Cooking with Myra: Enjoy life to its fullest

Jan. 24, 2012 at midnight
Updated Jan. 23, 2012 at 7:24 p.m.

Angel Food Cake

Angel Food Cake

By Myra Starkey

Last Saturday, Taylor and I attended a funeral of a friend's mother. Ruby had been in a nursing home for about seven years.

She suffered a stroke, and the tasks which she had accomplished so easily before became foreign and her mind refused to remember how to walk, talk and eat without assistance.

I had spent some time around her before the stroke when she would be doing grandmother things such as sewing Halloween costumes or watching over the grandkids.

I remember her teaching her granddaughter, Kelli, how to sew. Ruby had been a home economics teacher at Howell Middle School for about 20 years.

Although Taylor never took home economics in junior high, he remembered her as a well respected teacher. It is hard to imagine the number of young lives she had an impact on during those years.

It occurred to me while I was sitting in the church that life is indeed short. Ruby lived to be 85 and had a full life but still, in summary, was born, lived her life and then died, just as we all do.

I listened to the preacher talk of Ruby's life and it was an active life, well lived until the stroke.

Those later years were likely the most difficult of her life, knowing she had to depend on others for even her basic needs.

I wonder if the disabilities we experience near the end help us to loosen our grip on our earthly life. Maybe only then do we consider that there could truly be something better on the other side.

I left the service in a kind of melancholy mood both because I know the family was sad for the loss but also because the funeral was a reminder of what it is like to lose someone you love.

Most of us will likely be remembered by our families for one generation or maybe two. We will be thought of on holidays or when something reminds our loved ones of us. Just like when I hear an older person whistling, I think of my grandmother, "Maw Maw," because she whistled a lot.

A couple of hours later, I attended a baby shower of another friend's daughter. Erin is having a baby in February and many of her mom's friends had come together to celebrate the arrival of Bailee.

It seems that with modern ultrasounds, the delivery day surprise of "is it a girl or boy" is gone. As with most baby showers, we nibbled on wonderful food prepared by Vanessa and then sat around Erin while she opened gifts for the new baby.

I realized that I was experiencing the other side of the life cycle while we sat and listened to all the preparations which were being made for the soon to arrive baby girl.

I watched with giddy excitement as Erin opened pink dresses, baby booties, soft blankets, burp pads, toys and books. Erin beamed when she spoke of the new baby and her impending arrival.

We will all eagerly await for that call from the new grandmother, Susan, to tell us when the baby has actually arrived.

I found myself getting excited about being a grandmother even though Hannah, our only married daughter, is a sophomore in medical school and assured us she is years away from that decision.

But, who knows?

Things can happen unexpectedly. I must admit that sometimes when she leaves an excited message for me to call her, I sometimes think she is going to say, "Mom, I'm . ," but it is generally only that she did well on a test or that she found a new restaurant.

Anyway, for now, I will most likely live vicariously through my friend Susan and others who are lucky enough to have experienced the calling.

On Saturday evening, we drove to Port Aransas to have dinner at this great little Italian place called Shells. It was chilly and windy outside, but that did not stop us from taking a walk down the moonlit beach.

I love hearing the waves crash because it gives me a sense of calm and peace. However, it is a bit difficult to search for seashells in the dark.

I thought back on my day. It started with the sadness of the loss of a mother and then was followed by the joy associated with the arrival of a new baby.

I was reminded that the most important thing I can do is live every minute and enjoy it. Or when it's not enjoyable, then perhaps I can learn and grow in those times.

In every circumstance, I need to appreciate the breath that I am given by God.

After church on Sunday, I got on my bike and rode out to the beach road with crackers in my bicycle basket.

I know it is a nerdy pastime to feed the seagulls, and I know what can sometimes happen when they excitedly fly overhead, but it is worth the risk.

I got off my bike and crunched up crackers in my hand and threw them up as high as I could. Gulls swarmed from everywhere, obviously noticing the universal feeding signal of a human hand throwing something into the air.

The crackers fell to the pavement as hundreds of hungry birds flew in for the treat.

Their calls brought more of their bird friends and soon, the sky above me was thick with beating wings and squawking.

They continued to swoop down and some had perfected the talent of catching an entire cracker in their beak as I threw them aloft, which brought me unexpected glee.

This simple task of feeding the birds brought me so much joy. Life is great when you can feel truly and enthusiastically appreciated, even if it's by a bunch of seagulls.

I picked up an angel food cake from a vendor at the Farmer's Market and sat down to enjoy a piece of heaven with fresh berries and whipped cream.

I am including my favorite recipe for the dessert, which is lighter than air and still meets the New Year's resolution for losing weight and giving up rich desserts.

Myra Starkey lives in Victoria. Write her in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901, or email



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