Turkey & Butternut Squash Enchiladas

I hardly ever share recipes here, but these are way above average… GREAT!

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cups diced 1/2 inch pieces of butternut squash
  • 1 tsp. each: chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, sage & cayenne for heat
  • 1 large can green chili enchilada sauce
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 cups left over shredded turkey or uncooked ground turkey
  • 12 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 10 flour tortillas

Saute squash in oil for a few minutes then add ground (if uncooked) turkey. Cook until browned, then add spices and 3/4 cup of green chili sauce and milk. Cook until sauce is much thicker and ready to be put inside enchiladas. Put 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 13 X 9 inch cake pan. Roll enchiladas with cheese and sauce. Cover dish with the rest of the enchilada sauce and cheese and bake in a 375 degree oven for 35-40 minutes.

ENJOY with sour cream and avocado on top!

Lessons in self-esteem: You do you. All the other roles are taken…

Two news items caught my attention this week. The death of Alex Trebek and the election of our first female vice president. Being a long-term Jeopardy fan, I was sorry to hear Trebek’s battle with cancer ended in death. Then I heard that he worked at his game show up until two weeks before his death. Who does that? Answer: My Dad!

Last night on the NBC Evening News, in the story about Kamala Harris’s election, they interviewed young girls and their mother’s about female empowerment. At the end, one of the mothers said, “When I look at my daughter I see a CEO or the president!” I followed her exclamation with, “but no pressure…”

But seriously, how wonderful and extremely DELAYED to finally have a woman as our vice president, especially an Indian and Black woman. Looking back over the mixed bag of white men we have survived in the Oval Office, I believe a woman certainly cannot do worse. My greatest concern is that the young girls of our country don’t feel bad or inadequate if they cannot reach their parent’s highest goals set for them.

I come from a family where there was extreme pressure to become something “semi-great” preferably in my Dad’s area of interest. That kind of self-imposed pressure, coming originally from parents, to become the best in the world at something, can be devastating if the child never reaches that parent-imposed goal, and even sometimes when they do. The confusion within the child when her natural proclivities do not match the dominant parent’s demands, can lead to a debilitating crisis in self-confidence and self-authority. In other words, it can be destructive for their entire life.

Is there an authentic need to find our true self?

“The human mind can imagine both how to break self-esteem and how to nurture it – and imagining anything is the first step toward creating it. Believing in a true self is what allows a true self to be born.” – Gloria Steinem in “Revolution From Within: A Book of Self-Esteem

The distraction of feeling constantly inadequate, stands in the way of a person ever learning to love and respect their own natural intuitions and talents. How do we identify our natural interests? “The more regularly you create, the more you will notice an image often repeated in varying ways. This is your true self made visible.” (Gloria Steinem, The Revolution From Within)

In 2004, one of the best books I read to encourage this awakening within myself was “Revolution From Within” by Gloria Steinem. There I found my strong desire to finally find and be my true self is quite common among women in their forties and fifties. Most of us did not find any real encouragement to change until then. We were too busy living our lives…

Midlife Crisis Queen!

Unfortunately, it took me until my late-40s to begin this long journey. It was only after I had been forced to give up on living an average and basically inauthentic life, that I began to explore what was authentic within me. What was crying out for personal expression? Eventually I began a writing career, something I had always dreamt of, but felt inadequate to pursue. I also started a blog in 2007 naming it “Midlife Crisis Queen.” In my mind this title was humorous, but it caught on more than I ever expected. (I removed this blog from the Internet in 2014.)

Finding true self is the liberation of finally giving yourself permission to be all that you are inside. It is also the only path to finding positive love relationships with others. There is so much more in Gloria’s book about how our connection with nature reinforces our connection to true self and how patriarchal religions suppress power in women.

To young women I say read this book and see if it speaks to you. Don’t spend most of your life searching for wholeness and rightness outside of Self.

All that you are seeking is within…

“I think the truth is that finding ourselves brings more excitement and well-being than anything romance has to offer, and somewhere we know that. Think of the joy of self-discovery: solving a problem, making a bookcase, inventing a dance step… all by reaching within for a vision and making it real.”

What has happened to my country? Were we always this stupid?

I cannot remember one time in my 65 years on this planet that I have felt so embarrassed by my own culture and country. Everyday, when I see the latest news, I cringe at how crazy and mindless we have become.

This leaves me wondering: How much can we separate ourselves from our own culture and country? I have never felt this need before…

But when I see how our entertainment has become completely commercialized and mindless, with its obsession with sex and violence. When I see far too many Americans who I might consider intelligent, believing in the craziest conspiracy theories EVER, I feel nothing but disappointment with my culture. It seems, that when faced with true threats to our very existence on this planet, we instead run toward conspiracy theories to obsess about.

Denial runs far too deep in the human race!

How can we not unite to save our home planet and our country?

I feel like I did my part to save our planet. I didn’t have kids in part because I was afraid of our present stupidity as a race. And all those fears about our inability to read, learn and think clearly about the future of our planet have come true. It isn’t because we don’t have the technologies necessary to research and understand things like the warming of our planet or the melting glaciers and ice sheets at our poles. We have plenty of data and scientists telling us about this everyday.

But instead of focusing on the real threats to our world, millions of Americans choose to put their energy into conspiracy theories like

QAnon: “a wide-ranging, unfounded conspiracy theory that says that President Trump is waging a secret war against elite Satan-worshipping pedophiles in government, business and the media, speculating that this fight will lead to a day of reckoning where prominent people such as former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will be arrested and executed.” Source: https://www.bbc.com/news/53498434

Really??? Is this the best we can do? If this is the level of intelligence of even one quarter of Americans, than we are all in big trouble! I guess our education system has truly failed our population.

Whatever happened to critical thinking? Now say this with me: Everything you read on the Internet is not true!

Pay CLOSE attention to your sources of information!

Busy wildlife in my Colorado wildflower garden

Who knew how active and entertaining a wildflower garden could be? All day long we observe all sorts of critters & creatures interacting out there. From gigantic hummingbird moths, to so many bees, beetles, little lizards all over the place and one very long snake at one time!

There are three birds in this photo! Can you find them?

The early morning is dominated by the birds as they wake up and come get some seed and water. Watch out for those dive-bombing hummingbirds!

Then the Cottontail rabbits come out of their safe, cool hiding place under the concrete step right outside my door.

Here come the chipmunks, scurrying around the Blue Mist Spirea to pick up the newly fallen seeds. I better get out there and collect some seeds before they eat them all! Mike has also seen a badger out there once, and a mountain lion attack a deer when he was out on a hike!

But the highlight of our animal observations this summer has been seeing TWO sets of Rocky Mountain Blue Bird chicks fledge from our unique little Blue bird house…

Baby Rocky Mountain Blue Birds in our bird house in June

And of course our friendly Road Runner (Beep, beep!) who seems to be sticking around to have a family right near here!

Celebrating 100 Years of Voting American Women!

To celebrate this anniversary, I’m re-posting my piece from last year!

‘Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity…’ and so is anger!

 / LAURA LEE CARTER / EDIT

As a government information librarian, I never forgot an old record I found from an American “insane asylum” from the 1800s. In there it mentioned that one woman was placed in the asylum for “refusing to obey her husband.” This parallels the apparently not unusual behavior of President Woodrow Wilson and his cronies back in 1917, when they tried to persuade a psychiatrist to declare the suffragette Alice Paul insane so they could institutionalize her permanently. The doctor refused saying Alice Paul was strong and brave, but that did not make her crazy. The doctor admonished the men:

‘Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.’

But when we stop and consider the centuries of historical and genetic evidence, we see that males of our species increased their chance of survival with shows of aggression, while the females survived best my passive, receptive behavior. Females needed male protection to survive, especially after babies arrived. Aggressive females probably did not survive or have the chance to procreate like the more passive ones.

Jumping from historical records to personal experience, I was taught from a very early age not to express my anger. My father was the holder of the anger in my family. The rest of us were afraid of his rage. This fear in myself was so ingrained and unconscious that it took years of counseling for me to finally uncover this new source of power within myself. The first time I tried to get in touch with my anger and express it in some useful way, I instead found myself breathless and confused.

Did I have the courage or the right to express so much pent up rage from decades of standing by while others, usually men, raged on?

Granted, we boomers have lived in a time of transition from traditional female definitions of success to modern independence. Traditionally marriage was a time to celebrate female success. This meant that the woman could now fulfill the proper role of mother and helpmate to her husband. He was the head of the family. and she was the helper who worked to promote her husband’s success.

But since I had no desire to marry at an early age and fulfill this traditional role, where did I fit in? I spent a lifetime figuring this out for myself. In the meantime, I slowly learned through excellent counseling to appreciate and express my full range of emotions, including my anger. But I find most women of my age still fear expressing any emotion close to anger.

When we feel anger, it comes from a place deep inside of us whose purpose is to protect us from outside aggression or danger. It tells us when our bodies and minds are threatened and then tells us to react to protect ourselves. Historically women had no way to protect themselves from male aggression or anger, but today we do. I can highly recommend using it.

I LOVE this response to this post! Read the whole comment below:

“The day we stop needing the approval of those around us is the day we take our power back and are free to express the full range of emotions we have. Thanks for this post – it’s very supportive.”    – Gilly 

Is it time for you to check out cataract surgery?

A cataract is a cloudy area in the lens of your eye, and they become more of a problem as we age. By age 75 approximately 70 percent of people have cataracts. Because our population is aging, more than 30.1 million Americans are projected to have cataracts this year. In other cases, cataracts may be related to eye trauma, long-term diabetes, corticosteroid medications or radiation treatments.

At first, you may not notice that you have a cataract. In many cases cataracts start clouding your vision in your 40s or 50s, but do not become a major problem until after age 60. Mine didn’t get really bad until the past year or so at age 65, and corticosteroids (Symbicort) did play a part in their worsening so quickly. The last time I had a vision test I could barely see the big E at the top of the chart!

I had my first eye done yesterday, and it was a breeze. I felt no pain and just saw weird colorful blobs in my eye while my surgeon was working on it. He simply removed my old lens in pieces and then slipped in a new one… No pain at all! In fact, on the way home I said to Mike, “If only all of my medical problems could be solved so quick and easily!”

Today my vision is so much better with no glasses and little discomfort. I feel like I can see EVERYTHING NOW! So I highly recommend getting this taken care of sooner rather then later. Don’t let the idea of it scare you.

Do you know enough about anemia?

Have you ever noticed how we don’t care about a problem until it happens to us? Anemia is my new, out-of-the-blue problem, so I thought I might teach the rest of you a little bit about it.

According to the World Health Organization, anemia or iron deficiency is by far the most common and widespread nutritional disorder worldwide, with an estimated one billion people affected. Yep, it’s a public health condition of epidemic proportions. Who knew? And it is most commonly a problem in those over sixty.

Iron deficiency anemia is a common type of anemia — a condition in which blood lacks adequate healthy red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen to the body’s tissues. I found out about my anemia through a standard blood test where I learned my bone marrow was not creating enough normal red blood cells, the size of them was small and therefore, the hemoglobin in my blood was not able to provide me with enough oxygen.

How do you feel when you are living with an iron deficiency? According to the Mayo Clinic, iron deficiency anemia symptoms may include:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Pale skin
  • Chest pain, fast heartbeat or shortness of breath
  • Headache, dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Inflammation or soreness of your tongue
  • Brittle nails & hair loss
  • Unusual cravings for non-nutritive substances, such as ice, dirt or starch
  • Poor appetite, especially in infants and children with iron deficiency anemia

Imagine my surprise when I discovered my recent strong desire to chew ice constantly was an symptom of a major problem! Still no desire to eat dirt, but this might go a long way towards explaining my daily struggles to breathe!

So now I’m busy figuring out what foods have lots of iron, foods like beef and pork, shellfish, dried fruit, fortified breakfast cereals, beans, leafy greens and, my favorite, dark chocolate!

In my case I also began taking a 65 mg iron supplement. Thought I might warn the rest of you boomers, because I was pretty surprised. Now I wonder how I got through my whole life without knowing one thing about this… OH, is that what those Geritol commercials from the 1950s were all about?

WARNING: Be certain to see your doctor for a diagnosis rather than taking iron supplements on your own. Overloading the body with iron can be dangerous because excess iron accumulation can damage your liver and cause other complications.

The death of John Lewis, an American Freedom Fighter

On this occasion of Mr. Lewis’s passing, I decided to re-post this piece from 2017:

My Thoughts about Racism in the USA

I have been an advocate for world equality my entire life. I was raised to think of myself as a citizen of the world and a protector of the earth. I have extreme aversion to all forms of sexism, racism, ageism, and other means of judging others by their outside appearance. Please spend some time talking to me before you decide what I think about anything.

But on the topic of racism in my country, I wish all Americans could see the film: I am NOT your Negro, released this spring, and then have a national discussion of where we come from and where we hope to go.

In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project called “Remember This House.” The book was to be an honest and deeply personal account of the lives and assassinations of three of his close friends: Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. At the time of Baldwin’s death in 1987, he left behind only 30 completed pages of this manuscript. This film is a product of filmmaker Raoul Peck’s creative vision of the book James Baldwin never finished.

For me, as a European-American raised in Kansas, and one who has followed the civil rights movement for decades, this film was a powerful eye-opener. So many may think they comprehend the black experience in the USA. If you think so, please watch this film. Even African-Americans could benefit from seeing this film. This is a powerful critique of racism, the kind that is found everywhere, and unconsciously continues to this day.

Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King knew that they would probably die at the hands of assassins, but this did not deter them from walking the talk everyday. And, as the film points out, not one of them lived to be 40 years old.

How many of you would risk your life for a cause? African-American leaders of every generation have not survived their generation.

And for those of you with the “I can’t get a hold of this film” excuse. I got a copy from a public library that serves a town of 800 residents. Interlibrary loan is alive and well nationally! It is also available through PBS on Independent Lens.

Why do we have eye brows anyway?

Have you noticed all of the crazy things women do with their eye brows? I swear, this is surely a crazy part of animal behavior! When I see this I always remember one of my favorite lines from George Carlin:

“Ladies, leave your eye brows alone!”

Then I got to thinking, what do eye brows even do for us? I mean we certainly need eyes and noses and ears, but why eye brows? So I looked it up, and according to the article, “Why do we have eye brows”:

Eyebrows have two main purposes: keeping moisture out of our eyes and communication. Physically, eyebrows are there to help keep our eyes clean and clear. They move wetness from sweat and rain away from our eyes so we can maintain our sight.

Did you ever notice how your eyebrow hairs grow outward, toward the sides of your face? That helps direct any moisture away from your eyes toward the side of your face. Eyebrows can reduce the amount of light that gets into our eyes and keep dirt away from them.

Eye brows also help us express emotions and recognize each other. Eyebrows are an important part of human expression and communication. They allow us to show our emotions. One raised eyebrow expresses skepticism or interest. Two raised eyebrows can express surprise…

So you now see, changing your eye brows can be a bad thing. So please, LEAVE THEM ALONE!

Blue-Mist Spirea! One happy Colorado foothills plant!

The first time I remember noticing this beautiful mid-summer blooming purple bush was about twenty years ago, up near Masonville, west of Fort Collins.

I couldn’t get over how cool and refreshing it looked in the midst of such a hot summer day!

So when I moved up to 7,000 feet and started my own garden five years ago, I knew I would have to have a few of these bushes sprinkled throughout.

This plant has turned out to be one of my most dependable bloomers every summer. It needs no extra water once established, the deer and critters don’t touch it and it comes back every year bigger and better than before. It attracts lots of bees and butterflies, and this year it’s begun creating new plants around itself! I love the way it starts blooming in mid-July when most of my other flowers are finished.

Tucked in with a Rocky Mountain Bee Plant and some native sunflower volunteers...

I found out online that these can be propagated from seed by “collecting their fruit—a light brown, winged nutlet. Harvest these seeds and place them in damp sphagnum moss in a plastic bag. Put that in the refrigerator for three months, then sow them in pots. Transplant them outside in spring.”

Mine seem to be propagating themselves with no assistance from me!