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. |
| Tomorrow is my father's 87th birthday. One of his granddaughters was in town tonight only. So we gathered tonight at one of his favorite restaurants--8 adults, 4 children, and a newborn. I was very happy they put us in a separate room. I know how the kids in my family are. The other diners were saved from us.
The two year old did a screaming number just as the food was served. Her mother had to taker her outside, while her food got cold. The others wanted to carry the booster seats around, but not sit in them at the table. The waitress was patient; the food was good, as always. I was anticipating the striped bass again, but it wasn't on the menu tonight, so I had salmon and crispy asparagus.
The newborn was the most contented and best behaved child. The parents saw someone they knew at the bar on the way out and stopped to show off the baby. My dad was following them, and started playing with their 3 year old. I tried to stop him, but he plowed in oblivious to others. I finally grabbed him and pointed to the front door which he had passed. So the three year old came with him and played loudly in the entrance. Most of my crew was already outside. I'm sure the restaurant workers were glad to see us leave.
Then we all came back to my house for ice cream and cake. It was way past the kids' bedtimes, but everyone had to hold the new baby. I have plenty of toys, so they kept a racket going. We all sang, while the kids and grandpa/great-grandpa blew out the candles. Only two adults and the six year old declined dessert. They still sat around and talked and took pictures.
I gave away excess yellow squash, home grown tomatoes, and green peppers. I made them take things left from previous visits. Grandpa paid the entire bill for the steak and seafood dinner, as well as the ice cream. (Someone else bought the cake.) But the best present he got was having all his kids, grand-kids, and great-grand-kids together at one time. The little ones showed him their boo-boos, and told him about school or daycare. Amazingly, all the little ones gathered around him and posed for a photo. They usually won't stand still that long.
So I think he was happy. He was surrounded by people he loves and who love him. That's a pretty good day after 87 years. And he took care of all of us.
| I didn't grow up eating eggplant. No one in our family grew it or cooked it. The only recipes for it that I ever saw involved spaghetti sauce and melted cheese. I don't know why we stayed away from it. Thomas Jefferson had extensive gardens near here, and he grew eggplant. But then I'm in the South, and we didn't eat grits either. My mom never would eat them, even after her kids grew up and learned to eat them with cheese or butter. She used to feed us oatmeal or cream of wheat, but no grits.
Anyway, my dad and I have discovered eggplant is easy to grow. We stir fry it, mix it with other vegetables, and so forth. Today, I tried Stuffed Eggplant. I suppose you could stuff it with anything you like, but since we have a surplus of tomatoes and peppers right now, I went with a vegetable stuffing. It took a while to chop all the fresh veggies, and made a number of prep dishes to wash, but it was delicious and healthy. A dash of cayenne and a sprinkle of paprika gave it a kick.
Earlier in the week, I took the surplus corn from Sunday, cut it off the cob and made fresh corn pudding. Dad prepares for Sunday like we'll have a lot of company, which we sometimes do, but when no one shows up, we eat leftovers for days on end. That's easy for cooking dinner. It's not easier for washing dishes, because you keep putting the leftovers in smaller containers, so there's always lots of pots or bowls. Very seldom do I use the recipe exactly as written, unless it might affect the way it rises, like bread. (I gave up souffles decades ago.) So the corn pudding recipe called for heavy cream and sugar. I used whole milk which my Dad likes, but I can't drink. I used Splenda instead of sugar, since the two of us are not children and should watch our calories. We're still eating corn pudding, and now have leftover eggplant.
I think we should be vegetarians this time of year. We always have too much squash, green and yellow, peppers, etc. And Dad buys corn, now that his garden is much smaller. His favorite vegetables, which he would have every day of the year if possible, are corn, cucumbers, radishes, and tomatoes. He does love his fresh veggies. And he eats bananas almost every day, with other fruits daily. His excuse for hard candy is the constant tickle in his throat. But he wants meat at every dinner, too.
So my freezer is full of squash. I'm experimenting on a regular basis with vegetable recipes.
| My old movie for this week is Born To Dance from 1936, black and white, starring Jimmy Stewart. Stewart sings and dances in this one. He plays a sailor about to leave the military and enter civilian life along with two other guys in NYC. It starts out with a big musical number by the sailors aboard ship. By today's standards, the opening number is stiff and too staged.
The whole musical part of it is a good example of how musicals got a bad reputation. There are a few familiar songs, but they are not rendered in a fashion with which we are familiar. The costars are Eleanor Powell, Virginia Bruce, and Buddy Ebsen. 1936: we're talking about a very young and lithe version of each actor. Buddy Ebsen's bones just seem to be liquid, his face a constant comical contortion. He resembles very little of Jed Clampett. Stewart does less dancing and singing after the story is under way. There's lots of tap dancing, jazz, and big show fanfare.
The commander of the ship is totally inept, forgetful, and unbelievable, but manages some very funny exchanges with some of his sailors. The best story line was actually that of a married couple who'd been separated for 4 years by the navy, neither character being played by one of the big stars. In the end, all the boys get the girls, and everyone lives happily ever after.
It was interesting, if only to see these young stars. It's not hard to believe they've never remade this movie, like most movies are. The music would need newer formats or replacements. The dancing would have to change. The story lines would need greater touch with reality, and the humor would have to be more consistent, not just occasional. Don't put this one on your "must see" list, unless you're a student of dancing. For the rest of us, it's just a history lesson.
| It's almost Labor Day. Summer is drawing to an end. It's still hot. Tomatoes are still growing. Squash and beans are done. The weeds are coming in faster than we can pull them. But the leaves are starting to fall. Not the ones that change color, just the dead brown leaves. School is back in session, and the autumn and Halloween decorations are out in stores. I've even seen some Thanksgiving decor advertised.
This is when the year seems to take off at a galloping speed. Soon it will be NaNoWriMo. There's a new baby in our family now, almost 24 hours old. My 401K is dwindling before my eyes. There's no way to rebuild it before I'll need it. I'm back at work, at least part-time. I didn't accomplish everything I wanted to do while I was off. A few closets are neater. Good Will has had a lot of donations, and the house is reasonably clean. The great American novel has not rolled off my computer, however. I still haven't read American Sniper. And I still haven't lost that ten pounds.
Life keeps running ahead of us, season after season. This particular seasonal change is always a little wistful, a little nostalgic for me. The days get shorter, the shadows in the afternoon get a little longer. I can't help but recall summer jobs winding down before going back to college. I would regret then that summer was almost over. Now I just regret that the summer of youth is over. I'm reminded of the English professor who pointed out that even though the seasons indicate the active, productive times, the fullness of summer, may be ending, the greatest beauty still lies ahead.
| If you want to look as young as possible, the answer is not in make-up or the perfect ointments. It's good dental care. It's amazing in "before and after" photos how men and women look years younger, not to mention smarter and classier, after having some good dental work done.
It starts when you're young. Your own dental hygiene is important, but the twice yearly visits to a dentist are essential. It will avoid many headaches later on. You have to plan for the costs unless you are filthy rich and never worry about paying for anything. But if your dentist tells you your teeth need something done, you better plan on doing it as soon as possible. A lengthy delay to save money can result in jaw bone changes, teeth shifting, etc.
Dental insurance helps defray the cost of maintenance. Most employers offer it as a convenience. It's taken right out of your paycheck. They don't usually supplement the price like they do for medical. The key is to find a participating dentist. If you have a dentist you don't want to lose, find out what insurance plans he takes, then go to one of those insurance companies. If he doesn't process insurance or doesn't "participate", you need to decide if you can pay full price, or maybe you should change dentists after all. If you have insurance, get a list of participating dentists. Choose someone from that list, so that you will get the discount.
Most insurance plans, with participating dentists, will save you money at the end of the year on cleaning your teeth twice, and a basic x-ray once a year. If you need extra x-rays, like for a toothache or accidental breaking, the insurance will only pay a portion; you pay the rest. If you need extensive work done, the insurance usually has a maximum. So if you need $4000 in work done, it might only cover $1800, including the basic cleaning.
However, most dentists have information on finance companies that specialize in dental bills. You apply like any other finance company, make a down payment, then monthly payments. You can't get more credit until you're almost finished paying for that one. I don't usually favor loans, but your teeth are worth it. It might be difficult making payments now, but in the long run, you will be glad you made the sacrifice.
If you had braces as a kid, you were fortunate. It's not too late, if your teeth are crooked. Other things that can be done include getting caps on teeth that are chipped or are too short in front. Don't smoke, so your teeth won't have to be whitened. If you have a tooth pulled, you usually have to wait a few months for healing before getting a replacement, but don't wait too long. Plan on getting a bridge or an implant within 3 to six months. An implant requires a healthy jawbone. A bridge will require work on the tooth behind and in front of the missing tooth. Dentures are a little cheaper, but don't always fit right and can cause multiple problems over time. All will help keep your jaw lined up, help you eat, and make your smile look brighter.
A good dentist can do more for your youthful appearance than any make-up artist. So take care of your teeth. They could last your whole long life. They affect your overall health and your good looks. The way people perceive you can also be affected by the way your teeth look.
| We are so dependent on our computers. My Internet access has been messed up for four days. I was beginning to think my computer was dying. But suddenly, today it's working fine. I've had to play catch up. I used my i-phone to watch some videos I was sent by email. That gets better reception, but I have to use glasses to read the print. My desktop is perfect without glasses. I think I need to change Internet access on the desktop.
I'm still a little retarded when it comes to the i-phone. I'm sure it has services I'm not using, because I forgot after the initial demonstration, or I just can't see the small screen well enough.
Anyway, it's been frustrating to be unable to finish certain projects or do work-related programs at home. I don't know how we survived without these little gems of technology. Last minute meetings are called and we miss them if we don't check our phones for text messages or email. I haven't gotten in that habit. I try to avoid texting at all costs.
However, if you want to do business in the modern world, you have to know social media and the hardware. We older folks just have to invest in magnifying glasses.
| The due date for the latest baby boy in our family was yesterday. Still no baby. The mother is fine. I guess the baby will be here when he's ready. Maybe he knows he has two sisters, age 6 and 3 waiting for him. He's better off where he is. The rest of us are getting antsy. We want him to be here already.
There's only one other boy, two, and he's a cousin of the other children's mothers. A little odd family spacing there. There's another baby due in November, but we don't know if it's a boy or a girl. That one will have only one older sister, age two.
These are lucky kids. They have gazillions of toys at their own homes, toys at the grandparents homes (divorced, so two sets of toys), and some have toys at Great Grandpa's. They all have aunts and uncles and friends who spoil them rotten. I'm kind of jealous because I never had it half that good. I hope it makes them better, smarter, and more self-confident. And I never had a wonderful aunt, or great aunt like me!
| Watched another old movie again. I know I saw it the first time around, maybe once or twice since then, at least partially. I never realized that Stacy Keach was in The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter. He had a receding hairline even in those early days.
I never knew that was Sondra Locke's first big break. They kept the no make up look to help her look about 8 years younger for the part of a high school girl. But she has always kept a natural look as far as I can remember. I never really followed her movies. In fact The Outlaw Josie Wales and the chimp movies with Clint were the only ones I was aware of. Apparently, she's done a lot of movies with and without Clint. Unfortunately, her private life with him has gotten more publicity. She actually had an Oscar nomination for this role, along with Alan Arkin. Neither one of them actually got it.
It's a very tender story about hurting people, all eloquently portrayed. The deaf mute, who cannot communicate, manages to befriend lonely, misunderstood, hurting people. In his silence he still connects with them, and they "hear", like they count for something. He makes them feel a little less broken. But no one can help him. He resorts to talking to himself with his hands as he walks down the street.
The story is still strong today, transcending the 60's setting and culture. The Mozart, the dance music, the fireworks, and all the other noises accentuate the silence. It's a very gripping movie. Alan Arkin pulls at the heart strings in a great performance.
| It never fails. You can look and look for something and not find it. Go and buy another one, and you'll find it very soon after.
My dad and I searched everywhere for a meat thermometer. He and Mom had one. After I moved in, I came with all my goods, which included a meat thermometer. But the utensil drawer is very full. We took it out and emptied it and couldn't find one. We made do without one several times. But I made up my mind that we needed one. So I drove past K-Mart today. I needed something else that I didn't wanted quickly, so I went in the store that was handy. I picked up a meat thermometer while there. I got home and put it away. I didn't like the thought of the utensil drawer, so I opened the towel drawer. I looked underneath the stack, and there was a solitary meat thermometer. I had already opened the new one and discarded the packaging. We might be the owners of two, now.
I did the same with the camera battery charger at Christmas. We couldn't find it, so I went to a big tech store and spent almost thirty dollars on a new one that handles several kinds. After Christmas passed, I found the charger in an outlet we hardly ever use. So now we have two.
Back to K-Mart. I purchased four items. Only one ended up being the price I expected. The meat thermometer was 40 cents higher. Another item was one dollar higher. A third over the counter medicine was three dollars higher. So now it's not so handy. I have to go back with the receipt, and walk around to find out if I really misread that many shelf labels. I almost didn't get the one that was $3 more, because the price I thought it said was more than CVS. But it had a $2 coupon on it that would make it the same, and I could save a trip. If I misread the shelf signs, then I need to shop with glasses and maybe a magnifier. If Kmart made that many errors, I need a refund and to shop somewhere else.
| Today was a long day with a two year old. Her mom, an RN, had a 12 hour shift. They spent the night with me, so that the girl could sleep in. She's fairly mindful when her parents aren't around. But like most two-year-olds, she has to push the limits, and refuses to eat.
Every door gets opened, every drawer is pulled out. Her feet go inside the refrigerator before I can get to her. So we have new rules, including "No feet inside the refrigerator!" (She has to stand on a shelf to look higher up.) I have to force her to take a nap. She resists, but within 2 minutes she's out. So I just have to ignore the fake crying and the pleas of "No".
We read lots of books, tell lots of stories, sing songs of all kinds, and I get to recite from memory nursery rhymes and kid poems. We walk a lot. Sometimes, weather permitting, we pull weeds or sweep (pretend sweep) the patio. We feed birds and pick up trash. Today, the weather did not cooperate. Every time we went out the sun would fade, and it would start to drizzle.
While I was getting her diaper change things ready, she jumped on the bed. She hit the wall at the head with a really hard thud. We're convinced this fearless child will have a wing of some hospital named for her one day. But I distracted her, and the wailing stopped. No bumps showed up--yet.
I had to miss choir practice. I admit I'm a little old for this. I have to push myself to entertain her when my head is aching, and I need a nap of my own. (Try resting with a child around.) Kids like to cook, so we made a cake mix. She got to brag and try it out when Mommy got in. It will take me a day to get back into sorts.