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yummy stuff...

Wednesday, December 31, 2014
... P. made when she was on that 'home-made' gift binge a year ago. The delicious pecans with sugary-cinnamon stuff on them. I asked for the recipe and never got my ducks in a row to actually put it together to have some to give away before Christmas. Not complicated, but a bit time consuming, when you have to stop and stir, stop-and-stir, stopandstir several times.

But I sort of went crazy in the kitchen for an hour or so this afternoon. Starting with a recipe I found for a 'tamale pie', that obviously did not go over well. I often wonder: how can you tell if you like it, when you start off by salting everything on your plate, then liberally sprinkle on parmesan cheese, so it all tastes salty and cheezy? But we won't go there.

I asked after we cleared the table if it was something that might bear repeating, and he said no. So I won't share that a recipe here. There was also a dish of mac 'n' cheese that I will never make again. It was just sort of average, and I keep hoping to find the one that is somehow loaded with flavor and not loaded with fat: probably not going to happen this side of heaven...

But the one for the tasty nuts is in the oven. I must stop typing here, to go and stir.... Okay, I'm  back, and here is the recipe. She reportedly found it by googling, so I am sure you could locate any number of similar things to this one. I called to ask about the one lonely little egg white, as it did not seem like it would be enough to coat four cups of nuts, but yes, it does.

Candied Pecans
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar (packed, I assumed)
1Tbs. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (I did not add this to mine)
4 cups pecan halves (will be a 12 ounce bag)
1 egg white, whisked briskly
 Preheat oven to 300. Stir together all except last two items, blending well.
In separate bowl, mix pecans and egg white, stirring well to coat nuts. Add sugar mix.
Spread on parchment lined baking sheet, separating as best you can. Bake 20 min, stir to separate, bake another to minutes. Coating will harden as it cools.
I've set the timer to go back and stir every 10 minutes, instead of 20, as I am now wishing I had used a bigger baking sheet, so I could have spread them out better before I put them in the oven, seeing that they need space to avoid being in clumps and stuck together when the sugar melts onto the nuts.

what do you call....

...going to the workplace when you only have to be there for four or five hours? I guess it's work, but a struggle to get out of that nice warm cozy bed. Jump into enough layers of warmness and tie shoe laces. When you will leave home in the dark, go and park in a dark lot and spend the morning in a frustrating game of 'catch up'. Knowing you don't have enough time to actually get it all done.

I've been on the schedule to work for three days, several hours each day. Not sure how I am supposed to do everything that needs doing in the allotted time. I know at a corporate level there has been a serious crack down going on with labor budgets, and heaven forbid the stuff that flows downhill if someone should get over forty hours. But uncertain as to how it will be possible to squeeze everything in the limited number of minutes allowed.

It's pretty unusual for me to even be scheduled to work in the floral area of the store; I left that weeks ago, when I started doing the cooking demo. But the guy who usually does that job, plus taking up lots of slack in the produce area: is out. He saved enough vacation time to take a week off, and has been out of town since Christmas Eve. I do not want him to come back to a mess on New Year's Day, but don't expect to get everything done today.

There is freight from the warehouse to put out that has been piling up since Sunday. There are plants to water. There are buckets to scrub before fresh bouquets can be put in them, tables to clean, rearranging and organizing. Just a lot of routine, daily work - that has been neglected for several days. With no one doing those daily tasks, it is so hard to try to do three days work in one half day... and have it fluffed, spiff'ed up to standards with insufficient time.

And the corporate attitude of 'take responsibility' and 'be accountable', but don't come in early and don't expect to stay late: work harder, faster, be more diligent?  Very frustrating...but really, I'm ok with not working much, the only problem being that if there is no time scheduled, there in no income.

floral working...

Monday, December 29, 2014
..though my 'job class' has changed, and I am no longer considered a worker in the produce department, I found myself working in the floral shoppe three days recently. The guy who is It for floral department saved enough of his vacation time, to take a week off after Christmas, so will not return to work until New Year's Day. Leaving no one who would even be remotely interested in doing what he does all day.

I worked for four hours on Friday, and was on the schedule for three hours on Saturday. Hardly worth tying my shoe laces for that. And asked if I should come in just long enough to get everything in water on Sunday after church. The cartons containing bunches of fresh cut flowers from south America are usually flat boxes, about three inches in height, maybe thirty-six inches long, and less than six inches wide. So you can imagine how thirsty they are, having travelled for two days with nothing to drink. If not recut and put in buckets of water, they are soon deceased. But if given a fresh trim, and a chance to drink, they make a remarkable come-back. Things that you would not give a nickel for can perk up and refresh, looking amazing after twenty four hours of sucking up clean fresh water.

As do a lot of plants that look ready for the trash. When I went in on Friday, the cyclamen and hydrangeas were wilted to the point of death. But with lots of misting, using a spray bottle with plain water, to hydrate the blooms and leaves, and a good soaking from the bottom up: they turned back into sellable items. The pots always come wrapped, in a water proof paper sleeve, or some sort of water resistant container. So I took them to the prep area, but them in a sink with a couple of inches of water, and let them sit for several hours. They made a remarkable comeback: returning from the great beyond, to be ready to put out on the sales floor again, with customers none the wiser.

All those limp, pitiful, panting, desperate plants wanted was some kind words, a bit of affection, and a glass of warm milk before bedtime.


Sunday, December 28, 2014
... while things are still in town, often at the 'cheap seats', before they go off the big screen. Having not been to the walk-in in  months, I have a lot of catching up to do. Starting about a week ago, I've seen six. And this includes a couple of days when I didn't get there at all, due to family amusement when we went to Chattanooga for twenty four hours last week.

It started with "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day". Then something a bit more educational, that was surprisingly interesting, and not nearly as awful as the last one I saw that was loosely based on Biblical history. "Noah" was so bad, I wanted to ask for a refund, and I saw that one at home! "Exodus: Gods and Kings" was pretty good, even though Christian Bale can be a drama queen at times. Kept the story-line intact pretty well, over all.  The plagues were made to seem really plausible, and seeing the Egyptian army swamped in the Red Sea was really impressive

The "Hunger Games" was next. I have not read the books, so not familiar with the plot. Plus it's been so long since I saw the last one, it's hard to know where that one ended to remember what's going on in this newest installment. I was not impressed. Feeling like they devoted most of the film to the 'commercial' making aspect, with places that were really slow. The most interesting part was when I was absolutely convinced I recognized a scene as 'local'. Certain it was a place in middle Georgia, just north of Macon. So I had to stay for the credits and sure enough, it was filmed in Georgia and Paris. But that brick building façade I was sure I knew: I've never seen before. It is an old mill at Sweetwater State Park, just east of Atlanta.

Went to see "St. Vincent" purely to be amused by Bill Murray. Seeing him as a curmudgeon, and doing it so well, was almost Murray playing himself. But it was a sweet story, and enjoyable. Also made me want to see "Ghostbusters" again.

The "Hobbit" was disappointing. It was pretty dark, in lots of ways. Plenty of action, but exclusively people, dwarves, elves, and non-people getting skewered, sliced, chopped, decimated. Not recommended for the squeamish.

And certainly Not Recommended for the Squeamish: the one I saw today, "The Equalizer". I knew it was rated R, only went because a friend suggested it might be good, as we thought it was based on the old TV series. That show from thirty years ago was the idea behind the movie, but it's not something a family could view,  material not suitable for children. Not at all. I really like Denzel Washington, but I'm wishing he had not made such a gruesome gory movie. It was like the Chainsaw Massacre without the chainsaw.


... a book I randomly picked up off a shelf in the library last week.  I knew there would be lots of time reading time, when we went to TN and back. With a man who has nothing more to say than: 'do you need to stop?' So I was prepared for a long quiet drive, with a couple of books, hoping at least one would be a distraction during the hours on the interstate.  And a couple of books on CDs, also checked out from the library, that I have always called 'talking books'. This expression was used by my grandmother, after her eye-sight failed and she had them delivered to her door from the Library of Congress, in the form of LP vinyl years ago.

One of the books I took along for the four hour ride was something anyone who has an affinity for animals, especially large, untamed land mammals would enjoy. So in reality what you are reading is a Book Report. The title of the book I finished in just over twenty four hours: "The Elephant Whisperer". Written by Lawrence Anthony.  You probably remember the movie with Robert Redford, "The Horse Whisperer", so will assume that the man who talked to elephants did the same thing... well - sorta. But not.

He lives in Africa, in the far south, relatively close to Cape Town. But Africa being vast, and much of it sparsely inhabited, he lived on a twenty mile square game preserve, and was working with native tribes to enlarge the preserve to provide more protected area for wildlife. Of every variety and size, to the point of actually buying and relocating rhinos. With constant patrolling for poachers and hungry tribesmen.

He was getting his project established when a preservation group called to ask if he would take a family of elephants that needed to be relocated. The place the elephants were living was unwilling to deal with their unacceptable behavior, and if he could not take them they would be destroyed.  He agreed, and the book is the story of how the man was able to get the matriarch of the group to learn to trust a human, as she discovered a man who meant her family no harm. Anthony was willing to devote the time necessary to build a relationship with the group while deliberately not making any effort to actually 'tame' them in the sense of having them do what humans want them to.  The story is  worth reading if for no other reason that learning how a reluctant elephant can be moved. Not easily, as you might guess.

It was an amazing story. And when I opened the book, I discovered the author was the same man who went to Iraq during the first war. Where he spent six months in Baghdad, trying to protect and save the animals that were captive in the zoo there. I have requested "Babylon's Ark: The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo", from the library, but have not read it yet. I remember desperately wanting to read it when I first heard about the story, but apparently didn't write it down. And you know what happens if you don't write stuff down? Fail to make notes to yourself? Yeah, me too....

A p.s. would be good here: one of the talking books was so full of foul language, I returned it after listening for less than ten minutes.  I guess I should have known it would be obscene when the story was about substance abuse and addiction. It's already been delivered to the library drop box.

after lots of laughs...picture added!

Saturday, December 27, 2014
... and  a couple of walks we left TN about 4:30 on Thurs to drive home. The first walk was up on the edge of Lookout Mountain on an old trail that was really interesting, especially with a guy who knows a lot about the history of the area as it developed after the Big War. He often runs along the trail, and is very familiar with the way it changed over time, as people moved up to the top of the mountain, and inclined railways were built to help transport people from bottom to top and back again.

We drove a little way up the mountain, parked and got out to walk on a trail that runs parallel, rather than horizontal. So thankful it was  not vertical, with my ailing knee.  A mostly smooth path, with gravel, just a little 'grade', not too steep to comfortably walk. One reason it is so accessible is there are buried utilities under the path, so they keep digging it up and are required to put it back just like they found it. I expect there are places it borders, or possibly crosses federal land boundaries, where the National Parks preserves the site of the Battle of Chattanooga from the top of Lookout down into the valley.

A pretty view from the top, looking across a horseshoe bend in the river and off into the valley. But a steep climb, with sheer drop-offs if you are a young tired, hungry Union solider trying to scrabble up the face of the mountain. Under constant fire from the Confederates on the high ground, trying to protect themselves and a doomed way of life.

Then we went for a walk around the neighborhood, to stir up all the dogs and get everyone's defense system barking. As well as a goose that apparently acts as a burglar alarm for a home near the state line. I guess a loud, irritated goose would be a good as a barking dog, but only if there was someone around who would pay attention, and respond to see if there was a problem that needed attention.

I did not want to leave, and spend four hours getting back to Columbus, but knew I had to work on Friday. So we got on the road in time to have a couple of hours of daylight to read on my library book. Making the trip a bit more tolerable. I don't know why he thought he could pull off the interstate and find something to eat, places that would be open to provide a meal.

I remember going to Florida once on Christmas Day, and driving for hours looking for food. We were in the pickup truck, and probably had brand new bicycles in the back. No where to stop for gas or eats. Finally stopping at a grungy country store and probably getting sodas and crackers for lunch. Absolutely nothing was open. None of those places that you expect to be able to swing into and be fed, in-and-out in twenty minutes. All the chicken and burger joints were dark.  Proving that Christmas is the one day of the year that everyone gets a day off.


Thursday, December 25, 2014
...here in TN. Where there is lots of happy, happy, joy, joy. We drove up  yesterday. Whereupon I learned I cannot sit in the car for four hours straight, without a break to get out and straighten my legs, give my back a rest. It was wet on the road,  not always raining, but wet and messy with wipers running constantly due to moisture on road coming up to blur vision.

But an uneventful drive, arriving mid-afternoon. I can't say why he did not stop for lunch, or just to unkink back, but arriving in record time. To get in the door in the middle of preparing eight pans of cinnamon rolls, to share with neighbors, plus have enough for breakfast. I was really hungry, so we ate the chili that was meant for after church mid-afternoon instead.  We went to a nearby Methodist church for Christmas carols, communion and candle-light service. And wearily dropped in to bed.

We'll open various mysterious bundles, eat for several hours, have some laughs, giggle ourselves off the couch. Load up to head home this afternoon. Sadly, I am on the schedule to work Friday morning, so: back to the grind. To mark all the Christmas plants and flowers down dramatically, hoping they will sell for a dollar or two before tossing them in the dumpster.

another 'not' new recipe...

Wednesday, December 24, 2014
... and actually the one I was thinking of, when we talked about cooking with sherry. This should go along with those things I remembered eating for lunch on Sunday after sitting through tedious sermons at the Baptist church. When we would come in the back door, hungry as hibernating bears, ready to be fed. This would be in the stove, having cooked, ready to eat, with marvelous odor filling the kitchen when we walked in.

Though it is called 'chicken in foil', you could certainly cook it in a baking dish. I think there was a lot of novelty associated with opening the 'gift' sitting on your plate in heavy duty foil, made and baked in the oven, just for you. I have not had this in my mouth in many years, but my taste buds definitely remember.

A bit of explanation: this was back in the era of 'housewives', who would routinely buy a whole chicken at the meat market, or locally-owned grocery. Take it home and dismember it to cook for the family, or roast it whole. So the piece of the bird referred to in the recipe would be with ribs, none of this stuff you see now, on a Styrofoam tray, shrink wrapped at the processing plant. And certainly the idea of 'fingers' or filets did not exist. You either took the piece that was on the platter when it was passed around, or you missed out, and had rice and gravy for lunch.

Chicken in foil

1/2 chicken breast per person (meaning the whole breast you now get out of the meat cooler, ribs and skin removed, ready to put in the oven or crockpot, cook and serve intact)
1/2 to a whole stick of real butter, no substitutions
Brown chicken in fry pan in melted butter. Place each piece on a large square of heavy duty foil, large enough to wrap, folding ends over, in a manner that will secure juices inside and won't leak.
In the pan, in the butter, pour one bottle cocktail onions, and one can or small jar of mushrooms (drained). Heat through, and divide amongst the different packages, after you have turned up the edges of the foil, with a chicken breast in each. Add 1 Tbls. of sherry to each, and fold edges together several times (called a 'drug store wrap') to seal it up tightly, and keep yummy juices from leaking out. Cook at 300 for 45 min. Good with rice to put the gravy on, or if you really love the people you are serving it to, yeast rolls.
As you can see, few ingredients, easy to put together, then put in oven and go off and leave for  most of a hour, come back and find it ready to serve.

a not new recipe...

...but so yummy, it is ready to be revived, recycled and return to popular, common use. I thought about this one when talking to F. about sherry. Any mention of sherry as the drink, makes me think of my dad's mom. Who in her later years, always had a little 'tot' before bedtime, reportedly saying it was for 'medicinal purposes only'. She was in her mid-nineties when she died, so at that age, enjoying anything she wanted to consume should not have been questioned, plus she was a died-in-the-wool Presbyterian, and they never yet saw the harm in an the occasional bending of the elbow.

The recipe in question was one for cookies, calls for a Tablespoon from the bottle of sherry. A family favorite, though I have not made it in years. I can understand how your taste buds would get a 'hankerin' for something and nothing else will do. The remembered cookies are very similar in taste and texture to shortbread, sprinkled with powdered sugar when they cool. The thing is when you bite into what you think might taste like a wedding cookie, judging by size and shape, there is a surprise in the middle. And your mouth says: 'What?' when you get to the chocolate kiss hidden in the center

They were making the cookies called 'snowballs' this afternoon. And probably eating as many of the kisses as they hid in the cookies. All I want is one. And in reality, the cookie dough, loaded with butter is so good, I would prefer mine to not have been in the oven. There are no eggs involved, so it is safe for those to whom I have taught bad kitchen habits to eat it straight from the bowl, before it goes in the oven.

1/2 pound unsalted butter (two sticks), no oleo or substitutes
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbs. sherry
1 cup finely chopped pecans
Chocolate kisses
confectioners sugar for dusting

Cream softened butter, sugar, sherry till fluffy. Add flour, stir in nuts. Form into ball. Chill at least an hour or overnight. Preheat oven to 350. Peel kisses, pinch off a bit of dough, about one inch in size. Form dough ball around kiss. completely covering chocolate. I find they keep their shape better if you refrigerate again. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet about 12 min. Do not let brown. Let cool completely, dust with confectioners sugar. Makes about 4 -4 1/2 dozen.

remembering Christmas...part 6?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014
...having sort of lost count with all the reminiscing I am not sure what number this one should be in the listing. But since it is a 'remembrance' of the one that has not actually happened yet, guess it doesn't really matter anyway? It's the story/explanation of how we came to be the people who are traveling for the holiday.

You likely read or heard at some point that we went up to Decatur for lunch on Thanksgiving, and are planning to be in TN for Christmas day. For several years F. in Decatur has invited various and sundry to come for lunch on Easter as well. An interesting assortment of friends and family always show up, bringing potluck dishes to add to the meal.

For the past couple of years, we have traveled to TN to spend the night and day on Christmas. Due mostly to demands of employment with those folks living up there. The same was pretty much expected for this holiday, even though scheduling can change on short notice. P. in TN sent her dad an invitation, probably a text message, as an opportunity to return this year to share the joy of the season with those sweet people in TN.

When the guy here got that message, he asked me: "What happened to kids coming home for the holidays?"  I said: "You are asking the wrong person." Which was understandably pretty annoying. And was actually not the best answer. Which has since occurred to me, and I shared with several people who have heard this story.

So I want to tell it to a wider audience now:
What happened is that they ARE home. They have bought a house, have employment, friends, a busy life where they are putting down roots. So they are at home, right where they are, either in Decatur or Chattanooga. What the message you got and failed to provide an answer for really means is 'we want you to come and share the joy of the holiday with us in our home'."

Otherwise we would not see those people at all over the holidays. With wretched work schedules and people who are working under less than desirable circumstances, they would not have the freedom to travel and spend time with those they care about.

Which brings up the real, actual, true fact of TIME: spend it with those you most want to be with. Invest wisely. Don't squander it. Chasing around, madly devoting your limited Time to superficial stuff. If it can be bought with $$$, it's all 'stuff'. And not a good investment of either your Time or the effort it takes to get to the place where they exchange the $$$ for something tangible. We are only here for a limited time: years, days, hours. Think about how you want to spend yours... fighting crowds in retail, dealing with tired surly cashiers, or with family and beloved friends?

new day, new recipe...

Monday, December 22, 2014
... when the game changes every Sunday and Wednesday. One recipe goes for four days, the next one is repeated over the course of three days, then back to Wed. through Sat. schedule. So when went in today, I had to learn how to make something new. I guess it's good - studying, practicing skills, learning how to make it easier than what the provided directions for 'how to' direct me to assemble the dish. Finding the best, simplest way to reproduce the same thing  four or five times in a row.

I was a bit anxious about going in today, knowing that the recipe I would be facing was for a rib roast. The ones I saw when I got to work, there in the cooler, right behind my work station: $45 for a piece of meat. Wow. I was so thankful that my instructions allowed me to not make the roast. When something in the past has called for a large, multi-serving piece of meat, the demo. instructions will tell us to use steaks or porkchops, or a smaller cut that would be similar to the finished product in the recipe. But this time: thankfully, omitting the meat entirely.

So I made the side dish that went with the roast six times. Remarkably easy, and simple to assemble. I have it memorized. Do you want to hear it? It's all right here, in my head!

A pile of mashed potatoes. We used the ones prepared, pre-packaged in the meat dept., but no reason you could not use some you had made yourself, and had leftovers. Pat this out in a square  9x9 inch oven safe pan.
Four plum tomatoes, sliced thin.
slices of fresh mozaarella cheese.
Alternate these on top of the potaotes, in layers, like shingles.
Mix Italian flavored bread crumbs and parmesan cheese together, and sprinkle over. Bake.

This all sounds really strange, right? That's what I thought, along with not being particularly fond of mashed potatoes. But when you bake it for 20 -30 min, and the flavors blend, it's remarkably good. I was really surprised.

remembering Christmas.... part 5

Sunday, December 21, 2014
... not all things from my childhood. This one is much more recent: probably about ten or twelve years ago. Setting up the scene: I was working in the bakery. We were giving out samples of fresh baked bread, sliced, then buttered, then put in the toaster over to serve warm to passersby.
As I recall it worked pretty well to lure customers into buying the newly introduced loaves.

I somehow, accidently, knocked/pulled the toaster off the little stand, and it crashed onto the floor, breaking the glass front. I felt inept, incompetent, and terrible about destroying the toaster. So I bought a replacement, even though the store could afford it much better than I could. I was both annoyed and pissed, but had only myself to blame.

Since I replaced the damaged toaster, I decided it was mine. And took it to the small appliance repair store to try to get a new part and have it installed. They told me a new door would cost as much as a new toaster oven. So I said darn. And took it home, set aside and sort of forgot about it.

Months later I took a notion to call the manufacturer to see if I might be able to get the replacement part. And found that I could cut the plug off, mail it to the maker and get a sparkly, brand new toaster: the damaged one was still in warranty, as evidenced by the lot number imprinted on the plug. Yay! So here I am with a toaster I don't need.

It got to be Christmas. One daughter was living in Decatur going to chef- ing school. Came home for the holiday. As we were sitting at the dining table, finishing lunch, she mentioned that she might like to have a small appliance. Specifically: 'I wish I had a toaster'. I said 'Hold that thought'. Got up from the table and went out into the storage/shop, and came back with a brand new, sparkly, shiny-bright toaster oven. Then she said, "I wish I had a pony."

in a recent blog...

... reference was made to that old, but still amusing joke ending with the punchline of : How do it know? If you need a bit of reminding/backstory: there was this group of guys sitting around the work place eating lunch, talking about the greatest invention of the twentieth century (this in itself should indicate how long ago I heard the joke!) There were several suggestions made, and one guy said he was certain it would be the thermos in his lunch box. When questioned, by the other guys who thought his answer profoundly lame and simple-minded, his response is that the thermos has the remarkable ability to keep hot things hot, and cold things cold: How do it know?

I've been cooking for ... hmmm, all my life? A long time. Probably since about  ten years old. You eventually pick up lots of shortcuts and tricks, things that once you know them: you think everyone does. Simple things that people do in the kitchen when they need some item they don't have on hand, but have learned that a 'this' will do just as well as a 'that' as called for in the recipe. For example: if your ingredients list includes a cup of buttermilk, and you don't want to buy a quart to throw out three-forths later, you can add a bit of vinegar or lemon juice to sweet milk to make it sour and use in the cornbread recipe.

So the question is: how come, when I added the cream to the vinegar it did not get nasty. If the adding of the acid to the sweet milk turns it sour, why didn't the same thing happen with the recipe for the cream sauce I was stirring up to put on the asparagus at the cooking demo. yesterday?

Here's the recipe from the Publix Aprons Simple Meals website:
1 shallot finely chopped
2 lb. fresh asparagus
3 T. water, divided
3 T. sherry vinegar
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 T. unsalted butter
1 T. whole grain Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Chop shallot. Trim asparagus. Place asparagus and 1 T. water in micro-safe bowl, cover. Microwave for 3-4 minutes until tender.
Preheat large saute pan on medium for 2-3 min. Place shallot, sherry, and remaining 2 T water in pan, simmer 3-4 min. until liquid has been reduced by about one-half.
Stir in cream, butter, mustard, salt, pepper until thickened. Place asparagus on serving platter and drizzle with sauce. Serve immediately.

It's so good, if you like asparagus, I could have eaten the whole thing. Fortunately there were too many people watching, to say nothing of wanting to taste it for themselves, they kept me from doing something I would regret. But the question is: How do it know? Why did the sauce not separate when the cream went into the vinegar? Does diluting/cooking down make the difference? Hmmmmm...

here to confess..

... to perpetuating an outright lie. But it was at least 97% harmless, (pretty amusing as well!) and until I go to the effort to unburden my conscience - no one would ever be the wiser.  Funny to be hearing that from the person who tried my best to raise children to' keep your mouth shut'. Meaning: don't be telling lies, but remember that you do not have to tell every thing you know. It is often to your benefit to just keep it to yourself.

One of the recipes I have made nearly a dozen times over the past three days was for creamed potatoes. The first time I tried (always a learning curve, mostly what not to do the second time) I thought I was supposed to use a electric mixer to get them smooth. A large mess ensued. So I put that aside and got out the smasher. After doing that recipe several times over the course of the day, I woke up the next morning with sore muscles in my biceps. Had to stop and think: 'what did I do?', and laugh when I realized it was due to smooshing potatoes.

It is a yummy recipe. Especially interesting in this drive-thru-fast-food world since you start with actual potatoes that have to be washed, and peeled then chunked up by hand. The cubed potatoes are cooked in chicken stock, that has been made with onions, mushrooms and carrots, so they absorb the yellow'ish tint of the stock. Then after you smoosh, you add butter, a creamy herb spread, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Really good. But also very lumpy. So I decided perhaps they should cook a bit longer, get more tender, to smash up smoother. With only marginal success.

This is the part of the story where the blatant lie comes in. Reluctant to take full responsibility for spooning up such a chunky item, I started telling people: when my kids were little I told them that lumpy potatoes meant there was a lot of love in there. If you ever go some place and eat mashed potatoes that do not have lumps, you will know they were not made by someone who loves you. The more lumps you find in your potatoes, the more love there is, along with care and devotion from the maker of the mashed potatoes.

In the course of dishing up potatoes over three days, alternating with a tasty asparagus recipe that had a cholesterol laden cream sauce, I predict I told that untruth about one hundred times. I don't think the burden of guilt will keep me up too late. My conscience is already pretty clean, just from this little Saturday night visit to the confessional.

remembering Christmas... part 4

Saturday, December 20, 2014
... as grandparents aged, and no longer invited generations to come and have the feast for the holiday, it was really random at the house I grew up in. My mom had several items for Sunday lunch, things that would cook unattended when you set the timer on the oven and it would be mouth-watering ready when we got home.  You could count on standard recipes with tried and true stand-bys. Things that could be expected to show up on a regular basis. The bean casserole with mushroom soup and onions on top. The mushroom steak with thin sliced lemons and olive oil. The mashed potatoes with little green canned peas you put in the hole you make in the center of a blob of potatoes to look like a bird's nest.

But on Christmas: you better be prepared for something highly non-traditional. I do remember an occasional turkey, dressing/gravy meal but she was not one to pull out all the stops. The most interesting thing I can recall having as a kid: hot dogs. My  non-traditional mom - I don't know if it was planned or just a 'whatever'. I cannot say with certainty, but I think I recall a time when my brother went in the kitchen and made his beloved peanut-butter and honey on light bread. I probably had a ketchup sandwich, which was in a tie for the ones my grandmother plied my cousin and I with: butter and granulated sugar on white bread. How's that for good nutrition?

a conundrum...

...is defined atsa question or problem having only a conjectural answer; an intricate or difficult problem. I've been pondering since having a 'you're on the hot spot' conversation with the store manager today. Due to a highly dissatisfying experience I had nearly two months ago, when the semi-yearly work evaluation was so crappy, I am still steamed about it.

So I just now got around to getting my thoughts together to write a response to my concerns about how the departmental manager looked at my work ethic, skills and attitude. He obviously a) was told to give me a poor score, thereby avoiding the possibility of a raise (big deal: a pay increase in the grocery business might be five or ten cents per hours :(>  or b) was really annoyed about something that was likely not related to what I do when I am at work. But since it was crappy and I am still stewing about it, I did compose a well worded rebuttal to put in my personnel file. For all the good that will do weeks after the fact. Yeah- I know, it's history, a moot point.

But since I cannot let it rest, I had to have another conversation with them about it. And probably shot myself in the foot again. Occurring when the store manager called in the person who is now the supervisor/direct manager for all the front end workers: cashiers, customer service, baggers and me. For whatever reason, she seems to be hard to get along with.

The conundrum: just because something is True, does that make it Right?  Here's the set up: too many job reviews by people who have no idea what I do, what I am supposed to do, how well I do it. Either new to the store, or new to the job, with no experience in management. I know there is a learning curve and everyone has to start somewhere. So even people with no knowledge or any experience at their job are given the responsibility of deciding how well I do mine? There seems to be something seriously wrong with that picture. It is true they have been given the task/responsibility of managing. But just because they have a title (and the accompanying pay), does not mean they know what they are doing, to say nothing of knowing what or how well I am doing.

it's own food group...

Friday, December 19, 2014
...would be the classification for peanut butter if you were to ask the person I live with here. He has been saying (with great authority) that pb is the 'perfect food'. I can't say whether that statement is a quote, or just a very strongly held opinion. But if you hear anything often enough, you learn to not argue with someone who has just made a statement he believes to be a documented, researched, proven fact.

I likely shared the recipe for these cookies the last time I made them... which I suspect would be about a year ago. It is so easy, and so good to be so easy, I have made them again. Twice. Once yesterday and again this morning, to put some in the mail to a couple of people I won't see until next year, but wanted to send a little 'thinking of you' gift.

And: the other good, wonderful thing about this recipe is that you can let little people help roll them into balls, to drop on the baking sheet. Or give a fork to press lightly to make the all-important 'fork prints' (otherwise they are not complete peanut butter cookies!)  If more should end up in their mouths than on the pan, they will likely have some elimination problems for a day or so, but otherwise will not make them ill as some people think eating uncooked dough or cake batter will do.

What could be easier than a recipe with four ingredients, especially when one is a dollop of vanilla?

Peanut Butter Cookies with fork prints

1 can condensed milk (not evaporated)
3/4 cup peanut butter
2 cups baking mix (Bisquick, Pioneer, etc.)
1 tsp. vanilla
Put milk and pb in a large bowl, put in micro. for one min. to make it easier to stir. Add vanilla, stir well, add baking mix, stir well. Form into 1 inch balls, place on baking sheet, press lightly with fork tines. Bake 8-10 minutes at 375 degrees. Makes about 60'ish yummy cookies if you don't eat half of them before they go in the oven.

new food group...???

Thursday, December 18, 2014
... might be best for something I just stirred up. I wanted to make some cookies to send, but between: a) lazy, b) lack of time, and c) hoping for a smidgen of nutrition - even though, yeah, I know the rules don't apply between mid November and January the 2nd. So I would like to plead my case for having invented a New Food Group.

I didn't have the recipe for rice krispie treats stored in my brain any longer, after such a long time of not having made such a useless, non-nutritious food item. So had to google it up to find out how much butter and how many cups of (non-food) marshmallows to mix with what quantity of cereal for right proportions. Though back in my 'treats' days, I was prone to put the whole box of krispies in, without a thought for measuring cups.

My plan was to substitute whole grain cheerios for the krispies. It all seemed to come together pretty well - you might be able to substitute the melted marshmallows for most any form of water based glue as they consist of corn syrup, sugar, cornstarch, water. They will have to cool a bit before the final evaluation/taste test/quality control takes place. But I suspect the individual who is always opening the pantry door or peering into the fridge here, in an optimistic, munchy state will have no complaints about the cheerios replacing the krispies.

Plus my theory of "It's always good when someone else is cooking" has been confirmed any number of times by passing customers when they eat at the demo booth in Publix.

a day of arggghhhh...

..is what happened when I agreed to do a sub. teaching job on Wednesday,that somehow went completely awry. I was at work on Tues., and could not answer my phone when the computer generated calls started coming in around 6 p.m. So just had to let it ring and sing in my pocket. By the time I got finished up: I had twenty missed calls from the 'subfinder', looking for replacement teachers. I knew I didn't want to go into a Special Ed. classroom, so it was just as well that I had to pass on all those offers.

When I did get to the point after work that I could take a call, it was for a job in a little school where I have been before, as an aide in a pre-K class. I am really amused by four year olds, and though I would rather get better pay for my time, decided to take that assignment. Got up Wed. morning, and found something for lunch, got organized and drove to the school. Nearly on time, with only a slight traffic backup on the way.

Only to be asked when I went in the office to sign in to take a third grade class. Which I did not agree to and did  not want to do. When the admin. assistant asked me, I said 'no', not even tempted with a better paying day. Then she asked if I would go in that class and stay for a bit until they could find someone to do it. I said 'no'. So she asked if I would just try it. I didn't want to, and told her I would rather do the pre-K job, but with great reluctance and trepidation would go until she could call around and get a replacement. I am almost certain she quit trying the minute I walked out the door.

The good news is that there was an aide in the room when I got there, they were remarkably well behaved until they went to lunch. 99% due to that person in there who knew them, could call them by name, knew their routine, knew what the teacher expected from them, and could bring disruptive behavior to a screeching halt. The rest of the day was not fun. But I survived.

I should have stayed at home, and gotten my Christmas letter written. It would have been a much more peaceful and productive day. Though I did go to church and help with the ARC blood drive,  plus give a pint. And so exhausted from all this, I fell into bed about 8:30.  Which of course means, I woke up about 4:00 am, thinking about that letter I need to get written, copied, addressed, mailed.

remembering Christmas...part 3

Wednesday, December 17, 2014
... is what I was doing when at work yesterday. Thinking about childhood holidays. Just odd little bits and pieces of things that stuck in my brain from growing up in a small town.  Being a kid  in a place and time when parents assumed it was safe to let their offspring roam the streets unsupervised.

One set of grandparents lived on a small farm several miles from the center of town. Though my granddad came into town to work every day, in a local bank, I remember my brother and I spending a good bit of time out there 'in the country', doing whatever kids do when left to their own devices. I think he spent a lot of time in my granddads workshop, hammering nails into everything he could find. I must have spent more time with my grandmother, but do recall a lot of sitting up high in the limbs of a large magnolia tree in their yard.

Having the benefit of living in close proximity to grandparents on both sides means our family saw a lot of them. We would have Thanksgiving lunch with one set each year, and Christmas dinner at the home of the other. Occasionally wondering from year to year, where to go? Which place we ate at the previous holiday?

The group at the house on Court Street was always larger, with more extended family available to crowd around the table. Aunts, uncles and cousins living in the adjacent house, and other adults in close proximity meant lots of family gathered for the holiday meal. Since this grandmother was an avid bridge player, there were plenty of card tables and chairs to set up all over the house in hallway, living room, where ever a space could be made, to use for children to sit. Where cousins would get loud and rowdy, with uncontrolled laughter and smothered giggling. To be thoroughly threatened by adults who never put down their forks or got up to carry out the threats of deadly force.

I am sure grandmother, who had a cook, pulled out all the stops for the holiday meal. With turkey and ham, cornbread dressing and gravy, rice and more gravy, various vegetables and homemade yeast rolls. Stuff that takes days to prepare, and hours to cook. Magically having everything appear on the table at the same time. And of course, setting the table with the best china, sterling flatware and crystal. Linen table cloth and diligently ironed napkins.

I don't recall specifics of the menu other than always 'ambrosia'. Which is a combination of peeled and sliced citrus fruits, along with bright red marischino cherries and grated coconut. I am thinking the coconut was not available for purchase in grocery stores, so was tediously prepared by hand. Meaning you have to: buy the coconut, intact. A little hard round, dark brown shell, about the size to fit in an adult hand, with three little grouped together indents that look for the world like a face, with eyes and mouth.

 Pay for it and take it home. Get out the ice pick or screwdriver and hammer to punch holes in the 'eyes', turn it upside down on a small bowl or measuring cup in order to drain out the liquid/milk. If you are smart you will now wrap it in a towel. (I wasn't ever that clever, not thinking ahead.)Take it out in the back yard and whack it several times with a hammer. Crack it open, to get to the inside on a brick in the back yard (with occasional pieces going flying in all directions.) Then you have to pry the 'meat' from the hard dark brown outer shell. Then you have to wash all the dirt and sand off the white meat. And get out the grater. Proceed to grate each of the pieces, and your knuckles to get as much coconut as possible to add to the citrus/cherry mix.

Much, much later in life I realized I don't like coconut, and continue to look back over the decades with surprise that I ate so many things I did not want to put in my mouth. Don't care for the taste or texture of. But ate because I knew not to refuse. I think with the ambrosia, the ingredients were such a rarity in that time, so 'dear', and such a rarity: fresh fruit in winter, that it was a treasured item, with both the citrus and the coconut being a scare, therefore expensive commodity that it was considered a real treat. So I was given my dish of ambrosia. And ate it without question. But now, I would like to say: "none for me, thank you", and hope to leave my portion for others who really enjoy it.

remembering Christmas...part 2

Tuesday, December 16, 2014
...when there were some good and some not so good. I apparently have gotten pretty adept at putting things in little compartments where I can close the door on things that I want to block out. Plus you don't want to hear the stories with remembrance of the 'not so good'.

The Good: and The Best: was the year my dad bought a horse. When I think about it now, it is difficult to believe that I would be so outrageous as to ask for/expect to get a horse. It had to be a drain on the family economy. After you buy one, you have to feed it. A whole lot more than table scraps a dog would consume, along with the occasional can of food. I am not sure how old I was,, maybe eleven or twelve, definitely of the age to be 'horse crazy'. I'm wishing now I had asked my dad a lot of questions about a lot of different things before it was too late, and inquiring into the details of how him came into possession of a very large four-footed mammal is one of those questions.

Sadly, I was not surprised: my brother apparently could not keep a secret. But I did. They told him what I was getting, and told me what he was getting. And he blabbed. But not me, so he had no idea what to expect at the crack of dawn on that Christmas day.

I was delighted and rode that horse all over town for years. My dad built a pen in the back yard. But expected me to take care of it, which I did, feeding, watering , grooming. He was occasionally tied out in the yard or a big pecan orchard across the road, to graze on fresh grass.  He was a sort of rusty red color, with a white star on his forehead. His name was Tony. I did not know about a man who made cowboy movies before I came along, but there was a guy named Tom Mix who has a horse named Tony, so I think that was how this one got his name.

I guess I lost interest, out-grew horse riding... along about the time I started high school. So my dad must have sold him... not sure what happened...

a small flurry...

...of gift wrapping activity occurred last Thursday when I was trying to get organized for going to Decatur. I got them all done - temporarily. And delivered on Friday. In the process of searching for boxes to put stuff in, I found a box up on the shelf in the closet that had some 'decorations'. This from the  person who said: "I went into the workshop and got the wreath off the shelf, walked out of the carport to the front door, and hung the wreath on the light fixture, plugged in the string of lights, and completely finished my holiday decorating".

What I found in the box was The Three Kings x 2. Left over from when Paula was, oh maybe in the fifth or sixth grade. i'd been drafted to make some crafts for her class at school. and we made the kings out of cardboard tubes. They were actually pretty cute. What you see, when you come in and get done laughing, wipe your eyes, and look again:

What you don't see, is over to the side, on the far end of the mantel is the two santas. One is also made for a cardboard tube covered with red paper, and the other is just a red paper cone, decorated with all the appropriate gear to make it santa-like. I think I probably made both of the goofy little santas and one set of the three little four inch tall wise men, and if you look closely before they go back in the box and up on the shelf for another eleven months, you can tell which ones Paula made. I'm sure we had good fun.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

...is the reason I wrote on my calendar many months ago, asking for their cooperation for something memorable today. I'd made a note, and sent emails to daughters so we could plan to 'save the da'y. Without a specific idea, I was counting on one or the other to come up with something we would do together that would be amusing, entertaining, and hopefully be sufficiently unusual to stick in memory for a long time.

I think it was 11-11-11 when we went to 'see Rock City'. I had not been in years, though I doubt much has changed in fifty years (other than an increased entry fee, and quadrupled prices on trinkets and concession stand food items.) It's been so long ago, that neither daughter had any memory of going. Probably the first year the big aquarium in downtown Chattanooga opened. Surprising when you consider one can look out the window of her house and see the buildings there, hanging over the edge of Lookout Mtn. But they were so young when we last went, neither could remember anything about having been. 

Sadly, 12-12-12 got away from us, when there was a scheduling conflict and we could not all be together. I went to Decatur for the day, but have nothing of note to report about activities. Which means it was remarkably unremarkable.

But today: we went to Stone Mountain Park for a sledding adventure. Pretty fun, and a pretty day as well. Out on the front lawn where you would sit in the summer when there is a laser light show after dark. There is a complicated maze of plywood panels, and constructed risers that lead paying customers up onto a staging area where we lined up to plop into tubes for a speedy ride to the bottom of the slope. Lots of man-made snow covering about ten lanes of super slick iced over snow for a quick trip down the incline. Some smaller, single person tubes for individuals, and some larger ones for four or five - big enough to hold a family.

I have advice for anyone thinking about going: Go early in the morning, to get a head start on sleepy-heads, and not spend half your time standing in line. Go on a cold day, so you won't get hot in all those layers you think you need to wear. Pee before you get on the tubes that hold a single person: the ride is so bumpy you will be sorry if you don't do that first. And you will waste valuable time searching for a bathroom, or waiting in line there, when you only have a two hour slot, which is what you get when you purchase your ticket.

Fun and funny. The only thing better than spending time together, is doing it under circumstances that causes us to laugh uproariously. Beautiful clear sky, bright sunshine, a gorgeous day. Pretty dang memorable to  my way of thinking.

remembering Christmas...

... is actually a draft that I made last December to remind me to write about history. When I was thinking about things that happened when I was young (er), and wanted to put some stuff down for my little band of readers (two of whom are close relatives) to enjoy. Several stories I don't mind telling on myself now that I can look back and find amusement in things that would not have been mentioned or confessed years ago.

There was the last Christmas tree I remember putting up in the house at 1209, when my brother was still at home. This may have been the December before he got married in January. So we would have both actually been pretty much out of the house, and coming back as single adults (term 'adult' applied very loosely, as I rarely think I qualify even today) to spend holiday with parents. I won't put a year date on it. But it was a really long time ago.

I can't recall where fresh cut Christmas trees came from when I was a child, but assume my dad went someplace and cut one down. There was always a prickly red cedar. It was very scratchy and would itch you to distraction when putting on lights, ornaments and silver strands of icicles. Put in a tree stand with water, but would get astoundingly dry and shed terribly by the time it was removed from the house.

My brother and I were 'sent' to get a tree. We didn't know precisely how/where they had come from in our family history, but off we went with hand saw in the pick up truck. Into the rural areas of the county, down various dirt roads. Where we eventually spotted one, growing along a fence row. So we hopped out, and cut it down, dragged it to the back of the truck, loaded the tree, and ourselves.

I have a clear remembrance of some man standing out in the road yelling at us as we made a hasty retreat. So apparently that was the same tree he was planning to cut, from his fence row, to use in his house.  For his family Christmas tree. The deed was done, and I look back over the years with considerable guilt. I think we must have beat it out of there and back home, looking like whipped puppies, hoping that the farmer would not come knocking on the door?

it was interesting... (accupuncture)

Thursday, December 11, 2014
the same as what I have decided to tell people when they ask how I like my 'new job'. (Not really 'new' - just vastly different). The answer to the question is going to perpetually be: It's interesting.

"Interesting"will also describe my experience this morning when I went for accupuncture. I have a minor, but longterm/chronic problem I decided to try to get resolved. Not anything major that would cause you to cross the street if you saw me coming, but something you have probably noticed after we spent time together.

I have been, on occasion,  to have accupuncture done by someone here in town. She had a business in her home, and seems to do pretty well. I can't say how effective it has been, partially because I don't know: meaning I'm not sure why I went. And partially because I apparently quit going due to not being sure all it was beneficial.

But here I am. Giving it another go. This time, to someone who is on staff at one of the hospitals here, and has been doing accupuncture in private practice for years. I actually persuaded my spouse to go to this doctor some years ago, hoping for relief from knee pain. He probably went six or eight time, and quit. Saying it was not helpful, plus he did not want to continue paying out of pocket. When what he really meant is that he did not 'believe'. He never had any faith that it would help with pain, and started the treatments in a 'doubting Thomas' mode. So it's understandable that he did not get good results.

I'm going, paying out of my pocket. Insurance does not cover. But I will give it a try and hope for the best. Someone recently told me about amazing instant improvement after a visit to the chiropractor. Which made me think: 'hmmm, I believe I will try to get some resolution for this chronic stuff I have been ignoring for years.'

No, the problem is not better. But that was my first visit. It was really strange, when I got a needle stuck in my foot, near the ankle - then one stuck in my hand, and I could feel it all the way down to my foot. I'm going back next Tuesday.  If you want to see, I have a photo on my phone, I will get added here tomorrow...more to follow...

the part I forgot...

... to tell when writing about the salmon. Is that I was working at a different store from the one I have been employed with for over seventeen years. The fact of not knowing where to find stuff I needed, and in an unfamiliar layout was part of the anxiety. Along with a recipe I had never made. The first attempt with a new list of ingredients and procedures is always nerve-wracking, especially doing it in front of an audience. (And if it is such a disaster that it needs to be surreptitiously slid into the nearest trash can - there is a camera observing/taping my every move!)

A couple of weeks ago, my area manager had asked  me if I was interested in going to do a shift at a store that would have someone absent one day. I jumped at the chance to make more hours/dollars. Without thinking through the other parts that would be included in the change of venue. Like not knowing where to find supplies, where to go wash dishes, who the people were I could call for more groceries/ingredients.

It all worked out, since I am still alive, here typing. I happened upon a nice young man who was working in the produce dept., came by my little booth to say he was just now going to get an item needed to complete the recipe. We conversed several times throughout the day, and I found him to be very helpful. Telling me who I would need to talk to for different re-stocking items, and where to go for what I would need.

The older I get, the more most other people working at these jobs look like youngsters.  This produce guy, P., said he had experience managing a large discount store here in town, but had to quit when he found  himself working excessively long days. And came home one day, surprised to find his baby walking. I thought it so sweet and touching that this guy decided his family/life was more important than a  job that left him so exhausted all he knew about home, was a place to sleep. Probably struggling now, financially, but also feeling like he has a life.

Interestingly, I think I know more about P. in this store across town, than I do about the guys I have worked with for years. Learned more in a couple of five minute conversations than I have discovered in months of association with the usual suspects.

today I cooked...

Wednesday, December 10, 2014
...something I would never put in my mouth. Almost as interesting as the day I made desserts I did not eat. I was not none, whatsoever ever tempted to taste the salmon dish. I don't even like to smell it: and I noticed when I was coming home, that aroma has permeated my hair and clothing. Ick.

It was called something like rustic pasta and salmon. Had some fresh red chard, and fresh mushrooms in it. The most unexpected ingredient was smoked paprika. It smells like bacon! I spent the afternoon trying to think of something else it could be used in that would be totally unrelated to having a fishy odor. I haven't even used it before, and don't know what it tastes like.  I was wondering about maybe using it to make a batch of the home-made version of chex mix, with different kinds of cereal and nuts. I think the original recipe has paprika in it, and the flavor of the smoked stuff ought to make it yummy.

Had lots of compliments and positive feedback from the samples people tried. Honestly, you have to wonder if they just say it, or really mean it. The only negative I heard was from someone who said it needed more salt. I can't say, as I won't be tasting. I just could not let that fishy smelling stuff get anywhere close to my taste buds: having to smell  it all day was more than enough.


Monday, December 8, 2014
...involved lots and lots of chocolate chips today. The recipe card actually had three different things on it, but I only made two. I seriously doubt the third had any more actually nutrition than the two I made repeatedly, but these two would have put any body with blood sugar issues in a coma. And I would have not known what to do when they fell on the floor with insulin problems, sugar numbers in the stratosphere.

The amusing part of making these two items over and over and over: I was not even slightly tempted to sample. I was so pleased that both recipes had ingredients I don't like so would not want to put in my mouth, I would have happily made them indefinitely. Just as I am not tempted by dishes that the first ingredient is animal protein: if it has coconut or marshmallows in the recipe, it is completely safe from me.

One of the recipes was for that layered bar cookie you see in magazines this time of year. The one with the coconut sprinkled over graham cracker crumbs, chocolate and butterscotch chips, and then you pour over a whole can of condensed milk, sprinkle of nuts. Bake to melt it all together (and cement it around the edges of the pan like concrete - so you better spray it first! With all that baked on condensed milk/sugar, it will be soaking for days in the sink before you can chisel the bits out.)

The other is a super easy fudge recipe. You don't even need to turn on the oven. It's so simple it just takes one skillet or saucepan - and you could probably do it in the micro, so you only have a bowl to wash. All you do is melt the choc. chips and stir it all together, chill and cut. I'm not giving the recipe - though I do have it pretty much memorized from making it so much today. You'll have to look at the www.publix.com website and find it under Aprons meals.

I was not tempted to eat either one. But that coffee ice cream with the little bits of crunchy chocolate they were giving away in sample cups yesterday: Oh, my.

giving away.... part 2

... thankfully I was not giving away my time, while all this was occurring on Sunday afternoon. Even though it was not visibly productive from my standpoint. I think I may have seen a half dozen people put the little cartons of profoundly sweet caramel dip in their shopping carts. Which would not have begun to come  close to covering the cost of having me stand there and give it away for five hours.

And I think I benefitted from that long tedious experience: by practicing standing on one foot. I know as we age one of the dangers for adults with bones that are becoming risky is fractures when falling. I am sure my balance is not as good as it was years ago. And have actually had rehab. workers tell me I should be 'practicing'. So while I was stuck there at the apple stand for hours on end, I decided to see how long I could stand on one foot, without looking terribly foolish or having it become too obvious.

Or looking like someone 'under the influence'. I got up to nearly thirty seconds. Which is pretty impressive, once I admit to starting with less than five. Trying to look discreet, not flopping around, waving my arms to keep upright. Making every effort to appear well-behaved. Though I am sure the tape from the security cameras would cause one to say: Whaaaat?

I know I will need to continue practicing, to retain this very important skill. But if you should pass by and see me looking wobbly out of the corner of your eye: don't be alarmed. Just standing on one foot. Not deliberately trying to look like someone about to take flight... only trying to improve my balance.

giving away...

...apple slices, skewered with a toothpick and stuck in a glob of thick and densely sweet caramel dip for five hours on Sunday. This day of tasty treats replaces what was called Holiday Fest. When each area of the store would provide samples of holiday goods for customers to sample. In an obvious effort to lure customers in to purchasing some delectable items they never even knew they wanted until the wonderfulness arrived on their taste buds.

This 'event' has been considerably downgraded is size and scope in recent years - a dollar-wise effort to conserve the amount of food given away to a steady stream of open-mouthed customers.(Reminding me of the big carp in the pool at the Sibley Center when they hear the quarter going 'round in the fish food dispenser.) You cannot advertise free food during certain hours on a certain day and not expect people to arrive ready to consume. I noticed people with little foam plates with whole shrimps, or just the tails remaining by the time they got to the far corner of the store where I was standing.

Don't know what other areas were giving away, other than some delicioso coffee flavored ice cream the grocery department was sampling in little cups.  I had three, and wanted more :)> I noticed some kids eating ice cream and asked what flavor it was. When I heard, I think I abandoned my post, after checking to see if the department manager was going to give me the stinkeye... to make a bee-line to the ice cream stand. And told someone I was thinking of adding a 'half-gallon of coffee ice cream with crunchy chocolate bits' to my Christmas list.

sliced apples...

... is what I was responsible for at work on Sunday. I went in at 11:00, and stayed till 4:00. Spent the whole time, right there in one place, for five hours. Asking passers-by if they would like to sample our fresh apples and caramel dip. Both of which were on sale: the bagged, sliced apples for $2.50, and the dip for $3.00. That very viscous dip was so full of various forms of sweetener, it would completely, thoroughly cancel out the nutritional value of eating the apple slices. High fructose corn syrup, sugar, corn syrup, etc... (and a fist full of preservatives) all of which would totally eliminate any health value you might get from consuming the fruit.

So, my question is: What's the point?

And the obvious answer would be: To sell stuff.

a classic example...

Sunday, December 7, 2014
... of being thankful for things that never happened occurred yesterday.  I heard a sad story, with details of a young man who managed to somehow turn his life of bounty into a train wreck. Making me continually, once again and forever, thankful for daughters who have turned into remarkable adults. Fully functioning productive members of society, who do good, and work hard.

If this sounds like I might be edging towards quoting a verse, what you are likely trying to remember is: Micah 6:8. Where it starts with a question about God's heart and his desires for us foolish mortals. And ends with...'only to do justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God'. Kinda like trying to live out the Golden Rule which is easy to say and not nearly as simple to put into daily practice. But if everyone of us here on this planet were to make that effort every day, what a profoundly different place it would be.

The story that leads me to this appreciation for who my adult children have become is about a young man who is actually about the age of daughters. This guy has been so blessed in his life, but seems to have made a series of bad decisions when he came to one of the many forks in the road. Has a sweet wife, and little baby, and a compassionate, close-knit extended family. But he has made some sizable, serious blunders in recent weeks and months. Culminating, as you might expect at this point, with being incarcerated. And will likely be there for a long time, with plenty of opportunity to practice the fine art of 20-20 hindsight.

All this makes me so grateful for choices, both made and unmade. And so thankful for these people I birthed and spent many years with, hoping to instill enough wisdom in their youth to see them through lots of tough decisions they would face as adults. It is with much gratitude that I think of them as having turned out beautifully - especially on the inside, where it matters most.

cheezy crafting....

Saturday, December 6, 2014
...will occur today when I have been drafted to help with a Girl Scouting event. This is something some GS leaders do each year for the younger aged girls, an annual event to gather the troops and have some holiday fun. They will meet at the Council-owned property in Harris County, out in the woods, along the south edge of the Pine Mountain ridge. In a big lodge on camp property with space for a crowd to gather.

It is with great sadness that I say the crafts are all pre-fab and lame. Everything comes in a little sealed plastic bag out of a mail-order catalog. Mostly pre-cut craft foam, with peel off paper on the back, so all the do is stick the part together, add a string hanger to make it an ornament, and write their names on the back. Garish green wreaths, with bright yellow stars, and red cord hangers. Lame little lime green strips of perforated craft foam and white pipe-cleaner to thread with red pony beads for a 'tree'.  Glitter-covered cut out foam stockings, with foam snowflake  to peel the backing from, and stick on for decoration. Etc., etc., etc. Things they will be done with in thirty-seven seconds and ask: 'what's next?'

But I was recruited to go along and assist with putting them together. So I will put on my cheerful girlscoutsmile and make the best of it. In various small groups of youngsters, other adults will be conducting a sing-a-long, and making hot cocoa with the girls. I suspect a big part of the fun is just being together, feeling like 'a part', being a member of a group. And the novelty of going out in the woods.

...then I have a poster to finish for my monthly Sunday School project. Got started on it Thursday night, after suddenly remembering about it when I stopped by the church building on Thurs. aft. I am so glad it did pop up in my brain, as I was able to get several big sheets of colored paper to have something to put together... while waiting for inspiration to strike so I could pull something clever out of thin air. I don't have any crayons or markers, so will have to run to the $1 store and get coloring supplies to complete.  And  leave home early enough in the morning to get it on the wall before church.

drivin' and draggin'...

... is what I feel happens after I make the trip to south GA and back in one day. I left home this morning at 5:45 and got back to the house about 8:30. Tail definitely dragging on  the trip from Valdosta back to Columbus. Arriving in Valdosta about 11:00 a.m., after spending an hour or so in Q-town, and leaving to head north about 5:00 p.m. If there was a bright spot in all that driving, it would be the place I found on the east side of Albany, the lowest price on gas between there and here: where I paid (cash) $2.30/gal. And if that is not enough to cause envy: in my little Toyo., with the cruise set at 70 most of the way, I was getting nearly 60 mpg.

A seldom-seen cousin was coming east for several days, and I did not want to miss the opportunity to visit and see him. B., who lives in Denver, is the brother of F., who lives in Decatur. He had agreed, after conversation and encouragement from/with his sister, to come and see our collective auntie. She is the youngest of four siblings, my mom's sister, and the last one standing. The auntie is getting dangerously close to her eightieth year, and beginning to have some of the assorted issues that accompany aging. Pondering relocating from south GA to the metro area. I honestly believe anyone that age considering relocating, should only be looking at downsizing/communal living situations. But know better than to attempt to sway her with my thoughts and opinions. Fruitless endeavor and pointless investment of time and energy, to say nothing of words wasted.

There  has been an ongoing bone of contention over the auntie's unwillingness to share pertinent  information. She does not see the value/importance of having family members know what is going on with her medical status, and equally opposed to letting the next-of-kin be aware of financial business. The 'bone' is that she wants (and needs) assistance with her desire to relocate, which would obviously involve finding new medical support team, and well as expenses of moving, finding suitable housing, etc. Apparently does not feel that the nieces, who are essentially her primary support system, need to be informed. Thankfully, she recently recruited a friend who happens to be a trained nurse, to go with her to doctor's appointments and be an advocate for her in conversations with physicians and office staff.

The cousin B. was there to mediate, and hopefully provide some advice she would be receptive to. I don't know how effective he was. He spent several days with her, and had lots of time to talk, suggest, and try to reinforce his recommendations. He was leaving early today to drive back to Jacksonville, and fly back to CO. I am sure she enjoyed his company over a few days, and hope some of what he offered in the way of opinions and advice might be retained/considered/heeded as wise.

working at cooking...

Tuesday, December 2, 2014
...where I continue to be... ambivalent? undecided? uncertain? not at all sure?

People frequently ask:"'how do you like it?" Customers who have been seeing me in the booth, measuring, frantically stirring, or dishing up tasty morsels. Faces that have become familiar, apparently leaving the work place, and headed towards home. Who seem to have nothing better to do than show up at the same time day after day - which I find remarkable, as well as more than slightly disconcerting.  But my job is to prepare and serve, prepare - serve, prepareserve. Dish it up, and smile. Which I feel like I consistently do, without questions or hesitation.

Except where small children are involved. If there is no adult nearby, who seems to be the responsible party, I am to say: 'where's mom?', and explain that mom needs to come and ok them having a plate to taste. Then I have to explain to mom about food allergies, and ask if there might be a problem. She almost invariably says: 'oh, they'll be all right', so feed them I do. I did ask last week if the kids liked egg nog, and some mothers said they had never had it. But I am very wary of feeding little people things they might not be accustomed to, or have a problem with consuming. Hoping none will fall out on my watch.

And then there are the co-workers who will pass by, give a glance in hopes that I will have a plate in my hand, ready to serve them a couple of fork-fulls. That will pass across the counter into their hands on the fly. Which they can gobble on the go, and hide the evidence. Before they get around the next aisle where they will need both hands to open the cartons, stock the cans and jars.

They too are asking me: 'how do you like it?' I'm thinking I need to formulate a pat, consistent, non-committal answer to give to everyone. In the manner of kids telling lies, and not being able to keep their 'story straight'. If it's easy to remember, and always the same, it seems like there is no way to get into hot water. I need for my answer to be the same for everyone who asks. And start practicing being vague.

cooking at work...

... definitely has it's pros and cons. I think I wrote after I started this new assignment that it does not take long to memorize all the ingredients in a recipe: especially when you make it four times in one day. I was surprised to discover myself knowing just exactly what is required, as a result of duplicating over and over and over.

I have favorite/successful/well-received recipes on cards, in a box, that I have made numerous times over many years.  Delicious cookies or casseroles on little file cards, in hand-writing from family long gone, or friends fondly remembered. I will always refer to the card to be sure I am doing it in a manner that will provide the desired results.  

And constantly refer to the instructions at work, to be sure I am getting the measurements right, so the end product is consistent. But am still surprised when I make that same thing several times a day. When I realized I don't need to really refer to the recipe by the fourth time: it's just there, in my head.

Yesterday's recipe was interesting: Pasta shells stuffed with a chicken mixture, topped with a sauce that had salsa verde mixed in for a little bite back on your tongue when you bite into a  fork-full. Starts with a rotisserie chicken from the deli, that you pull all the meat off, and dice to stir into a bowl with cream cheese, green onions pimento with a bit of cumin to flavor. Put that in the cooked pasta shells, and pour over a sauce that has the salsa, sour cream and a half can of cream of chicken soup. Everything is already cooked, so you just need to heat thoroughly, top with shredded cheese, and put back in the oven just long enough to melt the topping.

I'm supposed to set a timer, before I scoot over to the phone in the deli, where I go to make my 'it's ready' announcement. And put anything I have not served/given away in the trash after thirty minutes. I guess the food safety people are the ones who made that rule. Usually, it's gone in thirty, but on the occasional slow day, I do have some left. Which I offer to co-workers in the deli: those guys are like Mikey, who, as you know, Will Eat Anything.


Friday, November 28, 2014
...is my personal best. Today I drove from Columbus to Valdosta, in the morning, arriving there just before noon. Then leaving south GA, and driving diagonally across the length of GA to end up  in TN at dark.  Which means for all practical purposes, or at minimum braggin' rights, this is my best (or possibly worst) record for distance travelled in one day.

I vaguely recall when I was about twelve years old, the summer my dad decided he would drive from south Georgia to the Pacific Ocean and back. We drove and drove and drove in an old lime green Ford Fairlane station wagon.  Well before the era of Interstate highways. It was, I believe, the year my brother had a learner's permit, so I'm thinking that he was actually doing some of the driving. Which permanently relegated me to the back seat, which was covered in hot, sticky vinyl. Where I sat for three thousand miles (x 2), with a changing choice of fellow travelers, either parental or sibling-al, stuck to the gooey seat with me, in a car with no air conditioning, traveling in June across the desert of west Texas, plus the barrenness of Arizona, and desolate New Mexico.

There was my mom, scrupulously keeping records: of how much we paid for gas at each stop to refill, how many miles we were getting per gallon, as well as total miles travelled per day. What we paid for lunch when we stopped for burgers in west Texas or the desert of New Mexico. How  much we paid to spend the night in a Joshua Tree National Park campground. What it costs to get in to oooh and aaah at the Grand Canyon. What the tickets were for spending the day at Disneyland in California, or riding on the cable cars in San Francisco.

And making notes in the day planner where she carefully noted all the humorous signs placed in cornfields across the US from one coast to the other by the Burma Shave shaving cream company. The day my dad was desperate to make up some lost time/miles and drove over five-hundred miles in one day, she made him promise to never do that again. I think there were likely some serious marital threats involved when the children were out of earshot. 'Way too much time spent in the car from sunrise to sunset trying to get across west Texas, which is about the  most barren desolate place I have personally experienced in North America.

Which is why I know/knew that driving five hundred miles in one day is too much. But did it anyway to get from nearly Florida to practically Tennessee. I'm there. Thank you, Jesus.

Thanksgiving ....

Thursday, November 27, 2014
...not just today, but everyday. We all have so many things to be thankful for. Health, heated homes, comfortable beds, warm clothing, plenty of food in the pantry, potable water at our fingertips, flush toilets that waste huge amounts of potable water, and on and on... But the thing I will always feel to be the biggest blessing in my life is family, and friends, and deliberately taking the time to be together, enjoy the company of those I cherish.

I made the pie last week, got the squash casserole put together on Tuesday night. It's been in the fridge, so I got up about 6 and put it in the oven. So large I think it needs to cook for at least an hour.
You remember that old joke about the thermos? The construction workers were having lunch  and talking about the greatest invention ever. One said light bulbs, one said gas engines, and then one suggested the thermos bottle. He got some strange looks from the co-workers, needing an explanation. So he said: 'It keeps hot things hot, and cold things cold.... How do it know?' Our rapidly evolving society is probably getting to the age of having machines that think for themselves: so perhaps we have finally out paced the thermos - but you'll have to agree: it's plenty smart to know what to do on it's own!

I will put the squash in a cooler, wrapped in layers of newspaper, and hope the cooler will know how to do the job, keep it warm until lunch: hot things hot, and cold things cold! There is also a ham that goes, so I will put that a cooler, along with pie - to see if they are smart enough to know which one is supposed to do what? Hoping to get organized and on the road by 8 a.m., to make the two hour drive to Atlanta area.  My auntie from Valdosta has been here with us a couple of days, to go and share Thanksgiving lunch with family in Decatur.

delectable desserts...

Monday, November 24, 2014
...is the stuff I made at work all day today. I had some severe-ly misplaced optimism about what would happened in the food demo. booth for the next three days. About as poorly located as my hope that I would be dishing up samples of the pre-made casseroles from the deli., side dishes to accompany the huge meat-y centerpiece of the Thanks. meal. I was hoping that all I'd be doing is cooking, and giving away bites of those yummy side dishes that are only seasonally available, but well-known favorites everyone expects to show up at the buffet on the over-eating holiday. You know: sweet potato casserole with crunchy, sugary stuff on top, broccoli casserole with cheese, beans with mushroom soup and crunchy onion topping.

But no: it was a make it from scratch event. Some of which were so strange, I would have liked to tell the test kitchen staff at corporate they need to go back to the drawing board. Not something that went over well at all with the passers-by, and total dis-inclination to want the recipe to reproduce for family.

Today was better: but not really what I was hoping. My optimism was once again, way off base. Nothing pre-made from the bakery freezer. Everything from scratch. But a couple of pretty tasty recipes. One was a layered trifle dish, that had eggnog and a crumbed up Sara Lee frozen pound cake, along with whipped topping and some ginger snaps. If you like eggnog, you would love this.

The other was a pie: I did not taste. Because it had: a jar of marshmallow fluff, a tub of cream cheese, a jar of Biscoff cream (which is basically spreadable Biscoff cookies), and a large slab of white chocolate (melted), all whipped together, fold in the topping, and put in graham cracker crust. Add more topping. Ugh. Too much sweet/sugar. Got lots of favorable comments. With quite a few people being so impressed, they wanted to put the ingredients in their carts to  go make dessert at  home.

Not me: I made my punkin pie last week and put it in the freezer.  The one that I probably gave the recipe for last year at holiday time. This is the one that I claim is mostly air, so light and fluffy that even though you feel as 'stuffed' as the turkey, you can happily fork in a slice of pie, because it doesn't need to be chewed, and takes up practically no room at all. Even though you have ate so much you would like to go lay down on the floor and digest, you can sit the plate with the slice of punkin pie on your distended belly and quietly, peacefully eat one more thing before your nap.

Here's the recipe, in case you don't want to look back... No cooking, yay!

Creamy Pumpkin Pie

1 cup canned pumpkin ( you can use either  pie filling or plain, un-seasoned pumpkin)
1/2 cup cold milk
1 teaspoon pumpkin spice, stirred into:
1 pkg. 6-servng size, jello vanilla instant pudding and pie filling (don't use the kind you have to cook)
8 oz. container whipped topping
graham cracker crust

Mix the dry pudding mix and spice together,set aside.Stir pumpkin into milk, then whisk in dry pudding mix. Mix well. Add thawed whipped topping, gently folding in to mix. Spoon into pie crust, refrigerate at least four hours, or freeze. Add more topping when you slice and serve.


Sunday, November 23, 2014
sounds like what I think when I get to the polling place and have my turn in the voting booth. But what the decision was today is whether to take a chance on going to Callaway Gardens to do the once-a-year Night Walk through the Fantasy in Lights. My smart friend P. and I have been doing it for several years, so we signed up weeks ago. Sent in our money and got tickets to take a hike in the dark around the light and music show.

But the baaadd weather rolled in mid-afternoon, pouring rain and blowing winds. So much that the tornado sirens went off, and the man who loves to fret about the things he cannot control was glued to the weather channel. And surprisingly: was not all gloom-and-doom. At one point, even saying 'it's supposed to blow on over in half' an hour'. When what I expected to hear from him is 'it's time to go sit in the bathtub and say your prayers;'.

So we decided to take a chance and go on up there, to see if all the wetness would quit. It cleared off so well on the drive up to Harris County, we saw a beautiful rainbow as we were headed north. And the rains discouraged enough people from attending (no rain date - only one shot at the walk-through), there was absolutely no crowd. We had a remarkably easy walk, without strollers, wagons, people bumping around in the dark. And beauty full lights and music. Plus not a drop of rain.

in total agreement...

Friday, November 21, 2014
...with what I read recently in a book by Simon Sinek. Suggested by daughter, who said she had heard about it at a conference. Talking about how to change the way America runs corporations, and how to develop leaders. I'm probably going to go to jail for quoting from copyrighted material. So go ahead and start looking for a cake recipe that has a file baked in, so you can bring it to me, on visiting day when I am behind bars.

The author noticed that in the Marine Corps training, the troops would go through the chow line before their sergeants. And the officers would be standing by waiting to be sure everyone else got fed first. Therefore, the title of the book is:" Leaders Eat Last".

Here's what really caught my attention, way over on page 119. Mostly because it is the same theory I have been espousing for years, and thankful someone else has finally caught on to what I've been saying. That we all have a limited amount of time here on this planet. Our most valuable and most frequently squandered resource.

     "Given our obsessive need to feel safe among those in our tribe  - our communities and companies - we inherently put a premium value on those who give us their time and energy. Whereas money has relative value ($100 to a college student is a lot, $100 to a millionaire is a little), time and effort have an absolute value.  No matter how rich or poor someone is, or where or when they are born, we all have 24 hours in a day and 365 days in a year. If someone is willing to give us something of which they have a fixed and finite amount, a completely nonredeemable commodity, we perceive great value. If we waste money, we can make more...But we've all had the experience of sitting in a meeting or watching a movie...and thinking to ourselves. "I will never get this time back".
     And it's not just time. Energy we give also matters. If a parent goes to watch their kid's soccer game but only looks up from their mobile device when there is cheering, they may have given their time, but they haven't given their energy. The kid will look over to see the parent's head down most of the game, busy texting or e-mailing the office or something. Regardless of the intentions of that parent, without giving their attention, the time is basically wasted for both parent and child. The same is true in our offices when we talk to someone while reading our emails or sit in a meeting with one eye on our phone... "

I've been telling anyone who will listen that I don't want more stuff  in my life. I already have more things than I want. What I want from people I care about is: time. Spent together, taking a walk, sitting on the couch giggling over funny pet videos on YouTube, sharing good eats. Enjoying that most valuable commodity with people who make me laugh. Your undivided attention.

a trainee for me...

Wednesday, November 19, 2014
... hilarious to think that my skills in the food demo. booth are such that I was qualified to train someone else. So there: truth really is stranger than fiction. I spent most of my day at work with a young woman, just barely college age, who thought she wanted to learn how to do the cooking.

She has, I think, been a front end worker for some time, possibly a cashier, and likely a carry-out person. My co-Aprons-worker had told me this young woman, M. was interested, and the managers had told her she could give it a try, work with one of us a couple of days to see how she liked it. I don't know how  much actual in-the-kitchen experience she has, but with me standing there, talking her through the recipe, she did quite well.

I'd sort of mistakenly formed the opinion that she would not be competent, just from conversations with my co-Aprons-worker. But she did a good job, seemed to catch on to things pretty quickly, and said that she enjoyed doing the food prep and serving. I was under the impression that this newbie would be working with the co-worker at some point. But was completely unsuspecting when she came up to say she was told to spend the day with me, learning how to cook. I don't think I've been at this 'new' job for two months, and the managers thought I was prepared to take on a training another worker?

I can't actually remember when I started cooking. I was raised by a mom who was a good cook, and spent time with grandmothers and other family members who were homemakers, feeding families three meals each day, every day of the week. So guess I probably started 'helping' my mom and grandma as soon as I was old enough to see over the edge of the countertop. I know I was cooking full meals by the time I was in high school. Before I took that Home Economics 101 class with all the info about the food groups, meal planning, basic nutrition. And long before I was the awardee of the Betty Crocker Homemaker of the Year Award my senior year. So I sort of feel like I have been cooking mostly forever.

And this trainee that I was working with today does not include the two I raised. Both of which can probably cook circles around me! And make really good things that I love to eat. Feed me!

it may be time...

...to reconsider something that you have always held to be a concrete truth. Here's one for you to ponder: The idea that Love is the most powerful bond, an ephemeral emotion between humans that will/can/does eternally form a powerful lasting connection. I was listening to public radio this morning, and heard a story that caused me to rethink this long held opinion.

It was really a review of a band called something like 'out among the willows'. That's not totally correct, but I know it had something to do with willows, and think they were from Canada. The songs in the most recent release was based on a huge cache of letters in the possession of a grandmother of one of the band members.  Correspondence sent to the grandmother in one of he northern mid-west states, maybe Michigan, from a man she eventually married. Sent to his beloved, while he was serving in WWII in the south Pacific. She had saved them all these years, and allowed the now-adult, music-writing grandchild to pore over those three hundred missives. Opening a window to history, seeing what the grandfather had written of his life, war-time experience and devotion to his future wife.

I don't think the story I heard mentioned how long they had been married, but the granddad is deceased, fairly recently, in the past two years. And I assume the grandmother is still living. This young adult musician wrote a whole album of songs based on what he wrote to her. Granddad did safely returned to the States, and they married. The last of the saved letters was one written a week before their wedding, with him telling he had just gotten a haircut, and was boarding the bus on the way back to her.

What I learned in all this, not really listening to the words of the couple of songs that we heard snippets of, but perhaps reading between the lines: is of his commitment. Which caused me to ponder long-term marriages I have been a witness to. Not many, but some of well over fifty years in duration. The prime example being my parents, and my mother's parents. I have a couple of clear memories of attending a Golden Anniversary celebration for my maternal grandparents. The party was held at my parents' home, with lots of local people invited. I was probably 18 years old, and I think assigned to the cake cutting/serving position.

And then there are my parents, who were together over fifty years. My mom adamantly did not want any celebration, no party, nothing to bring notice to herself or any recognition from the community where they had lived all their adult lives. I could not let the occasion go totally unrecognized, so wrote everyone in her address book, as well as many others in the community, to ask them to think of the past, write and send letters/notes providing a story, remembrance of some time/event/occasion they had been together. Then I put that correspondence together in a loose-leaf binder to give to them to read, reminisce and enjoy.

What I am thinking is there are times when Commitment is stronger than Love. That, for any number of reasons, long after the spark that kindled the relationship is dies out, the commitment lingers on. I have only my theory, but I am remembering when I used to hear Paul Harvey announce anniversaries on his daily radio show.  I now believe that it is more than possible, to the edge of being likely, those weathered mid-western couples who had been out there on the Nebraska prairie for sixty-plus year were there for reasons other than devotion. Or love. That many of those couples were still together out of habit. Or a sense of commitment: believing that saying 'I do' really meant 'I will', and that the commitment involved was stronger than the theory of love lasting till 'death do us part'. Feel free to read between the lines...

Written on Friday, November 7, 2014, as a result of driving from Columbus to Decatur, which was a stopover on my way to TN for the weekend.