Crockpot Chili

A nice warm-up!

Crockpot of Chili
Prepare 1# each of ground deer and beef in pot with some water on high for a few hours, slice up and chop up meat part way through the process. Add seasoning packet (“Darn Good Chili” from Fleet Farm), 1 1/2 jars of thick & chunky Salsa, rinsed can of Kidney beans, and cup of pinto beans. Add more water. Cook on high several hours (overnight). Freeze extra portions for those cold winter days. Serve with chosen toppings and a side of optional “Fritos’ Scoops.”


“It’s Complicated!”

Sometimes, a person may ask questions just as a courtesy and to converse.
It really doesn’t mean that person is interested in a detailed explanation of what you are facing in your life today.
In this case, rather than a long drawn-out description, it’s better to reply, “It’s complicated!”
Set boundaries. Don’t feed the “gossip mill,” and, for sure, don’t be an active participant. The gossipers are “turn-coats” and “back-stabbers.”
Some other time and place, a friend may “lend an ear,” and listen more closely and at length, but for now, that person might have enough on his/her “plate” already. That person might be overloaded with day-to-day stresses or crises situations, on or off the job.
Friends eventually “come around” and stand by each-other. A true friend stands by your rights through thick and thin. True friends, unfortunately, are rare. Treasure that person!
Timing is important. Patience, and the ability to listen and support are wonderful assets.
Don’t be a “fixer.” You can throw out ideas if the person is searching, but it is the person’s own duty to choose the solution that best suits his/her situation.
Don’t be a “fault-finder.” Don’t look solely at a person’s deficits. Look for talents, strengths and qualities. Each person has some good.
Remember, it’s not all about you!
I’ve learned the hard way that I cannot be an “open book.”
Some people prey on vulnerability in others to get themselves ahead, especially in the “dog-eat-dog” workplace.
Some people utilize the ideas of others, and claim them as their own for their own advancement and recognition. Watch out and be aware!
Be your own best friend!


“It’s Complicated!”

A Toddler’s Christmas Wish

A Two Year Old’s Wish
By Grandma Val, 12/09/2012

“It’s Christmastime!” Layla said.
“I saw Santa. He wears red!”
“What did you ask for, my little dear?”
“What did you whisper in his ear?”
“I want a present!” Was all the little sweetheart had pled.

Such a simple request for Santa to fill,
The unspoiled, innocence of a young child’s will,
She loves “Sesame Street” and “Hello Kitty,”
She draws hearts and flowers, oh so pretty,
Her trusting bright eyes see the goodness in this world still.

So Santa, when you fly with your sleigh full of toys,
For all of this world full of girls and boys,
Who seem to forget,
That it’s not what you get,
But, it’s the gifts from the heart that bring joy!


A Doll’s Story

Nick’o’lena, a doll’s story
When I was a little girl, I remember lining up my dolls on the couch. My oldest doll had first appeared in photos from when my mom was first married. She named the doll “Gena-Thea” after my two grandmas.
My oldest brother was much like the neighbor in the Toy Story movie. He always took my dolls apart to see how they worked, after which, of course they no longer worked. Gena-Thea used to cry, “Ma,Ma!” until he dissected her voice box from her cloth body. He had to see how her eyes blinked and how they closed as she was laid down. He cracked her cellulite head along the seams dividing the sides of her head. Even though she was stitched up and her head was glued together, her eyes remained fixated straight ahead and wide open following the “repair,” and her eyelashes were partially missing.
I loved her still, nonetheless.
My “Chatty Baby’s” body was also split so the miniature record-player could be inspected. I kept that doll in pieces for years, hoping for a replacement. It was such a cute doll, reminding me of my baby cousin, Dena, with her short, dark hair. No longer did the doll have a string to pull or the voice device so she could live up to her name.
I had dolls with stubbled hair. The lovely locks fell victim to some scissor happy kid barber. I had two dolls which didn’t do much but blink, and they had sculpted hair so “Big and Little Linda” survived intact.
Lastly, my favorite Christmas doll festively named “Nick’o’Lena!” She had a baby’s face and platinum-blonde hair with a small, ribboned ponytail on top. When I wound up a crank on her back, her head swayed to the music box’s lullaby. She had soft knit footed pajamas. Curiosity again took over as Nick’o’Lena’s lost her musical box with the extension which turned her head to my brother’s workshop.
Years later as i was a cashier at a thrift store, one customer purposely sought and purchased “pre-loved” dolls with missing limbs, etc., annually as a Christmas tradition in her family. Her family fixed-up and cleaned-up the dolls, dressing them with fancy clothes for the family’s Christmas gift exchange.
I always liked the darling “misfit” doll in the Rudolph cartoon. There is an on-line, never-ending debate as to what defines her as a “misfit,” however.
I identified with a client who loved her dolls with all of their imperfections.
I wrote the following poem for her;

Love’s Reflection
March 9, 2010

Whenever I think of Mary Ann and her collection,
Of her friends and dolls; their imperfections,
I’d try to see through her eyes and see her love’s reflection,
And I would see how she’d see each of them without bias or rejection.

For her unconditional love came so naturally.
She gave each of her friends and family,
Undying love, sweetness and strength in her loyalty,
As they faced challenges with impending fraility.

She looked out for her family and her friends,
Even when faced with her own frustrations,
Mary Ann understood as she worked on becoming more patient.

For she truly in her whole heart and being,
Wished to be good and faithfully seen,
Even when things didn’t always make sense to her,
She looked towards happiness without great fear.

Mary Ann fully loved and appreciated us all,
And the adventure of her life’s journey, its summits and falls,
I saw it reflected in her eyes towards us and her collection of dolls.



Sometimes, optimism is so difficult to maintain, yet I keep trying, though, in the belief that everything will get better.
I wrote the poem below for a friend on a challenging “one of those days” a few years ago. A cousin’s husband found it humorous as he worked for a water treatment plant.
Enjoy! At some point in our lives, we all have some tough times, if not, you’re one of the “rare” ones out there.

“Sometimes I feel like the ‘Tidy Bowl’ man,
Drifting on blue water in the tank of a can,
Swirling along the parameters of the bowl
Destined to be sucked into the whirlpool’s hole
Dealing with more ‘crap’ of the world than a body can stand.”


From a menu in San Francisco in the 40’s from my Aunt Muriel.