Three years ago this morning, Mom died.

I’m grateful that my sister and my dad could be with her in her last moments.

I’m grateful that a friend I called was willing to take my cat so I could make the trip home to Tennessee immediately. She left work, stopped at a store to pick up something I needed for the trip, and then met me at my apartment. She took Mischief to her place, and I didn’t have to worry about how long I’d be gone. That helped me immensely. Friends like that are rare. Thank you, K.

I’m grateful for two friends who faithfully called me every day while I was home in Tennessee, checking in and talking with me to help me get through everything. Thank you, L for taking the morning shift and G for taking the evening shift.

I’m grateful for all my online friends who checked in with me over the next days, comforting me when I needed it, and distracting me when I needed that.

I’m grateful for a million more people for a million more reasons that I can’t bear to allow myself to think about right now, because it’s just to much to relive.

In the time since Mom’s death, her mother, one of her brothers, and another close relative have died. There have been too many deaths. I mourn them all. I am grateful for their lives, however brief.





Life and Death

Tuesday was my birthday. All day long I celebrated life.

Tuesday night I got a phone call. My godfather/uncle had died. He was only 55 years old.

Today is Eugene’s birthday. We celebrated life.

Tonight in Arizona is Uncle Dan’s funeral service for the family. I did not make the trip.

Uncle Dan was likely the first person I ever spoke to on ham radio. When I was very young, Dad in Tennessee would get Dan in Arizona on HF phone and chat. I was too nervous or too shy to talk to Uncle Dan, but Dad could get me to talk to the microphone: “Hi, Mike!” (“Hi, Mic!”)

The last time I saw Uncle Dan was almost three years ago when my mom died. He read from Proverbs 31 during her funeral Mass and was a pallbearer as well.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. 

WZ7U (SK) 73 ES 88 DE NR4CB

Mom’s Vegetable and Ground Beef Soup Non-Recipe Recipe

Mom made a vegetable and ground beef soup for as long as I can remember. It’s one of the few things I’d cook for myself when I moved out, even though I’m not much of a cook. I tweaked her recipe a bit, but even she said her recipe wasn’t really a recipe so much as an outline. I made a batch tonight. I tweeted a picture of it and was asked about the recipe. So, here it is.

As you can see, I’m not a fan of brothy type soups, so this is more chunky than soupy. You can adjust everything according to your preferences.

Ingredients & Prep

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3-4 potatoes
  • some carrots
  • canned tomatoes (whole, diced, or petite diced). Mom used a can of whole tomatoes and an equal amount of water. I use two cans of diced tomatoes.
  • other vegetables such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, yellow squash, and/or green beans.
  • extra bits like canned black beans (rinsed and drained), canned corn (rinsed and drained), frozen corn, frozen peas, and/or frozen lima beans
  • salt, pepper, and maybe basil, thyme, oregano, rosemary, and bay leaves

Cut the vegetables to appropriate sizes for soup. For the onion, I dice part of it and cut part of it into very large pieces. I enjoy cooked onion, but my husband sometimes prefers to pick them out of things, so leaving them large helps with that.


  • Brown the ground beef. I cook the diced onion with the beef to add some good flavor to the beef. Add salt and pepper. Drain off excess fat.
  • Add the chunks of potatoes, onions, carrots, and anything else you have that will take a long time to cook.
  • Add canned tomatoes (and water if you’re using it). The liquid should cover most of the meat and veggies.
  • Season
  • Cover and let cook for about 10 minutes or until the potatoes are starting to get tender
  • Add the next round of vegetables that take less time to cook, such as zucchini, yellow squash, and green beans
  • Season
  • Cover and let cook
  • When everything is cooked to your liking (not too crunchy, not too mushy — these are technical terms), add the extra bits. Lima beans will take a few minutes to heat through. Canned black beans, canned corn, and frozen peas or corn will not take as long.
  • Check once more for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
  • Eat.

As I said, this is not really a recipe but more than an outline. Try it a few times and take notes about what you like and what you don’t. After a few tries, you’ll have found a recipe that you like and can make over and over without having to put much thought into it.

Tonight I used 1 lb of ground beef, about one medium onion, 4 red potatoes, however many carrots my husband chopped up (probably about the same amount as the potatoes), one zucchini, one yellow squash, a handful of fresh green beans, 2 cans of diced tomatoes, 1 can of black beans, 1 can of corn, and salt, pepper, basil, thyme, and 2 bay leaves.