National Question Day!

I am declaring a holiday. (Everybody else has!) I’m not sure it’ll get a huge following, but it should. And you’re invited!

The name is kind of catchy. National Question Day.

I know… lots of people are more into answers but many, many answers, like the right/left either/or kind, feel – well – limiting.

I’m starting with this question:

What shall I plant in my garden?

The photo is a glimpse of what it used to look like. Fabulous Oakleaf Hydrangeas happily spreading over the the bumpy area under the huge pine tree. Thrilled about the acidic soil, like the azaleas sprinkled here and there among them.

I really had no idea what I was doing when I chose them. They were gorgeous. And mowing in that part of the yard, back when we did that sort of thing, didn’t work. Bill dug holes. Done.

They’re mostly gone, now.

Maybe it was just their time. Or maybe it was a global warming thing, after 2020’s massive drought and heat. A few of them made it, but some of those are dying, now, too.

In any event, it’s time to move on. And it’s complicated by the current reality of my knees and sacroiliac joints. And Bill’s apparent lack of the gardening gene.

So, questions!

What can we manage? What are we trying to accomplish? What do we want to invest? (Feel free to add a few of your own…)

Let’s simplify!

What are we trying to accomplish? pretty much covers it all.

Oddly, the immediate answer is figs!

I adore figs and my garden wizard, Randy, delivered these this morning. Overflow from his garden. About three miles away.

Who knew?

The longer term answers include lots of bang for minimal bucks, no chemicals required, emotionally uplifting, and edible.

Recently, the list got a bit more interesting.

Pollinators. And, natives.

And, yes, I’ve been reading Facebook.

Fortunately Randy can help with the garden answers. The other ones are up to me.

Yes, I was peeved when Facebook went down Monday.

And, hell yes, I’m concerned about the whistleblower revelations. Not really surprised, which is sad. But concerned.

Which means – as you’ve guessed – more questions!

Questions I don’t have answers for yet. Questions people I care about and respect are asking, too.

Questions about relationships and information and inspiration and business.

Questions about dangerous lies and influence.

They’re not new questions. It’s just that I’ve figured – reasonably capable person that I am – that I could protect myself.

The allegations about knowingly promoting content designed to negatively – harmfully – alter the sense young women have of body image was a huge reminder, though, that protecting myself is not enough.

I have two granddaughters growing up in this world.

And, sadly, my magic wand doesn’t seem to cover this. Though, in the long run, my intentional actions as a guide and artist and writer will make an empowering difference!

So, for today, I don’t know what I will do with all the new questions I have about Facebook and its “partners”.

What I do know is that I’ll push a button in a bit and add these words to the conversation – on Facebook, among other places.

I also know that I’m making progress on the plan for the garden.

And on my painting.

But first, figs for lunch. Locally grown, chemically free food. Food that feeds the other critters and gives me huge pleasure. Food that’s actually healthy!

And, drizzled with a bit of the phenomenal, thick, sticky balsamic vinegar that followed me home from Italy three years ago, I will have accomplished quite a bit in terms of a magical moment.

The rest of the questions will still be there.

ps… magical moments like the figs help the rest of the stuff get done!

pps… there’s really only one question! If we believe what we say we believe what, then, shall we do?

We’re going on an adventure!

It began with an email I received a couple of days ago.

“I think of food when I think of you,” it began. “Do you counsel, too?”

My emailed response was simple. “Yes!” (Well, not quite that simple, but you get the drift…)

My internal response was rather more complex.

You see, I’ve been thinking about that very thing a lot, lately.

Specifically, labels for what I do. And how those labels are the same as and different from the tools I use to do what I do.

As you may have noticed, I have a thing for words!

So, fundamentally, I am a Guide. A Coach. A Counselor. Even, according to a quiz I took recently, an Oracle. (Gulp!)

And I have LOTS of tools in my Medicine Basket:

Words. Images. Intentional Creativity®. Flashy stuff like NLP and Enneagram types and Hypnotherapy. Developing Capable People.

And Food. Which is, as I’ve realized in my pondering, one of the most accessible, universal tools in my basket.

Food is an issue for everybody. A different issue, granted, depending on issues like location and culture and degree of privilege.

For today, we’re going with food in families dealing with holiday traditions… not because it’s the only thing, but because it’s often the most emotional thing and a great place for growth.

Awhile back, I wrote a book about this. We Gather Together… holiday feasts with the family you have!

I’ll give you the punchline in a moment. First, a brief story…

The first time I had dinner with Bill’s family, his mom opened a can of green beans and poured them, unheated, into a crystal bowl. She added a silver spoon and set them, with a flourish, on the dining room table.

If I had known, back then, about the ways we filter all the input of our world, I would have been able to explain why it freaked me out so much. At the time, I just began to comprehend Bill’s extreme disinterest in vegetables!

So, tomorrow is the first of October. Food Network is already well into the holiday season. And it’s time, for many of us, to begin to ponder plans for feeding those we love the most in a world that’s gotten a whole lot different since we were kids.

At our house, we start with the food challenges/choices of those who will gather. For us that means two omnivores with strong tendencies toward local, sustainable choices (Dave and me), three pescatarians… fish, yes  – meat, no (Kelly and the girls), and an insulin dependent diabetic (Bill). Plus the varying challenges of gluten and dairy and allergies. And the fact that pretty much everybody wants to help!

All of which should explain why step 2 is so important. It is, as so many of my favorite tools are, a question!

What are we trying to accomplish?

(Here’s where the Guide part starts!)

Using Grandma’s china? Lots of time to play games? Trying something new? (Fill in your answer, here!)

Your real answer! No judgement. It just helps a lot for it to be conscious!

My answer, and my favorite thing about food, is that it’s about belonging and building a sense of capability and significance, especially in the littles.

Hence, the photo of Kenzie, thrilled to be “in charge” of a cheese platter for family game night during a recent holiday visit. She was so proud!

And, yes, my inner Grammy-Guide cried!

There’s an old joke in my family about the Thanksgiving dinner at my folks’ house, with cousins from both sides of the family gathered around the table. We were about 20 minutes into a lovely meal when my Mom suddenly blurted, “I forgot the effing corn! The Pilgrims always had corn!”

Maybe, just maybe, with all due respect, that’s an old story that isn’t quite what we’re trying to accomplish in this moment.

I’m just sayin’…

ps… the book has recipes, too!

Food and Families…

Yesterday, my first granddaughter turned fourteen. (Gulp!)

I sooooooo want to hug her!

I also want to feed her. To bake something she loves with her.

For now, we’ve agreed to put that on the list for Christmas. Here’s what we chose… from my book, We Gather Together…holiday feasts with the family you have! complete with variations, just in case feeding your family is as complicated as feeding mine!

Authentic Key Lime Pie with a Gluten-Free Variation

This is the real deal – yellow colored – Key Lime Pie. Better yet, with the Oatmeal Pie Crust shell, it’s gluten-free! And Kenzie loves it! This is the recipe right off the Nellie & Joe’s bottle of Key Lime juice. You can order it from Amazon or try Whole Foods or Publix depending on where you are. Did you know that the pie has sweetened condensed milk in it because the recipe was developed before Key West had dependable milk delivery or refrigeration? Really! Would I eat this once a week? No. But it’s a favorite in my family and celebrations are even more precious these days!

MAKES: One 9 inch pie, about 8 servings

Equipment Note: You can use a food processorhand or stand mixer to do this, but a wire whisk will do. A mixing advantage is handy if you opt for homemade whipped cream. I often use an Eco-foil disposable pie tin with the domed plastic crust when I make this. 

Arrange oven racks so pie will bake in center of oven.

Preheat oven to 350 F. 

In a suitable mixing bowl, combine and mix well:

            One 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

            3 good egg yolks. (Reserve whites for another use.)

Add and blend until smooth:

                        ½ c. Nellie & Joe’s Key West Lime Juice

Pour filling into:

                        One 9 inch prepared Graham Cracker pie shell

Bake for 15 min. Remove from oven and place on rack. Allow to sit 10 min. before refrigerating.

Chill several hours or overnight.

Optional: Add to mixing bowl, preferably metal:

                      1 pint organic, heavy whipping cream

                        1 Tbsp. 10x powdered sugar, if desired. 

Whip cream rapidly by hand or with mixer, until soft peaks form.

If not using immediately, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. 

Just before serving, top pie with whipped cream. 

Fabulous Gluten-free Oatmeal Pie Crust with Vegan Variation, for other days…

Equipment Note: food processor or Vitamix-type blender is used for this recipe.

Depending on how high your pie will get when finished, allowing for whipped cream or meringue, you may want to purchase an Eco-foil pie pan with a plastic cover. 

I found this on an old, yellowed index card, in my mom’s handwriting when I went through her recipes. I don’t remember her ever making it. What a gift for Bill, who’s gluten-free! See how many ways you can find to use this like you would use a graham cracker crust, but better!

Into the bowl of your food processor or carafe of your blender, place:

            1 c. gluten-free rolled oats

            ½ c. brown sugar

            ½ c. flaked or shredded coconut

Pulse until ingredients resemble a fairly fine meal. Add:

            1/3 c. melted butter 

Continue to pulse until all ingredients are evenly mixed.

Press into bottom and sides of a 9 inch pie plate.  Cover with plastic wrap or lid to pan. Chill.

Variation – Vegan

Replace butter with 1/3 c. melted coconut oil

Enjoy!

ps… you can also make whipped cream in a Mason jar. As soon as I hunt up the girls to tell me how, I’ll let you know!

pps…Kenz and me! Feeling Grandmother-ish??? There’s still time to join us for Forest of Grandmotherscheck it out!

My head feels like a pot of soup!

You know how you wander around searching for answers, rather like puzzle pieces, and then all of a sudden they start to appear?

This has been one of those weeks!

It feels rather like a good pot of soup. Bits of this. Peels of that. Some leaves of this. Bones of something else.

None of them seem like much on their own.

When you collect them, though, with vision, and put them into a magical cauldron and add a bit of tending and a lot of time, you wind up with something wonder-full that did not exist before!

In this particular pot of metaphorical soup, there are quotes. Here’s one:

Successful people start before they’re ready. (Source unknown)

Just between us, I don’t feel entirely ready for the journey starting to appear before me. And I’m still debating the definition of successful in this particular context.

What I do know is that my archetypal quiz for Grandmothers is about to become real.

I know that kids all over need lots and lots of hope and courage and support in this moment.

And I know that Grandparents, many, many of us, are in particularly good places to offer those things.

(This is where I should say that I love and believe in Grandfathers, too. And Aunts. And Elders of many sorts. It’s just that I know lots more about being a Grandmother! But, please, if you’re reading, know that you’re welcome!)

I also know this:

In order to empower our littles, we need to empower ourselves! (Boardman)

Just like oxygen masks on an airplane!

So, there’s a new book hatching. One that will need some research help. (Stay tuned!)

And some inspiring mugs. Think tea time with your littles.

And some accessible art posters.

And a new riff on a paint adventure, filled with tools for the journey.

For today, though, a question…

What do YOU need to help empower yourself and your family and your community?

Yep, you.

Now.

Because, when it comes right down to it, NOW is what there is and there is work to be done.

Today, we choose to matter in the world. It may be hard, but we are in charge of Hope! (Boardman, Grandmothers’ Manifesta)

ps… new things coming to FierceArtWithHeart in time for Grandparents Day. For now, BIG PROMOTION! The elves will hook you up… 25% off purchases over $100!

pps… so hoping you’ll leave me a comment or email me with your notion of what would be empowering! suesvoice@gmail.com

Time for Secret Decoder Rings!

The Canine Fine Dining Hour is complete. Luther is kindly washing Phoebe’s ears. And I have a story for you that snuck up and surprised me in the best possible way!

It started when Bill and I wandered off to our own little version of Cheers! known to the locals as The Corner Pub. It was lunch time and I needed some help thinking through a list of plans I’ll let you in on soon.

We had our pick of wisely spaced tables on the sidewalk/patio which was great because I got one of those black iron chairs with the spring in it so it rocks.

Fried okra and roasted broccoli ordered (me) and we were on to the magic list complete with arrows and faces. Then I heard it.

A baby. About 9 months old. Doing a fabulous rendition of the Ba-ba-ba song. Without even thinking, I turned to wave. Mom and Grandma waved back.

That’s when it hit me. I was waaaaaayyy out of practice at waving at babies!

Here’s where the ring comes in.

In my world, waving at babies translates into making peace. It has for several years now.

One of the things I’ve been missing, though, all nested away in our house during the pandemic, has been waving at babies.

Yep. Waving at babies. Pay attention, please. The world is counting on you!

My favorite place for waving at babies is the big, International Farmers Market where we live. There are lots of babies there! Babies whose families come from parts of the world my 7th grade geography teacher never told me about. Babies balanced on top of cartloads of food I’d have no idea how to prepare.

Wave at babies. Smile, too, of course. Tell them they have cool shoes. Become less other. Less different. More same. Wave at babies at traffic lights and in restaurants. Most of them are serious flirts.

This is my plan for world peace.

It’s probably going to take a while, this plan of mine. Less, though, if we get all the grandmothers signed up. Your kids will see how you wave and they’ll start, too. And then the people with the babies will notice and just possibly smile. Pretty soon you’ve got a cart full of crazy looking produce, a nice pastured chicken, a decent bottle of wine, and some actual fresh bay leaves. And, if it’s been a good waving day, a couple of dozen fewer strangers in the world. All of which, one way or another, is a good thing for your kids to learn.

Boardman, 66

So, having waved and ba-ba-ba’ed, and realized how much I’ve been missing this, I fished one of my art cards – the one with the big heart full of prayer dots and a red thread – out of a pocket in my miraculous denim vest (Which I also didn’t realize how much I’d been missing!) and stopped by my new friends’ table as we were leaving.

Fortunately, it was easy to stay 6 feet away, while laying the card on the table and explaining that I’m an artist and lead groups for grandmothers.

(This, by the way, is how you know how serious I am about the Grandmother business… this talking to recent strangers, thing!)

I have no idea what will happen or whether I’ll ever encounter them again but I got back in the baby waving business today and I’m excited!

You, by the way, are welcome to join me. You don’t even have to graduate from Developing Capable People to get your membership card! (I’m in charge, these days!)

And there’s a whole bunch more good stuff waiting in the wings.

For today, thanks for reading. (Feel free to share!) And thanks for being you!!!

ps… the lovely lady who dropped by to wave at you is from my third Legend painting. The Dangerous Old Woman. Go ahead and wave back. She’ll know!

pss… If you’re interested in more about my book, Grandmothers Are In Charge of Hope you can snag one on Amazon or, in about a week, in my new Shopify store! Honorary Grammies and very brave Grampies are welcome, too!

You might have to squint!

If your world is at all like mine, you might spend some of your time taking your glasses off and putting them back on, trying to find out whether the image is clearer, “One or two,” as the doc would say.

Even if things aren’t quite as complex at your house, you may need to squint a bit at the photo, above, to find the beginnings of a face.

This was the very, very early days of what became my third Legend painting. And Legend paintings are, by a huge majority, self portraits of a sort.

I’m quite a bit farther along with my (overly optimistic) attempts to paint something portrait-like of Congressman John Lewis and yet the big truth of Intentional Creativity (and, according to a different legend, Michelangelo) holds true.

I am still learning.

Some days that learning feels like the old Peter Paul & Mary song about a lemon tree. (Feel free to sing along!)

A sadder [one], but wiser now, I sing these words to you…

Much of the time I’m not quite sure what I feel or where I am on my path. Not because I’m no place, for which I’m quite grateful, but because I’m many places.

And how, when you think about it, could we not be?

Here’s what I do know:

I am a Grandmother…

A Dangerous Old Woman.

Dangerous in the sense that Dr. Estes means when she talks about standing in the danger – or protection – of a wise old tree.

My Red Madonna Psalms painting is turning into a tree.

And, about now, you might be wondering where all this is heading. Frankly, I’m right there with you!

Here’s what I do know. It is my path in this moment. I think it’s a safe bet that the world could use quite a few dangerous old women. (Old, being of course, an empowering thing!)

I can feel some invitations threading themselves together for the future. The near future. I’ll keep you posted!

For now, though, words, and glue, and John Lewis. And a big pan of shrimp and rainbow chard with enough leftovers for soup.

ps… One last chance to help Gloria before her deposits are due. If you haven’t checked it out yet, please do. She’s nowhere near old yet, but she’s got a head start on the dangerous thing! Just click here!

Sue Boardman, Certified Intentional Creativity®
Color of Woman Teacher & Coach