joining the 8’s

I have a significant birth milestone coming up in a few days. It’s what I call “joining the 8’s.

I’ll be 80 years young. My good friend, Nannette, did this about four years ago. At that time it seemed remarkable to me that she was 80, and that I had a friend that age!

I have a few family members and several friends in my church parish that have accomplished this milestone. I feel I’ll be in good company.

One of my dearest friends made the transition just two weeks ago. A few days before her birthday we Face-timed at the end of one of our monthly calls. We had not seen each other for about 15 years. We declared one another pretty. That was a smile moment.

Now my turn to join the 8’s is fast approaching.

A bouquet sent from my best friend arrived today from Farmqirl Flowers. Its description is Sunset. The accompanying note from her said “Looking forward to sunsets in Faroes and Iceland”, a reference to our long awaited, upcoming trip to celebrate our milestone birthdays. I’m so ready!

The past several years I have referred to myself as “oldering”. I wonder if I have drifted into old age. And just as with other times and events in my life, I will need to take time to grow into this particular era of my life.

I’m reading May Sarton’s Coming into Eighty. It’s a collection of poems written in her seventy-ninth and eightieth years, declaring herself “a foreigner in the land of old age”.

In Coming into Eighty, she writes:

Glancing through the poems before I settle into a rhythm of reading, I note there are often lines about pain. Perhaps this is just the book to accompany me for the 8’s journey. With one of my favorite writers along, I’m in good company.

My sister arrives tomorrow. I’m SO glad she is coming! At the top of our to-do list is bake the cake my mom made for each of my birthdays. A Peppermint Chip Chiffon Cake.

The recipe appeared in a 1941 issue of Lady’s Home Journal. It was a Gold Medal Flour advertisement, and bakers are advised not to risk failure by using any other brand of flour.

This cake is a big deal to make. It takes some skill to bake an old-fashioned chiffon cake (which incidentally must hang upside down on a glass milk bottle to cool.) The Candy Mountain Icing takes some skill to pull off as well. I’m pretty sure these two sisters have got this.

I’ll be thrilled when I slice the cake, which I just may do BEFORE dinner! After all, this cake represents my Joining the 8’s.

I look forward to astonishment during my 8’s.

homeward bound

Now the long weekend lark comes to an end. To sum it up, it was fabulous!


Lunch with Abby at the Farmhouse. Seated outside, this was our view.
After lunch Beth played Wide Open Spaces by the Dixie Chicks on her phone as we three began to dance with rather wild abandon.
Take-out for dinner from the Burger Place. Backyard dining.
Just a short drive from the Casa were the day’s end colors.
A close-up of the view.


“My tree” on the highway south of Taos on the way to Santa Fe.
Companion coffees at Ikonic Coffee Roasters in Santa Fe.
Spring green with textured clouds south of Santa Fe.
Nearing Albuquerque.
Not ready for a prime-time departure. Severe thunderstorms grounded and/or diverted all flights in and out of ABQ for a couple of hours.
At last, airborne for a bumpy ride to Atlanta.

I’d like to go back in time to last Thursday and do it all again!

Traveling mercies.


As we drove into Taos in December 2017, we spotted a coffee sign attached to an old pick-up truck.

It was late afternoon and they were closed. We knew we would return the next morning to check the place out. And so we did.

Thus began our friendship with Lydia and Pablo, owners of Taos Coffee Apothecary. They had been open just weeks. Young, determined, delightful young people.

Over the past four and a half years they have become skilled coffee roasters and have built a successful craft coffee business. Each year we return to Taos, we begin each morning enjoying coffee and conversation with the couple.

During the pandemic year they have been open for take-out only. Yesterday while standing in line for coffee, we realized that inside Pablo was roasting coffee beans and Lydia was packing up coffee bean orders for shipment to customers around the country. It turns out one of the packages was to be shipped to me.

Lydia looked up and out the window only to see us waiting in line. She gasped as she held up the note to me she was placing with my boxed order. We could see Pablo at the roaster and he paused to give a simulated hug. Lydia came outside to visit with us as we waited in line. What a joyous reunion!

Later in the morning we joined dear, dear friends at the Harwood museum.

The featured exhibit was Santo Lowride:Norteno Car Culture and the Saints Tradition. On our family travels in the 50’s we often saw “low rider” cars as we drove through this area, so it was great fun to see the evolution of these cars from the streets to museum display.

Next we enjoyed a delicious lunch filled with delightful conversation at Martyrs restaurant.

Abby and Dean
An awesome take on the traditional Wedge

I’ve found when you return often to the same travel destination, deep friendships can develop. Part of the anticipation of these travels are the sweet reunions to come. These friendships are rich beyond measure.

“A sweet friendship refreshes the soul.” Proverbs 27:29.


NOTICE FOR ALL TRAVELERS: As of May 3, 2021, Taos County is considered “Low Risk” or at the Turquoise Level according to New Mexico’s state guidelines.

We are finding out what it’s like to be in a a state with COVID-19 restrictions still in place.

Taos Coffee Apothecary – Outside Dining Only

It was disappointing at first to have to line up outside, but reading about the pandemic restrictions in New Mexico in general, and specifically Taos, it was kind of comforting. We are being kept safe-ish in this place.

Best of all I love being outside under the New Mexico blue sky with crisp mountain temps.

The drive yesterday from Albuquerque to Taos was filled with the joy of returns.

Lunch at the Range Cafe in Bernalillo.

Blue Corn Cheese Enchiladas!

Iced Lattes – and peonies at Ikonic Coffee Roasters.

And the scenic drive!

My Tree

The return to la Casa de las Abuelas.

An evening walk down the road, complete with lilacs!!

And the healing llamas. Since we forgot what names we gave them on a visit in 2019, we have renamed them.

Hillary, Kamala and Stacey.

Now to see what’s next for today.

land of enchantment

The Land of Enchantment is calling me. New Mexico is in my heart and soul.

As a child growing up in Colorado, my family made frequent trips to Taos and Santa Fe. Sometimes that was the destination; other times we passed through on our way to Mexico. Regardless, I was always enchanted.

When I moved to Texas I vowed to have mountains find their way into the souls of my two sons. New Mexico’s Sangre de Christo range had to stand in for the Colorado Rockies, simply because northern New Mexico was in driving range from Houston. I found a summer camp outside Santa Fe where my boys spent a month each summer during middle school and high school. The bonus was for me to drive over and pick them up.

On my first drive to pick up my boys at camp, one of my most dear friends came along. We had our own most memorable trip ahead of the camp pick-up. Glorious scenery with glorious joy!

I’ve made many trips to this enchanting place. My best friend and I have journeyed here at least once a year for over twenty years. Our trip to Taos in January 2020 was just about the last trip we took before COVID-19 took hold of our lives. While I’ve flown off to distant places a few times since being vaccinated, this trip feels like cementing my return to travel. I’m soon to be in a place where my soul is quieted and rejuvenated at the same time.

As May Sarton wrote: “I was unprepared in every way, unprepared for the air itself, seven thousand feet up, thin and dry so there is a bubble of physical excitement in one’s chest; unprepared for the huge bare landscape that reminded me of Chinese paintings and of northern Spain”– The Leopard Land

So off I go!

Traveling Mercies.

homeward bound

While my trip to visit my Texas family was short, one would never know it by the hours of feasting. Meals, conversations, waterfowl viewing, bingeing on a TV comedy series, time with my grandchildren. Most of all laughter. JOY!

Bluebonnets and wildflowers
Waterfowl feeding time
Sous Chef Jack
Chef Mark

Grandchildren time

My last morning. Coffee with a view

I’m blessed by the gift of travel, which in turn, gives me the gift of being present with this family for a time.

Traveling mercies.

gone again girl

This is becoming a habit. A very good habit, indeed.

I’m heading to Keller, TX, to visit the Keller Heckels. The last trip I took to Keller was just weeks before the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic set in. That’s fourteen months ago. I’ve not seen my two older grandchildren for over a year! Oh my gosh, this is way too long!

The scene is set for our family gathering on Sunday. Jack will spend a long day home from college. Georgia, an ER nurse, will join as after her shift. I cannot wait to be with these precious grandchildren.

There will be wonderful family feasting as we gather around the meal table and the family room. We’ll enjoy a feast of laughter, good stories – old and new, and quiet moments just to listen to these young people tell me about their lives.

There will be sounds of geese coming and going, landing in the river just beyond the back yard. After they land, there will be a cacophony of “feed me now” geese shouts. The duck will chime in with their own voices.

I long for all these sounds.

It’s a good morning for flying.

As I walked into the airport, it was immediately clear that air travel is back.

Queues of people lined up to check bags. Queues to go through security.

Queues to board the plane train.

So I walked the distance between several terminals. I saw some familiar sights.

How grateful I am for my walking skills!

Now onboard, it’s really just minutes until I’m met at DFW by the first smile – my son.

Reading materials in my seatback, I’m good to go.

Traveling mercies.


into the woods

We took a walk into the woods while making four additional spice blends, using all manner of ingredients.

Recipes. Scales, skillets, and grinders.

The mixtures before toasting and grinding were reminiscent of what one might see on a path while walking through the woods.

It was a family affair.

All together we created five spice blends. Baking Spice, Za’atar, Garam Marsala, Barahat, Five Spice.

Yes, it was a woodsy walk in the woods.

The scents created by toasting and grinding were intense. Exotic. Amazing!

This family project was such a delight!

Last night we enjoyed grilled Za’atar chicken. It was SO delicious.

I am now airborne, crossing the Rocky Mountains, watching live women’s basketball, headed home. I’m so blessed to have had this time with my Seattle family. Abundance colored these past five days. Smiles and laughter were constant companions to our conversations. At the heart of all of it was time around the dining table, enjoying incredible meals with those I love.

Traveling mercies.

savvy spice making

According to a recent article in The New York Times, savvy cooks around the world are upping their cooking prowess by mixing their own spice blends. I’ve not previously described myself as a savvy cook, but it appears I may soon be able to do so.

I brought the Times article with me to Seattle. Today the family journeyed downtown to the Spice Market. We planned ahead having made a list of spices necessary to make five specific spice blends.

About a half-hour after entering the wonderfully spice-scented shop, we were on our way.

It was so much fun as everyone, especially the kids, fanned out to gather up everything on our list. The shopkeeper got into the act with directions and explanations.

A short time ago we mixed up the first spice blend. Za’atar. It is from the Middle East and is used in marinades for grilling poultry or meats.

We will enjoy za’atar marinated grilled chicken tomorrow night.

In the meantime, tonight we held a slider grill-off between traditionally raised ground beef and American Wagyu ground beef.

We have a winner! Everyone preferred the Wagyu sliders. Fun dining. Pun intended.

last day of winter

Seattle’s weather report today included this summary: “unsettled finish to winter, with spring beginning tomorrow.” We’re ending this last day of winter with a beautiful fire inside and a tri-tip roast on the grill out back.

It’s been a glorious day in spite of the chilly weather. I’m in need of a new espresso machine and Seattle is THE place to be for all things coffee. I learned how to drink coffee when I visited my son in Seattle about thirty years ago.

I settled on a machine that is as much a piece of art as it is a fine-tuned coffee machine.

As long as we were out and about we decided to take in a car wash. It’s true, I love car washes! I seldom get to enjoy riding through one, but today it was on our agenda.

What fun it was, complete with The Car Wash playing on the radio as we went through the time machine of a car wash.

Math was front and center this afternoon. My grandson’s task was to calculate amounts expressed in grams, multiplied by three, to prepare for a “field trip” to a local spice mart tomorrow. My granddaughter’s school project was to fill out the brackets for both the women’s and men’s Final Four NCAA basketball championships. Few things energize me more than talking about women’s basket ball.

The day culminated with an amazing dinner prepared by my daughter-in-law and son. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say we all were crazy for dinner,

Yesterday I my arrival was greeted by a rainbow. This day was colored by all the shades seen in that rainbow.