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Tuesday
April 21, 2015
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Rated: 13+ | Book | Cultural | #1437803
My blog. I'm opionated and I just want to sound off.
  This is a way of making myself write something coherent and grammatically correct almost every day. I'm opinionated and need an outlet. I'm also prone to flights of fancy. Thanks for stopping by.
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April 20, 2015 at 10:51pm
April 20, 2015 at 10:51pm
Remembering Little Things
         When I was in the hospital almost 20 years ago, my mother was visiting me with some others in the nearby town. My husband of the time was still immature and not very nurturing. I can't recall where he was. Some of them left the room, seeing how tired I was. Who sleeps in a hospital, right? Alone with me, she started rubbing my nearest arm. I was pooped and reclining at am angle in the bed. I don't recall talking much.

         She just slowly and gently rubbed that arm. I felt safe and cared for with her. Months later, when I was on my feet and living normally, I asked what made her do that. She shrugged and said that I just looked tired, and like maybe I could use a little attention. I don't know how many times after that, I thought about the arm rubbing, and longed for someone to pay that kind of undemanding attention to me. After she passed away, I longed to feel it one more time.

         It takes so little to make someone we love feel cared for. Such little acts of kindness can bind us together, yet we find so little occasion or time to do it. How easy it would be to give a friend who's sick or in the hospital a hand massage. It wouldn't hurt anyone's feelings these days to use hand sanitizer first. These little acts fill our memories. Sometimes we don't recognize them or treasure them until it's too late. Nothing replaces the human touch.
April 19, 2015 at 11:49pm
April 19, 2015 at 11:49pm
April Showers
         The old quote is proving true this year. It looked okay the other day, and I drove to the nearest outgoing mailbox only to have sprinkles on my windshield before I started the journey back. I had planned to stop at the local park for a walk, only it was pouring by the time I got there. It had rained me out earlier in the week. Yesterday it was really hot, and my face was sunburned late in the afternoon in barely an hour. Today, it was spitting a little off and on, then the steady rains came. Now we're on flood watch until 6 am.

         Overall, it's been a rainy month, so I'm expecting to see some May flowers.(And more weeds.)

         We can choose to see the rainy season as something temporary, something to just get through until the flowers come. Or we can learn there is beauty in the rain.Does that sound corny enough? Yet so many good and true things do sound corny. We know the value of the rainfall, so we treasure when it comes. The sounds of the rain, the changing temperatures, the restorative posers can all be beautiful.

         Some should fall on California! A few weeks of steady, gentle rain would ease the conditions there, no doubt looking quite beautiful to farmers, politicians, and firefighters. People would grow weary after a few days, and forget how much they need it.

         I love the rain if I don't have to go anywhere. It's a great time to grab a book or start typing.

April 18, 2015 at 11:39pm
April 18, 2015 at 11:39pm
Trendy Foods
         Remember when TV dinners came in metal pans and had to be cooked in the oven? You have to be a senior to say yes to that.How about fondue? Maybe you still have a fondue pot at your house. Oh, there is still that expensive chain restaurant that sells fondue of all kinds. Back in the 60's and 70's, it was mostly cheese or chocolate fondue. Then there was quiche. I still make an excellent quiche.(Real men do eat quiche, by the way.) I'm very fond if it. But you won't find it in the restaurants of the upwardly mobile any more.

         Oh, yes, let's not forget crepes. I still imitate a mandarin orange salad with spring onions that came from The Magic Pan restaurant. They were everywhere, but they're out of business now. And no one makes crepes at home. Too much trouble. Right now, frittatas are still popular. I've mastered that, too, thanks to Martha Stewart's directions.

         A few years ago, pomegranate became the healthy, life-giving fruit that every store sold, fresh and in juice form. It's not really better than other fruits, but some rich family started growing them on one of their farms, so suddenly every magazine or Internet article raved over it.

         I've noticed lately that chard is very popular and is written about extensively. It's not being promoted, however. I have looked very hard to finally find some in the grocer. It's very expensive and bitter. I'm pretty certain I won't put it in the Magic Bullet and add some fruit for a smoothie as suggested.

         Jicama is also hot right now. All the magazines and recipes on the net rave about what a great healthy vegetable it is for the family. I've been looking for a month and can't find it. Chocolate fountains may have run the wave of popularity, but maybe not. I haven't been to any wedding receptions lately. Maybe a few are still around.

         Dainty crustless sandwiches are a thing of the past. Chicken livers are not served at receptions any longer. Handmade mints are out. If you look at old cookbooks your mother or grandmother had, people don't eat those foods any more. We don't have those ingredients available to us, or the utensils. The kitchen evolves like everything else. Tastes change. Food producers try to generate new sales by inventing new things.

         This may be good news or bad news, depending on your view. Meat loaf is here to stay.
April 17, 2015 at 11:18pm
April 17, 2015 at 11:18pm
Making a House Memorable
         One of the coolest houses I've ever been in was my Great Aunt Maggie's house. I didn't know it at the time, but they were poor. It was a two story house with a garage out back. The public gravel road ran on their property between the garage and house. There was a fence along the road to keep the turkeys in the yard. There was a forest around the garage.

         To one side was a big swing that a bunch of kids or adults could sit in at one time, and it hung from two trees. My recall may be fuzzy, but there was a shed or a chicken house behind those trees. Next to that was a huge garden. It supported them all year long and gave a little extra for trading or selling, and some to slop the pigs.

         For most of my childhood, there was a pigsty on the far side of the driveway. We weren't allowed around that. The outhouse was nearby. I guess no one told them the outhouse shouldn't be near animals. At first there was a water pump near the back door. Later, the sons converted it to an electric pump and wired it to the house. They kept a bucket hanging on the spigot, so that they could throw a switch, like a light switch, inside, and get water. You had to turn it off pretty quick to keep from wasting it. Then you'd walk out and switch the full bucket with an empty bucket.

         There were deer skins on the walls and antlers. TV always had a football game, while the wood stove warmed up the room. They cooked on the big wood stove in the kitchen and washed dishes there in a big metal bowl. Those ladies had sterile hands, dipping into that hot water like that!

         A big table seated everyone when we dined there. I loved sitting on the back porch, even when it was cold. Then they enclosed it, and put screens up which made it nice for summer, and kept you dry.

         There was a Episcopal church up at the top of the hill in back, where their property began. I only learned years ago, it wasn't a community church. It was owned by the family of the man who married Aunt Maggie. He was a sweet man. A church homecoming usually meant his family and in-laws.It had a pump organ, which I was allowed to play a few times. The small cemetery turns out to be just his relatives, and now his descendants.

         They hunted and fished and farmed.Aunt Maggie sold handcrafts. When they were younger, when my dad was just a boy, they were caretakers of other people's property. When I came along, they were retired, poor and land rich. Their son bought the adjoining property which was the stopover for stage coaches. It had been kept up, but unused for decades. Today the land is worth a mint, and is still in that family.

         When we were kids, that house with its oil lamps, minimal electricity, wood heat, and outdoor water, and an outhouse and livestock in the yard was a cool place. It was a place of mystery. We always had fun there, and plenty to eat, and lots of laughter.
April 16, 2015 at 11:19pm
April 16, 2015 at 11:19pm
Butternut Squash
         It's usually a fall vegetable, at least locally. But they were on sale today, so I got the smallest one they had. I looked up recipes, and I was surprised to find one that didn't involve soup or sugar and cinnamon. In fact, it called for black pepper and minced garlic cloves.

         I've also read recently about the health benefits of coconut oil. I had always thought it was bad for you, but apparently in moderation, it has some good properties. You can't fry with it because is smokes more than other oils. It's supposed to have an amazingly long shelf life once it's opened. At room temperature, it hardens like wax. Does that sound like it's good for you? You're supposed to melt just a little and add it to your salad dressing? It's not a saturated fat, and not a trans. . . I can't remember. Anyway. . .

         My squash recipe called for baking with 2 tablespoons of oil, so I melted some white coconut oil. I peeled the squash. Do you know how hard that is? It's a really thin peel, and it's firmly attached. You have to use a sharp knife and the accidents are just waiting for someone like me. I usually use recipes that call for boiling or baking the squash with the skin on, and the pulp just slides right out. I managed without drawing blood, cut it into 1 inch cubes and dipped into the oil with kosher salt and pepper. I like mincing garlic cloves; it's sort of a stress reliever. All chopping and kneading kind of take out the tension. Peeling, not.

         The result: absolutely delicious. A high fiber side dish that was garlicky, yet naturally sweet. We like fixing our own food instead of opening cans or freezer bags, when we have time. I like not adding mushroom soup or other comfort foods that are full of sodium and hidden fats, sugars and artificial things. To make the meal healthier, we had chard and escarole in the salad. Yum.
April 15, 2015 at 11:37pm
April 15, 2015 at 11:37pm
Mother Nature Sings
         Nature sings, not just in thunder claps and bird songs, but in many ways. I recall hanging laundry when I was a teen on the lines by our garden. The corn husks rasped against each other in the breeze in the hot summer sun. I had never heard it before. It was like paper rustling. It obviously made a lasting impression. I enjoyed one of the songs of summer.

         Today someone left the back door open too long and a wasp made its way into the dining room where I was cleaning. I'm not going to share my house with a wasp who will sting me if I get in his way. He made a nice warning song to let me know he was there. Outside I have bumblebees and mosquitoes striking up a chorus.

         I once lived in a subdivision that was slowly being developed. Some lots had the trees cut but not carried away. When the day got quite, you could hear this eerie sound. We finally figured out the trees were being eaten up by termites and other vermin, who not so quietly, were busy with activity under the bark. It was a rather loud and awesome music that gave me the creeps.

         I can tell when it's windy without going out by the orchestral arrangement the wind makes. A tree limb will squeak as it bounces in the wind. Leaves on the ground rustle, twigs snap, bushes rattle when anyone passes.

         There is the tapping of a strong steady rain on the windows, the drumming of a torrential downpour, usually temporary. Brooks babble, rivers roar, waterfalls thunder.Animal sounds, domestic and wild, add to the music. We all like the crackle of a bonfire or a fire in the wood stove. A snowstorm teaches us a deafening silence; it muffles everything, like it's placed the world on mute.
April 14, 2015 at 11:40pm
April 14, 2015 at 11:40pm
Suspension of Disbelief
         When we watch a movie, a TV show or a play, we know it's make-believe. The first thing we do as an audience is to suspend our disbelief. We buy into the story line. The actors, director, special effects people, and the rest of the crew do their part to help us believe their pretense.

         When we find ourselves thinking about fake-looking blood, or improbable outcomes, they have violated the suspension of the disbelief we granted them. When we admire a person's acting, or note that she's crying real tears, or think, "She's doing a great job", then the actor(s) have interrupted our involvement with their show.

         It took me a while to adjust in Avenue Q. There the actors interact and operate muppets openly. I had to get accustomed to the puppet operator being visible as an operator, but also appearing as an actor. Once I finally got caught up in it, it was enjoyable and very funny. But it was annoying for at least the first 20 minutes.

         Animal tricks may break that suspension of disbelief, but we usually allow for that and don't blame the actors. And when an actor or group of actors interact with the audience, we allow for that, too, for the fun of it. But for the most part, we want them to be believable and not over the top, not showing too much effort.
April 13, 2015 at 11:23pm
April 13, 2015 at 11:23pm
Things Change
         I miss a lot of the old ways. Things like visiting your relatives on Sunday, and sitting out in the yard, or on the porch for hours. Or going out in the car to look for wild blackberries. I miss sitting around the living room of some great aunt and listening to everyone swapping tales of hayrides, and unpaved roads, and barn dances. When we were kids, we played hide and seek until dark, or caught lightning bugs and put them in jars with air holes in the lid.

         I miss the tea parties and special events of church ladies, and college professors, and summer soirees. The fluffy decorations, the pastel colors, the gloves, dressing up, and ladies hats!
The best silver or stainless was used, not plastic. And real tablecloths!

         My mother came from a poor family, but we always set the table properly. Today, I've noticed well-educated women with good jobs don't know where to put the fork or how to place a knife. They prefer buffet style. Then there are napkins which never leave the table. You might forgive a man who doesn't know what to do with it, but I just expect women to put the napkin in their laps. Yet so few do. Those little customs, those nice things, seem to have been thrown out.

         I miss those little things that made us/me feel more civilized, better mannered. They were signs of an orderly society that had nothing to do with class or social standing.They were things or pastimes that kept us together as families, as neighbors, as a community. Now kids play with Smartphones or I-pads instead of chasing lightning bugs. They have gadgets to use instead of playing hide and seek. And it's not safe to walk to a neighbor's house after dark.

         So the world has changed. It's not as safe, or as friendly. It's over-crowded. Styles have changed, activities have changed, child-rearing has changed, etiquette has evolved. I just miss some of the things that made humans appear a little less untamed.
April 12, 2015 at 9:38pm
April 12, 2015 at 9:38pm
Iniquity
         Someone asked today how we talk about sin today. We all grew up with the idea when I was young. People lived in sin. Telling a lie was a sin. Etc. Today, the word is a no-no. So how do we talk about it, or do we? It was a large group of kindly people, all over 50. Not a lot of suggestions came up. Obviously, we don't like to discuss it.

         So I volunteered some suggestions, "I had a lapse in judgment. I made a mistake. I misspoke." So that started things moving slowly. "I didn't mean to do it." "I was only doing my job." "Everybody does it." "Nobody's perfect." For a conservative group of people, it sounded like maybe sin is acceptable or doesn't exist any more.

         But it stuck with me and gnawed at me. Iniquity is a word you don't hear much any more outside of a traditional (old-fashioned) Catholic church or a fundamentalist church. I remember hearing the phrase "den of iniquity", but most people today wouldn't get it.

         On the one hand, it's kind of freeing; one doesn't have to worry so much about public opinion, only family, close friends, and God. On the other hand, it may be why we don't have good public leadership, why there is so much unrest and hatred. We don't have moral backbone as a culture. We claim to prize truthfulness, but look at how many leaders have lied and have been caught in webs of deceit. We want leaders who can be faithful to the people and to their causes, but so many can't even be faithful to a spouse, the most vital and intimate of all relationships.

         Parents of college students make charges that we shouldn't hold students to the letter of the law about public drinking, or purchasing of alcohol. "They're just students, trying to have fun." But how can they learn accountability as corporate leaders, as public leaders, if they don't learn personal accountability before they turn 21. What is "higher" education, it if it's not about being more responsible than the uneducated masses? Our so called educational institutions are supposed to do more than help people make higher incomes.

         Maybe it's time to revisit the meaning of "sin" as failing to make the goal and use the word more often. Moral integrity is something we're very short on. How do we instill values now, or is it too late?
April 11, 2015 at 11:31pm
April 11, 2015 at 11:31pm
Colorful Shoes
         There was a time I felt outlandish wearing shoes that stood out a little. Others could wear shoes with buttons all over them, or bright stripes, or neon yellow, but I felt uncomfortable with that. I'm finding that as I get older, I don't give a hoot. If I wear turquoise sneakers with my black jeans, so what?

         Of course, it's the rest of the culture that's getting me accustomed to it, and I'm adapting. I thought red heels, which have been very acceptable forever, made my feet look outlandish if I didn't wear a red dress. I've given up the heels because of bunions, but I like red sandals and sneakers. I'm thinking about a pair of striped patent shoes that shout spring colors! These days you just blend in with all the other brightly colored shoes. And shoes are available in all styles with glitter, sequins, metallic finishes, jewels, and beads, even feathers.

         So I'm going to get a few less practical, but showy shoes. It's time for something besides black or brown. I think I need something that says, "I'm comfortable. Want to make something of it?"


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