Thursday, March 31, 2016


Well holey socks and darn 'em! I completely forgot to post this piece on Tuesday. I think it ironic that the man who first concocted Coca-Cola sold the formula for a relative pittance. I do suppose things like that have happened over the eons past. Herewith the piece:

As The Writer’s Almanac tells us, on this day, March 29th, in 1886, 130 years ago, John Pemberton perfected a headache and hangover remedy he’d cooked up. Previous to Atlanta passing a prohibition on alcohol, he’d made his elixir with wine. Now he had to sweeten it with sugar, and had to change its name. Thus the formula went from being “Pemberton’s French Wine Coca”, to the now almost universally known name “Coca-Cola”.

In the bygone days of the unrestricted, unregulated and often deadly use of what are now controlled substances like opium and cocaine, it was normal to have available to the general public products that contained the base of the refined substances. In this instance, it is cola leaves from which comes the refined cocaine. Even in their basic leaf state, coca leaves are stimulants. Coca-Cola continued to contain cocaine, in one quantity or another, until 1929.

Unfortunately for Pemberton, who claimed the drink cured everything from dyspepsia and impotence to morphine addiction, once the alcohol prohibition was repealed he thought the product a dud and sold off the formula. Little did he know! His son did keep control of the name for a while, but history, buy-outs, and business tactics, shady and otherwise, resulted in the Candler family ultimately profiting from the success of the now ubiquitous beverage.

Coca-Cola is said to be everything from an aircraft engine cleaner to a rust remover, from a pesticide to a spermicide. It is used as everything from a breakfast food to a shoe shiner. The Coca-Cola Company itself produces only the concentrated syrups, including those in regular, diet, caffeine-free, no-calorie, and flavored versions, which are sold to bottlers worldwide. In your travels, you may not be able to read the name in Russian, Mandarin or Urdu, but you will surely recognize the red label and wavy lettering that are instantly recognizable as Coca-Cola. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016


If you love choral music, as I do, and if you think, as I do, that our anthem could be better sung by everyone at any event, then listen to this gem my cousin Bill, connoisseur of all things as they should be, sent this week: Our National Anthem as sung by choir students attending a Kentucky Music Educators Convention.

If that doesn't satisfy your soul, then nothing will.

I've written before about our national anthem, most recently on the 200th anniversary of the Star Spangled Banner. That was a re-entry and update of a previous blog of mine. I also wrote about it here and here.

It curdles my innards when a lone, probable immensely popular, singer belts out a usually poor rendition of the anthem. I am of the firm belief that everyone attending should sing the anthem at any event where it is played. It may not be the easiest anthem in the world to sing, but it is ours. Sing out Americans!

FYI - The eagle photo is mine.

Sunday, March 27, 2016


The superb Corey Amaro has done it again - a very thought provoking post on her daily blog, Tongue in Cheek. She and her son attended Easter mass at Notre Dame in Paris this morning. Read her post, let her tell you the tale, and read all the comments. You won't be unaffected, I assure you.

Saturday, March 26, 2016


A road taken - I-90 in Montana

This day seems to have been a good day for writers to be born: Tennessee Williams, A.E. Houseman, Erica Jong, Gregory Corso, Joseph Campbell, and my favorite, Robert Frost. I’ll always jump at an opportunity to include one of his poems in my blog. This isn’t the first time, and it won’t be the last. The Writer’s Almanac entry will give you a bit of his history.

There is something about Frost’s poems that is very satisfying. Most everyone you’d care to talk to about his poems, poetry lover or not, will agree that that they do like The Road Not Taken. Everyone has had to make a decision or two in their lifetime. Everyone has looked back and wondered what life would have been like if they’d taken the other road. It’s pleasing to know that there was someone like Frost who could put that decision point into words.

The Road Not Taken

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.

With thanks to Poetry Foundation  -  

Friday, March 25, 2016


According to today’s daily email sent by the National Day Calendar, today is National Lobster Newburg Day. According to the website, the dish debuted in 1876 at Delmonico’s Restaurant in New York. Lobster Newburg – when was the last time you had that dish? When was the last time you even saw it on a restaurant’s menu? And really, that would be where most of us ever had it – at a restaurant – because it is very rich and pricey and usually not made at home.

Having a “National” day for things like this seems utterly ridiculous to me, but someone somewhere is pushing something, perhaps hoping to make a buck. But it got me to thinking about bygone dishes that I haven’t heard of in years, dishes that you usually saw only on restaurant menus. Things like chicken a la king and Salisbury steak that were restaurant favorites, and even home kitchen things like creamed chipped beef on toast. I see that there are still recipes for this one. I liked it but my husband hated it – he had to eat a lot of it when he was in the army, but he'd hated it even before that. So guess who doesn’t make it any more?

And popovers – remember those? I haven't had one in ages.I tried them once at home – complete failure!

You can find recipes for all of these on line – everything’s on line – but I can’t get a ‘visual’ on a cook thinking “I’ll make some chicken a la king tonight.” There are websites that bring old fashioned recipes up to date, and some of them are great, but Lobster Newburg? 

Monday, March 21, 2016


One of Frank’s and my fondest memories of our trips to France was a picnic of cheese from the market on still-warm chunks of a big baguette fresh from the oven in Fontaine-de-Vaucluse.

The three essentials of life!
Picture by the wonderful Corey Amaro, her post of 12-19-12,
on her daily blog Tongue in Cheek 

I learned from the daily email from The National Day Calendar that today is National French Bread Day. Mais oui! It’s every day in France. Our French Conversation group was discussing remembrances of favorite French foods. Of course there were madeleines, one recalled a fine bouillabaisse. Me? I recalled the bread, especially the lovely pointy-ended rolls my French host called “l’ancienne” – done in the ancient way. To.Die.For.

Friday, March 18, 2016


Here's another article I wrote for our community magazine - this one was is this month's issue. 

All over the world, Spring, is the time of rebirth celebration. The two major monotheistic religions in this country, Christianity and Judaism, celebrate major observances, both moveable feasts, in this season. Frequently, these celebrations coincide, but this year they are almost a month apart. Easter Week, the Paschal remembrance, comes earliest this year from Palm Sunday, which happens to be the first day of Spring, on March 20th, to Easter on the 27th; Passover, the Paschal remembrance, begins with the Passover Seder, this year on April 22nd until the Last Day on the 30th. Both religions use the word Paschal as one of the names for the occasion.

Jesus of Nazareth, a carpenter, was a pious Jew. The story of his life, from his birth to his death, is contained in the stories of the books of the New Testament, the basis of Christian theology. They tell us that in his thirties, Jesus began a life of public teaching, spreading a message of God’s love, love for our fellow man, and of God’s forgiveness. History, they say, is written by the winners. For this story, it was written by Jesus’ followers, people who sought to spread his teachings.

Though it is questionable that this pious Jew ever claimed to be God or God’s son, he did spread a very popular message that the stern and unforgiving God of the Old Testament was also a loving, forgiving God. The religious leaders of the time sought to quell his teachings and discourage his followers. Citing his claim to be God, the leaders enlisted the aid of the Roman governor, one Pontius Pilate, who had Jesus arrested and executed. The story tells of Jesus’ arrest and execution, and of his rising from the dead and ascension on what is now called Easter Sunday. When was Jesus arrested? The night after he and his disciples had what was to be his Last Supper, the Passover Seder. The Passover Seder is a ritual commemorating the Jews’ Exodus to freedom from slavery in Egypt after they had been passed over by the Angel of Death who visited the Ten Plagues on the Egyptians.

In essence, the Christians associate the resurrection of Jesus with the rebirth of the year. They use new life, eggs, baby animals like chick, bunnies, or lambs, fresh spring flowers, and new green grass as symbols of rebirth. They are incorporated, in many forms, into the meals and treats that celebrate
Easter Sunday and the end of the solemn weeks of Lent.

The Jewish Seder is a meal of remembrance. It is a meal that, in the many foods that are served, remembers their slavery and final freedom. There is a plate of six special foods that are eaten, one of which is the bitter herbs, sometimes horseradish, romaine, or endive, that recall the bitter days of slavery. The meal includes unleavened bread, matzoh, to recall that their flight from Egypt was so abrupt that they had no time to let their bread rise. Roast meats recall the lamb sacrificed at the Temple in Jerusalem. During the long meal, the story of the Exodus is read, and many other foods eaten and rituals performed to recall and reinforce the memories and the importance of the story.

However you celebrate the coming of Spring, I wish you all a wonderful season.

Saturday, March 12, 2016



Last Thursday I bought some delicious, fresh pineapple. This morning I thought I'd mince up some of it - maybe 1/2 cup or so, and add it to my regular recipe for pancakes. It was, if I do say so myself, delicious!

I/s a cup of pineapple, or more?

I don't always add fruit, but this is a recipe I use every Saturday. It’s great for both waffles and pancakes, and takes little time to whip up. Of course, it serves 2. Here goes:

Chop up about 1/2 cup or more of fresh pineapple.

Preheat your griddle, and meanwhile

In a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup or similar thing, add and whisk together well:
½ cup milk
1 egg
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
Pinch of salt

After mixing that, put in on top of it

½ cup flour, then on top of that
1½ tsp. baking powder –

With your fork or whisk, sort of swirl the baking powder into the top of the flour to mix them a bit, then mix it all into the liquid until it is fairly lump free. 

Stir in the 'minced' pineapple.

Voila: your batter is ready. Just enough for two Seniors. Double or triple as needed.

I was a bit on the messy side this morning, but
the pancakes were excellent.

Thursday, March 10, 2016


Here's an article I wrote for the community magazine. It's nice that I can always use a piece, even if they don't. That's the nice thing about a blog. I do think it amazing how far the phone has come since that first call.

You couldn't carry this one in your pocket.

It was on March 10, 1876, a mere 140 years ago, that Alexander Graham Bell made the first phone call: “Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you.” That one was just from room to room. Knowing what we know now about how the telephone has changed, and changed our lives, Bell probably should have used the same message sent over the first telegraph line: “What hath God wrought?”
The telephone: people spend hours talking to one another. Gian Carlo Menotti felt it worthy of a short, two-character comic opera in 1947. In The Telephone, a suitor tries desperately to propose to his girl, all the while she has almost endless conversations on the phone.

Menotti's opera
People rarely have a party line these days, but after commercial switchboards were introduced they were the least expensive way to phone. Of course, your neighbors could and sometimes did listen in on your conversations, but you listened in on theirs too. You can just picture a farm wife standing by the wall phone, listening in to what’s happening in the county. Private lines are now almost a requirement. In many households there is a private number for each family member.

German telephone operators around 1920 - that's my Great aunt Josephine on the far right -
they had to speak English as well as their native German 

It sometimes took what seemed like ages for a radio-telephone call to connect overseas, but once a transatlantic telephone cable was installed it became an almost everyday occurrence. Today, with satellite transmission, we think nothing of staying in touch when we are travelling overseas. An international Subscriber Identification Number, a SIM card, can be exchanged in our phones so that we can call to anywhere from anywhere.

"The lady of the house speaking!"
Hyacinth and her Princess Phone

The parents of teenage girls despaired when the Princess Phone was introduced by the Bell System in 1959. The phone was marketed to women; men and boys used it only as a matter of necessity. Teenage girls spent hours talking to each other, after they’d seen each other in school all day. Today those parents are probably thanking their lucky stars that it was only that hard-wired phone: now there are portable communications and computer devices of all types for parents to contend with.

The landline phone went from cumbersome, no dial, just pick it up and talk to the switchboard operator, to rotary dial, to the touch pad in use now. We still call it a ‘phone’, but it has morphed from a hard-wired talking device into a mobile talking/texting/on-line communications device with dozens of apps and games, all held in the palm of the hand.
Where do we go from here?

Friday, March 4, 2016


I tell you, it ain't easy findin' a picture to go with Boots.  I can hear 'em, but I can't see 'em.

March! Where did it come from? I'm four days into it, dinner time has come and gone, and I just realized I'd missed posting my poem as I usually do before breakfast on the first of the month. I must admit I've been reading up a storm these past few days, so that's my excuse reason.

Boots! I had read The Jungle Book, but this was my first introduction to Rudyard Kipling’s poetry. In my mind’s ear I can still hear my English teacher, Mr. Ross, reciting this to the class. After a while I could hear the cadence as the troops marched up and down. That reading is one of the vivid memories I have of those high school years. Marching: apt for March, is it not?

Boots        by Rudyard Kipling


We're foot—slog—slog—slog—sloggin' over Africa —
Foot—foot—foot—foot—sloggin' over Africa —
(Boots—boots—boots—boots—movin' up an' down again!)
                There's no discharge in the war!

Seven—six—eleven—five—nine-an'-twenty mile to-day —
Four—eleven—seventeen—thirty-two the day before —
(Boots—boots—boots—boots—movin' up an' down again!)
                There's no discharge in the war!

Don't—don't—don't—don't—look at what's in front of you.
(Boots—boots—boots—boots—movin' up an' down again);
Men—men—men—men—men go mad with watchin' em,
                An' there's no discharge in the war!

Try—try—try—try—to think o' something different —
Oh—my—God—keep—me from goin' lunatic!
(Boots—boots—boots—boots—movin' up an' down again!)
                There's no discharge in the war!

Count—count—count—count—the bullets in the bandoliers.
If—your—eyes—drop—they will get atop o' you!
(Boots—boots—boots—boots—movin' up an' down again) —
                There's no discharge in the war!

We—can—stick—out—'unger, thirst, an' weariness,
But—not—not—not—not the chronic sight of 'em —
Boot—boots—boots—boots—movin' up an' down again,
                An' there's no discharge in the war!

'Taint—so—bad—by—day because o' company,
But night—brings—long—strings—o' forty thousand million
Boots—boots—boots—boots—movin' up an' down again.
                There's no discharge in the war!

I—'ave—marched—six—weeks in 'Ell an' certify
It—is—not—fire—devils, dark, or anything,
But boots—boots—boots—boots—movin' up an' down again,
                An' there's no discharge in the war!