Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giving Thanks

This is the time of year when we start thinking about giving thanks for all of the blessings bestowed upon us in our lives. I thought of making a list of all the things and people I am thankful for, but unsure where to begin, I realize the list would be so long, no one would ever want to read it, and surely I would be unable to make it fit within the consigns of this blog. Love is really what matters most in this life, and I feel I have almost more than my share.
Just for starters, working on that list, we are blessed with an invitation from our oldest daughter to spend Thanksgiving in the Phoenix area with she and her other half. It was terribly difficult to board that flight and leave wind, rain and falling temperatures in the NW and travel to the balmy 70 degree days of the Southwest desert, but duty calls.
Sunset from our daughter's patio, Chandler, AZ  photo courtesy CJ Wheale
 On my list of thousands of countless blessings, having our grown kids seek our company is pretty close to the top. Daughter number one is also a fabulous cook, and coming to her house is like staying in a cozy, personalized B&B where we are pampered and very well fed. She tells us that Thanksgiving dinner will be traditionally non-traditional. Whatever ends up on the menu will be creative, delicious and beautifully presented. I think she could open a restaurant... but that would be hard work, and probably spoil the enjoyment she finds in her kitchen creativity. When we arrived at dinner time a couple nights ago, we had homemade calzones waiting for us. Stuffed with her homemade Italian style chicken sausage, sun dried tomatoes, marinara sauce, caramelized onions and mushrooms, mozzarella and Parmesan Gran Padano, wrapped in her home made whole grain crust, they rivaled those found in the best restaurants. The fragrance wafting from her kitchen was that of an authentic cucina, and we knew that, as always, whatever comes from Carolyn's Kitchen is sure to be a treat.
Calzone par excellence! photo courtesy CJ Wheale
Yesterday we were blessed by meeting up with an old school mate of mine, and her hubby who is a docent at the Heard Museum  in downtown Phoenix. Ellen and I knew each other but weren't close friends in high school. Reacquainted at our 50 year reunion in October of 2010, we have discovered we have much in common and enjoy each other's company. We have emailed a few times and gotten to know each other a little, so I was really looking forward to spending some time with this "new- old" friend. Ellen thought it would be fun to meet up at the Heard, and as neither Paul nor I had been there for 20 years, it was a wonderful treat. Rex is a mild mannered, knowledgeable guide, and we felt so privileged to have him give us a private tour of this magnificent facility. The Heard Museum houses a magnificent collection of the physical artifacts of Southwest indigenous anthropology. A major exhibit shows the tragedy of separating families when little children were sent off to Indian Schools in an attempt to erase all vestiges of their ancestral cultural practices. I of course, love the baskets and pottery and sculpture, and enjoyed seeing the evolution of more contemporary native art. A most exciting new work blends ceramic art and blown glass.

"Art Fence" pottery and glass assemblage at the Heard Museum
Rosemary Lone Wolf of Santa Clara pueblo is a ceramic artist and Tony Jojola, Isleta  is a glass artist. Tony studied under Dale Chihuly, and glass is now emerging as a new and exciting art form within the Native American community. These two very talented artists have collaborated on the creation of "Art Fence", a 50 foot installation of ceramic "stems" and glass "orbs". The fence symbolizes the indigenous materials used by native people for fences and home building, and references the colors of the desert. The linear construction allows the mind to travel with native cultures from the past into the present and look forward toward a bright new future. The experience of studying this amazing assemblage reminds me how blessed we are to have such beautiful places that exhibit our artistic expression, and that we live in a country where art is appreciated, funded and supported.

Saturday, we enjoyed blessings of another sort as we attended a Celebration of the Life of Eileen Koerner. Dieter and Eileen were two of the first people we got to know when we moved to Payson. Loving all things German, Dieter easily found his way into our hearts and his Eileen was right there too. Eileen was a Minnesota farm girl with a warm smile and a quick laugh, especially when Dieter teased her. She was a good friend, devoted wife, wonderful mom and loving grandma. On Saturday we gathered with about 60 kindred souls who all had one thing in common- our love an affection for Eileen. She was taken far too soon, and will be sorely missed.  One of Eileen's lovely daughters told me that if there is such a thing, her mom had a "good death", surrounded by her family. I guess that's what we all pray for.

Making the most of this glorious sunny fall vacation, we traveled to the Prescott area and visited with my sister Donna and hubby Stephen Ellis. But that's another story filled with blessings that will wait for another day.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Everyone! And don't forget to Give Thanks!