Dear Family and Friends,

This was a busy year of crossing off long delayed and somewhat tedious things on the “to do” list. But we sure had plenty of fun too.
Last winter we spent January and February in Tucson and March in New Orleans. Arizona was sunny and warm so we were able to be outdoors a lot (except for a few weeks when I was laid up with sciatic nerve pain). There was a lot to do there including wonderful hiking and I had the added bonus of seeing cousins on both sides of my family and a friend from kindergarten days.Happy Holidays 2014 We moved to New Orleans and more rain and just in time to finish up their parade season. Happy Holidays 2014We meandered home through Little Rock and a visit with friends there.
The summer was busy doing rehab on the back, hip, and leg. I wrapped up a year of dental work with implants. I now have an expensive mouth full of teeth that should last three lifetimes. I also got to see plenty of my almost two year old great grand niece, Connie. I spoiled her and she exhausted me!

Connie and Elmo

Connie and Elmo

As usual, there were lots of outdoor activities in our mild and pleasant Ohio summer. Greg and I made a trip to Michigan to visit Greenfield Village and Bonner’s Christmas store.

Greg at Bonners

Greg at Bonners

September brought our 19th hiking trip to California and Point Reyes National Seashore. After my walking buddies returned home,

Karen, Carolyn, Judy, Kay, Margy

Karen, Carolyn, Judy, Kay, Margy

I stayed on with Richard, Chris and Jeff to travel down to Carmel, and visits with friends there and Pebble Beach and Big Sur. In October, I traveled to New England with Margy Liske and, after dropping her off in Deerfield, went on to Vermont to visit Noelle in her new home. Noelle and I went on to Maine to visit her son Jackson in Lewiston. On the way back we visited my cousin and her husband; Kathy and Tim Cole in York Maine.

Karen, Jackson, Elmo, Noelle

Karen, Jackson, Elmo, Noelle

After returning to Ohio our lives have been taken up with going away for the winter again. This time we are going to Tucson in January then off to New Zealand for February and March. After 7 years of accumulating, I finally cashed in all my frequent flyer miles and now we are busy getting prepared to leave the country. I’m buying bigger luggage and hope to bring home some wooly things. There are more sheep than people in Kiwi Land.
Dave has been busy on his computer helping friends with their business endeavors. He also displayed his needlework and woodwork in September at an art tour around Cleveland. We officially live in an arts district now. If you’ve seen Humira advertised on TV then you now know someone who takes it. It has helped Dave with his arthritis. He and Dan still have their daily get togethers to solve the problems of two aging downtown buildings and, of course, they solve other problems like global warming, wars, and race relations. We also had a lovely visit from Dave’s niece and her daughter. It’s really good to be reconnected to his side of the family.
Much of our lives is covered in this blog but for the next three and a half months, I’ll be on a writing hiatus. I’ve decided to leave my laptop in Ohio and travel with a tiny tablet. I’ll resume the blog when we return to Ohio in mid to late April. Be prepared for travel stories when we get back.

Peace, love and kindness in the New Year.

Dave and Karen cruising on Lake Erie

Dave and Karen cruising on Lake Erie

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. There are no gifts to purchase, cards to send, minimal decorating if any, and no special pageants, concerts, or plays to attend. Mainly, it’s just food, football, and visiting.

My niece, Chris Moore, has been hosting us lately. She is the best cook I know and probably the best cook for miles around. Chris loves tradition and especially traditional Thanksgiving foods. We don’t include any “ethnic” foods in our meals that are holdovers from the old country. That means we have the turkey and dressing (no oysters or scallops), mashed potatoes with cream cheese and heavy cream, corn casserole, green beans, cranberry relish, and this year we had cornbread. To finish off Chris made pecan and pumpkin pies: THE BEST IN THE UNIVERSE. These are foods that have been served at this meal for many, many years. The recipes may change a little bit, but there will always be mashed potatoes, corn, and green beans. Some years we have had sweet potatoes or yams. Some years we have had dinner rolls. Some years we have had mince meat pie. And, for many of us, this is the only meal were we have some of these foods at home.

Even though Chris sends home left overs (this year I got some pie), Dave and I seem to miss having enough so that we are really tired of turkey and dressing. We made our own Thanksgiving meal on Sunday. I tried a new recipe for cranberry sauce with pinot noir. I love it and plan to make some very year.

This time of year brings along gift giving to the neighbors and friends. I make spiced pecan nuts and put them in little baggies. It’s easy, makes the loft smell delicious, and they are great snacks.

Yummmmm

Yummmmm

Along with our family “catsup” making, we have other family foods. When I was in Maine I got an old molasses cookie recipe from my cousin. My Grandmother Moore made these and kept them in a tin for us to have when we visited her. They remind me of muffin tops but they have more shortening and are sweeter. Here is the recipe:

2 C molasses
1 C brown sugar
1 C shortening
2 eggs
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 TBS soda
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
1 C sour cream
6 C flour to stiffen
Mix sugar, shortening until creamy. Add eggs and molasses. Add alternately sour cream and dry ingredients. Put on baking sheet in tablespoon dollops- they spread out to be the size of a muffin top.
Bake at 350 for 8- 10 minutes.

You can make half the recipe which is what I did. That makes about 26 cookies.

police-shooting-missouri

My last image before going to bed Monday night was that of a line of police officers lined up against an angry crowd of protesters in Ferguson.  Here we go again.

In 1999 a person of color reaches for his wallet while being detained by police. He is shot and killed.  A young man reaches down to pull up his pants. He is killed by the police. Now we have a shooting in Cleveland. The police weren’t told the “weapon” was a probably a toy.

I’ve read several accounts by experts and journalists who all decry the institutional racism in police departments across the nation. At the same time almost all Americans acknowledge the difficult dilemma police face when they have to make split second decisions with very little information.

One thing I haven’t read is accounts of exactly how police are trained to react in these situations. How many hours are they trained? What kind of role playing do they do? Why shoot to kill? Is there the possibility of using pepper spray or do they have to get too close to the perpetrator? What language could be used to deactivate the fear and misunderstanding? Since it is proven that African Americans are detained more often and shot more often than white assailants, what training is done with officers about that? In the initial confrontations could officers tell the person to NEVER move their hands unless instructed to do so by the officer?  Since women officers have a much higher rate of pacifying people than do men, do we encourage these women officers to do the training and refresher courses? And why are departments having such a hard time recruiting officers of color? What can be changed about that? How much does the over coverage by the media play into this difficulty to recruit?

The day after Ferguson, I was talking with two officers who were in charge of directing the school buses at Playhouse Square. It was quiet in Cleveland the night before with peaceful protests at Public Square. But one officer was clearly angry about the protestors. “If a guy comes at me with a gun pulled, I’m shooting!” I assumed he was going to shot to kill.  Police clearly feel they are under assault even though police officers are indicted in these types of shootings time after time. They must feel their time is coming and they will have little protection under the law.

Everyone is impatient. They want the shootings to stop. They are tired of study after study about the problem with no changes being made. Few of us can see any progress.  What do the friends of relatives of victims want? Are their suggestions being heard? What would they do if someone waved a gun at them? What would they suggest if some seemed to reach for a weapon?  Where are their voices heard? People who are ignored are going to continue to make a way to be heard. Does it have to be with the loss of life?