "Seething Cakes of Hatred".  We laughed together. Just as I'd moved from crying to laughter with Aub hours earlier.  That is the real treasure, and the real pain.  We will have these memories. We will have this blog and his words. But no more will be made. Our great loss.

Once MANY years ago, when I was going through a really rough patch in life, I asked Rocket Man to play substitute "bartender" here at WC2. The sweet man that he is, he took on the task with love and care.  He asked our blog family to take turns writing posts. Every post was loving and comforting.  Every post an outpouring of love like I had never felt before. I think back on the warnings of "stranger danger" from friends and family with good intentions. How much smaller and less loving my world would be without this blog family who have loved me through tragedies and grief.  How blessed I am to have words like Toddy's, and others bestowed upon me.  Not only on this blog, but on his own where he honored me with posting about his new baby niece and me in the same entry.  There will never be a world like the blog world again. To me, that was joy, and caring, and actually being a part of someone's life, though far apart.

I counted.  On my own blog, I have no less than 100 posts that mention him.  Even more right after our actual first face to face meeting for Aub's Birthday at the Coast.  There was so much unmentioned. So much love as I rode with him in "Sven", his white pickup truck, from Portland to Lincoln. Hours and hours of talking about life and love and family. Sitting in the rain listening to Patti Griffin's "Heavenly Day" and both of us with tears rolling down our faces and saying how grateful we were for this moment.  How very grateful I was to Aub for sharing this beautiful, beautiful soul with me.

This grief will change into something less painful. At least for me. I cannot begin to fathom the grief of Aub, of his mother, of his sister, of those who lived in his everyday world.  I can only share in the wonder and the joy of having called that Knight in Shining Armour, that sweet loving spirit, my friend.

I will remember calling the floor of your Portland apartment a roller coaster, and you pushing me around your tiny living room in your wheeled office chair, back and forth, while I read your Amy Sedaris "I Like You" book.  I laughed so hard I got the hiccups.

I like you Hot Toddy.  You will always be my favorite apron-adorned kitchen disaster-slash-carny.

I will remember and treasure, with unending joy, the memory of standing on the cushions of a fireplace hearth with you and Pony in a beach house on the coast of Oregon, and belting out "Popular" from "Wicked" at the tops of our lungs.  Oh how we sang!

I love you Hot Toddy.  You will always be my Glinda.

I promise that you will always live on in my heart, and with my words I hope to honor you.

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Old Habits


...are hard to break.  Isn't that the way the old adage goes?  I was once in the audience listening to a faith-based motivational speaker.  This was way back before TED Talks were the rage.  In fact, it was pretty much before social media. Damn, I'm old. Anyway, the speaker, who at the time was a friend of ours and also a pastor, (Okay, okay.  Yes, we were in church and it was a sermon) was giving his Tony Robbins-esque spiel about the "7 Habits of Highly Effective People".  In his best-selling book, Steven Covey lays out the common traits shared by those folks that other folks consider "successful". They are:


  • Be Proactive
  • Begin with the End in Mind
  • Think First Things First
  • Think Win-Win
  • Seek First to Understand. Then to Be Understood.
  • Synergize
  • Sharpen the Saw
Even today, 30 years later, I still look at that list and roll my eyes.  Of course I didn't roll my eyes in church. That would have been sacrilege. But seriously, what the actual fuck does any of that shit mean to someone who had just given birth to her third child, was an at-home mom, and at that moment could only think ahead an hour to the ONE time a week we went out to eat?  That list, and indeed the sermon itself meant squat to someone like me.  Now if the pastor had said he was going to send 7 highly effective elves home with me to do all my housework, babysit my kids, and bring me a shit-ton of money so I could take my hard-working husband on a vacation, then yeah baby...I'm paying attention. But I digress (as you well know I do).

Facebook was a bad habit. It sucked away my life. And far from getting better over time, it got progressively and progressively worse. Especially after the 2016 election. Ugly, contentious, a scrolling cesspit of despair, racism, conspiracies, political manipulation, religious hypocrisy, overactive egoism, life fakery giving stage to the haves and rubbing salt in the wounds of the have nots.  I could go on and on.  In between, little snippets of joy.  But for me, it was and is, a dangerous, dangerous evil. Even when I was offline, it stayed in my head. Things people said. Things people didn't say. Things people should say. Things people shouldn't say. The aching nagging anguish it caused me to know that people that I once admired and cared about are not worthy of that level of respect. And the realization that even those with whom you had what you thought was a soulful bond can be truly petty. Lastly, the disappointment in knowing that I too suffer from pettiness, that I really made no difference, that my fire was all but extinguished, and that the torch I once held aloft with such immense passion was dimming with every passing comment. Facebook was a broken toilet I could not flush.  And boy, do I have lots of experience with broken toilets!

It's been six weeks today since I began treatment for excising that cancer.  I've heard over the last week or so that companies have been pulling their ads from FB and boycotting because they are protesting FB's complicity in providing a platform for hate. I'm sad that it's taken that long. But, it's good that they're finally taking a stand.  I've also noticed that more and more people are leaving the Realm of Zuckerberg.  I honestly wish I had done it sooner and stuck to my principles all the times that I'd tried to leave before. The truth is it's been really, really hard. I miss my friends. I miss seeing what is happening in their lives.  I miss that I can't share with them what is happening in mine except for speaking through Kili on HIS IG account.

Last night, I saw an InstaGram "my story" post by someone that I really adore. She's leaving FB as well, and soon to leave IG.  That wouldn't be such a big deal, but two factors make it skyrocket past "this is sad" and into the outer limits of "this sucks major".  One; Coronavirus has kept me from being in her real-life presence since sometime in late February.  Two; she and her husband are leaving California and moving across the country to New Jersey. So, there will be no goodbye hugs. We missed their socially distant going away party. Last night, on her soon-to-be-closed IG account, she posted the reasons she was leaving FB and IG.  Then, she posted where she could be "found".  She said she was using a new social media platform that was Zuck-free, profit-free, hate speech-free, socially conscientious, and well, just kinder. At first, I thought; "Dammit! Another thing this old bat has to learn?"  But, Charlie and I have been on a journey of freeing ourselves of flotsam and jetsam lately. So I figured if I can learn how to use an iPhone (still iffy), put ROKU in more than one room, invite Alepsa into my home, get YouTube TV and eliminate cable thanks to Ryan and Averie, then I can sure as hell add learning how to MeWe.  So, I got on there and went looking for my friend Corri before she pulled the plug.  SUCCESS! She's stuck with me now. She's in my phone, on my blog, and I've stalked her on MeWe. Done deal.

Back in 1989 when I was that thrice-tired new mom sitting in that church listening to our pastor friend preach about changing bad habits and gaining effective ones, one thing stood out to me that I remember to this day.  He said it takes about two weeks of daily repetition of the good to make it a habit.  Two weeks of abstaining from the bad and implementing the good in order for your brain to begin the process of leaning toward making the choice for the good thing and making that good thing the habit. That may be true for some, but in my world that's pure bollocks.  It's been six weeks off of FB and I STILL want to sign on to FB.  Other than this last effort to take some people with me, I'm not coming back. Last night made that pretty clear to me. Unless a lot of things change in the pollution that is Facebook, I can and I will live without it. It isn't that important to my life.

Bad habit:  Smoking.  I quit on December 22, 2017. This may be a shocker to some of you. I smoked for many years. I miss the social aspect of that too. But I don't miss the hiding, the stinking, the way my lungs felt, and the HUNDREDS of dollars I spent.  So many vacations could have been taken with the money I burned away.  I'm still angry at myself about that.

Bad habit:  Meat consumption.  I quit eating meat on September 16, 2016.  Yes, I've had a few setbacks, but no regrets.  This was harder than quitting smoking and had even MORE of a social impact (negatively) than that did. I think folks were weirdly more upset about me quitting eating meat than they were about me quitting smoking...and they let me know it.  Long story, read it on my blog.

Bad habit:  Quitting Facebook.  Harder than the prior two put together.  I'm separated from friends who live their entire lives on Facebook. All three things I've listed are very very social activities.  Smoking, Eating, Facebook. Especially in the middle of a pandemic.  All that is left is drinking alcohol.  And if you think I'm giving that up, you're drunk and should go/stay home. It's fucking hard. So don't think for one minute that I enjoy it.  FOMO is my life, and now it's a total reality.

 I am glad though that I was able to connect with Corri and find something new that feels safer for my psyche and kinder for my soul. For the moment. Still, I'm not yet brave enough to cut the IG cord right now. I'm keeping it Kili's for the time being. With an occasional hijacking of self-indulgence. So if you want to find me there, I'm @lifewithkili.

I'll end this sermon of my own by doing what Corri did.  I'm going to remind you again that this is where you can find me. If you ever want to say hi, I'm still here tending bar and baking cookies.  At least I'm trying to relearn to bake the cookies.  The bartending I've got down to a science. Science is good. And maybe, just maybe, you'll want to wean yourself of participating in the Zuckerberg experiment too. If you do, check out MeWe and hit me up (Puamakana H).  In my world, it would be a much happier place if we all went back to blogging. But that's me.  We can't go back to the age of innocence.  We just have to play the hand we're dealt.  It's a gamble, which I'm told is a bad habit. Give me two weeks. I've walked away from harder obstacles than a card table in this life.

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Sing Your Feelings


She sings it the way I feel it.


Sunday, May 31, 2020

I Miss Hugs



I'm a hugger.  I've always been a hugger.  I'll hug you if you reach out to shake my hand.  I can't help myself, and while I understand that many people are hugphobic or don't like physical touch, I'm not that person.  I crave hugs.  I crave administering hugs.  Physical touch is in my DNA. It is part of my culture. That notwithstanding, even if it weren't part of my culture or in my DNA (which I will argue the point most passionately) I would still be a hugger.  I've been told that I am the huggiest of huggers. I will never be the one letting go. You'd have to let go first.

I'm a fucking great hugger.  And I want to hug again.  I miss hugging.  This whole thing sucks.