Sunday, October 13, 2019

WHAT I LEARNED IN SCHOOL TODAY





Yes, I'm still learning. I learned this morning that I forgot to post on Friday. The last few days were first proof days for the magazine. That takes a big portion of my attention. This is the November issue, and it looks like another good one, if I do say so myself. So...

People often ask me where I come up with the wide, wild variety of subjects for my blog and community magazine articles. My answer: surfing the internet. I subscribe to the news briefings from the New York Times and the Washington Post. I’ve bookmarked and check in each day with the BBC and Politico, Houzz, and the Microsoft’s Newsfeed. I get daily emails from On This Day, Prime Women, Atlas Obscura, Trivia Today, and Colossal. Then there are the websites, like PBS, that email once a week. The topics they cover go beyond the everyday news and into the realm of the truly interesting. I won’t add links to these. If you’re really interested, you can google them. You won’t be getting too many emails if you are truly interested in their content.

Just this week, I read about an Off-Broadway actor who went into the audience and threw some boor’s cell phone under the seats. Good for him!

I read that the average allowance parents give their kids today is $30 a week. Not to say this is excessive, but my first allowance, at age 7, was 10 cents – and I had to save two of those cents. Ten cents is inflated to about $1.08 today. So, if the average is $30, some kids out there get too much money.

I checked our 50 delicious ways to serve eggs. The Tortilla Española looks absolutely delicious!

And I learned that much of the world thinks we westerners have peculiar bathroom habits. Americans are the greatest users of toilet paper. I do plan to write a magazine article about this topic.

I can sometimes spend an hour or so reading, and learning, and being truly amazed. You might think this is time wasted, but, as Bertrand Russell said, “The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”






Friday, October 4, 2019

A DIFFERENT WEDDING CAKE



Recently, Corey Amaro featured this unique wedding cake on her blog French la Vie . Wedding cakes here are almost universally tiered affairs in white. I have seen different versions, but this French cake takes the cake. The puff pastry male and female symbols are held together with pastry cream, then decorated with fresh fruit and edible flowers. Now, who wouldn't want a piece of that?



Friday, September 27, 2019

THE MAN WITH THE MERCEDES




I remember pulling up next to his car at the town’s only stoplight. He was going to make a left, probably heading over to the branch he was building for the bank where I worked. I’d met him a few times when the company he owned expanded the printout storage room for our computer department.

I just knew him as “the man with the Mercedes.” He knew me as “that blond girl in the basement.”

When I pulled next to him he smiled and waved, and I said to myself, “too bad, he’s married.” Little did I know that between the time he’d worked in our basement computer department, to that time at the light, he filed for a divorce. When the new branch finally opened, both of us were at the festivities. We got to talking there and, as they say, we connected. Tomorrow, forty-five later, we’re still connected.

Friday, September 20, 2019

IT'S A TOUGH LIFE...

Singapore is a bustling place - notice all the ships out there.

...but someone has to do it.  I keep saying that to our son. He's traveling for the Bank of America. This time, again, to Singapore. During the business week, he stays at a hotel near the office, which is near the beaches. The last weekend of the trip, he moves right into town and sets himself up in a balcony room overlooking the street route of the weekend's Formula One race. He is an avid F1 fan, and whenever and wherever he can, he'll parlay a trip with a race. He doesn't need a ticket to this particular race - he'll sit on the balcony, watch the action, and listen in on a transmission of the race action.



He really likes Singapore, it's clean, efficient, and the climate agrees with him. Above all, he enjoys the food. From the every-day to the exotic, the food choices are phenomenal. Take this morning's breakfast. Well, you can take it, I'm not so sure. He calls it the Singapore Breakfast Boo-fay.


It's a buffet, so obviously he chose the items. I don't know what that white stuff is, but I do recognize eggs, a steamed bun, probably some smoked salmon, a rice dish, a roll, perhaps some duck meat and - egad! - a duck's head. I meant to ask him if he ate that. Aw, come on! These days, restaurants no longer decorate the plate with a sprig of parsley, but, in Singapore, evidently, you can decorate your plate with a duck. I'll pass on that one. 



Tuesday, September 17, 2019

IT'S BACK!



I subscribe to Prime Women - primewomen.com. This morning I was pleased to see a rerun of the article I wrote for them. It's Old Wive's Tales: The Many Myths About Women Over Fifty.   As I am well, well over fifty, I do know a thing or two about the topic.

However, what really held my interest this morning was a very interesting article on Exercising to Lose Weight? This one is very timely for me. As it says - "Stop. It doesn't work!" I can attest to that too. As you may have gathered from some of my recent posts, I recently found out that both my knees are bone-on-bone.  I've had knee and leg problems and pains for over twenty years, so I thought it was just part of an old condition. Who knew? The surgeons at OrthoCarolina have parameter for when they'll do replacement surgery. You must be below a certain Body Mass Index. I am below that threshold, but I was advised that I'd be a lot more comfortable, and have a lot less problems, if I lost some weight first. O.K. I'm on it!

So - in just over three months, I've lost 16 pounds. Slow but sure. My BMI has come down two points. If the cortisone shots keep working for me as well as they do, I should be able to go the distance.

What am I doing? I started out again, counting the old, original Weight Watchers Points. Recording them gets tedious after a while. But I do know which foods carry the lowest points, so now I just guesstimate them, and it's working. I think my halo might be on straight, because I don't often go overboard. It just may be that instead of just deciding to lose weight, I have a specific goal: new knees, no pain. I think it can be done.  I'll keep you posted.

Friday, September 13, 2019

THE WHEELS ON THE BUS GO ROUND AND ROUND

Image result for mental wheels going round


And my mind was going round and round last night.  I'm fortunate in that I had cortisone shots in my bone-on-bone knees yesterday, so my time in bed was very comfortable. I'm delighted that I could be comfortable because for some strange reason, I could not get to sleep. I did try my usual trick of rehashing the story I read on Kindle just before bed - no luck.  I don't suffer from insomnia, so I'm not trouble by an occasional sleepless night. I just go with the flow of ideas.

As it happens, I had a very productive night. I keep a journal and lighted pen in the bookcase beside my bed. Last night, on and off, I wrote one whole page of random ideas.  Some for the house, some recipes I wanted to find, some things I want to order online, and many ideas for the community magazine. So far today, I've manged to cross quite a number of them off the list.

And, very unusual for me, no ear-worm went round and round in my mind. That would have been the pits. It was a silent night.

Friday, September 6, 2019

IF WISHES WERE HORSES...




Just something that I wish had come true – A week ago, on Friday, August 30, OnThisDay.com sent this note of a medieval-age date in history:

1146  European leaders outlaw crossbow, intending to end war for all time.  

Nice try, guys.


Friday, August 30, 2019

PIZZA-NOODLE CASSEROLE FOR TWO


I’ve been wanting to try this recipe for a few weeks now. At first, the idea of it didn’t appeal to Frank, but last Monday night I decided to give it a try. I saw the idea for it in a recipe that proved to come from Taste of Home. This is supposed to taste like pizza. Taste of Home is based in Milwaukee. What do they know about New York pizza in Milwaukee? Their recipe had a ground beef sauce that wouldn’t have the necessary bite, and, along with the required mozzarella, cheddar cheese. Now, that’s the Wisconsin Dairy State’s idea of pizza – not mine. My recipe, except for the cooking time and temperature, which experience would have told me is just about right, is nowhere like theirs.

If I do say so myself, this dish was very good, and the Brooklyn-born Frank gave it two thumbs up. It has all the right bite in the sauce and pepperoni, and the proper chewiness and strings of the mozzarella. It certainly takes a heck of a lot less time to prepare than my pizza from scratch. Even having to make my own sauce recipe, if there’s none handy in the freezer, it takes only minutes to prepare. No cooking necessary for this sauce.

Give it a try - you may like it.




Ingredients

·         2 cups noodles, any size

·         ¾ to 1 cup pizza sauce – recipe follows

·         30 or so slices of pepperoni – sliced into 1/4” pieces

·         1 cup shredded mozzarella

Preparation
·        Preheat the oven to 350°

·         Cook the noodles according to the package directions.
·         While the noodles are cooking, get out the other ingredients, and grease a small baking dish.
·         Drain the noodles and return them to the pot. Mix in the sauce and sliced pepperoni slices. Pour the mixture into the grease baking dish.
·         Top the mixture with the mozzarella.
·         Bake for 20 minutes. Serve.

-------------

Quick Pizza Sauce – in a large bowl mix

1 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. salt

This recipe makes four two-person servings of just under a cup each. This is just enough for a two-person pizza or for the pizza-noodle casserole. 




One quarter of the sauce in this dish, freeze the rest for three other meals.







Saturday, August 24, 2019

STILL WATCHING THE CLOCK

Image result for analog clock
Even tech savvy kids must learn to tell time by an analog clock


I’ve not worn a watch since 1962. That was the year the bank where I worked began computerized accounting. Starting with the tellers’ work and the checking accounts, the big item we handled was checks. To read the checks, and deposit slips, and the other bank items, they had to go through a reader-sorter that had a huge magnet, larger and longer than a half-gallon of milk. If anyone went near that machine, their watch would go haywire. It pulled the hands off my boss’s watch, and really scrambled the innards. So, from then on, I never wore a watch.

I’ve had computers, desktop and laptop, for almost twenty years. I’ve had my cell phone for twelve years. They are handy. The cell phone, a flip phone, resides in my pocket. Do I consult them when I want to know the time? No, I look at the clock, any handy analog clock. I could bookmark or download an analog clock on my PC, but I think I’d still look up and check the clock in the room. Old habits die hard.




Monday, August 19, 2019

GEEEEZE LOUEEEEEZE!!


Geeeeze Loueeeze! In this morning's crop of emails, there's one from Hobby Lobby announcing: Starts Now: 40% Off Christmas Decor! It's August! There are four months and six days until Christmas. I've not yet even looked at fall decor this year. I think that what I have from years past will still look good. Is the Fall stuff already on clearance? Once again, commerce raises its ugly head. 

No wonder we're going into a recession. Perhaps folks like me are starting to realize they have enough stuff, and are not buying anything new, so the wheels of commerce - up and down the manufacturing and retailing supply chain - are very slowly beginning to falter.  



Friday, August 16, 2019

THE MOVABLE MONA LISA






I had to laugh this week when I saw the crowd collected in front of the Mona Lisa. Evidently. Because of refurbishing of the gallery where she normally hangs out, Mona Lisa has been moved to different quarters. To get there, 30,000 visitors a day, they say, have to go up several escalators, through a small door, and there she is. You have to pre-book a ticket just to see her.

Everyone there was taking a picture with their phone. Not one, it seemed, was looking directly at the painting, just studying it, They get just one minute to be in front of the painting. Thousands of people make the trip just to get the “definitive picture” of the picture and then have to move on to make space. Why would they put themselves through all that?



What really got to me was seeing the photo of everyone taking a picture of a picture. I’ve been guilty of that – once. In the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, I took a picture of The Night Watch. It was almost automatic – I turned the corner into the gallery, and there it was – huge – facing me. I lifted the camera, without thinking, and took a picture. A picture of a picture I could easily find a picture of. What stopped me was my flash. The attendant there scolded me, and reminded my about no flash. Embarrassed, because I knew better, I turned off the camera and looked at the painting for quite some time. I really hadn’t thought of taking pictures there or in any museum we visited in Amsterdam - or anywhere else.



There have been times in our travels that I’ve been so fascinated by what I was seeing that I completely forgot to take pictures. I’d have liked a reminder or two to put in our scrapbooks. And I do like to take pictures to use with my greeting cards each year.

It just saddens me that the iPhones are everywhere and people seem more concerned with taking pictures than with enjoying the moment. Being there and actually enjoying the moment, not the picture, insures a lasting memory.








Friday, August 9, 2019

WHAT'S TRENDING?




The local NBC affiliate we usually watch airs six hours of local news programming each day, plus many more hours from the nation feed. “What’s trending” seems to be of vital interest on the local news programs. They pick all this up from the social media, of which I am not a part. (Unless you consider a blog social media? Maybe.) I think the reporting of such trivial nonsense helps the stations fill in the time spaces on otherwise blah news days. Contrary-wise, if some local crime or mishap happens, no matter how minor, they devote much too much time to the incident. Feast or famine, and that’s why I’d turn off the TV if it were just me here. I get my fill of news online.

I heard this was trending on Wednesday: a research group that had nothing better to do, discovered that if you don’t want sea gulls to steal your food at the beach you have to stare them down. Where and how do groups like this find such topics to research? And who is paying for this research? I want to know because I want to get a cushy job like that one where I could hang out at the beach and challenge the sea gulls.



Here’s my one sea gull story. Years ago, we lived next to a restaurant that occupied a large corner lot just across from Long Island’s Manhasset Bay. The gulls would get into the over-full dumpster and pick out the stale rolls. By instinct, these birds will grab something like a clam, fly with it, and drop it on a hard surface to crack it open. Rolls seemed to be like shells, and the gulls would drop them all over the parking lot. They were accurate though, none were ever dropped in our yard.

I found out later that the sea gull study was done by researchers at Britain’s Royal Society. Yes, that Royal Society, officially, the Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge. It is the society whose members, fellows, if you will, have included Isaac Newton, Christopher Wren, James Cook, Charles Babbage, and Stephen Hawking.

I do think that, if they could, those esteemed gentlemen would be rolling in their graves.





Friday, August 2, 2019

NOTHING TO VIEW HERE



When I'm all caught up with the emails and have sorted everything to its proper file - it's mostly trash these days once I've read it - a notice pops up and says "Nothing to view here."
This morning I went to my blog files of "In Progress" and "Ready to Post." Nothing in either file - it might as well have read "nothing to view here."

I am running out of material. Oh, sure, I have my opinions on what's happening in the community, in the country, and in the world, but my brain doesn't want to contemplate putting my opinions in writing. I've done enough in the recent past. 

I'm not young and physically active and able to report on all our daily doings. No, I'm old, and mostly mentally active, especially with my reading, writing, and magazine editing. For the most part, my physical activities are limited by a set of wonky knees, and we have few "daily doings" worth reporting.

The only thing on my mind this morning is peaches. I had a fairly good one for breakfast. A few weeks ago we went down to McBee and bought luscious peaches at McLeod Farms. Having exhausted the supply, last week we went over to York to try the peaches at Black's Peaches. They were fine, O.K., but not worth the hour trip in the future. Next week we'll try the local place again - Springs Farms' Peach Stand, just over in Fort Mill. We've had peaches from them many times over the years we've been here - they're very good. South Carolina grows more peaches than Georgia, the state with the peach on their license plate. California has us all beat for production, but I don't think their quality compares to the deliciousness of our own picked perfectly peaches.

TGIF - have a lovely weekend.


Friday, July 26, 2019

WHEN WE WERE YOUNGER


As they say, the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.



When we were younger, if I needed to wash and wax the kitchen floor, we would take the table and chairs out to another room. Today, I just shove them from side to side.

When we were younger, we’d wash the windows at least twice a year – he on the outside, me on the inside. Today, the outside windows get washed when the house gets washed every other year, and the inside windows get done on rare occasions.

When we were younger, we handled any little chore ourselves – changing the light bulb in the high porch ceiling, changing the air filters, even fixing the low hook on the screen door. Those are on my “honey do” list. Today, we depend on a crew of two young sons, in their hale and hardy 50s, to help us with the things that are just beyond our capabilities. We are so pleased that they’re living nearby, not just for the helping hand, but just for their presence in our lives.




Friday, July 19, 2019

LIFE'S LITTLE CHORES




As I was changing the toilet paper roll in the bathroom this afternoon, I thought about how many times I’ve done that before. Then I got to thinking – I wonder just how many times have I done so many other little chores before:

Put in a new roll of toilet paper, a roll of paper towels, or a box of tissues
Done a load of laundry
Changed the bed
Washed the dishes
Prepared breakfast, lunch, or dinner
Vacuumed, dusted
Shopped for groceries
Proved the bank statement …

Well, that’s getting a bit far out there, but those day-to-day jobs are adding up. Did you ever wonder about things like this? They say you can't know everything, and I know that I can make an estimated guess, but I'll never really know how many times I've changed the toilet paper. Ah, well - that's life. 

Friday, July 12, 2019

"AN OUTING FOR THE OLD FOLKS"


--=

Years ago, after we retired, Frank and I shopped at a little, local, IGA store in upstate New York. Before then, when Frank was paid, we’d always shop on Thursday. We were barely seniors – Frank was 55, and I was 43, but happened that the store gave a 10% discount to seniors on Thursdays, so we had a good reason to keep our traditional shopping day. One snide, thirty-something clerk there always had a comment about cheap seniors taking advantage of the discount. She said, “but it makes a nice outing for the old folks.” She repeated it often enough that in the years since then, any time Frank and I go a bit far afield, we always say it’s “an outing for the old folks."



On Wednesday, we really old folks, Frank’s 88, I’m 76, had an outing. We headed south on an hour-long trip along lovely rural roads, to McBee, South Carolina, to McLeod Farms. A colleague of mine from the magazine made the same trip a few weeks ago, and wrote a mouth-watering article about it. What better reason to go than the strong recommendation of a friend.



Along with the farm market, there is a great little museum of interesting stuff from some great old cars, to dolls, farm equipment, and miscellaneous items that are fun to see again. Here's the link to their website, macspride.com



We went, we saw, we bought peaches – among other great produce. I’ve been looking at my stash of peach recipes, and I think I’ll make peach custard bread pudding this afternoon. This morning I’m having a juicy peach for breakfast.





Friday, July 5, 2019

BRITISH ACCENTS




Why is it that advertisers who want to have their products viewed as the best available, use announcers with British accents to gently and genteelly present their wares? It began with items like luxury cars or watches.  Now I hear the dulcet British tones touting things like replacement windows, food products, over-the-counter medications, household cleaners, even CPAP machine cleaners

I don't dislike it, I just wonder why they see a need to go fancy. There's nothing elegant about CPAP machine cleaners. A straightforward ad will do.

Friday, June 28, 2019

THE MOCK TURTLE'S SONG


                                      Will you, won't you, will you, won't you, will you join the dance?


This is the Mock Turtle as imagined by an artist called Snugglestab.  `
MOCK - Adjective
Not authentic or real, but without the intention to deceive.
"a mock-Georgian red brick house"
synonyms:
imitation, artificial, man-made, manufactured, simulated, synthetic, ersatz, plastic, so-called, fake, false, faux, reproduction, replica, facsimile, dummy, model, toy, make-believe, sham, spurious, bogus, counterfeit, fraudulent, forged, pseudo, pretended

Will you, won’t you – will he, nil he. Willy-nilly, our mock POTUS makes decrees and, soon after that, changes his (alleged) mind. He’s waffled on most of the issues that confront us today: Deportation raids, retaliation attacks on Iran, back and forth with threats of tariffs for Chines goods, staying in NATO, and add in topics like Russia, Syria, and Obama care.

It appears that as soon as he “runs his mouth” on an issue, saner advisers around him bring him back to reality. He called off retaliation against Iran’s downing of a drone, because he was told 150 people would die. Well, more than that would have died if the conflict had escalated.

I hate to say this, but I do agree with the Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman who said "No strategy should go against the times. The trend of the world is mighty and overwhelming. Those who follow it will prosper while those who resist will perish. Peace, development and win-win cooperation are the trends of our times. Any strategy that is closed and exclusive, which is against the general trends, is doomed to failure." He also argued that "no strategy should harm the well-being of people all over the world" or "underscore the confrontation side of relations," calling for greater international dialogue and less unilateral behavior.

I like that “any strategy… which is against the general trends.” Immediately, global warming comes to mind. He never waffles on his stance on that topic. Maybe he can’t – he’s got too many cronies in industries that contribute to the world pollution.

Well, enough about the POTUS. I do go on and on about him, but he just goes against my grain. I’d just like to shake him silly – willy-nilly.

           

The Curmudgeon has spoken.


Friday, June 21, 2019

EDUCATION IS THE KEY




There’s a reparations bill in the offing, but I read that even if it clears the House, it has little chance of passing in the Republican-controlled Senate. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said he did not favor reparations “for something that happened 150 years ago, for whom none of us currently living are responsible.”

The idea comes up every so often: we should make reparations to the descendants of slaves. The idea comes up because descendants of the whites of European lineage feel that something should be done to ease that little bit of residual humiliation and regret we might carry because of what our ancestors did.

Geeeeze Loueeeze, you don’t just pay people off and then say to yourself, as the silly phrase goes, “I seen my duty and I done it.”  What? And then we’ll all feel better?  And at what generation of those descendants should we stop the reparations?

What the politicos need to do is put the money where it will benefit everyone in the country: put it into education. We desperately need to raise the educational standards for everyone, because, as an often misattributed saying goes, “an educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.”  Most of all, we must enhance the educational opportunities for the black students who need assistance.

I don’t recommend giving a blank check to every black student. No, the student must truly need the assistance, and must qualify and be accepted for whatever type of higher education they want to pursue.  The nation will first loan them the funds for their schooling. Once they graduate and receive their qualification certificate, license, or degree, the loan will be written off.  That would be the basic premise of the law – the rest is in the details, and we all know the devil is in the detail.

We’ll see what happens.




Friday, June 14, 2019

A CHICKEN WITH ITS HEAD CUT OFF

If I have to have a picture of a chicken with its head cut off, I'll go for for this colorful one by Barbara Ann Gomez. I do wonder what the inspiration was for her to draw it.


September is a big month for foodie celebrations. There are more celebrations than there are days of the month From Pickles to Popsicles, from Guacamole to Linguini, September is a feast.

We’ve been planning ahead at the community magazine, and we’ll celebrate with several food-related articles, plus a compendium of food memories from some of our staff members.  One gal wrote about not wanting to eat chicken after she saw her grandmother cut the head off one, and saw what was to be her Sunday dinner running around. Another writer’s mother also killed chickens, but she hung them up by their legs on a line. Then she cut the head off. Easier to drain the blood, of course.
Getting a picture of those events in my mind’s eye, I remembered that I too know firsthand what it looks like to see a chicken running around with its head cut off.

When I was around 10, maybe younger, living in a development on suburban Long Island, one of our neighbors bought a mess of baby chicks. There must have been several dozen. They kept them up in their attic, and I remember going up there to see the cute, fuzzy things. This was, as I recall, a lovely but strange family. There were, I think, four or five kids. They really should have been living in a rural area, not in small house on a morsel of an acre, and I remember the house as, shall we say, not being as nice, neat, and clean as where I lived.

Well, the fuzzy chicks, grew. The dad built a coop out in the backyard. The neighbors on each side mustn't have been too happy about it, but...  I know there were complaints about the dirt and smells, but the adults had to deal with that. I thought the chickens were great. One time, it must have been time for a family meal, and I remember the dad killing a few by running their necks under the blades of an upturned reel lawn mower. And then chickens really did run around with their heads cut off. 

Of course, I must have told my mother. What she did about it, what the other mothers did about it, (there were several of us kids there) I don’t know. I know I never saw that again. But once was enough for me to remember. This New York City-born kid still thinks it was cool.