Bread and Flowers

It’s a regular bakery now; here is E’s latest batch of challah, better than ever (hypothetically).  Not saying we sampled it or anything.  Maybe we’re just trying to stay warm in this crazy climate.

Meanwhile, flowers are a-bloomin’, despite it feeling wintry out there.  This TN weather is like a wild ride.  My little tomato seedlings all have freezer burn.  My almanac creds are defunct!

Mental Health Flowers

Yesterday we had another TN first.  We checked out our first native plant nursery, and of course had to bring home a few wildflower plants.  It was fun talking shop again, and exploring the greenhouses.  Buying nonessentials feels frivolous when you’re on a fixed income, but I chalk it up to mental health expenses, much more affordable than actual healthcare.

Here is yet another, even more excellent bread E baked, and the plants in their new habitat.  Also, the masses of irises that were already here have finally started to bloom–lavender!  You may laugh, but these minor wonders make me happy, reducing my anxiety, which is no small feat.

 

When TN Gives You Winter Again, Bake Bread

They weren’t kidding about changeable, nay, volatile weather in E. TN.  Today it was in the 30s and snowing!  Remember the other day when it was 80?  Never a dull moment.

Yesterday E outdid, if possible, her bread-baking prowess again.  This is a dutch oven parmesan bread, crusty on the outside, to die for on the inside.  Seriously, this is some kind of yeast alchemy.  If only I could convey perfection in words.  Instead, I just eat it, haha!

Initiations

Thanks to my son and kids, we had several “firsts” yesterday.  First we climbed up Look Rock and viewed an amazing panorama of mountains.  It was 80 degrees, with strong winds up at that height.  The kids love rock climbing.  It was our first TN park.  Here are flowers at their house, and climbing up to the tower at Look Rock.

Then we checked out the Rossini Festival in the center of Knoxville, a European-style street fair sponsored by the opera company, and a first for all of us.  Avdi pointed out a few of the many iconic sights and popular places, for future reference.  This visit we concentrated on keeping an eye on the kids as they enjoyed all the children’s activities.  It was challenging in that huge crowd, but the kids have been trained well.  The visitors were extremely diverse and friendly.  Typical of the red south, there were Christian fringe cults on street corners shrieking dire threats and judgement at the crowd, who were mostly ignoring them.  It was disturbing for the kids, but we told them not to let it bother them.

 

We would have continued on to another first, the Dragon Lights Festival, but between the threatening weather and the exhaustion of everyone, we postponed it.  It was quite enough stimulation for us old people, but worth it.

 

 

 

Ravenous

Now I think I know where “ravenous” comes from.  There appear to be a couple of ravens who gobble up the bones I always set out for them.  Within five or ten minutes, they’ve cleaned up.  My evil scheme is working.  I’m determined to make friends with a raven.  Coolest, smartest birds ever.

Which reminds me, the other night we had a mysterious power outage.  The next day, some other locals mentioned they had, too.  They claimed a raccoon had a disagreement with a power transformer, which makes no sense, but you know them pesky varmints!?

Erev cheers.

Transitions

Transitions of any kind are scary.  Moving to a new state is no exception.

No matter how nice a place it is, we each have our fears and apprehensions, moving forward.  Whether it’s feeling like a stranger in a strange land, the finality of what will probably be our final home, the distance from familiar things and people, the fear of aging without family around, or just culture shock (and sticker shock!), there are many factors to adjust to all at once.  No matter how well you’ve planned and anticipated, there are always unknowns.  And if you’re coming from a long history of difficult transitions and losses, it can be overwhelming.

I’m generalizing here, not to get into specifics, because transitions are a universal human challenge.  Each of us is going through some form of it as we speak.  We are not unique.

The bottom line is, you can feel very alone and isolated, unsure of what the future may hold, especially when your clock is ticking.  All you can do is proceed forward, seize the opportunity you’ve been given, and accept that there are no easy directions to follow.  You do your best with the limited resources you have, and try to find the balance between retreating and reaching out.  You treasure and make the most of what human connections you’ve been granted, however briefly, while also being honest about your limits and boundaries.  You admit you haven’t found the answer to life-the-universe-and-everything, and probably won’t, but you try not to just resign yourself to giving up.

I’m not going anywhere with this, in case you were hoping for something deep.  Just talking to myself, as one is wont to do.  To lighten up, here are some pretty flowers.

I wish I could have photographed the large beautiful hawk who was just sitting on the fence watching me mow the lawn yesterday.  It’s amazing how many fascinating species of birds there are here.  I keep myself going by planting things and observing wildlife in our own backyard.  It’s the best therapy I’ve found to take my mind off things.

Literacy

It’s so wonderful to see the kids immersed in reading books with their Dad.  We met them at the beautiful Maryville Library, overlooking the Greenway and bridge over the stream, where large ducks were getting very, uh, frisky.  We all read books together for a while, then adjourned to Southland Bookstore for more books!  I love how Avdi is encouraging his kids to be literate, intelligent people.

Then we headed to their house for the tradition of pizza-and-a-movie.  It’s a good excuse to pile on top of each other and be a close family, while we can.  I can’t stop marveling at how well my son is managing a very challenging situation, and how resilient and well-adjusted the kids are, all things considered.

Here are some glimpses, starting with the wren chicks in our window clamoring for food, then Maryville.