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Musings on anything.
My blog was filled up. I'm too lazy to clean it out. So I started a new one.
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May 25, 2018 at 9:20pm
May 25, 2018 at 9:20pm
         I remember when my family was introduced to pizza. It really was a foreign concept. My mom swore that Dad would never eat pizza after we kids experienced it at other people's homes or church events for kids. He came around. Now everyone I know eats pizza readily. My grandmother, who probably never had it the first 60 years or more of her life, ate it with extra hot sauce. My dad will eat it now as long as the crust isn't too crispy. But you have to add extra cheese and meat to it when heating.

         Remember TV dinners in aluminum trays? That tells your age. No more aluminum trays because of microwaves. And they're not referred to as TV dinners. There's even healthy versions and family size packages. I even remember when microwave ovens were new. We were afraid they would hurt us, like give us radiation or something. We even called the process "nuking" our food. My mother in law insisted it made her house hotter to run the microwave for a few minutes. I tried telling her the food got hotter without using heat, but it never sank in. It still worked like a regular oven, but faster, in her mind. That was only a few years ago.

         I was thinking about hot spots in my home town where people loved to go. There was a Mexican restaurant, locally owned by a non-Hispanic family, that was very popular. My brother claimed that after he and his wife ate there, with no alcohol, he had a hangover headache the next day from all the spices. Today people of all ages in this mid-Atlantic town eats spicy Mexican food. There must be a dozen or more quality Mexican restaurants in the area, plus the Bell.

         At one time every wedding reception served chicken livers wrapped in bacon. Nobody does that any longer. Waffle cut raw vegetables and radish roses were popular, but now there are just simple cuts of veggies. Crepes are still around, but are not so worshiped by the upwardly mobile. Chocolate fountains are still popular right now, but they're falling off. Sushi became hot a few years ago.

         Manufacturers and restaurateurs keep changing things up to rake in our dollars. Food prep changes with our busy schedules and available cooking tools. You can buy a device for almost anything you can do in the kitchen, a brush for corn silk, a strawberry huller, a pineapple corer, etc. And people aren't teaching their children cooking skills like they once did. They see their parental role differently. They don't cook, so why teach the kids to be self-sufficient? Yet You Tube and web newsletters make it possible to learn new skills on your own.

         Nutella and coconut oil are all the rage now. Who ever heard of them decades ago? But how can you find a Dreamsicle or a red, white and blue popsicle? Or sherbet push-ups? Only old-timers like me still make pineapple upside down cake. Pop Tarts didn't exist when I was a child, but they've lasted well and are still selling. Grits may be making a comeback. Bacon's in everything. Quinoa is trying to find acceptability. I can't find farina or buckwheat in the supermarket.

         It's hard to say what people will be craving ten years from now, and what items we like won't be available. Maybe chocolate will be obsolete. Who knows?
May 24, 2018 at 3:13pm
May 24, 2018 at 3:13pm
         On the way to my house one Sunday a few weeks ago, my niece stopped at a charity yard sale and let her 5 year old pick out some dresses. They were wild looking. She had to model them for us and ended up playing in one covered with silver glitter.

         Well, you know what to expect. Glitter doesn't stay where you see it. She left a trail everywhere she went. We didn't notice at the time. But apparently, she crawled under the daybed, wrapped up in an afghan which then covered a big stuffed bear that sits in a rocker in the family room. On Monday, I vacuumed what seemed like hours to remove glitter from upholstery and room size rugs. I cleaned toys and the coffee table. I vacuumed the stairs and the foyer. I cleaned upstairs where she had trailed through to the kitchen which has been mopped several times since. (She always has to raid the refrigerator just before she leaves to see what she can take with her.)

         Unfortunately, I didn't clean all the toys and books. I didn't discover the afghan for a day or two. My day moved it and got glitter everywhere that I had already cleaned. Two weeks later, I'm still mopping up glitter from hard surfaces, vacuuming upholstery and rugs, and running throws through the dryer on air only. I don't think it will ever come up completely. She hasn't been here during that time, but we still have the reminder. Dad keeps getting it on his clothes and has started bringing it upstairs to the upholstery. Both of us are getting it on our feet and tracking it around. I'm not sure the vacuum isn't leaking it, but we use a different one on each floor.

         So, here's my word of warning to mothers, grandparents and others buying children's clothes. Stay away from glitter. If a child comes to your house wearing glitter, keep her (it might be a boy, too) outside. It is a great way to track sneaky kids, but such a nightmare to clean.
May 23, 2018 at 2:44pm
May 23, 2018 at 2:44pm
         My washer broke. Called the repair company. They tried to sell me a warranty for every appliance in the house for $50 a month: no charge for parts or labor for all household appliances. Lawn equipment and electronics not included. I did some quick math and figured at $600 a year, I would not get my money's worth. I don't have many appliances break down in a ten year period, and can replace them or repair them for less than the $6000 I would pay in 10 years. So he finally set an appointment for today. I had wet laundry stuck in the machine. Before hanging up, he wanted to set an appointment for a free carpet or cabinet estimate. Just not interested.

         Everything turns into additional sales. I'm told by friends never to order items from TV ads by calling in. You can't get off the phone, because they keep trying to sell related products or upgrading. One lady I know who really needed that back brace ended up saying,"Just forget everything", because they wouldn't finish the transaction. They had her credit card number, so she called the bank to be sure the charge would not go through since they never got her shipping address. These companies try so hard to get additional business that they risk losing the original sale.

         My personal feeling about extended warranties is that in some cases they are desirable. Price is the biggest factor. When I bought a child's I-Pad for my nephew on sale, the warranty was only $5 less than the I-Pad. But the warranty on the desktop makes sense because of power surges and children. I use a surge protector, but I lost one hard drive to lightning even with one. It made sense to get one on the printer; the price was low enough, and children can't keep their hands off of it. Still the retailers will hammer you on buying the warranties. Some clerks don't want to accept a "no".

         My washer was re-calibrated rather quickly. It's running smoothly for the time being. If it begins to fail again, buying a new one will be cheaper than getting the new parts that will be needed. No I don't want a warranty on all my household appliances, unless you can do it for, say, $10 a month.

May 23, 2018 at 1:50am
May 23, 2018 at 1:50am
         Once my husband and I were driving home down a familiar route from an out of town trip. It was pouring rain, and we were arguing, so we missed our turn at the little country gas station. I finally began to realize nothing looked familiar. I pointed this out to him, but he was against turning back and retracing our steps. It finally stopped raining, and the sun came out. We ended up in some rural area in front of a nice brick home with a big yard, parked, examining a map. It was a Sunday evening, so everything was closed and no gas stations or convenience stores appeared. We kept driving straight ahead, not knowing if there would ever be a major road or even a road sign.

         After a long ride, fearing we would run out of gas, we came to a U.S. highway that parallels the Interstate. We turned north, hoping we weren't too far from home. We discovered we were about 60 miles South of our general area. But at last there was a gas station open. We had spend a couple of extra hours wondering around lost.

         The next day, I was still mad and told some engineers at work. They immediately interrupted me. "Oh, no. Never ask directions. Never go back." It turns out there is an unwritten code among men that you just don't do that. Ever. They were quite adamant.

         No one has to ask for directions any more. First there was GPS. Now you just ask your cell phone. I'm confident women invented that, or at least asked for it, because men had infuriated them so much. To avoid the stubbornness of men, we had to have satellites figure out where we are and get us where we're going. Younger women don't appreciate how much easier their lives are.

May 21, 2018 at 4:19pm
May 21, 2018 at 4:19pm
         I know it's politically incorrect to push the Ten Commandments. But they do seem to be the basis of most of our laws. Not stealing, not killing, not wanting what belongs to someone else, no infidelity.

         It seems like large segments of many societies don't get that life is sacred. It is not your right to terminate someone's life. It doesn't matter what religion or ethnicity you have, you should not think it's okay to kill. War is a separate issue that I don't wish to debate here. (Same for capital punishment.) Every day life in our cities, our schools, in public places is what matters. No life should be taken. Children should be taught that early on. It doesn't matter what weapon they use, knives, rocks, guns, poison, killing is wrong. Somehow a lot of children are missing that lesson.

         Kids just don't learn what is right by wishful thinking on the parents' part. They have to be taught. Even if they go to church or synagogue, they need to know their parents have the same values. Teachers are limited. They may be the only moral resource to some children. However, if I had a child in primary school, I would not want that teacher indoctrinating my child with religious or political beliefs. That would be my job. Teachers are not paid to be spokespeople for or against the NRA, or any organization or religion. They do need to establish a system for maintaining order and discipline in their classrooms, not an easy job. That would include concepts of not invading other people's personal body space, taking turns, treating boys and girls as equals, waiting patiently, non-violence, and following rules. But they have to be careful not to add trendy social values or values that may be contrary to the home values. I would object strenuously and make life difficult for the teacher, if my child came home telling me things I didn't believe were appropriate for that age group or a secular classroom.

         What to do about teenagers or adults who have already reached maturity without respecting human life is a big problem. You can't read them story books or have simple playground instructions. Maybe less glorification of police and detective shows on TV would help. I know lately I've been disturbed by how much violence towards women is portrayed on screen. I can see where young men might get the idea that this is okay. Women aren't really human; they get shoved around, knocked down, or hit on TV shows all the time. No one points out on these shows that this is wrong. The action is taking place because it's abnormal, story worthy, not acceptable behavior. When the bad guy suffers, it looks like it's because his timing was bad, his luck ran out, or the cop was just smarter. It doesn't become obvious that he deserved his comeuppance.

         When something like a school shooting happens, suddenly there are funds available for mass counseling. Teachers, students, family members can all have someone to listen, individually or in a group. Why wait? Why can't counseling be available at every school for all students as a preventative? Teachers, too? It could be a resource on a short term basis to determine if a child needs special attention, or is abused at home, or has any dark feelings of suicide or violence. Most students would be released right away, but would be acquainted with the counselor and feel comfortable asking for a session later if something comes up.

         I just can't help but feel every time I hear of some mass act of violence in any scenario that somehow this individual(s) missed an important life lesson that most of us got. My first thought is always what happened to the value of human life? Why do some people think that their lives are more valuable than other lives? How do we fix that? Doing away with guns won't fix that. Making another law won't fix that. It has to begin with the human heart.
May 18, 2018 at 4:40pm
May 18, 2018 at 4:40pm
         It's been popular in the last few years to have best sellers written in the first person by more than one protagonist. When it just goes back and forth between, say, a husband and wife, it's not too hard to keep straight. When it's done by more than one person, and two of the women are similar, it's hard to know who's talking and what's going on. I've had to backtrack and reread and figure out who's telling the story. After a while it begins to click and takes minimal effort at the start of each chapter or segment to know whose viewpoint this is. (The movie version of one such book just didn't get into that at all, but told the story from the omniscient camera point of view. You didn't have to work as hard, so you were vested in the story.)

         I've read two very different books recently with the omniscient third person. One is a top selling current author, and one is an award winner from a small genre that's not as popular and wrote in the mid 20th century. I noticed both of them switched back and forth, even in the same paragraph, indicating every character's feelings and insights.

         I found a split infinitive in Danielle Steele. Granted sometimes, as in dialog, you want to leave it that way to indicate the character's speech or education. But in the authoritative commentary you expect it to be correct. It wouldn't have altered the sound or the meaning to avoid splitting it. We look to her, a successful author, for an example.

         I frequently get writer's block. There's always something going on in my head, revising a story, questioning a character's growth, but getting it on paper is another story. I'm not a paid author, so I always feel I have to justify my time writing. There's always so many other things to do.

         Modern technology makes writing easier and quicker. But it's changing constantly. I found some floppy discs earlier today. Where am I going to be able to look at those? I have a hard drive with an old system that no longer works with the Internet, and much of my writing is on it. The programs I have on it are no longer available, including my photo slide shows, and my family tree work. I've talked to some computer geeks who agree that things saved on today's technology may not be accessible ten years from now. I'm glad that I have a few things on WDC, so at least as long as that's up and current, I can see those items. Old fashioned photographs and printed word documents may be a safe backup, when thinking about the future.
May 11, 2018 at 2:15pm
May 11, 2018 at 2:15pm
         If you just stopped by randomly and have never been here before, take warning, I am feeling more self indulgent than usual and self-pitying, so you may want to avoid the boredom and move on. It's okay. Some days I'm very cheerful, and I don't want to hear others whining either.

         This year I have found myself thinking about my failed marriage and my ex-husband too much. I'm surprised by how much anger I still feel after all these years. He's been dead 9 years, and we were divorced before that. I'm still angry with myself for tolerating him too long, for allowing him to affect my self-esteem, and waste so many years of my life. I can never regain those lost decades. That's essentially what they were, "lost". I was consumed with taking care of a selfish, self-centered man who could not be there for me when I needed him most. I sacrificed my own health and well-being to placate him.

         You would think I would have boxed up all those feelings and moved on by now. maybe it's because I've crossed a milestone in my life, and I'm looking back at broken dreams and goals that can never be reached now. Maybe it's because I felt so much shame then, because I tried to hide from my family how miserable I was. Or maybe he's my scape goat that I'm blaming for having fallen so short of what I had hoped to accomplish.

         If it would help to have a punching bag, I would. I don't feel like crying any more. That grieving part is over. But all this anger. All this time thinking about it. If only I could just dump it out, like emptying a junk drawer, and toss it out, and forget it. I can't make up for lost time. I quit sewing for him. I quit playing guitar because it made him feel inadequate, and he would sulk. I didn't entertain because he was too moody, and guests would be uncomfortable. So we didn't have friends from that time period; we didn't go out either unless his good mood could hold out long enough. I didn't write during that time, and barely read. As his mind got worse, my life got darker and more confined.

         Moving 70 miles away was the first step back to sanity, but it also resulted in joblessness and loss of finances. I was totally dependent on my widowed father. I thought then that I might have my own home again some day, but that is never going to happen. I am old, wrinkled, full of aches and pains. I've taken classes, I've learned new things, but somehow I still feel anchored to those old resentments, to anger and loss. I have tried forgiving him, and maybe I have. I understand that he was mentally ill and going downhill. Can I forgive myself for getting caught in the undertow, for trying too hard to be a good wife when it wasn't really possible?

         Maybe that's why I'm so consumed with the concept of not living in survival mode now. During my marriage and divorce, I was definitely in survival mode. And it took a lot of energy. I don't miss the drama or the shame. I don't want to keep living with the scars, the regrets, all that anger. I want to leave it all alone, like someone who has to leave the war or captivity behind and just move on.

         I have a good life. I just want to stop the anger, the memories, the regrets. Wishful thinking won't wipe the slate clean. I'll never get the chance to live those years over. I'll just see where all this anger and remembering takes me.

May 10, 2018 at 3:50pm
May 10, 2018 at 3:50pm
         A prayer shawl in a gentile setting has a loose interpretation. The bottom line is that you meditate or pray over something homemade that you give to a person going through a difficult or lonely time. It's a gift with a lot of feeling and thought. It's not always appreciated on the receiving end as much as on the giving end.

         Various churches or clubs may set up a prayer shawl ministry. they tend to run more to afghans than actual shawls, since not many people use shawls. Judging from the hot sales of "throws" during the holidays, everyone can use an afghan. You don't want to risk losing one in a hospital, but a nursing home or senior home is a good place to have one. Where people in a home disagree about temperature control, an afghan can come in handy for TV watching or reading. Even in the summer, we run the ceiling fan all the time. So in the evening, I like a lightweight afghan to keep me from freezing from the brisk fan air, while I'm curled up in my favorite easy chair.

         Yarn is not free. So even though you may not like the way it looks, it cost the giver to make it for you. A single size afghan for an adult can run over $20 with the cheapest bulk yarn, $40 for the double width that will sit on top a bed. You can buy even more expensive yarn, but I usually avoid that for afghans because they are so easy to get caught in reclining mechanisms or be cut by children. It's bad enough to lose the hours of labor. The time is another factor that raises its worth. I found a pattern book that promises an afghan a week. I tried, spending 4 or more hours every night, and barely finished at the two week mark. At miniumum wage, that afghan was over $100. It was a beautiful shade of brick red in Vanna's Choice.

         We're going to try it. Several people are already crocheting or knitting afghans and even shawls for a giveaway program. Some will have a big prayer over it at the end. I tried a little meditation each day that the one who receives it will receive comfort and joy. We'll dispense them through the church to people in the community who have lost a child or have moved to a senior care facility or experienced other trauma. We hope that the unexpected gift will bring warmth and a reminder that there are loving, giving people around them.

May 8, 2018 at 3:29pm
May 8, 2018 at 3:29pm
         I have never played handbells before, but here in my old age, I am learning! I do read music, so at least I can do the rhythm. But everything else is new. How to hold the bell is the first feat. The right side has to be up, or no matter how hard you shake it or snap it, you get no sound. Then there's clunks, shakes, and finger damps. The big bells get mallets. We haven't even added in chimes.

         The hardest part for me is turning pages, when I'm actively playing. If I have notes, especially using both hands, all the way to the bottom of the page, and notes at the top of the next page, I always miss a measure or two. It's complicated by wearing gloves. The gloves are necessary to protect the very expensive bells from the oils on your hands. You can use clips or tiny pins on page edges, but they're still hard to grab and flip. If you try turning with a bell in your hand, you're going to get a ring you don't want to hear. In a few cases, I have only one bell on the next page, followed by rests; so I've written in pencil "E 4X" which tells me to ring the E bell four quarter notes, which allows my left hand time to turn the page while I'm ringing E. If my bells aren't being used on the next page for a few mesures, that gives me time. Or if I have rests on the bottom, I can turn early. That's not often the case.

         I should explain for anyone who might not have seen bells played that each player is assigned 3 bells, but most songs will require only 2 of the 3. If all three are required, switching bells can be complicated with only two hands. The bells go in order down the table, like the notes on a music staff. So the bells you play depends on the key. This is a great example of team work, because the tune is produced by many people, not just one, as in a choir or an orchestra. They all have to keep the time properly and play the same dynamics of loud or soft. The harmonies don't have so much pressure, unless the audience is musically astute. Most audiences won't be aware of the arrangement and what the background should be.

         The bell will reverberate for a long time, even if softly. To make it stop so that it doesn't conflict with the next chord, you damp it against your chest. I have trouble with this sometimes. On a rest, I bring the bell I just played up against my shoulder, and it usually works, but occasionally I don't bring it up quickly or hard enough, and it keeps ringing even while I'm holding it against me. We've heard a faint hum during a quiet moment, and it turns out to be my bell that I haven't rung in 4 or more beats.

         We're a new group. Three people have played bells before. One has never even read music and didn't know how to count off 4 beats repeatedly. Most of us have had music experience, either piano, band or choir, but never bells. I could be wrong, but I'm guessing everyone in the group is at least 50. The director is a retired music teacher who's about 80. We have fun together. It's a new adventure. It's time consuming with little pay-off, but we're all "into" it.

         As though we don't all have enough to do. I say, Keep on trying new things Don't quit trying.

May 7, 2018 at 5:20pm
May 7, 2018 at 5:20pm
         I heard a sermon yesterday about interruptions. He based it on a scripture story where Jesus gets interrupted on a journey. The was comparing it to having daily tasks interrupted by little emergencies, or at least unexpected events. He claimed that the interruptions were sometimes just as important or more so than the goal of the original task.

         A lot of employers want you to multi-task, so they can schedule as few people as possible. Studies have shown that multi-tasking can be less productive If one of the tasks involves computations or concentration, then you lose time and have to repeat efforts every time you have to stop to do something else. Examples would be dealing with the public, or phone calls that involve research and resolution while you are trying to make a spreadsheet or balance the budget or edit the monthly newsletter. It seems to involve a different attitude if you're a social worker, or a minister, or a parent. Your first priority is to "minister" or care for those people, who should, by the way, be exercising some etiquette and consideration. I can see if you're trying to write a sermon, or fill our your weekly report forms, or even have a moment to yourself. You don't want to be disturbed, any more than the retail clerk or the office clerk who has been given a list of chores to perform.

         As I listened, I also thought about my weekly goals. I've made it a ritual since I retired to write my goals on Monday with Friday as the deadline. I did this in most of my office jobs about work projects. Some jobs, you just take it as it comes; you aren't paid to have goals or deadlines. I've noticed that every week something always comes up. Some horrendous thing that stops the flow. The wind blows a tree over the driveway, smashing the cars. A family member gets sick and needs a lot of attention. I threw out my back; when it started getting better, I did something to my foot and couldn't walk. Exercise goals, gardening, spring cleaning, etc., get deleted from the list. Friday comes around, and I'm in failure mode again. It's just life. makes you wonder, sometimes, if setting goals is worth the time.

         A friend in her early 80's saw me after church, and laughed. The preacher is only about 30. "Wait until he gets old and knows about strokes, and arthritis, and taking your spouse to the doctor. He'll know what interruptions are." You don't have to get old to know that. Your kids break their bones, wreck the car, get bullied, or you lose your job. The list goes on. All these things stop you in your long and short term goals, sometimes briefly, sometimes forever.

         I know the point he was trying to make is that whatever our circumstances, we are accountable for how we respond. Our ministry, our life is what happens in the setbacks and the interruptions. Maybe goal setting is just to keep us on the right track. We're not really meant to accomplish them all. Even if we are destined to reach particular ends, it's how we handle the things that hold us back that makes us who we are.

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