All Posts for September 2008

Summer’s End: September 2008

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

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These little blackeyed beauties are right behind the back entrance to our condo. I pass them every day on my way to swim laps. Summer doesn’t get much better than this!

Most of us hate to see summer end, because the long, sunny days are over, and the pace of life seems to quicken. September is the start of school and the time to “get serious.” While I like summer, because the days stretch well after sundown, my favorite season is fall, so when summer ends, I become excited to see the leaves turning.

But this summer I gained a new appreciation of the season’s foliage, from the early flowers starting in the spring—daffodils, forsythia, tulips, and azaleas—to the ever-changing landscape of flox, roses, petunias, crape myrtle, black-eyes susans, and of course, impatiens, which seem to grace the lawns all summer long. Next come the asters and the mums in their fall finery. I can’t wait! Mother Nature seems to have covered all her bases.

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A beautiful crape myrtle tree in my neighborhood.

Just as I enjoy the continuous blooming landscape during the warm months of late spring to Indian summer, so too do I enjoy the continuous, edible landscape at The Farmers’ Markets, the health food stores, and even the supermarkets. I abandon my much-loved apples and trade them in for summer’s bounty of apricots peaches, plums, melons, etc.

While daffodils and tulips herald in Spring, foods like asparagus and apricots herald in the coming of warm weather foods. Despite the fact that we can eat summer foods in winter and vice-versa, I much prefer to eat most foods when they are in season. Apples in July aren’t crunchy enough, because they have been too long in storage. And watermelons in January just don’t interest me.

So the recipes for September reflect what I think is perfect for this time of year, still warm enough to cook outside at times, but cool enough to start thinking about denser foods, like cauliflower and carrots. So Click on Kitchen Nutrition with Recipes to see what’s cookin’ for September.

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On my walk in the neighborhood I spotted these flowers on the other side of the fence around the house and thought it would make an interesting photo.

Beyond the recipes you may want to read Part II in Profiles of my interview with my mother-in-law, who turns/turned 102 on Sept. 5th. Her party was a family affair and I have included a photo of Lena and grandson Jay, visiting from LA. It was held a couple weeks before her birthday, when Jay was visiting in Philadelphia.

In the Review section, I am featuring a slim volume that I read in one afternoon, because it was so engrossing. It is called A Journey Well Taken by Elaine Williams, and chronicles her life after the unexpected loss of her husband of 20 years. In addition, Feedback has a couple of items to check out, and Peak to Pique highlights a sweet potato/cauliflower soup. In This ‘n That I have a poem about a new utensil called a knork, which is featured in Products and Services Products and Services. Finally, in Health Flashes I have a poem about the plight of the honey bees. As you can see, I have been a busy bee myself all summer!

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The photos are, for the most part, are those from my neighborhood, like the one above, which boasts of many lovely gardens, both large and small. Some owners feature flowers on both sides of their walkways, while others have a large spread of flowers and bushes on the front part of their homes. I often feel that I am walking around a miniature Longwood Gardens, a lovely spot about one hour from here that encompasses 1050 acres of gardens, woodlands, and meadows and more than 11,000 types of plants. While my neighborhood can’t compete in size and number of plants, it’s right here under my nose and costs nothing to see! (However, I did take my friend Pat to Longwood at the very end of August and I plan to feature those photos, along with some “leafy” photos next month in all their “living colors.” Here’s just one to pique your pupils!)

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Enjoy the last days of warm weather and get ready for fall’s flaming foliage. It’s coming soon…..

A Journey Well Taken by Elaine Williams

Monday, September 1st, 2008

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As a divorcee, I was under the naive impression that women who were widowed didn’t suffer the way divorced women did. After all, the person responsible for some of my pain was still walking around, often causing me more pain. At least, as a widow, there was some closure. But after reading Elaine Williams moving and courageous account of her “life after loss” (subtitle of her book), I revised my thinking completely.

Author Williams gives us a detailed account the last year before the death of her husband, Joseph, from cancer. Elaine spent those months of her husband’s life taking care of him, while also caring for her three sons: 11, 18, and 19. As she says in her opening chapter, she “wanted to cry at the injustice of becoming a widow at 47 years of age.”

From the first sentence in her book: “My heart felt ripped out, a feeling I never experienced before,” I was totally engrossed in Elaine’s valiant journey into widowhood and beyond. Even though I could not identify with the early part of the book, because the end of my marriage was totally different, Elaine nevertheless kept my interest page after page. However, she does talk about delving into alternative medicine (which I support) for her husband, and I admire her willingness to try whatever she thought might work. One of the results of her husband’s death is her interest in alternative health measures.

Later on in the book, she writes on page 128: “Twenty years of marriage is a long time, but eventually the memories came without the pain.” She ventured out into the world of dating, something she had not experienced in decades. Here is where I related more closely to Elaine’s situation of being on her own again after so many years of marriage. Or as she sincerely states: “I had been with Joseph a long time, and then suddenly I am dating and all the rules have changed. I’m not sure I ever really knew the rules” (p. 95).

During the three or four years after Joseph’s death, she struggled raising her boys and noted that her views on child rearing changed. She now allows them their independence, letting them make their own mistakes, but admits this has been very hard for her to do. (I also have three children and my youngest was 11 when we separated, so I could identify with her thoughts on children.)

At the beginning and end of her chapters are little thoughts or poems in italics that are quite touching. Here’s just one example:

The pain of loss is real
but the loss of self is even worse.
Being true to yourself is the way home
even when you don’t know how to get there.

This is a beautiful book: sad, happy, inspirational, and lovely. Instead of being negative, Elaine is stronger as a result of her experiences after her husband’s untimely death. At the end of the book, she notes that she has become at peace with herself and still feels very lucky, despite what has happened in her life. She feels “fully equipped to handle whatever appears.”

I love Elaine Williams’ courage, her attitude, her take on life, and her words. The book is published by On Wings Press and costs $13.95. Ask for it at your bookstore or online, or go to www.onwingspress.com. Whether you are divorced, still married, or a widow, her book is uplifting and shows how the human spirit can rise to almost any occasion.

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Photo of Elaine Williams, author of A Journey Well Taken: Life after Loss.

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