Birthday Cakes

Bloganuary Daily Prompt #28: Describe your perfect birthday cake?

Variety is the spice of life.

I love to bake and cook exploring different spices, flavors, and preparation of foods. I enjoy trying different recipes from different countries and cultures. Some agree with my palate others do not, but there is fun and excitement in cooking with new spices and ingredients.

Today’s writing prompt of choosing the perfect birthday cake is quite a challenge for a person who enjoys the multiple flavors of foods. A German chocolate cake with the rich chocolate, covered with caramel and coconut frosting, a rich sugar experience. Or perhaps something simpler as an angel food cake with strawberry syrup and a touch of whipped cream. Tangy zest of a lemon cake with lemon frosting to awaken the taste buds to pure delight. The plain but never rejected yellow cake with whipped cream frosting to meet everyone’s delight.

Not everyone enjoys cake for their birthdays. My husband is gleeful with a warm rich pecan pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream added when served. My son love pumpkin pie with a touch of whipped topping to make his birthday complete.

For me, I like the fail safe cheese cake with a fine graham cracker crust topped with blackberries in syrup. That is my one constant dessert that I enjoy. There is no disappointment with any choice of cake or pie for my birthday.

The most important aspect of the birthday cake is not the flavor but the thought of celebrating another year of life. The companionship of family and friends who joyfully celebrate the fact you were born and share life with them. These are the true flavors of a birthday.

amtolle

Languages

I was raised and lived the majority of my life in a very culturally diverse area. I lived where four states join at their corners in one spot, call The Four Corners. In this area are four Native American tribal reservations, a strong Hispanic and Spaniard populations and Caucasian Americans. Mennonites and Quakers of German heritage also lived in this area.

Languages spoken in the area were American English, Spanish, Navajo, Ute, Apache and German. Each group of people brought their own culture and customs. Hispanic and Spaniard are not the same, and each is offended by being called the other, although they both speak Spanish and have very similar culture, their heritage is very different. Hispanics trace their family lineage to Mexico. Spaniard trace the family lineage to Spanish explorers all the way back to Spain. Most Spaniards still own the land titled by Spanish Land Grants, given to them by the King and Queen of Spain. Spanish is a common language as the older Navajo, Ute and Apache elders could speak Spanish in order to trade with the Mexicans when the southern parts of Colorado, Utah and all of New Mexico, and Arizona were part of Mexico, along with California and Texas.

I was raised to speak American English. In school I learned Spanish and spoke Spanish with my dad. I became fluent in Spanish. I also learned Navajo from my school friends, but did not learn much until later in life. I started training horses and doing horsemanship clinics as well as working at a restaurant, during this time I learned Navajo, although I was not fluent in speaking. When my children were in school, they were taught basic words and numbers in Navajo and Ute. I learned to speak Ute with my children. When I started working for the school district assisting with special needs students, I learned Sign Language.

At home, my children and I would speak Spanish, Navajo, Ute and Sign Language as well as American English. In taking college courses to become a teacher, I learned that if children are exposed to a different language before they were eight or nine, they would be able to learn other languages easily. My children have learned other languages since becoming adults. One speaks Japanese, another Korean.

I have learned that by speaking different languages, I can get the jest of a conversation even though I do not know it. As some words are similar due to the languages being in the same language tree. Such as Italian and Portuguese is in the same language tree as Spanish, words are similar enough to be able to comprehend what the person is saying.

When I was in high school I wanted to learn Spanish, French and German so I could travel the world and be able to speak to others. I did not learn French. I only learned a few words of German. Since being away from my home ground and not using Spanish, I am no longer fluent. Languages and the culture that goes with them are interesting and unique.

My most recent exposure to a foreign language is Afrikaans. The person I learned how to train herding dogs, Afrikaans is their native language. It is also the native language of the South African judges and inspectors for Dorper Sheep. If I had the time to be able to learn this language I would. I would know what the dog trainer is saying to their dogs during herding dog trials, enabling me to be a better dog handler. I would also be able to communicate with the judges and inspectors at the Dorper sheep shows and when the time comes for them to inspect the sheep at my farm. American English, I consider to be shallow as words have multiple meanings. Other languages have more precise meanings for individual words, creating more precise communication.

I do not believe you are ever too old to learn a new language. The first new language is always the most difficult to learn. But once the brain has started thinking in more than one language, learning additional languages becomes much easier.

amtolle

Share Music, Share a Poem

Bloganaury Daily Prompt #25: What is a song or poem that speaks to you and why?

I have felt the prompts to Bloganuary 2023 are to delve in the psychology of our thinking and lives.

Today I will share a song. It is not the song, the words to the song that have meaning. It is the memory attached to the song.

Horses love music. Put on music and their hoofbeats and action will match the music. Music will calm a nervous horse. Music will energize the horse to perform animation and action with speed and grace. Watch the Tennessee Walkers Rack or Saddlebreds and Arabians. They love to move to music.

In 1993, I purchased an Appaloosa stallion by the name of Top Jet H from the estate of my fourth grade teacher. Top Jet H, commonly called Jet performed in horse shows as a three and four year old, then retired to the breeding barn. At the time I purchased him he was fifteen, eleven years of not being ridden or shown. I decided to ride and show him. Jet had a long history of wins in Western Pleasure and English Pleasure. The Pleasure classes exhibit three gaits of the horse, walk, jog – a slow trot, and canter. When Jet was shown, a four beat artificial canter was taught to the horse for these classes. I needed to have Jet show in a natural three beat canter, as the four beat artificial canter was ruled as a disqualification after Jet was retired. The three beat cantor gait of the horse in these classes is a very slow, collected canter, and is a natural gait of the horse.

In order to get in rhythm with Jet at the Western Pleasure cantor and train Jet not to use the four beat cantor he was trained to do, I would play ‘In a Different Light’ by Doug Stone. We cantor a three beat cantor for miles to this song.

After a couple of years showing Jet and trying to get people to breed their mares to him, of which not many did. And my children were wanting to show with me, but had no horse to ride I made a decision. I gelded or castrated Jet so my children could show him. Children can not show stallions. Although my children learned to ride from Jet, they were unable to show him. At the age of seventeen I had the operation performed to castrate this wonder horse so my children could show him. For four years my children rode, showed and enjoyed this great teacher, especially my oldest daughter. Then one day while saddling Jet for a parade, he had a heart attack. He was permanently retired to the pasture. He was no longer safe for my children to ride. Although that did not stop my oldest daughter from going to the pasture, climbing on top of her beloved Jet and sitting, enjoying each others companionship.

The song is attached to the wonderful memories of a great horse – Top Jet H and all that he did for me and my children.

My oldest daughter and Jet

Rest In Peace my old friend, I will see you when the time comes.

amtolle

The Ways to Love

I was not shown much love by my adoptive mother, most often is was criticism or a lie. My adoptive dad would show me love when he had time. I wanted my children to never feel the way I did as a child. I was going to not lie or be critical of my children. Mostly I wanted to be there to listen. Listen to their problems, fears, struggles, as well as their successes, triumphs and dreams.

I encouraged my children in learning whatever activity they desired to learn. I made sure they did their homework and would ask questions about what they were studying to make sure they understood. I taught them to clean, cook, and do laundry, skills they would need one day when they were on their own. They did not like me all the time when I made them clean a room instead of going to visit a friend or watch television.

We did 4-H, and showed all kinds of animals, as well as learned leathercraft, ceramics, and rocketry. With one of my children I even learned about airplanes and the history of flying as he was in the Civil Air Patrol.

I felt like I drove a taxi, taking four children in four different directions. I struggled to make their ball games and theater practices. I was not able to make all their events, but they knew I was rooting for them even though I was not there. After an event I had missed, they answered a thousand questions on how their event went. I wanted to know all about it.

Children grow, as soon it was time to start letting go. The hardest thing I had to teach myself was to let my children be adults. It is not easy to let them go. Although the process is gradual, it happens quickly. I had to let go and let them make decisions on what they wanted to do, what they wanted to wear, and who their friends were going to be. Then comes the day, they moved out of my home.

It is not easy helping your child pack up their clothes and belongings and move into another place to live. Yet, I was in there helping them put their belongings in boxes, as I fought to hold the tears in their place. I did not want them to see the tears fall. They had reached a place where they were able to triumphantly leave home, I did not want to dampen their experience with my tears.

When your children find that special someone in their life, a parent really has to let go of it all. There is no more advice or guidance on how to manage their money or make decisions. They have someone to do that with, and it is not the parent. I loved them by letting go, setting them free from me to be with someone else.

I show love today to my children, who are now parents. I encourage them when they tell me about how difficult it is sometimes to be a tough parent. I ask how the children are doing, and how they are. When my son moved to Indiana, my heart sank, but I did not let him know. I expressed happiness for him and his family. I let him know he had to think of his family and how to provide for them. I loved him by listening and encouraging him. He is a good provider for his family. They are farther from me, visits will be hard to make and I will not be able to see the grandchildren as often. But loving involves letting them be the spouse and parent they need to be.

My children have told me that the one thing they know they have always had was unconditional love. Sometimes I was hard and stern, but I always loved them.

amtolle

A House to a Home

What people love about their home or what irritates them depends on how they use their home. My home is used for basics of eating and sleeping. I am not a person who entertains often, family do not visit often as they hundreds of miles away, except for my one daughter. Most of my time is outside with the sheep and gardening.

When we purchased our home, it was what we could afford at the time. It is an older mobile home. There are a few things that irritate me about this home. One of the things that irritate me is also found in many homes, not just mobile homes and that is popcorn textured ceiling.

Popcorn ceiling texture is easy and inexpensive to put in and a decent sound buffer. What I do not like about popcorn textured ceilings is they are hard to clean. Spiders love to build webs between the little raised bumps and dust collects on the ceiling. When a person tries to clean the ceiling, the popcorn pieces fall to the floor creating a mess.

The only other inconvenience is in the floor plan. The second bathroom is located in a corner with access through two bedrooms. It was a popular trend when the home was built, and one that did not last long. Each bedroom has access via a door, but two entries to one bathroom to me lacks privacy. Since the only time we use these two rooms and bathroom is when family is visiting overnight, it is not a major inconvenience.

One thing I noticed about this home after we purchased is there was no linen closet. Each of the four bedrooms had walk in closets, there was a coat closet, but no linen closet. I remedied that when I remodeled the master bathroom. The master bathroom had a shower and a garden tub. I removed the shower and replaced with a closet to store bedding and the vacuum cleaner. The garden tub became a large shower, a current trend.

One feature I really like about my home, and the feature I put in the building plans of my dream home when we thought we were going to build, is the 1/2 bath off the mud room. The mud room/laundry room has a half bath entry, allowing me to use without tracking through the whole house. I am a person who works outside most of the time, limiting the tracking of dirt, mud and barn yard through the whole house is great.

We are in the process of getting our home ready to sell and move. We are needing more land for the sheep farming, and we want to be closer to my daughter and her family. One element I hope our new home will have is the bathroom off the mud room so I am not tracking through the house.

amtolle

What They See, What is Truth

Bloganuary Prompt for Day #19: What color describes your personality and why?

In looking at the personality color wheel, people would think I was yellow and green. I am motivated, enthusiastic in what I am doing, cheering everyone to join me in the task. I talk to those I see as if I know no strangers. I encourage others and inspire them to be the best that they can be. I appear to be an extrovert with a sunny and bubbly personality. I put forth what I want people to see me as.

The truth, I am a serious introvert. I prefer to be alone, and away from people. I am extremely logical and analytical even in my social interactions. Everything and all interactions are thought through, analyzed and put into a logical order. All my social interactions, I have learned. Being social is not easy, my mind does not recognize if someone is mad, happy or sad. I have taught myself what those expressions are and what they mean. When I see a new expression, I have to learn by asking questions to determine which emotion the person is exhibiting, then commit the expression to memory.

Those who are around me at the sheep sales and my co-workers think I am a happy person, always sunshine, and can see the best in any situation. The truth, I fight depression on a daily basis. Every day, all day, I fight off the depression that wants to creep in and stop me from doing anything. I force myself to be motivated, to keep going, and to see the sunshine in each day.

Life experience has taught me not to trust people. Just like myself, people put on a mask, a front to hide what they truly feel.

I appear to be sunflowers, sunshine, birds singing and butterflies. What is truly there is twilight, stillness and quiet, with sometimes rain.

amtolle

Favorite Foods

Bloganuary Prompt for Day 18: What is your favorite food to eat or cook?

I do not have a particular favorite food. When I am hungry for or craving a certain meal, I prepare that meal. I do have foods I prepare or eat for different celebrations.

Christmas meal is Navajo Tacos or Native American Tacos. A piece of fry bread is placed on a plate then covered with chili. There are various toppings that can then be layered on top: lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cheese, black olives, sour cream and guacamole.

The chili I make what is referred to as New Mexico green chili. New Mexico Green Chili is made with ground pork, but I use ground lamb, green chilis, onion, garlic, and tomatillos and some spices.

For Easter we have a Bar BQ of smoked brisket, potato salad, fruit salad and a vegetable. Deserts are big with pies and cakes. I put a dry rub on the brisket 24 hours before smoking, to let the flavors soak in. The day before Easter, I will smoke the brisket, an all day task. When the brisket is smoked I will let it cool and place in the refrigerator. Early Easter morning, I wrap the smoked brisket in foil, and place in the oven on low temperature to cook until noon, when we eat. Cooking in the oven, allows the brisket to be more tender, and to be the right temperature to serve.

Our wedding anniversary is always celebrate with our yearly visit to Red Lobster. We both enjoy lobster. Lobster is a meal I do not cook. And who should cook on the anniversary? What we eat from the menu varies eat year. The celebration of another year of marriage with a once a year treat is special.

amtolle

Happy Times

Bloganuary Prompt #17: Describe the happiest day of your life.

I have lived many moons and many winters. I would be what others would call the fall season of my life. Each year and season brought times of happiness. To say there is one day that is my happiest would not be possible.

As a child, one of my happy days was when I purchased my first horse at the age of nine from my fourth grade teacher. My dad told me I needed to look at a horse before finalizing the deal, something I carry with me even today. Or was the happiest day when my family went to the county fair, and dad took me to the horse races. Watching the horse walk past the stands, their coats gleaming in the sun. The tension waiting for the gate to open, then a rush of horses as they raced to the finish line. Or perhaps when I graduated from high school at the age of sixteen. I was not valedictorian, but I did lead the pledge of allegiance, my first speaking event.

Then comes the season of motherhood. I have four children. Each child born filled my heart with love and joy. How can I determine which one made me happier than the other? Watching them, guiding them as they grew. Each one made me proud. Their graduations were happy occasions covered with parental pride.

Years go by. Children are grown. Then the grandchildren start joining our family. I have fifteen grandchildren living. Each one’s arrive was a time of celebration and joy. How does one determine which one made you happier than the other?

My life has been filled with happy moments. Children graduating from high school then college. Marriages and grandchildren. Birthdays and Christmases.

One happiest day I do not have. A lifetime filled with happy moments I do possess.

amtolle

Conquer Fear?

Bloganuary Daily Prompt for 1/15/2023: What fear have you conquered?

Fear – What is fear exactly? My old dictionary defines fear as a noun as an apprehension of evil or dread. As a verb the definition is to regard with apprehension. A synonym of fear is timidity.

Conquer is defined as to gain by conquest; to overcome; to subdue.

We all have fear or fears. I have multiple fears. The majority of my fears has been brought about by some traumatic event in my lifetime. There are only two fears that I might have been born with – fear of snakes and spiders. With snakes there is an event in my early childhood when a cousin and uncle threw a snake at me and it went down the back of my dress. I developed the fear of spiders by a different set of cousins throwing spiders and bugs at me.

I can trace most of my fears to having trust issues. The lack of trust probably started when I was a baby, since I am adopted. The abandonment of a child whether for adoption or just being left with a relative or somewhere safe leaves the child with trust issues and feelings of rejection.

The years of my childhood affected my years when I was young, and up until about ten years ago. I found a really good counselor who helped me to understand my fears and anxieties, define the roots of those fears and develop steps to manage my life on my terms, not a as response to fear and anxiety.

Today, I have a job. Of which I am good at. I try very hard to do what I am asked, and to do it with perfection, as I do not want to be rejected. I am enjoying the job I have and those I work with. The atmosphere of the business is good for me to continue my growth in being able to work in society.

There are times I will step forward with bravery and not be afraid. Such as when I purchased a ram I needed. For the most part, I avoid doing anything that will lead to confrontation or rejection.

What fears have I conquered? None. I am able to cope with my fears.

amtolle