Thursday, June 22, 2017

At Peace

This is one of my favorite pictures of her. Here she is young and beautiful, a full life still ahead of her. Looking confident in her 30s. This is my sister, Tamara Alice. She died unexpectedly Wednesday, June 20 in Oregon.

Tammy was a mother to three: James, Deana and Jesse. She was a sister to Mike, Buck, Katie, me. She was a grandmother. She was a daughter. She was a cousin and an aunt. She was a friend. She was preceded in death by our mother, Charlene "Chick" and brother, Mike.

Life for Tammy wasn't easy. Her road was long and rough. But throughout her trials she always loved her family, delighted in telling funny jokes, making people laugh and smile. Tammy remembered everything - she could recount events from her childhood, playing with our cousins and siblings. I loved to listen to her stories. Her favorite place to be was on the beach.

Thirteen years my senior, she wasn't thrilled when I was born. Who can blame her? Being the little one for so long, would make most people a little jealous. But she still loved me.

My life is a little darker without her in it. Words are few. I ponder if there is a heaven, an afterlife. Times like these, I like to hope there is. I imagine her sitting with our mom and brother, Mike, sharing laughs. Smiling. Finally feeling and knowing she is loved.

Please tell your family you love them, often. We only have right now. Tomorrow isn't promised.

I love you, Sis, to infinity and beyond, forever and ever.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Jackalopes, Bows and a Jack Russell Puppy

My brother-in-law, Jeff, from Wyoming recently visited us in Iowa. He stopped here for a few days on his way, and back, to lend a hand with some friends for a bow hunt in Alabama with the Physically Challenged Bowhunters of America. Jeff is a key organizer for the Wyoming hunt each fall and makes new friends from around the country. Recently retired, he and my sister plan on traveling and are looking forward to this new chapter in their lives. Unfortunately, she wasn't able to make it out this time.

This presented a unique opportunity to spend some time with my BIL. He's been a huge part of my life since I was five-years-old. The Jeff I know isn't a man of many words, dislikes crowds - he is a rugged miner, hunter, outdoorsman. Not the gentle, sensitive type (maybe he is to my sister) but not to the rest of the world. But he is quick to donate his time or a freshly crafted bow to local fundraisers, offer assistance to a friend or neighbor - he's an all-around great guy.

Living in rural Wyoming in the mid-eighties, there were many professional services that you would have to travel out of state for, such as visiting my orthodontist for braces and the maintenance that is required with having them. There were a few times Jeff would have to take me to Ogden, Utah for that upkeep. My sister was busy with their three young children and they were saddled with the awesome task of taking on a teenager after the deaths of my parents.

A trip to Utah with my BIL consisted of: completing the task at hand, such as brace-face annoying teen getting her braces tightened (does anyone remember how uncomfortable that was?); a stop at the archery/gun store (oh YAY!); a visit to the military surplus shop (WHY?); home store for a new tool or two; and rounding out the day at the boat dealership (with me wishing he would get a ski boat and not just a fishing boat - that never happened!). Sadly, even though we were in the city, I would not be shopping at the mall or going to the movies (however when my sis took me that's what we would do).

Lise and Jeff at Antique Archaeology.
So here we are, over 30 years later, in rural Iowa with a visit from Jeff. We had a great time checking out the nearby cute town of Le Claire with a stop at Antique Archaeology and lunch in a historic old colonial with a view of the Mississippi River. We took several jaunts to local attractions: the Amana Colonies, a drive along the Mississippi from Muscatine to Davenport, the local solar farm in Frytown. And we ate out - a lot! Jeff has friends all over the country and we broke bread with a hunter buddy of his (Gary and his wife Amy) - we are blessed to call them our friends, too. It's always fun to catch up!

New jackalope PJs.
Jeff accused me of spending his money!
Looks like he didn't need my help at the candy
store in Le Claire.
But tucked in among these trips was a visit to Gander Mountain in Davenport where we looked at barbecue grills and smokers, ammo and clothing. He left empty-handed but my daughter and I each scored a cute pair of pajama pants adorned with jackalopes. We also stopped at the Buffalo Bill Museum where we spent a couple of hours learning a bit about the wild-haired man from long ago, steamboats on the river, and life in the past. We did not go to the mall, but we did peruse our local Costco looking for good deals (he was intrigued enough to possibly join) and we found just the perfect hooded zipper jacket he had been looking for at Kohl's (on sale, too).

Hill Hardwood - ebony.
I did not think I would ever have a reason to stop into a military surplus store again - but I was wrong. Jeff found the waterproof bags he was wanting, to keep his sleeping bags dry, for an upcoming goose hunting trip to the Dakotas. A visit into our local oil/vinegar store was not without sharing cooking and seasoning ideas with the storekeeper (glad he isn't shy). We also stopped by Hill Hardwood Supply in Iowa City for a piece of ebony. He uses this beautiful wood in the risers on the longbows he makes. The week was topped off with a stop at Bass Pro Shops near Des Moines where we looked at boats, archery stuff, ammo and guns. Some things never change!

Jeff's copilot for his trip home.
He left with his truck a little heavier from the goodies he purchased as well as a tiny, little Jack Russell Terrier puppy. From the day he got here, he kept talking about finding a JRT pup. Mission accomplished - to the ire of my sis. I hope she starts talking to me again!

Local fave - Pagliai's Pizza in Iowa City.

Our time together was filled with talk of politics, hope for the future, losses he and Katie have suffered, happy times remembered, stories of the past, ideas for cooking (he is a great cook), sharing stories of his friends and the funny pranks they've pulled on each other. It was a great trip! We spent time with Tim, Lise, Taylor and Libby - it makes my heart happy when we get to be with family. I will cherish the time we had and am grateful to have him in my life.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Fun Finds from Sisters Garden

Ooh-la-la - found some great treasures at Sisters and Bloom in rural Kalona, Saturday.
What's in the bag?

These tea towels are just too much, too cute, too fun! Love them!

Hmmm...what else, is in there? Oh, just a pair of sweet vintage hobnail plates!

Annie B Caramels - there were four, but I just couldn't resist a sweet treat. These were on Oprah's Favorite Things last Christmas. They are divine

Fresh, local honey - yummy! Great for keeping allergies at bay, too.

These soaps... The two on the left are handmade, one is Fruit Loops scent - Tim's favorite. It truly smells like the cereal! Of course I can't remember what the top one is but it smells great - fresh, with a hint of flowers. The bar on the right is Pre de Provence, Jasmine. These are favorites of mine. Pre de Provence soaps are made in France with natural ingredients. Oh so luxurious.

The plates cleaned up nicely and match well with my pretty glasses from Pier One. Whipped up a batch of homemade guacamole and poured fresh lemonade. Pleased as punch with the great finds at Sisters and Bloom!  

Claudia's Guacamole
Avacados - mashed
Red Onion - finely chopped
Cherry Tomatoes - diced
Garlic Powder
Season Salt
Parsley Flakes
Spoon of Lemon Juice - to prevent browning
Spoon of Olive Oil

My Bahamian friend, Claudia, didn't give me amounts - so I just eyeballed and added to taste. Of course, it's fabulous when she makes it. She's a great cook!

Happy Sunday,
xo - Em