Wednesday, September 30, 2015


This piece was published in this month's issue of our community magazine, Living @ sun City Carolina Lakes. I thought it might interest others of my readers who live elsewhere, or who might be so young that they don't even recognize the name James Dean (or even Elvis!) 

Rebel Without a Cause
Mention the name James Dean, and people of our generation think of a loner, a disillusioned, surly, misunderstood Rebel Without a Cause. He will always be young to us because he died so young.

James Dean would be 84 now, and we wonder not only what he might look like, but what he would have achieved had he lived as long as many of us have. Sixty years ago on this day in 1955, he died in a car crash. We do the math and realize that he was only 24. Only 24, and he had three major movies to his credit.

Indiana-born and raised, Dean moved to California in 1949 to start his post-high school education. He began in pre-law but soon changed his major to drama, something he’d studied and liked in high school. By 1951, he had dropped out of college and was acting in minor roles on television and in the movies. Listening to good advice, and having made some good connections, Dean moved east to New York City. This was the time of live studio presentations, and Dean appeared in productions for Studio One, The Kraft Television Theatre, Robert Montgomery Presents, and Omnibus.

On the Kraft Television Theater
In 1952, Dean was admitted to the prestigious Actors Studio to study acting under the master, Lee Strasbourg. From Bea Arthur to Joanne Woodward, the alphabetical list of Actors Studio alumnae includes dozens of names like Anne Bancroft, Marlon Brando, Lee J. Cobb, Julie Harris, Elia Kazan, Walter Matthau, Paul Newman, Al Pacino, Sidney Poitier, and Eli Wallach. Dean studied among the best actors, writers and directors of the day.

Today, movies are just one of the many pastimes we can enjoy, but during the early fifties, movies were a major source of entertainment. Almost everyone knew of the major movie stars and the movies they were in. 1954, in one of the earlier Cinemascope movies, Dean was selected for the role of Cal Trask in Kazan’s production of John Steinbeck’s best-selling novel, East of Eden. Portraying the son of an idealistic, sanctimonious, successful farmer, Dean’s character wanted little except to gain his father’s approval.

with Raymond Massey in East of Eden
Right after East of Eden, released in March 1955, Dean continued on in the clash of generations, this time in the starring role. Rebel Without a Cause was an exploration of the confusion and frustrations of middle class suburban teenagers. Dean and his character, Jim Stark, became cultural icons, perfectly representing the so-called angst of the teenagers of the time. Such was its impact, that the movie, released a month after his death, was banned in some countries that feared it would contribute to juvenile delinquency. In other countries it was released with several scenes removed. 

Dean’s last movie, released in 1956, was a co-starring role in the film version of Edna Ferber’s epic Giant, a story of the lives of a wealthy Texas family and the people surrounding and serving them. Dean died before the release of these last two films. He was nominated for two posthumous Academy Awards for Best Actor for his roles in East of Eden and in Giant

Dean, who owned motorcycles and fast sports cars, became interested in auto racing. He had ambitions of racing in the Indianapolis 500, but filming schedules put a stop to that. He did race in several local California races, and was on his way to one in Salinas when he collided with a car turning out on to the road. That driver walked away, Dean’s passenger was hospitalized, but Dean died at the scene. Thousands gathered for his funeral, and because of the accident his coffin was closed. Earlier that same year, photographer Dennis Stock had followed Dean around from coast to coast and to his home town of Fairmount, Indiana. While there at a local department store, by very eerie coincidence, Dean decided to pose in a coffin.

yes, eerie.


Friday, September 25, 2015


How about a little privacy here!

A thought-provoking meme came my way a while ago: Ten Things that Will Disappear. It goes on to say that they’ll disappear “in our lifetimes”, though I think this one was originated by someone very, very young. It predicts the demise of, among other things, the post office, the check, the newspaper, and the land-line telephone. Well, that one went out years ago at our house.

Last month I did a blog on one of the disappearing things: #4 - Books. Today I am writing on #10 PRIVACY. The meme said:
“If there ever was a concept that we can look back on nostalgically, it would be privacy.”  That's gone. It's been gone for a long time anyway... There are cameras on the street, in most of the buildings, on most policemen (and maybe soon everyday civilians will be wearing them) and even built into your computer and cell phone. But you can be sure that 24/7, "They" know who you are and where you are, right down to the GPS coordinates, and the Google Street View. If you buy something, your habit is put into a zillion profiles, and your ads will change to reflect those habits... "They" will try to get you to buy something else. Again and again and again!”

Yes, they will try, but I probably won’t buy. 

“Privacy” – just what it is?  Google “privacy” and you get this:

the state or condition of being free from being observed or disturbed by other people.
"she returned to the privacy of her own home"
seclusionsolitudeisolation, freedom from disturbance, freedom from interference
"protecting one's privacy"
the state of being free from public attention.
"a law to restrict newspapers' freedom to invade people's privacy"

What?  Well, let me say this - I need “privacy” in my home
                          When I dress
                          When I sleep
                          When I use the bathroom facilities
                          When I loaf around the house
There’s privacy and then there’s privacy. Things like cameras on the street or some entity collecting my shopping habits don’t bother me at all. Under those circumstances, I am just one of millions, perhaps just part of a trend, and I don’t consider any of this as personal information. I’m delighted to see all the cameras – I know they help catch criminals. When I pick my nose – meaning that if I do it on the street and a camera records my faux pas, that’s my fault. But if I do it in the “privacy of my own home” that’s no one else’s business.

O.K., privacy may have been “gone for a long time anyway”, but in the years before the media explosion, before the amassing of data of all kinds, most folks thought little about privacy as it related to them outside their homes. That’s the way it should stay for the vast majority of people.

My privacy I’m not worried about. The security of my personal data, my identifying numbers of all kinds, is a concern to me. I do my best to keep safe that kind personal information. I'd be a fool not to.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


There’s a new ‘drug’ around: pumpkin. The pumpkin production people have raised their heads out of the pumpkin patch and decided to really push pumpkin.  No longer do we have just pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread, but everyone has followed the success of Starbucks pumpkin coffees, lattes and such. I say, “Why wouldya?”

Today is the first day of fall, and along with canned pumpkin for pies and real pumpkins for carving, on this morning’s Harris Teeter on-line flier we have from them, in alphabetical order no less -

On the Dairy page:
International Delight Pumpkin Spice Creamer
Nestles Pumpkin Spice Coffee Mate
Philadelphia Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese
Pillsbury Grands Pumpkin Spice Rolls
Pillsbury Ready-to-Bake Pumpkin Cookies

And on the Grocery Page:
Alpine Spice Pumpkin Cider Mix (Don't mess with a good thing!)
Bigs Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Seeds
Blue Diamond Pumpkin Almonds – (I’d love to know how they did this. I
        Guess that the artificial flavors guys got in on this recipe.)
Boulder Potato Chips – Turkey Gravy and Pumpkin Flavors (really???)
Bigelow Fall Harvest Pumpkin Spice Tea Bags and Tea Cups
Clif Bars Pumpkin or Gingerbread – (well, gingerbread is o.k.)
Creative Snacks Pumpkin Granola
G.H. Cretors Pumpkin Caramel Popcorn - (pumpkin and caramel – no!)
Gevalia and Green Mountain Pumpkin K-Cups
International Delight Pumpkin Latte Mix
McCormick Pumpkin Pie Extract - (they extracted something from a Pumpkin
        Pie?  Holey Socks!)
Pioneer Pumpkin Pancake Mix - (close, but no cigar)
Salem Pumpkin Spice shortbread Cookie - (now that one I might go for)
Stonewall Kitchens Maple Pumpkin Spread – (anything from Stonewall  
         Kitchens is great, I’ve been buying their products since they first  
         started and were selling their wares in a tent at a Manchester,  
         Vermont craft fair, so this one is o.k. by me. Might be like pumpkin 
         pie on toast! Yum.)       
Terra Pumpkin Spice Chips

Pumpkin pie is one of my very, very favorite things from about late, I say late fall into the holidays. We’re still two months away from that. It’s even a bit too early to carve a pumpkin – by Halloween it will be a shriveled pile of mush.

Poor guy, can't find his dentures.

I’m always pleased that only maybe 50% of those around our Thanksgiving table like pumpkin pie because that means more for me, especially the next morning. In my estimation, pumpkin pie is the breakfast of champions.

I’m really not interested in ersatz pumpkin in mid-September, and it is amazing to me that anyone would want their potato chips or coffee to taste like pumpkin. Some of the sweeter stuff is o.k., but pumpkin almonds?

What’s next: broccoli?

The Curmudgeon has spoken, and I am
unanimous in this!


Friday, September 18, 2015


I recently completed a piece on Edgar Rice Burroughs for our community magazine. Burroughs was born 140 years ago this month. I googled a few phrases in search of some illustration to go along with the article, and came up with this neat picture: a Thark on a Thoat.

I suppose I’ve seen a Tarzan movie or two in my day, but I never read one of the books. My father did own some Tarzan, but the ones he had that I was most interested in, my brother was too, the series we both read in its entirety, was the Barsoom series. I can still picture the line of books in the big bookcase at the end of the upstairs hall at my grandmother’s house. They soon made their way to our own bookcases.

Mars! Now those were adventures! The series starts with John Carter’s mysterious transportation from a cave in Arizona to Mars, what the local folks call Barsoom. That was amazing enough, but in the eleven books in the series Carter and his descendants encounter two-armed red Martians, four-armed green Martians,the Tharks, six-legged horse-like thoats, and many other humanoid races and animals. The strangest were those Kaldanes and Rykors. I had to look up the names because I’d forgotten them over the years, but I never could forget the picture of them in my mind. Here’s a great description from the ever-helpful Wikipedia:

The Chessmen of Mars introduces the Kaldanes of the region Bantoom, whose form is almost all head but for six spiderlike legs and a pair of chelae, and whose racial goal is to evolve even further towards pure intellect and away from bodily existence. In order to function in the physical realm, they have bred the Rykors, a complementary species composed of a body similar to that of a perfect specimen of Red Martian but lacking a head; when the Kaldane places itself upon the shoulders of the Rykor, a bundle of tentacles connects with the Rykor's spinal cord, allowing the brain of the Kaldane to interface with the body of the Rykor. Should the Rykor become damaged or die, the Kaldane merely climbs upon another as an earthling might change a horse.

Now if that didn’t make you sit up and take notice, I don’t know what would. I always did wonder how the Rykors ate and breathed and such, but hey, this was fiction, and I didn’t let it stop my reading.

All of the Barsoomians were telepathic, and all their differences invited great conflicts and vigorous fight scenes. The heroines were the complete opposite of prissy, fainting maids, but they did get abducted a time or two and there was always a stalwart hero to rescue them.

I don’t suppose I’ll get to read them all again, maybe one or two, but as readers everywhere lament: So Many Books, So Little Time. 

A Kaldane and a Rykor  (ick!)

Monday, September 14, 2015


AAArrrggg! You will not believe this. These last few weeks we’ve had some minor ant invasions – usually happens in the fall – and strangely enough this year it is a mix of at least three ant types: little “sugar” ants, bigger black ones, and fire ants. No problem, get out the Terro – there they go. But last night was a pip.  I took a shower, finished up in the bathroom, turned out the light and went to bed. Damnation, what is that? Something’s biting me – then more, then more!  It didn’t take long for me to jump out of bed and turn on the light – ants! – hoards of ‘em, coming across the rug and making a two-inch wide stream up the bed skirt and into the bed. I had walked right through their line of march. Same three types of ants – are they forming a coalition? – and those fire ants were biting like time.

Well, Frank sprayed the life out of them with the repellent he uses around the door sills and outside perimeter of the house – he didn’t do a fall spraying early enough, I guess – and they were gone. (There were lots of dead bodies to be vacuumed up this morning when the rug was dry.) After I ripped off the sheets and threw them in a hot wash, I dosed myself with cortisone cream and took some Benadryl, but this morning I was a mess off little blisters – mostly on my legs, but some on one hand too. I still itch like crazy.

 LOLOLOL – just for giggles, I googled “bedroom ants” – turns out there is such a thing – a parody on Lady Gaga by  The Kinsey Sicks – that in itself must be a parody.  "Bad Romance" – Bedroom Ants?  Except, we never, ever eat in bed! I don't know if you really want to see the skit, but it is here.

Then I went to the images and found this:

Translated from the Spanish, it means "I want to sleep." That was me last night after the mass spraying and replacing the bed linens. It sure wasn't easy to get to sleep, and then I didn’t sleep too well. No wonder my blood pressure was too high this morning when I went to the MD’s for my annual visit. Whew! When I told the doctor about it, I told him that some wayward little ant got his signals crossed and brought all his buddies to our bedroom. What would a normal ant want in a bedroom? In the bed? Reee-diculous!

And I am unanimous in this!

Saturday, September 12, 2015


Yesterday, my cousin sent along this meme with the tongue-in-cheek subject line of "What a classy guy":

Donald Trump goes after Carly Fiorina’s LOOKS in 
a new Rolling Stone profile  “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president? … I mean, she’s a woman, and I’m not [supposed to] say bad things, but really, folks, come on. Are we serious?”

I emailed this back: 
Yeah, class? – school’s out, right: no class! No class, the man is an ass. (a poem!) Yes, an ass, but maybe more like a one-trick pony. He knows real estate and that’s about it. He has the money and the PR to put himself forward, but if this country was ever stupid enough to elect him he’s be tripping up all over the place. LOLOLOL – I think of the Queen, at the forefront of my thoughts because of her recent milestone, and I just try to imagine a state visit between the two. I’m sure she’d have to excuse herself to go to the ladies room to either laugh out loud or throw up.

And I am unanimous in this!

Friday, September 11, 2015


Today is September 11th. We now observe this day as National Day of Service and Remembrance, or Patriot Day. That last one is a bit easier to remember. Throughout the day, we'll all have reminders of what happened this day in 2001, and we'll all be a bit somber and retrospective.

To lighten the mood, I bring to your attention two other observances on this day...  


National Make Your Bed Day is observed annually on September 11th.
Do you want to get a better night's sleep?  According to the National Sleep Foundation, making your bed can help improve your tossing, turning and restless sleeping which in return, can be good for your health.
“A comfortable and clean sleep environment is a sleep aid.”
At a Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program, it is taught that the sleep environment is an important, but largely ignored, component of a good night’s sleep.
Make your bed. If it is not already a habit, let this be the beginning of a new habit for you that not only makes you feel good and looks good, but is also beneficial to your health!  If you have young children at home, begin teaching them to make their bed everyday.  Use #NationalMakeYourBedDay to post on social media.

Within our research, we were unable to find the creator or origin of National Make Your Bed Day, an “unofficial” national holiday.

and ...


A sweet, delicious, spiced bun has its day each year on September 11 as it is National Hot Cross Bun Day.  This bun is made with either currants or raisins and marked with a cross (made of icing) on the top.
In many historically Christian countries, hot cross buns are traditionally eaten during Lent, beginning the evening before Ash Wednesday through Good Friday, with the cross standing as a symbol of the Crucifixion.
Hot Cross Bun Superstitions:
o    English folklore – Buns baked and served on Good Friday will not spoil or mold during the subsequent year.
o    English folklore – Buns can be used for medicinal purposes.  A piece of it given to someone ill will help them recover.
o    Sharing one with another person is supposed to ensure friendship throughout the coming year, especially if “Half for you and half for me, Between us two shall goodwill be” is said at the time.
o    Some people believe because there is a cross on the bun, they should be kissed before being eaten.
o    Hot cross buns are said to protect you during a sea voyage.
o    If hung in a kitchen, they are said to protect against fires and ensure that all breads turn out perfectly. (the hanging bun is to be replaced each year).
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

I do suppose that making your bed each day is a good idea - I do do it. Over the years I've progressed upward from a crib (I didn't "make" that one) to a twin (that one I had to learn how to make and make every day) to a three-quarter (a wonderful brass bed I bought at a tag sale). I managed to skip the double bed and move on to a queen. Now we have a king, and making that bed can sometimes be a workout, I tell you. 
But I do like getting into a nice, neat bed. When I lived at my parents' house I made my bed every day because I had to, not that I didn't want to, but it became a habit.  When I lived in my own home I made my bed every day because, being a person who always does things because "one never knows," I never knew if anyone might be coming home with me. I wouldn't want them to see a messy home or a bed. That habit did pay off a time or two, much to my relief. 

As to the Hot Cross Buns -"Hot cross buns. One-a-penny, two-a-penny, Hot cross buns." September 11th? To most people they are a Spring thing, a Lenten delight. I do suppose I can make them in September too, it's just that, like soup in high Summer, I don't think of them at this time of year. 

In so many ways the whole world has been a bit upside-down these days, so I'll go along with the trend. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


I've been waiting and counting the days, and today, at 63 years and 217 days, Queen Elizabeth II has outlasted her predecessor Victoria. Someone, somewhere, calculated each reign in years, days, hours, even minutes, and sometime today QE II sails onto the top of the list.

According to Wikipedia, she now stands in 48th place among the longest reigning monarchs of the world. Those reigning longer: all men. The longest reigning, I see, was Sobhuza of Swaziland, who reigned for almost 83 years. He must have been exhausted!

I do like Queen Elizabeth. I love the name Elizabeth, so much so that when I could choose a name for my Confirmation I chose that one. Maybe that's why I like her so much. I've blogged about her before - here, and here, and here, among others.

She's a grand gal. You read about all the Prime Ministers and celebrities she's known, authors and entertainers, and it is just amazing. She's 89 years old, and she's lived through a lot of history, many wars, and a lot of changes to our lives, not to mention her own - it was always Keep Calm and Cary On.

God Save the Queen

Friday, September 4, 2015


The myriad food ‘powers that be’, usually the manufacturers, distillers, and growers associations, designate certain months to celebrate their particular type of edible. There are more foods and more varieties of the same food to celebrate than there are months, week and days. This month the celebrations really make up a tasty menu.

In September we’ll start our feast day with an All American Breakfast or a Better Breakfast. If you’re having a Waffle, be sure to put some Honey on top. International Bacon Day is celebrated this month, so perhaps for lunch we’ll have a bacon sandwich on Whole Grain Bread, with veggies grown for Organic Harvest Month, and Potato Month potato chips on the side.

Cocktail time this month is a celebration of Bourbon Heritage with a few Macadamia Nuts for crunch, and we’ll have a glass of California Wine with our dinner. Dinner: Chicken and Mushrooms with Wild Rice, Biscuits, and to complete the meal for dessert, Mom’s Apple Pie and, of course, Coffee on National Coffee Day.

It’s also Cholesterol Awareness Month, but the chicken for our dinner isn’t too heavy in that. You’ll want to watch it though on Welsh Rarebit Day on September 3rd, Cheese Pizza Day on September 5th, Weinerchnitzel Day on September 9th, Cheeseburger Day on the 18th, and Corned Beef Hash Day on the 27th. Lipitor anyone?

Really? On a lark I googled "pickles and popsicles" and found that there are pickle popsicles, called, of course, Pickle Pops !!!   No, I don't think I'll try these.

Looking for more foodie inspiration? Find out about all the food-lovers’ celebrations of months, weeks, and days, at Fair warning: your taste buds will tickle and you’ll start to salivate when you start to read the long lists of foods. From Pickles to Popsicles, from Guacamole to Linguini, and that covers just four days in September.

Bon appetite!


Tuesday, September 1, 2015


I know there are many who would list The Road Not Taken as one of their favorite poems. We’ve all had an instance in which we had to make a significant decision. In my case, I hadn’t yet come upon the poem when that decision was made. When I did find the poem I had quite a jolt when I read those last two lines – the lines that everyone remembers. There is a lot of discussion among literary critics and deconstructionists as to what Frost meant in the last three lines. Who cares what he meant! It is an evocative poem and it works for many people like me. 

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.
Douglas Adams
English humorist & science fiction novelist (1952 - 2001)

The Road Not Taken
By Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.