About Cindi Pete

Cindi Pete's mentor's heart beats to strategically and creatively build community to empower people in grow, belong, and contribute through story, creativity, education, and communication. Of course, there is a blog, Wild Chin Hair, Finding Growth in Unexpected Places at www.wildchinhair.com.

Reading, Russia, and Current Events: Two Books

The timing is curious. With Russia headlining the news in the terrible war with Ukraine, my interest grew in the two books currently on my reading list. I no longer watch the news and now find more time to read to gain insights into world events.

I just finished reading Red Notice, by Bill Browder, an autobiography recommended by a friend last year. I’ve had it on a shelf since summer. She recently reminded me to read it to inform my understanding of Russia, the government, the oligarchs, and the sanctions being used by the United States currently. It was helpful. I finished it last week.

Here’s a brief video about the story.

Red Notice was an interesting read for me, set in the 1990s – 2016 in the business and crime world. I found it dramatic, engaging, and insightful. It did expand my understanding of sanctions, oligarchs, Putin, and other nuances that make dealing with Russia so complicated.

Oligarchs is a term I could not have confidently defined on the spot before reading the book. Part of the strategy to impact Russia includes these oligarchs. How did they get so wealthy?

A Google internet search turned up this definition for your reference.

I am now finishing another book about Russia, also recommended by several of my friends, titled Gentleman in Moscow. This story is fiction and set in Moscow during the 1920s and 1930s. Actually, I saw in the video below that it continues to the 1950s, but I’ve not gotten to the end yet. It is also informative and engaging to read and find out more about the history of Russia, the challenges, and some of the cultural perspectives. This is a well-told story that provides insight into the era of Bolshevik Russia.

Here is a brief video about Gentleman in Moscow.

Exploring both of these books during this time has broadened my worldview and informed my perspective on humankind. Isn’t that one of the benefits of turning off the news and taking the time to read a good book?

Have you read either book? What did you think? Perhaps you are of Russian descent and can provide personal insights into the country and how it works.

Please, no spoilers as I am merely halfway through Gentleman in Moscow. I plan to finish it by mid-April, but on behalf of those of us who haven’t read it completely, please refrain from any comments containing spoilers at this time. Thank you!

Keep learning, my friends.

P.S. Please continue to pray for the people and nation of Ukraine, and all who are separated from loved ones. Do what you can if you can contribute to trustworthy organizations working to help, especially refugees. I support the International Rescue Organization, and there are many other worthy organizations to support.

International Rescue Organization

Spring Eggs on Edge

I have a sweet little story for you this week.

The other day, I walked by the side of our home, and I heard a noise and saw a flurry of activity out of the corner of my eye. I looked up to the area the activity came from and realized a bird had flown out of a window on our second floor. Naturally, I was curious.

In the photo below, can you see how the screen on the small window is slightly open away from the house?

Here’s a closer look. Can you see what I saw in the right corner? The makings of a birds’ nest! What?!! That surprised me.

Naturally, I headed right inside and up the stairs to investigate. Were birds moving in with us?

We have two bedrooms on the chimney side of the house that share a closet, a “Jack and Jill” closet, connecting both rooms. This little window is in the closet. Our home is over 100 years old, so that explains the charm of a window in a closet. Anyway, back to the nest investigation.

The window was closed, so no birds were moving around the rooms. That’s actually a relief.

So what is happening?

The little window is perched up higher than I could peer through. I held up my phone and grabbed a photo from above looking out to what was outside on the window sill.

How delightful! I was thrilled to find four tiny blue eggs resting in the nest on the windowsill. Aren’t the tiny eggs pretty?

At the same time, I was impressed once again with the skills of birds. Building a nest with a beak and no hands is amazing engineering, to begin with, but balancing it in a tiny space on a small, second-story ledge almost made me dizzy!

So I just had to share with you. Such sweetness! We’re expecting! Expecting the eggs to hatch and baby birds to make noise, eat, and thrive, safely above cats and squirrel attacks. And then fly away. I’ll keep you posted.

The bird’s eye view out the closet window toward the hills and houses to the north.

Does anyone know the gestation period for these eggs? Any guesses? My job will be to make sure I do not disturb the mom as she cares for them in the next days to weeks. I’ll have to be very cautious and quiet when I sneak peeks. Maybe I’ll just wait patiently until I hear little chirps. Maybe.

Stay hopeful, my friends!

Breakfast at Farm, Palm Springs

We recently stopped overnight in Palm Springs for a quick visit with good friends who were in town briefly. I looked for breakfast recommendations online both on Yelp and at TripAdvisor. That’s how I discovered this charming place called Farm. It got such high praise and great reviews.

I want to share it with you, in case you are ever in Palm Springs, California. Perhaps you’ve already been there. If so, let us know what your impressions were.

I loved the architecture, furnishings, and garden of color. The menu had good selections. Getting coffee served at our table in a French press was interactive and added some interest. Our food was so good. The atmosphere was inviting and relaxed.

To check out the menu, click here.

The entrance is set in between storefronts.
I love all the color and details in the decorative and practical elements.
French press coffee at the table and a tiny pitcher of half and half in my mug
I ordered the Bacon & Cheese Brioche French Toast, something I normally wouldn’t make at home. It included gooey Swiss cheese, crispy bacon, and a side of strawberry coulis. Yes. It was. Delicious.
Thanks for checking.
A close-up of my French toast so you can see the layers.

Getting out of town, seeing fun friends, and finding a breakfast spot that was a treat was such a privilege, especially after two years of limited life due to pandemic guidelines in our area and my choice to follow those. I am grateful.

Where have you gone for a special breakfast? Would you recommend that place? I would recommend Farm, even though I have to work so hard to not put the word “the” in front of its name!

As the world opens up and we can experience new things again, don’t we all look forward to discovering new places to enjoy?

Stay curious, my friends!


Even though I was able to enjoy a pleasant breakfast, I want to express my heartache for so many suffering. I live in that tension with each of you. Continue to pray for the people impacted by the senseless war in Ukraine and give to trustworthy organizations that are helping when you can.

With gas prices ridiculously high, and food prices soaring, I also want to acknowledge travel and eating out will be more the exception than the rule. We will get through this. Challenging circumstances create a greater sense of appreciation.

My Stewed Prunes Story

I recently found this little beauty of a recipe card, historically a popular low-tech way of communicating how to make something to eat. In this case, it is my prized Stewed Prunes recipe. Even writing this makes me smile.

For a few reasons, it amuses me. Of course, I will share those reasons with you. We all need something light-hearted and of little consequence in today’s heavy times. Clearly, I’m either looking for pleasant distractions or I have too much time on my hands.

Side 1
  • This recipe card originated in my junior high home economics class, a required class at the time. Vintage 1967-68. I have saved it for sentimental reasons and it keeps me connected emotionally to a simpler time.
  • Admire with me, if you will, the level of highbrow culinary skills reflected there.
  • The seventh or eighth grade hand printing is rooted to my current printing, and is evidence of my quiet rebellion against cursive writing, the expected form of handwriting of those days, prior to keyboarding and digital recipes. Handwritten recipes are personally connected to the person who wrote it, and that is something sweet when we see the writing of loved ones.
  • The power of the recipe card is in the endurance, lasting decades. We know technology and digital recipes are easy to store, move, and find. Until they aren’t. A handheld card, however, lasts and maintains its accessiblity no matter what problems you have with WiFi or technology.
  • “Add sugar.” It is interesting to me to note how nutritional preferences have changed. I omit the sugar. My tastes have also changed. Culinary trends have changed.
  • I’ve made these prunes often. My dad loved them and I must carry on the family tradition. Plus, I’m at that age where prunes serve a helpful purpose. Enough said.

I’m curious as to why the stewed prunes recipe was the recipe that day for a co-ed class of junior high students. When we made it, I’m sure it smelled up the classroom and possibly the halls while simmering away. But why stewed prunes? Did we really eat them after making them? And was it a two-day project or did the teacher soak them in advance? So much of this sweetly mystifies me. Perhaps someone creatively selected this recipe for its cost-effectiveness as well as a short supply list. Just curious.

Home Economics class and learning to cook in junior high. Did you have a cooking class in school? We took it for granted, but we were given life skills. Cooking together with a table of four kids, boys and girls, also required some skills to develop. Once our recipes were complete, we’d sit back down at the table, which each group had to set first, and we’d eat together. Conversation, evaluating the food and how we did, gave us social interaction that built friendships. When did we decide these courses would no longer be part of basic education in our public schools? Priorities shift. Prunes stay the same.

On the back of the recipe card, for those of you prune fans in my reading audience, the directions continue:

  1. Add sugar and lemon juice to the fruit before removing it from the heat. 
  2. Stir until dissolved.

Prunes are beneficial to our health, too. For more on that topic:

7 Health Benefits of Plums and Prunes

I see how much value is represented in my simple yellowed Stewed Prunes recipe card, and that is why I’ve kept it all these years.

Stay charming, my friends.

“Woman’s Rights Are Human Rights”

It’s Women’s History Month, the month to celebrate women and their accomplishments and contributions. According to the link below from the U.S. Census webpage, this celebration began all the way back in 1857. For that article, click on the link that follows. It will provide some interesting statistics for those who enjoy data.

Women’s History Month, U.S. Census

“As we celebrate Women’s History Month 2022, we reflect upon advances women have made over the last decade. Women have increased their earnings, education and fields of occupation, and continue to have longer average life spans than men.”

United States census bureau

Many of us can recall January 21, 2017. Women around the world, including over 600 cities in the United States came together for the first Women’s March. Sources estimate that over 500 million people participated worldwide. The biggest group gathered in Washington, D.C. The organizers wanted to communicate “that women’s rights are human rights.”

I rose early and went to a pre-march rally in Pasadena on that day. It was important to me to check it out and support the positive and aspiring aspects I recognized in this historic moment. It was inspiring to be there. Of course, it was not without controversy. I did not continue on to downtown Los Angeles for the official march.

The photograph below is by Leah L. Jones and was a Human Rights Campaign poster from the march in Washington, D.C. It is part of my 2022 calendar from the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

“Marchers at the Women’s March 2017”

As we learn the stories of those around us, we grow in appreciation of our gifting, resilience, intelligence, and love we women can share with our world. I’m happy when women are empowered to become all their creator designed them to be. Let’s celebrate! There is more work to do, but I am grateful for progress.

Celebrate the women in your life well, my friends!

Caring for Our Parents

I wrote Long Distance Daughter, Part 1 in November 2017. This post continues that thread.

Years ago, I began stepping in more regularly to help my 95-year old mom with responsibilities. This relieved some of her stress and helped her enjoy life more. It was the wise thing to do at that point, and the timing proved providential. She lived a great life of mental sharpness and was always organized. It was impressive and I admired her. That did become more of a challenge by the time she was 95, and we wanted to do whatever we could to support her, make her days easier and safe.

Love looks different as your parents’ age. Wouldn’t you agree, if you are in that season? My mom slowly began to struggle with everyday things that she formerly handled like a champ. She became overwhelmed easier. And frustrated. Technology moved fast and that began to leave her behind, too. She was grateful for the help, and that made this a pleasant transition.

As anyone ages, the world seems to shrink. The capability to care for oneself seems to shift. Activities that were once fun may not be as fun anymore. New activities need to be found. Independent living skills may decline, and that can leave folks frustrated, angry, and perhaps afraid as they give up the control they once managed so well. It takes courage to reinvent daily routines and to find daily joys that are still good options.

Like many of us, we live far away from our loved ones. I lived over 2,000 miles from my mom. Thankfully, getting mail forwarded, setting up online paperless billing and accounts, having her trust in me, and having power of attorney made this much easier. But it was more demanding than I anticipated. Plus, I worked full-time in the Pacific Time Zone. I know some of you can relate.

Thankfully, my brother lived near to her. He was stellar at getting her here and there, from doctor’s appointments, haircuts, to Trader Joe’s and home again. He also provided company through visits and outings. He managed her computer questions, too.

I entered into a steep learning curve, adding duties to my busy schedule, making and getting phone calls during East Coast business hours when I’m barely out of bed in the morning, and updating account paperwork and online setups. Not to mention the emotions involved. My spare time evaporated. These new responsibilities took time and energy. It was my turn to care for her and I was blessed to have the opportunity.

Remember to get the Power of Attorney papers completed and in order for your parents – financial and medical. Do not procrastinate.

It was such a privilege to care for her in this way, but it was a challenge. As a mom, and a good mom, she never wanted to be a bother. Understandably, it was hard for her to let go of duties when it was time. It was never a bother to me. It was love in action, returning all the love she provided for me growing up. We wanted to grant her dignity and confidence that things would work out because we were a team. We were happy to help.

My mom gave us such a great gift when she and my dad were able to move into an independent senior living community years before this. This provided us so much peace of mind over the years. Knowing she had three meals prepared daily, friends to eat with at meals, someone to make the bed and do light cleaning, transportation to appointments when my brother was unavailable, and more. When her area got snowed in, I knew that she’d be safe inside the community. I am so grateful she and my father had that opportunity, especially with me living far away.

For those of you walking with family members in the sunset years, you are not alone. So many understand. There are so many variables to doing this well. There are many experts available with plenty of information on how to handle it all. I hope you can find all the support you need.

May we age sweetly, friends.

Remembering Mary Church Terrell

Civil rights. Equal rights. Working hard for others earned Mary Church Terrell a place in our history. I enjoyed reading about her. She would have been interesting to talk to, to hear her story, and to thank her for her life and work, especially in helping me to be able to cast my vote.

Mary was born in September of 1863. Mary’s parents were former slaves living in Tennesee at the time of her birth. If you’d like to know more, check out this link: Mary Church Terrell | National Women’s History Museum

Here are some highlights of Mary’s life:

  • Famous for these words “Lifting as we climb.”
  • The National Association of Colored Women (NACW) adopted that phrase as their motto.
  • At age 33, she helped found the NACW and served as president from 1896 to 1901.
  • Graduate of Oberlin College in Ohio.
  • Mom owned a hair salon. Her father was a businessman.
  • Activist for women’s suffrage and civil rights.
  • In 1909, she was one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Video: She Was a Civil Rights Activist and Co-Founder of the NAACP

This page is from the February 2022 page in my calendar from the Smithsonian
National Museum of African American History and Culture.

I am pleased to honor her life and contributions.

Keep learning, my friends.

Super Bowl LVI – A Big Deal for Los Angeles

On Sunday, February 13, we spent the majority of the afternoon and evening watching the Super Bowl, from the pre-game through the post-game. That’s not always the case on Super Bowl Sunday year to year for us. But this year, the Super Bowl came to our town and hosted our local team. I wanted to know everything that was going on during the broadcast.

What an adventure! The game was tense, too close for comfort, and the teams seemed well matched. Young coaches. Star athletes. And all in a brand-new state-of-the-art stadium that looked spectacular.

The only thing more expensive than the tickets were the TV 30-second commercials. And the stars came out in those! So many celebrities played a role in so many commercials. I lost count, but then who’s counting. I really wasn’t.

I enjoyed Scarlett Johansen’s and Colin Jost’s mini-series of commercials for Amazon Alexa. Dolly Parton and Miley Cirus were entertaining in their commercial, but I didn’t really get it. The Budweiser Clydesdale and dog commercial really tugged at me initially, but it didn’t finish strong. The dog never appeared with the horse again, once the horse was going to be OK. It didn’t show them again in a way that showed the bond they seemed to share. And all the soda-flavored seltzer beer company products. What? OK. I’m not the market, I guess.

I have many friends who are Rams fans and have dreamed of a season like this one. I wanted the Rams to win, which made for a very tense game. I am so, so happy for the team and the fans. When time ran out, the Rams ended the game in the lead. Very exciting! The Rams are World Champions of the NFL 2022. Awesome!

Fireworks filled the night sky with explosions in many neighborhoods, including ours. Not sure if all communities do that when there is a big sporting event win, but it is tradition out here. I do not remember that occurring in any of the other communities where I’ve lived, but maybe it is part of the celebration now.

The Super Bowl pre-game and the half-time show had so many elements and messages. I worked hard to stay open and curious. I need to learn more as I pursue my goal to grow in compassion and understanding towards valued people, to know the other stories out there beyond my own.

Halle Berry did a masterfully edited walk-through tribute to famous football movies. The clips were so quick and moved past so fast. I had no time to recognize them to remember if I’d seen any of those movies. Of course, I had, but my rapid fire recall of scenes and quotes took the day off evidently, as the clips rushed by at light speed. And if you didn’t know before, and you watched the pre-game, you know now that the movie industry is big for our area. Very big. That was clear.

The Black National Anthem was so beautifully performed. The hip-hop half-time show was spectacular and meant so much to so many. I am not too familiar with the artists, but the performance was important and the opportunity was a big deal, honoring the 30-year history of hip-hop and some of the local origins. The age range of the performers caught my interest. Dr. Dre (56), Snoop Dogg (50), Mary J Blige (51), Kendrick Lamar (34), Eminem (49), 50 Cent (46), and Anderson .Paak (36) all performed for the crowd and the huge viewing audience who watched the half-time show.

For me, I’ve now been privileged to be part of two great communities in my lifetime that boast the Super Bowl champs. I lived outside of Chicago in 1986 and celebrated the Chicago Bears’ Super Bowl win. Such a good time! Now I celebrate the Rams victory living outside Los Angeles. Fun times. The difference is that many people around here root for NFL teams other than the Rams, which is so different from the Chicago fans. Everyone seemed to be a Bears fan in that community, and that amplified the pride and joy of that season.

Plus, the Super Bowl took place in Los Angeles! Very cool.

We hope all our visitors to the Super Bowl had a great time and enjoyed the summer weather in winter.

Keep cheering for your favorite team, friends!

P.S. Regarding the photos in this post, so many Super Bowl photos are copyrighted by the NFL or news organizations. At the top, I chose to use a photo of my own, the grass, to allude to the field in order to avoid complications. I used my photo of the plane flying up the west coast to close the post. Blog posts with photos are more interesting. Thanks for understanding.

Book Review: Farmhouse Retreat, by Terri Kraus

“Life-Giving Inspiration from a Rustic Countryside”

My friend, Terri Kraus, recently released a new book, Farmhouse Retreat, from Tyndale House Publishers. The photography in the book is by Renee Baker, who also . I was privileged to receive an advance copy to take a closer look. The book is now available. Here is my review.

During stressful days and uncertain times, it was a privilege to sit still for a moment now and then to read each passage in this beautiful book. The writing about life on this lovely farm retreat in North Carolina calmed and engaged me.

The readings are brief which suits busy days. The photography enhanced the stories and took me deeper into such interesting events. The Scripture used broadened the impact of the stories. The format with floral borders was so pretty. Terri’s writing is inviting, warm, and thoughtfully makes connections to authentic faith in following Christ.

I found the journaling prompts to be a great way to stay with the impressions of each passage. Terri made the truth of life in Christ both gently challenging and accessible. This can be a light and pleasant read, a book club choice, or useful to launch discussions with a small group of friends over tea.

I loved the stories about sheep. Those were my favorite! The DIY articles tucked throughout were interesting, too.

Farmhouse Retreat is also a great gift book, housewarming present, or lovely book for a guest room.

To read more about the book from the author, Terri Kraus, here’s a link for you shared from Ann Voskamp’s website.

Keep reading, my friends!

10 Lessons from the Many Seasons of Downton Abbey

Christmas specials and episodes are plentiful and add great entertainment this time of year. I still recall how much I enjoyed the Downton Abbey, Season 2, Episode 9, “Christmas at Downton Abbey.”

Of course, there is a Christmas music album. Who knew? I did not. This is the album sampler.

If you are unfamiliar with the PBS program, you have time to give it a go before the movie is released. So many of us enjoyed each season to the point of getting attached to characters and storylines. Is there a dowager countess in your family history?

Downton Abbey announce major update on sequel - release date, title and  more | HELLO!

Credit: Hello Magazine

While we wait, it seems only proper to reflect on lessons learned at Downton Abbey. Here are 10 lessons learned over time through the seasons. How many of these that reflect plot points can you still recall? I may in fact need a refresher myself.

  1. If you are sinister, suspicious, and snarky every season, don’t expect to end with much sympathy, support, or friendships. But we can hold on to hope.
  2. If you are the eldest matriarch in your family, understand your words, though witty and often wise, may be off-putting to those close to you. And yet delight your veiwing audience.
  3. As we age, new technology can startle and cause distrust when introduced. Embrace it.
  4. Women evolve. Stand back, observe, and honor.
  5. Avoid an ulcer at all costs.
  6. Marigolds and daisies can grow together.
  7. If you cannot find the love of your life through many seasons, hold on. At least millions of people will be pulling for you.
  8. If you marry a head butler, be sure you love to run your home the same way he expects the manor to be run.
  9. Family pets, especially a Labrador Retriever, will win your heart. When they leave you, it is painful. But we can learn to love again.  
  10. Hope and love will survive, when ways of life must change with the times. Stay optimistic.

Thank you, Downton Abbey, for seasons of wisdom, joy, and viewing happiness.

Join me in eager anticipation for the next movie! Even the sound of the theme music gets me to the edge of my emotional seat. What about you?

Stay charming, my friends!