THE ANGEL IN MY CLOSET

heart-603214_1280Do you believe in ghosts? Do you imagine that those who have passed can communicate with you? That the ones you loved so much can pop into your thoughts regularly to make you laugh, or cry, or remember that particular ingredient in the recipe you’re struggling with?

I’ve got a few of those. Maybe they’re not so much ghosts as spirits, or their former selves wearing angel wings and messing with us. Are they giving guidance? Or maybe they’re just inner common sense speaking up. Are they actually connecting with us? I admit, I kinda believe it all, although Grandma would have been very particular about the kind of wings she donned.

sewing-dolls-477168_1920Yep, Grandma. That’s who keeps me on my toes. See, this grandma isn’t like most grandmas. This one is my mom’s mom. Dad’s mom was a sweet, tiny, Italian-speaking rustic woman wearing an apron and feeding us fried meatballs on a fork for breakfast. She was what I imagine to be the normal kind of grandma.

Mom’s mom was not like that. Grandma was beautiful, always coiffed and dressed to the nines. She knew the difference between white, and egg shell, and pale beige. It wasn’t pale taupe or even fawn, it was pale beige. Grandma used to visit when I was young and stay in my bedroom with me. We’d talk and laugh all night. When the birds started to sing, she’d wink and say, “Get some sleep. We can talk more tomorrow night.”

tail-fin-3646709_1920Grandma drove a shiny Cadillac that was updated every five years. She had beautiful clothes and jewelry, and fantastic taste in, well, everything. She was quick to teach me to enjoy trends, but always seek out the classics when shopping for clothing. She knew her hairdresser’s birthday and the names of her dry cleaner’s kids. She loved to play bridge and often held elegant, seasonally-themed card parties with her lady friends.

Now, don’t get confused. Grandma came from a humble beginning. She was always a classy lady, but back then it showed in her straight back and the erect tilt of her head. She married well—the second time. It wasn’t that she married a super wealthy man. She married well in ways that matter. Pap would give her whatever made her happy. He respected her, loved her, and even happily smoked his cigars in the freezing garage on the coldest winter days at her request. He was a real good one, and she was as much his dream come true as he was for her. He provided her with a lovely home, a gorgeous crystal chandelier in the dining room, and several mink coats and stoles in her closets.

But there was a marriage before Pap. A not-so good one. I’ve always had complete admiration for the divorced woman who raised two children alone in the tentative post-depression era before Mr. Right came along. She taught me more with her general life attitude than I realized until many, many years later. When she passed, she had lost much of herself to a series of stokes, but something extremely telling happened one afternoon as Mom and I visited her, at the time comfortable at home. It was tough that she thought I was my mother, and that Mom was just that nice lady that came with me. At one point, as we all sipped soda Pap brought us in polished crystal glasses (always serving her, even though she had no clue who he was either, sigh,) my beautiful grandma, wearing a gorgeous robe and matching slippers, looked around the beautifully-appointed living room and nodded.

“I have nice things,” she said, almost surprised, but the undertone was more like a confirmation. As though, deep behind her jumbled memory, she was thinking, Of course I do!

I miss her every day. Her generosity (she once bought me a piano,) her recognition of the good things in life, her wonderful old-world recipes (the best perogies and stuffed cabbage you ever tasted,) and her laughter. I still sometime here it.

model-1037087_1280And those minks? Well, two of them have found their way into my own closet. It’s been many, many years since either of them have been treated kindly. They just hang and sort of sadly lament in the darkness. Ahh the life they led. The travel, the entertainment, the enjoyment—Marti Gras in New Orleans, Havana Cuba just before the fall, Las Vegas. They have Grandma’s memories, like living DNA, twisted into every single tuft and stitch.

And every night before I climb into bed, I open that tiny closet dedicated to Grandma’s minks and my laundry basket, run a land lovingly down a sleeve and say, “G’night Grandma.”

My dreams of her are startlingly real. Situations randomly occur that make me smile and know she’s active. I can smell the Channel. I can hear the click of her high heels. Her laughter on the breeze.

Yep, she is the angel in my closet, I cherish the fact that she’s remained so close, and I’m grateful for her help as I work through my own day-to-day life challenges. Sometimes, when I can’t sleep, I imagine talking and laughing with her until the first bird chirps.

“Get some sleep,” she says. “We can talk more tomorrow night.”

So … Which angel keeps in touch with you?

Welcome to ANGEL MOMENTS. My views are in this blog, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on angels, how they influence your life, and how you experience the amazing blessing.

wings 1

Eighteen-year-old orphan Gracie wants a normal life, but a shocking set of unexpected wings and a deadly war change everything.

THE ORPHANS, book one of The Lost Race trilogy. Coming November 2018!

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Things With Wings

Sometimes images work better than words, even for us writers. I wanted to play with images and see how it all fits. I’m in a wings kinda mood. Let’s fly.

dovetail-3495224_1920Light as air and delicate, but boy does this thing show it’s yin/yang.

bird-1045954_1920Pretty little thing! I’m totally fascinated with the shape of those delicate wings.

animal-1851644_1920Hey you two! Why can’t we all just be nice? These guys look like they come from a cartoon.

aircraft-1499171_1920Oh! Fun wings. Wouldn’t you just love to be up there?

child-2443969_1920Don’t we all know and love a few of these winged things? The best kind of Fae there is.

cuckoo-wasp-1396643_1920And of course, there are the winged things we don’t like so much at all.

phoenix-2877486_1920There’s always the fiery rebirth of the phoenix to consider. Powerful.

dragon-3462724_1920You had to know I’d drag in the dragon, with those freaky fleshy wings.

hummingbird-2139278_1920Ohhh, tiny, beautiful! Humming a song and being what he is. A spectacular gift of nature.

angel-316352_1280I’m so partial to these kind of wings. Holy. Majestic. Fluttering a breeze everywhere we go.

lucky-pig-1843071_1920Okay, it could happen. Someday. I do like bacon. Speedy pork delivery, anyone?

Things with wings. Now THAT was fun! Did I miss any?

Welcome to ANGEL MOMENTS. My ideas are here, but I really want to hear your thoughts on angels, how they influence your life, and how you experience this amazing blessing.

wings 1

Eighteen-year-old orphan Gracie wants a normal life, but a shocking set of unexpected wings and a deadly war change everything.

THE ORPHANS, book one of The Lost Race trilogy. Coming November 2018!

 

ANGELS IN THE OUTFIELD: WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE A REAL PITTSBURGH PIRATES FAN

Bob PrinceAmong my earliest memories are hot afternoons, listening to Bob Prince call the Pittsburgh Pirate game over the old radio my dad would drag out onto the porch, tripping Mom repeatedly in the kitchen with the stretched-out cord. The crackling sound of Prince’s voice and the raspy-whisperish quality of KDKA AM made it all incredibly beautiful, like summer music, cricket chirps and popping corn sounds drifting from the kitchen screen door, soft sunsets and the sound of cheering from down the block when the Bucs did something wonderful. It was later in the1960s, post Mazeroski’s World Series win and sliding into the Clemente era. I was ten-years old and hooked. Fifty-five years later, I still am.

WillieI never got to sit in Forbes Field before it was torn down, but Three Rivers Stadium was my place of baseball worship. Win or lose, close or in the dumps, I was there, glued to the radio, television, or in my double-header seven-hour stadium seat, smiling ear-to-ear. To me, baseball is magic, it’s cerebral, intelligent, brutal, selfish, caring, athletic, and soul fulfilling. If I was born a man, I would probably still be in the minors, a geriatric rookie struggling to make it to the show. I love baseball that much. Even when, and especially when, the Pirates are not doing so well.

In my old age, I’m finding it harder and harder to deal with fair-weather fans. People who want to blame the owner, the manager, the players, the league, and even baseball itself for the Pirates tough time. We kicked off the 2018 season with a bang, several times sitting pretty in first place, then, as is normal and natural, the cycle cycled and we started losing. Today I don’t look at the win/loss stats, I look into struggling pitcher’s eyes during his wind-up, the desperate swing Mercer just made, the hopefulness in rookie Meadow’s expression, and the wisdom in Hurdle’s managing heart. He knows it’s a very long season. It’s a game. It runs on faith, and skill, and power, and joy, and excitement … and disappointment. It’s baseball. I’m fine with that. I cheer and hope right along side my buccos.

microphoneI’m especially sad to hear the negativity in the Pittsburgh Pirate announcer’s words these days. When did it become okay for paid announcers to cheer on the competition instead of look for something, anything, good to say about the team that pays them? When did it become fine to complain, and groan, and moan? I’m all for balanced reporting and calling the play as they see it, but do we really need the drawn out repetitive statements six innings later. So, it was an error, move on already.

There are days when I have to turn off the sound altogether and just watch the silent screen. That’s when I see them, the angels in the outfield, and the infield, on the mound, in the dugout, all working hard and supporting the players. That’s when I know it’s going to be the best game it can be. Sometimes we lose, sometimes we win. It’s the nature of the game.

Bucs logo 1See I have a baseball theory. I honestly believe that God loves baseball so much that he doesn’t interfere, he just watches and enjoys the game. So that’s what I do. It’s a game. It’s beautifully orchestrated technique and mayhem. And it’s a mess of amazing plays, and errors and screw ups, from the top to the A leagues but hey, it’s baseball!

Roberto The main thing to always remember this summer and every summer is … that there really are angels in the outfield.

When was the last time you caught sight of an angel in the outfield?

Welcome to ANGEL MOMENTS. My ideas are here, but I really want to hear your thoughts on angels, how they influence your life, and how you experience this amazing blessing.

wings 1

Eighteen-year-old orphan Gracie wants a normal life, but a shocking set of unexpected wings and a deadly war change everything.

THE ORPHANS, book one of The Lost Race trilogy. Coming November 2018!

AMERICA, IT’S A TIME TO CALL UPON OUR HIGHER ANGELS

american-flag-5I haven’t blogged for a while. I’ve been off kilter, perhaps out of beat, overly concerned, or maybe even frightened about what’s becoming of My America.

I have never been political, and have never voiced my opinions like this before. I don’t presume to tell others what to think or feel or believe. These are just my thoughts.

America has only been around 241 years, a relatively short time compared to other countries and governments on the planet. But My America began with a bang that set it apart from anywhere else. My America started because European people sought freedom of religion. The American Revolution was waged to provide freedom from tyranny and unfair taxation without representation. The Civil War lashed out against slavery. My America has seen ups and downs, good times and bad times, war and peace, but it has always stood by its standards. My America had a strategic goal. It has always set the bar high for what is, and what is not, American…and the whole world knows what that means.

My America is not racist. My American is a place built on freedom of religion. My America accepts proud responsibility for the world with compassion and a helpful hand. My America promotes freedom of the press and legal protests. My America is tolerant and patient. My America strives to make the planet, and all who live on it, safe and clean with an eye toward future generations. My America stands for civil rights, women’s rights, and the rights of the poor, the old, and the children. For all of my 60+ years, My America has protected me and made me proud.

These days I do not feel protected, or valued, or heard, and I certainly do not feel proud.

sad-angel-2If it’s okay with the world, I will do everything I can to hold on to My America. I will pray and call upon my higher angels to make us all safe—Americans and the people of the whole world—since we are all feeling this un-American upheaval. I will hold My America in my heart with love and prayerful hopes that My America is still here after the unsettling confusion of the times. I am afraid and I do not want to lose My America.

I also pray that Mr. Trump calls upon his higher angels to see America as a whole and sets his agendas for the many, and not the few. It is, after all, American to do so.

Welcome to ANGEL MOMENTS. My ideas will be here but I really want to hear your thoughts on angels, how they influence your life, and how you experience this amazing blessing.

wings 1

Eighteen-year-old orphan Gracie wants a normal life, but a shocking set of unexpected wings and a deadly war change everything.

THE ORPHANS, book one of The Lost Race trilogy. Coming November 2018!

KITCHEN WITCHES AND KITCHEN ANGELS

Kitchen Tools 1Who loves to cook? Oh lord, I absolutely LOVE cooking. Even when we plan a vacation, I make sure the kitchen in the house we rent is well appointed and ready for me to cook as many meals as my fellow vacationers will allow. I plan the menu months in advance. I bring the items that may not be available – grill pan, citrus zester, professional knives – and my goal is to nourish and entertain. It’s kind of my calling. It wasn’t always that way, though.

 

Mom and Dad CookingI went to culinary school in my forties and discovered that we really do eat with our eyes and nose as much as our taste buds. Before that I cooked the way my mom and dad cooked—hearty Italian food made with lots of love, calories, fats, and carbs. However, it was a Native American medicine man who taught me the true power of feeding and nourishing people’s bellies and souls. What he did was transcend cooking into a heavenly art, something simple yet gratifying that can’t be conveyed through recipes or culinary techniques. It’s all about the prayer, and how the work is the prayer. Let me write that again … The work IS the prayer. I believe that this is especially true in the kitchen.

 

kitchen witchThe first time I encountered a Kitchen Witch it wasn’t the cute hanging figure that was so popular in the seventies. Remember those? I received three of them for my bridal shower. They were darling, but the real kitchen witch is my mother. She’s not a mean or nasty witch, warts at all, but a cooking wizard white witch who instinctively understood what I’d learn later at a Native American’s knee. Mom’s hands are holy. They kneaded mountains of dough, loading her magic into the bread with each tender touch. Those fingers chop and slice, layer and bake, decorate and graciously hand over each tidbit of perfection. Whether it was Italian chicken wedding soup from heaven, or tender, luscious orange cookies, everyone tasting her cooking knows it comes from a place bigger than her heart. It comes from her soul.

 

Kitchen AngelsI’ve met Kitchen Angels several times in my life. They are those amazing people who unblinkingly volunteer to cook at church events, prepare sandwiches at the local Meals on Wheels, carry food from paid functions to help the Food Bank, and generously trudge through the snow to take an ailing neighbor a pot of soup. These are the real Kitchen Angels, working tirelessly to feed and nourish those who need it most.

Not all of us can be a kitchen wizard white witch like my mom … but we all have the time and capacity to be Kitchen Angels. Check your cupboards. There must be at least ten cans of veggies or other dry good products that can help some organization struggling to feed the hungry in your neighborhood. Bless all you human angels who help out, and thank the heavens for the celestial beings that watch over us all.

Welcome to ANGEL MOMENTS. My ideas will be here but I really want to hear your thoughts on angels, how they influence your life, and how you experience this amazing blessing.

wings 1

Eighteen-year-old orphan Gracie wants a normal life, but a shocking set of unexpected wings and a deadly war change everything.

THE ORPHANS, book one of The Lost Race trilogy. Coming November 2018!

STANDARD ANGEL TIME

Clock 1Here in America, we all know when to turn our clocks forward and back in the spring and fall. Spring forward…fall back…be sure to set the alarm correctly or waking will be confusing. That’s all well and good, keeps the daylight as long as possible in the winter and saves energy in the summer.  It keeps things interesting.

We practice the practical things and follow the rules, but when do we check our souls? Our ideas? Our faith? When do we take a moment to reset our soul clocks and try to understand the bigger picture? Welcome to Angel Moments, a place to explore angels, what they mean to us, and how they help us.

Angels, bookAngels. These celestial beings have played many different roles throughout history, all reflecting the time and mindset of society. The oldest bible stories tell of warriors and messengers. In the early 1900s images treated angels the way they treated St. Nicholas. A distinctively distinguished old man reaching out to bring a little joy to poor children became the jolly Christmas elf. Angles became chubby cherubs fluttering around on tiny wings and looking cute. A far cry from fearsome warriors and an even further cry from the messengers we all hope for.

bettany-and-gabrielWhere are our heads when it comes to angels these days? We’ve seen them in movies and on television as playful characters and vicious murderers, as distant lovers and desperate survivors. Artwork depicts angels with beautiful flowing hair wearing gowns and sporting massive snow white wings. Angels are shown crying and protecting, leading and following. They fight off the dark and guide the dead home. That’s a lot of jobs.

Angels talkingI personally have another theory. I believe very one of us has an angel or two all our own. We banter with them when making decisions, we negotiate when we want to do something we already know we shouldn’t, and we count on them to tell God what we desire and need and hope for. These companions sit close and are prepared for any situation, especially the ones we never see coming. For me, they stood, wings wrapped around me, as I listened to the breast cancer diagnosis. They told me jokes while I endured treatments. They soothed me through my fears and walked me to the other side of the disease. Beyond that, they have carried my dreams and hopes for my family and friends to God for me, interceding and most likely correcting my wishes to sound more like prayers. The angels beside me have opinions and I am trying my best to listen to them. They shield me from traffic accidents, household mishaps, and I try, I really try, to listen to them when I’m angry. Most times the words have already flown from my mouth before their advice registers, but I am trying. We all try.

I believe that angels let us make the mistakes to learn the lessons, but they also stand back with a gentle “Told you so” on their smiling lips. These are my most precious companions. I am careful to remind myself often of what it means to have such a gift. I reevaluate my beliefs twice each year when I turn the clocks back or forward. The bigger job is to respect other people’s angels.

Baseball-Glove-and-BatIt’s hard to deal with people, day in and day out. It’s difficult to keep the judgment behind and see only what’s in front of us. I’m a huge baseball fan. A failing pitcher takes me into a rant at times. “What is he doing? That batter has proven he will never swing at the low and inside pitch! Why is he pitching it?” There are a hundred reasons. He’s unable to throw the ball where he wants at the moment. The catcher is calling for that pitch. The manager intends for the pitcher to walk the batter. Lots and lots of reasons, all reasonable but my frustration seems to always win. The pitcher’s angel has it’s job and my angels have their job. I honestly do try, especially when I’m driving, watching sports, or dealing with the coming election. I imagine we were all born with patients. My poor guardian angels must deal with my inability to tap into that gift. They are the real champions in my life!

So again, welcome to ANGEL MOMENTS. My ideas will be here but I really want to hear your thoughts on angels, how they influence your life, and how you experience this amazing blessing.

wings 1

Eighteen-year-old orphan Gracie wants a normal life, but a shocking set of unexpected wings and a deadly war change everything.

THE ORPHANS, book one of The Lost Race trilogy. Coming November 2018!