Enjoying the shade . . . . .


This is a picture of a Banyan tree near my Hawaii home.  I’m sorry it doesn’t show the top of the tree, because it’s beautiful.  These trees can be large, and they can live for hundreds of years.  I don’t know what is showing there between the roots, but I do know that the homeless often find shelter here.


I found this little piece of writing today.  It missed the book, so I’ll print it here.

                                  Darling, I am Growing . . . 

                                       (Yes, I’m still growing)

      Old? I don’t think so.  There are those of us who just refuse to be “elderly.” As best we can we keep up our appearance, fill our calendars with appointments, travel to places we enjoy, keep track of a raft of old friends across the country and a raft of kids, grandkids and great grandkids scattered sometimes around the world.

People are constantly surprised that we can stand up and sit down, drive a car, cook ourselves a meal and eat it without a bib.  That’s because they have a fixed picture in their minds of what an older person should be.  And it isn’t pretty.

I’ve written before about the sweat-suited gum-chewing blonde who sidled up to me in an airport waiting area and cooed “Oh, I think it is so nice when you older people can learn to use a computer! I’ll bet you are playing a game.” And I had closed the computer so she couldn’t see I was buying some stocks on the market. I smiled and said “Of course, my dear.”

(My dear?  I didn’t even know her, but that was what that script called for.)

Growing old takes a certain amount of patience and it takes diplomacy.

When I was a child people were still talking about World War I.  When I was in high school Pearl Harbor was bombed and our boy friends went to war.  So you know I have been around a while, and my hair has silvered to prove it.  but I sometimes look a bit young for my age.  Can’t help it.  My mother looked young for her age.

I have the advantage of going into an office or an adventure or a deal of some sort and being treated very nicely, but then I experience the surprised looks and exclamations when they see my age on the paperwork, and sometimes a change in attitude that follows.

Do people react to age because they fear aging? I think perhaps they do.  Just as some react in strange ways to news of a death because they fear death. Yet the secure and the elderly can talk about their own death as if it’s the weather report or the price of gas on the market. We are going to die. So what?

How do we get to that point? When I think about it, I realize that each stage has prepared me for the next one, so that life is fairly seamless. I could not have settled into marriage and motherhood if I had not first been through the initiative process of dating. I could not have faced sending my children into the world if I had not first experienced leaving my parents and going into the world alone myself.

So, despite my zest for life, I am constantly preparing to leave it, just as I saw my parents leave.  And leave I will.

But for most of us, if we’re lucky, we will first grow old. We may grow slower and weaker, remembering four verses of a song we learned in second grade while forgetting what we had for breakfast. We may replace our hips and knees, but survive bionically to walk taller and straighter, and no one even knows about this magic except, perhaps, the airport fairy with the wand.

Some of us will stay vital and active so long our kids will think they are never going to get their inheritance.

Some of us will linger deliciously, enjoying the sunset and then, following its pattern, just fade out, leaving streaks of our colors on the horizon of all the lives we touched.


How does a banyan tree live to be so old?

Maybe because it keeps putting down new roots.











Moms . . . . .

mother and child


I love this old picture.  I picked it up from an image page online and do not have permission to use it, but then I don’t know if anyone cares since I’m not using it for profit.

Maybe it’s the apron that brings so many memories.  Or maybe the rug in front of the door.  Those are things I see.  But the thing I feel is mother’s hand on the shoulder.

At times, I think it is still there.

My mother has been gone for 22 years but I still have special thoughts of her as Mother’s Day approaches.  I wish I could surprise her with a copy of my book, just as I used to surprise her with poems . . when I was small, and again as a college student when I sent my laundry home.  (Can you imagine that?  Well, we didn’t have any other way.  Didn’t even, as yet, have laundromats, much less automatic washers.)

If you have a mother to honor, you might like to give her a copy of my book.  Most moms enjoy it and last year, after reading it, several moms that I know ordered copies for all their grown chldren.

Playing Life by Ear . . .Notes from Eighty-nine Years of Living, Learning, Laughing, Loving and Believing.  Can be ordered from Amazon.com or iUniverse.com.  In my city it is available at Abbey Bookstore. . . or from a cardboard box in my garage.

And suggest it to your friends, if you would be so kind.


Er, oh yes, I’m back on the Mainland now.


D. M.





To die for ?????? Well, not really . . . . . . . . . .

bread pudding


It’s Sunday, and while slicking up the kitchen I found the recipe I had copied from an online page recently.  I made it while I was in Hawaii and served it, after tasting, knowing it could either make or lose me friends.

I’ll tell you why.  It’s a Paula Deen recipe from her earlier days, I would guess, because it is deadly . . full of butter, white sugar, brown sugar, nuts, and lots of bread..   Known killers of diets, if not of people.  And as if that were not enough, this pudding is served with a sauce that not only contains more sugar and butter . . .  but (gasp) a generous helping of brandy.

Now I don’t need to worry about serving alcohol because it will vapor off when I cook the sauce briefly before serving.

So I’ve invited guests in for a Sunday afternoon coffee, something we do, not for the coffee or for the bread pudding but for the conversation.  I’m looking forward to that.

Words not too sweet, not too brash, and seasoned with understanding as we share our views . . about the puzzling things we’re hearing on the news.

But I will tell my friends this:  You remember, I told you this bread pudding is to die for.  PLEASE DON’T TAKE THAT LITERALLY.


2  cups granulated sugar

5 large beaten eggs

2 cups milk

2 teaspoons vanilla

3 cups cubed Italian bread.  Allow to stale overnight in a bowl.

½ cup packed light brown sugar

¼ cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened

1 cup chopped pecans

1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup brandy

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13 by 9 by 2-inch pan.

Mix together granulated sugar, eggs, and milk in a bowl; add vanilla. Pour over cubed bread and let sit for 10 minutes.

In another bowl, mix and crumble together brown sugar, butter, and pecans.

Pour bread mixture into prepared pan. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture over the top and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until set. Remove from oven.

Since this has a custard base you will get best results if you set the pan in a pan of water to bake.  (I used the big broiler pan for this)

Mix together the granulated sugar, butter, egg, and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir together until the sugar is melted. Add the brandy, stirring well. Pour over bread pudding. Serve warm or cold.

Recipe courtesy of Paula Deen, 2007



You might think I took this picture from the air as I flew out of Honolulu Tuesday.  No, I was on a mountain side, stopping on Tantalus Drive to look down on the city one day a few years ago.

It’s always hard to leave that place, because it is very beautiful.  Up through the island, driving on highways cut through the mountains, or driving around the outside of the island with beautiful blue and turquoise water to one side of us, with white capped waves slapping at the shore, we stored memories that our cameras could not catch.

You’d think that far from home in such a romantic and memorable place we could escape the realities of life today.  Maybe for a few hours, off and on, but Hillary and Trump still ruled the TV and the traffic was held up sometimes for hours for the President and his staff and his children to go for a shave-ice on their vacation.  Locals were a bit put out by all his ventures and the huge staff that accompanied him.

It is always good to return to Nebraska.  Kind friends met me and on the drive home I looked for the green that was almost ready to show on the tree limbs.  Lots of green on the ground.  This year was, in fact, the greenest year I can remember seeing in Nebraska, through most of the seasons.

On my last day in Honolulu my bags were packed and closed.  My apartment was cleaned and closed.  I had hours of free time before the flight, so daughter Sara and I went to the theater and saw Hello, My Name Is Doris.  Sally Field starred as Doris, and I’ll guarantee she will be up for awards.  Great performance and a good movie.

But it’s good to be home.  The air is clear, the sky is blue and there was a gentle rain to greet me.  The sunset will be beautiful here too, but it’s pleasant to remember the ones I saw in Hawaii.

Waikiki Sunset