My big fat Easter bonus.

Dear friends,

Despite what could have been a melancholy day, I had the most lovely Easter in a very long time.

It started with this:

My family patiently posed for me. (Isn’t Ed a ham?)

Then we went to lunch where my Easter dinner looked like this:

Have you ever seen lamb chops more gorgeous than these? (I’m still enforcing a 4-oz limit per day on meat, so I ate one small chop and brought the other two home.)

Once home, Kate napped and the boys disappeared, so I retreated to the deck with my favorite reading material — a home decor catalog.

I love a sunny day on the deck and my legs went from milk white to . . . um . . . slightly darker than milk white. (Hey, I’ll take what I can get!)

Before long, the solitude of my sunny corner was broken by the commotion of happy and boastful boys.

Holy cow! I’m not sure who was prouder: Mr. Mom who showed the boys where the secret fishing hole was, the boys who caught the impressive string of bass, or the dog who supervised the whole outing.

While Ed rested (management responsibilities are taxing; Ed and I speak from experience) . . .

Mr. Mom cleaned and fileted our fish . . .

And the boys posed with their trophies . . .

Then I hightailed it in the house to heat up the cast iron skillet and make mashed potatoes and green beans. My hard-working fishermen deserved a good supper.

And the fish filets . . . they were a sight to behold. And to taste.

I promptly broke my 4-oz meat limit (just this once!) and ate two filets. My fishermen ate two platters of filets and about five pounds of mashed potatoes, with a handful of green beans thrown on for color. It made my heart (and their bellies) full.

Then after supper, my happy campers retreated to the den for an evening of . . . nothing strenuous.

Meanwhile, I received the sweetest message via Facebook from my friend Cindy. She had posted a beautiful photo of her 88-year-old mother dressed in her Easter finery and I had commented that she should treasure these days. She wrote me a long and thoughtful message about mothers and daughters and grandbabies and empty-nesters — and all those sweet and sympathetic thoughts old friends share.

I smiled.

And I counted my blessings which, this Easter, were most bountiful.

With gratitude {for a lovely day by all measures, especially in inches of fish},

Joan, who counts her lucky stars that she lives with two very resourceful and strapping men who’ve been known to bring home fish, rabbit, turkey, squirrel (Eeeek! Not my favorite!), venison, and wild hog and who always clean and cook their varied catches

An unexpected Easter blessing.

Dear friends,

So many of you reached out to me yesterday, both on this blog and my Facebook page, with kind words and expressions of sympathy for our family’s loss. I can’t thank you enough. Your loving messages buoyed me so much, especially those of you who knew and remembered Frito and shared your memories with me. I deeply appreciate  your support.

Many of our neighbors are as shocked as saddened as we are. The beautiful plant is from a young family a few doors down. I adore gerber daisies and pink is my favorite color, so I am cheered by this very thoughtful gesture. The warm embrace from those near us and from all of you has been an unexpected Easter blessing for which I am most grateful.

Easter is a tough holiday for me in the best of times because it is the last holiday I spent with my mother. So even before Frito passed, I was feeling more than a little melancholy. Our last Easter together was in 2010. Mom was frail, but happy as could be to share the day with us.

I’ll never forget the incredible meal I made — salmon en croute with lemon cream sauce, steamed asparagus, and lemon meringue pie. Mom always thought I was a good cook (that’s sort of like the pot calling the kettle black, but in a good way), but on what ended up being our last Easter together, she was  absolutely wowed. I had made the pie — her favorite — just for her and she called it “outrageous,” as in outrageously good. I thought I had let the meringue get a little too brown, but Mom thought it was perfect.

I am reminded of something my friend Deb said in a comment on this post a few days ago. She talked about “living in the warm reflection of (her mother’s) loving gaze,” and I never felt it more strongly than on that precious Easter with my mother.

I searched through my computer archive and couldn’t find a photo of Mom from that day, but I found the pie that knocked her socks off and it surely made me smile.

So, dear readers, happy Easter. And thank you. I hope you have something wonderfully, marvelously outrageous to enjoy on your Easter Sunday.

With gratitude {for all those who have lifted some of the weight from my heavy heart},

Joan, who gathered up her family and dined out today as both a distraction and a much-needed day off