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wurkin'...

Saturday, January 31, 2015
...in the produce dept. today. Standing in one place for four hours. Doing the demo. as a warm up for the football game tomorrow. I think it will be something really lame like baby carrots and ranch dip. I hope I will think about the last time I did this: standing for hours and hours. When I was practicing my balancing - got up to thirty seconds of being able to stand on one foot. Counting: oneMississippi, twoMississippi, threeMississippi, etc., etc.. And thinking about my granddaddy Benson.

When I was a kid, and he was making jokes -something that he did a lot, loved to tease. He would ask if we could spell that word, for the state and river. For a little person, it is a long word, and fairly difficult to spell, with all those duplications. So he would say: 'Oh, you know how to spell that: it's just big M, then little eye, then crooked letter, crooked letter, another eye, crooked letter, crooked letter, eye, hump-back, hump-back, eye.'

 I remember being completely baffled. Looking at him in wonder and astonishment. But eventually understood what he was saying, and cannot spell the word to this day without thinking of him. 

Now, when I am driving, arriving at an intersection with a stop sign, I apply the brake. I am trying to remember to come to a complete, total stop. Make myself count three seconds: oneMisssisippi, twoMississippi, threeMississippi, smiling to myself as I think of my grandpa. While I am looking to the left, to the right, and to the left again. Just like my dad taught me. Then proceed on my merry way.

thinking about doing...

... a thoroughly disliked chore. Cleaning windows. Something you really notice in this house, as most of the glass does not have anything covering it. Explaining, at least in part, why I am sitting here in: undershirt, work shirt, fleece vest, zipped up jacket, and still cold.

It has been so long (I should be embarrassed to admit, but anything is fodder for the blog) since I cleaned windows, I cannot remember when it last happened. I've been thinking about it for months (if not actual years - which, again, tells how long it has been since the task has been tackled). Every time I look out a window, covered with dust, cobwebs, trash that billows up from the 'mow-and-go' guys when they get out the leaf blowers. Makes me know it is time to get it done...

So though it does not really have an effect on cleanliness, yesterday I did get started. In a very small, but significant way. Peeling alarm service stickers off the glass. That were applied in November of 2013 after we were burgled. The house was built with wiring and an alarm system. That we rarely activated - to the point that it likely did not actually work. So after the burgling, TP had a 'friend' come and install a system that would work off a cell number. But it didn't. Due, according to the friend, to poor cell coverage in our area.

Sadly, in the months before this aggravating incident, we decided to end our land line service. Then had to go back with hat in hand to re-active to be able to use the expensive alarm system that is designed to alert a 24-7 service about intruders.  It is rarely turned on, seldom used, and generally set off by squirrels when he does activate it. I think the wind blowing might even cause it to report  suspicious activity to the service. Which will eventually cause him to have to pay for public safety coming by to check for 'alleged' wrong-doers.

I was trying to peel some of the alarm service stickers off glass. They are all over the house, and I think excessively so. But when you peel it off, only the colored part comes away, and you have to scrape, scrape, scrape, rest, then scrape some more to get the sticky part off with a razor blade. Which I was doing yesterday.

TP commented that he believed the warning stickers: 'This property protected by..." would dissuade would-be burgling.  Highly unlikely - as they could be in-and-out before the black-and-white shows up. They only took things they could put in their pockets when they busted in the front door in 2013. Sadly: we now have nothing of value. But that would  not stop someone having a desire to grab-and- run from thinking we're an excellent target.

spring???

...no, not quite yet. But I am starting to feel hopeful. Due to seeing some of the dozens of hyacinths planted out in the yard beginning to show color. I was digging a little hole in that expanding flower bed across the front of the house yesterday to plant several narcissus/paper-white bulbs. The ones that came (overpriced) from the Ace Hardware store in Decatur, given to me to 'force' in the dark, cold months when we can't even begin to hope for longer daylight hours, the promise of new life. I'd put a couple in a narrow vase, near a window to try to encourage - they did bloom. But the others were in the bottom of the 'fridge, with 'not onions' written all over the paper bag, and just never had a chance to put on growth and make fragrant flowers.

So I took them out yesterday, dug a little hole near the fence, and put them in the ground. They were already trying to grow - some wee little sprouts of green peeking out of the tops of the bulbs. And when I was out there, I saw several hyacinths, not even three inches tall. But wanting to bloom so desperately, all those little flower buds along the stems trying to come up out of the dark were opening: white, lavender, pink. Determined to do what their DNA was programmed for: be one of the earliest signs of spring.

So I thought: hmmm, I believe I should go inspect the forsythia plants, as they are one of the things you notice when everything else is bare, drab, colorless. But no blooms yet. Those are the ones that grow into huge bushes, completely barren of leaves in the winter, then suddenly you see this huge clump of brilliant yellow blooms. Tiny, smaller than your thumbnail, but hundreds of wee little bright blossoms, looking like a swarm of butterflies.

"Impossible", you say, "here in these cold days of winter?"  But eye-catching and startling in their brilliant 'school bus' shade of yellow. Sorry - not yet, but if it continues to be warm and sunny for the near future, I expect to start seeing forsythia putting on a show in the next week or two. If you might want to start some in your yard, let me know? I have lots and lots, and would love to share. It could become a mission: spread forsythia cheer over all the planet to have everyone smiling when they catch a glimpse of the unexpected brightly blooming shrub, turning SAD dull dispositions into smiles.

on this fine winter day...

Friday, January 30, 2015
.. a bit windy, but bright and sunny and pleasant, I was out walking. Time on my hands, plus trying to walk several miles every day I am not on my feets in the retail world. When out there on the north side of town, in the shopping area, with lots of well known stores from Haverty's Furniture to Hobby Lobby.  Nearly a mile from one to the other, along the strip where places like Old Navy, Sears, BedBath&Beyond, eateries, multiplex movie theaters are located.

While I was burning calories, and putting in the time, I encountered a friend who is on staff at church. With his wife and two small blond girls. One of the little ones had some birthday money so they were headed towards Toys-R-Us. We stopped and spoke on the side walk, in front of the store, and I told them: about how my girls, when little, would beg to go to there. Not especially to make a purchase, but to look at Barbies. Hold, admire, inspect every Barbie in the store. Willing to devote hours to all the Barbie accessories ever invented. Houses, cars, boy-friends, little sisters - all things Barbie. I would agree to go, and just getting in the store must have been it's own reward. I don't recall being pestered to make a purchase, though I am sure if they had money to spend, it quickly evaporated once we got in the store.

What I do remember is being so unwilling to go, and devote my time to the interminable wait while they lusted after all things Barbie that it was a huge deal when we went. And only if I had something to read to stave off boredom. So I could sit, on that hard linoleum floor, and read my book. While away the time while they were completely engrossed in examining every outfit of every color, and every imaginable accessory stamped with Barbie.

highly amusing...

Wednesday, January 28, 2015
... a little blurb I heard on the radio last week. When I was driving to Valdosta, in that time of day when there is nothing worth listening to on public radio. So I was scrolling through the FM stations, trying to pick up something that was not full of advertising. It was mostly preaching or (at the other end of the scale) rap/mysoginistic stuff  that made me think I would enjoy the silence.

But this ad. came on, from some commercial outfit in south GA, I don't even recall what they were trying to sell. But it was so funny, I laughed out loud.. The voice on the radio said:

"If you are from the north, all the stories will start with 'once upon a time', but when you live down south, the first thing you will hear, after the screen door slams,  is: 'Hey, Y'all! You ain't never gonna believe this'..."

just a bit of FYI...

Monday, January 26, 2015
...for anyone who lives on plastic. Which is most everyone I know, and probably the majority of the people in the civilized parts of the world. Those same people who think the world will come to an end if they don't continually have the cell phone within arm's reach, and promptly check every incoming message.

Here's an update on that awful, horrible, aggravating, irritating, annoying experience with the useless credit card in TN on Saturday. After it was denied the second time, and I called again, talking to a service rep., then her supervisor, who said 'you can't talk to My supervisor. She will not accept incoming calls.' If you want, I can give her your number and she will call back in 24-48 hours. So I said: 'Great! Please do that'.

Well... she didn't. She did call me back as I was leaving work at nearly eight o'clock tonight, well past the forty eight hour mark. Obviously taking care of all the little inconsequential 'to do' things on her list before making a call to a thoroughly irate customer.  I told her how surprised I was that the original call to resolve the issue, with me paying the entire balance on the credit card was insufficient to allow me to effectively swipe the card as payment. Her prissy response: 'that's not something we routinely do - tell customers that their cards are no good'. Of course not: who wants to listen to a response about  that from fuming, frustrated credit card users? On the phone, but so upset you could almost see the steam coming out of their ears, like cartoon characters....

She asked me if I had questioned the original rep. to inquire if I could use the card. Of course not: why would I have paid it off in full, and think it would not swipe? It never occurred to me to ask, or consider the possibility that I would  agree to paying the full amount of the balance and still not have a functioning card.

So I said: 'Who can I talk to about this?' She gave me the name and mailing address for the company president. Oddly enough, the address is for a town in TN, where this unraveling fiasco started.

Who I wrote a polite, well-worded letter to and will expect a 'form letter' as a response. Saying We are So Sorry You had a problem. And if there is anything we can do in the future, please let us know.
Which brings up my original statement about this: Well, @#$%.

home again...

... from my travels. Spent most of the morning helping with some routine housekeeping tasks. The sort of endless things that happen in homes with small children or pets: a floor that never stays clean and wash/dry cycles that seem endless. In a house with an amazing corgi that is continually shedding in massive quantities: leaving a trail of frizzly little hairs that come together due to static in little wads that roll across the floor like tumbleweeds in western states.

And, really big deal: we cleaned out all the rabbit poop in the bathtub, that has been accumulating from the bunny family that has been living in there for two weeks. Not the most fun I ever had, and sadly - by the time we got it all wiped out, and the box full of nine babies put back, the mom had started making more poo. (And pee'd before we could even get the nesting box all piled up with little ones back into the tub.)

Went to the corner chain drug store to print some photos of furniture I had taken last week when I was in south GA. If anyone out there is interested, there are some really nice pieces waiting for a good home. I am not smart enough to send the pix., but if you want a bed room, with twin beds, two three drawer chests, a night stand, and desk/shelving I would even figure out some way to deliver. Just to get it gone. Also several upholstered chairs, a beautiful hand made dining table and china cabinet.

I guess I could get my tech support to put some of the photos on here?

about that credit card....

Sunday, January 25, 2015
... a very frustrating, aggravating, annoying story. That does not have a happy ending. Yet.

When I drove to TN, and went in a Wallyworld, I used the card to buy stuff for a meal on Friday night. But when I tried to use the card to buy our breakfast at the biscuit shop in downtown Chattanooga, it was denied. Thinking that was really strange, I immediately called the number on the back to ask questions.

That whole experience, as you can imagine, is pretty irritating. Going through the process of providing all your info. to a computer, and doing the voice mail thing, spending more and more time getting more and more annoyed at the computer. Seeminly programed to deliberately throw up roadblocks as you get more and more frantic. When you so desperately want a human to come on the line and listen to your problem, provide a solution.

It turned out I was five days past due on making a payment on the balance. Desperate to get it re-actived, I paid off the whole thing. Then asked to have the late fee and interest forgiven as I am never late, always pay in full. The CSR agreed to that, and I thought I was squared away. So I tucked the card back in my pocket and went on to a fun day at the aquarium: wearing out my eyeballs looking at all the exotics and wildlife in the tanks. Plus amusing penguins and otters.

But when we left to find some lunch, and I went to use my card at the sandwich shop, it was declined. Well, #$%&.  So I called the number again, and went through that same irritating process. Finally talking to a real person, thankfully in north America rather than India or Phillipines call center .Then talked with a CSR supervisor.  Who said that it would take several days for the payment to process, and my card would not re-activate until it had cleared their accounting system. Which we can assume means not before Monday, when the banks are open.

Still so irritated, I asked to speak to her supervisor. The response I got to that is her boss does not take incoming calls, but she would call  me back in 24-48 hours. I'm thinking: I want her job. Where you can deal with irate customers at your leisure, instead of when they have steam coming out of their ears.

So here I am, out of town, with no credit card. I only have one, and use it for everything: groceries, gas, eating out. Even if gas has gotten cheap, down to $1.81 a gallon in TN, I still need it to get home.

with the fishes....

Saturday, January 24, 2015
... in the Tennessee Aquarium right down by the river in Chattanooga.  We spent the morning, walking and looking. Including seeing some scuba divers in a huge tank with lots of sharks, manta rays, schools of smaller finned things.  Looking forward to this venture since early December, when she'd asked  for a membership as a Christmas gift.

With a one year membership, you get free pass to take a friend (me!) to look at all the interesting fish, turtles, jellyfish, eels (constantly making electricity), crabs, manta rays (you can touch em'!) and penguins. Pretty interesting. Lots of info. about how ecosystem damage and habitat change like construction of homes near beaches, dams on rivers and pollution is diminishing the range, health and populations of creatures that depend on marshland, openwater and ecosystems of the connected waters all around the globe to survive.

Lunch at Panera, good onion soup. But don't order the seasonal turkey/cranberry flatbread sandwich unless you are looking for 'meaty'. I dont' much eat that sort of thing, but ordered it upon remembering someone recommending. So I have no one but myself to blame for the fact that it was loaded with turkey. After a couple of bites, of very dry flatbread, I realized I should have asked for nice warm soft squishy tomato/mozzarella cheese instead. Oh, well...

once a month...

Friday, January 23, 2015
...and this is the weekend for it. I started several years ago driving up to TN on a regular basis. When I found myself with a diet that was dramatically deficient of vitamin 'P', after she married and moved north. We decided to compare calendars in December, agree on a time each month that might be workable. And I would take that weekend to go and visit. Occasionally it will happens she will be in GA, maybe Decatur or coming to Columbus, but mostly it's me driving up to visit her, along with her hubby and assorted animals/family of four-leggeds.

I knew to expect rain when I would be getting on the road this morning, so I was not surprised by the wetness. When I got home from work last night, the Weather Channel Addict warned me, saying it was going to be 'bad'. I asked what he thought I should do about it. He said he wanted me to be careful. I don't know if he thinks I do not have enough common sense to make an effort to be more cautious without his instruction. But apparently he does not think I am capable, or would consider the option of safe driving, unless I am specifically told to do so. Hmmmm....

I doubt driving in the rain is anyone's first choice. I really don't mind it all that much, knowing if there is a destination in mind, to get in the car and go is the only way to get there. Plus having done so much driving in the wee hours of early morning over recent years, I am not particularly concerned about driving in the dark. But the combination of dark and wet is extremely stressful.

It's much harder to discern the dotted lines that delineate lanes with wet pavement and headlight glare. It's also vastly more difficult to see where you are going with all that constant mist that billows up from the wet roadway behind other vehicles, especially semi-tractor-trailer rigs with over a dozen wheels. And then there is the added factor of furiously flapping windshield wipers, necessary to make it all viewable.  So trying to be safe on highways that are twelve lanes six or seven lanes wide, with dare-devil speed-demon drivers in metro Atlanta is excruciating.

Which is why I got up at 4 a.m., to shower and get loaded up. So I could get underway by 5 o'clock and into the Decatur neighborhood before all those four million got on their way to work. Safely arrived in the metro, and headed to TN in the afternoon.

cookin' at work...

Thursday, January 22, 2015
...made me a very popular person today. It was a tasty recipe, and I got lots of compliments. One customer said that she has been shopping, and sampling there for a long time, and this one was the best recipe she has tried. Knowing my taste buds would like all the ingredients, I was sure it would be a good one. My only problem is the idea that it does not bake in the oven long enough to completely cook the diced onions and garlic that go in the mixture.

It's a version of chicken pot pie, in the sense that the main ingredient is chick and it is put in a casserole dish and goes in the oven. But other than that, the comparison is remote. None of the commonly used, traditional ingredients, and nothing about the crust that would remind you of the version you had from grandma's kitchen. It is remarkably simple to make, and quick to put together.

Starting with a rotisserie chicken from the deli, which provides enough meat once you pull it apart that you could either double the recipe or have enough for a second meal. I'd probably be making it into a bowl of chicken salad here. But plenty of extra to start a pot of soup or some other recipe that starts with cooked chicken. Plus the carcass to boil for a nice big pot of chicken stock.

Phyllo Chicken Pie
 (I made it for demo.nearly, mostly by the recipe, but if I was to do it at my house, the onions and garlic would get cooked in the micro, or a nonstick saute pan before they were stirred in with the other ingredients.) (Something interesting I noticed as I put it together: this one is the only I had prepared at work with no added salt. Every thing I have cooked thus far has salt listed as an ingredient. But this one obviously has enough in the ingredients that there is none listed to add in a small quantity to the mixture.)

8 sheets phyllo dough
zest/juice of one fresh lemon
1/2 medium onion, diced finely
2 cloves of garlic, diced
1/2 rotisserie (or cooked) chicken (about two cups shredded or chopped)
1 pkg frozen creamed spinach
4 Tbs. unsalted butter
4 oz. crumbled garlic/herb feta cheese

Microwave the spinach 2 1/2 min. Micro butter just enough to melt.
Coat 9 inch casserole/baking dish with butter. Place one phyllo sheet in dish, overhanging side by about 6 inches (about half in and half out), brush with butter. Go all the way around four sides, buttering each time, and repeat, so you have all 8 sheets overlapping in bottom of dish, with edges hanging outside of casserole dish.
Mix ingredients and spoon into dish.
Fold phyllo over spinach/chick. mixture, buttering as you go. Buttering step is important.  Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before slicing to serve. According to the recipe, you should get six servings. I sliced smaller pieces, just to give passers-by a taste, but I think you would more likely only get four servings, depending on what else you put on the plate.

It's pretty good, not hard to put together, once you have your chicken prepped. But remember that the phyllo is messy, can be difficult to work with, and after baking, will make your lap look like you have been shredding paper, bits of shattered crispy dough all over your clothing.

a trip to south GA...

... when I accidently found myself with two days off work. I had not been to V. or Q'town in weeks, probably back in November, due to the profoundly random schedule of my jobette. For some unknown reason, it is generally every other day. Occasionally two days in a row, but mostly alternate days which has limited my travels dramatically.

Which I have begun to describe as similar to a heavy duty rubber band. Or bungee cord. You can stretch it out a pretty good way, but at a certain point, you will reach the maximum, and it will desire to regain the original size. I can only get to a certain point in my travels, a given distance from the workplace/home, before the rubber band pulls me back to the starting point. Which means 'x' amount of time before I know I need to be back: at the starting gate, ready to do the job at hand.

Sadly, I conclude it is too difficult to make a long drive and be back in only one day. Things my former, younger self would do without hesitation, or second thought give me pause as my parts age. It is both a good and sad thing to have to make that 'is it worth it' decision - good to have to foresight to realize there are times that it is not a smart move. And times that I will make the occasional ill-advised trip though it will induce a localized form of 'jet lag' with extended recovery time.

I remember driving to Savannah once, many years ago, to pick up a friend who was visiting there, drive her to her home in south GA, and complete the circle before bed time. I think I was probably on the road for twelve hours. And like numerous other poorly thought-through  decisions, it was educational.  I learned: don't do that again.

And there was that time I loaded daughters up and drove all night to Key West. It was probably during that era of me spending much of my time propping up parents, as they struggled with aging and poor health. Desperately missing my 'other life', the normalcy of being a mom. They were old enough to help with the driving, so it was not a bad trip, but that many hours in the car, determined to get there, make for physical misery. I recall us enjoying strawberry margaritas at Jimmy Buffet's place, and time wandering the streets, on the beach. Leading the underage astray. With forethought and good cheer. And driving north in the dark in a driving rainstorm, that might have been part of a hurricane: one of the daily hazards of living in south Florida.

MLK, jr...

Monday, January 19, 2015
"In the end, we will not remember the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."
Martin Luther King, Jr.

living in silence...

Sunday, January 18, 2015
... for forty eight hours while I am by myself in this empty house. My spouse occasionally gets a wild hare and will make plans to go on a road trip. The Only Place the Road Ever Leads is to Biloxi, MS. There is where he can be found at the Palace Casino, sitting at the table for hours on end, playing blackjack. TP has been doing this for years.

When the kids were young, and willing to go along for the ride, we went to lots of Yogi Bear and KOA campgrounds, state and national parks, scenic wonders:  most any locale their parents thought might be interesting.  So as a family with two young daughters, we went to a lot of places in the southeastern states. Mostly in a popup camper, or pulling a fifth wheel trailer. I'm done with that.

When he gets ready to go to MS, he will usually start asking people in his circle of friends, to find someone who is willing to go along. Often a couple we went to church with years ago, or someone he might be eating breakfast with at the café he faithfully attends six days a week. This time his shotgun rider was a retired army guy he met while they were both volunteering at the Infantry Museum.

They left on Friday morning, and will be back in town this afternoon. When he is ready to go, you best get out of the way. And when he is ready to return home, you might get left. There is a  long standing agreement that if he looses any money at the card table, that's his loss. But if he wins, and comes out ahead, he has to share with me. I have never offered to 'stake' him, but always willing to help spend the profit!

my mother's sister's ...

...son's daughter, who would be my cousins' niece, and maybe my second cousin? Or once-removed? Anyway, she has been in South Africa for a year, where she went upon gaining admission in a university and a student visa. For whatever reason, she did not follow through with the educational plan. But apparently thought: 'now that I am here, I might as well stay'. Left here back in January, and just now, a year later returned. To ATL where she will stay a couple of days, visit her auntie and cousin who live there, then head on to Denver where her parents live.  Her ultimate goal is to find employ in the cinema industry.

She has worked on a number of movies, living out in the northwest US, possibly Portland? Spent some time there in the industry, so when she relocated to Georgia, she had a union card and was ready to find work here. Where she lived for a couple of years, before deciding to pursue education. I got a couple of long (hand-written!) letters from South Africa, telling about her days and life there, doing some writing, sight-seeing, making friends.

I am going to Decatur this afternoon, to see the relatives and have dinner. Got up in the wee hours to cook the squash for a casserole, after making a (requested) peanut butter pie last night. Driving up to my daughter's, who will go with me over to the cousins' where we will share a meal.  We will talk, listen to tales of South Africa, eat too much and laugh a lot.

The thing I was thinking when I was puttering around the kitchen in my robe this morning is about mothers. What a wonderful time my mom and her sister would have at a gathering like this. Seeing all those amazing young adults. Spending time with those smart, capable, successful young women who are so interesting, interested in life, and looking into the future. The people of that previous generation, my mother and aunt would be so delighted to know, see, enjoy these remarkable people.

essayin'...

Thursday, January 15, 2015
...  a summary of my life in four sentences. I called back in the fall to see what would be involved in becoming something similar to a 'guardian ad litem', and talked to someone who works locally with the child advocacy program. To get info. about volunteering. I think/hope what this application is for would be a court appointed advocate for children in foster care. Upon receiving paperwork last year, it got lost on the pile of papers on the kitchen counter. One of my self-appointed jobs for this new year is to not allow stuff to pile up. So I am doing the paperwork, including work history, volunteer history, personal history, references, legal infractions, driving history, etc.

When I started on the section about why you want to do this, I had to stop and ponder. Thinking of how to condense years of learning many things the hard way: as in doing it all wrong, to discover that's not the best way. Or not having all the tools you need to start any project: a recipe, a household job, a major change in your life. Often thinking when I find myself at a impasse: it's been a real education, though the only thing I learned is to not do that again. Knowing even the mistakes are opportunities to grow from lessons learned.

The three questions were: why are you interested, how should society intervene at the intersection of family hardships and legal obligations, and write a brief history of yourself. With instructions that two to four sentences would be sufficient. I can get pretty wordy. Pulling rarely used words out of the atmosphere to insert as needed. So the first two answers are heavily weighted with verbosity. But  how to summarize my life in four sentences? 

The bottom third of one page is devoted to an autobiographical statement. So, here's mine:
     "A native Georgian, I spent my growing up years in a small south GA community. Nurtured by an extended family of grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors and family friends who took an interest in my life, education and behavior. I graduated from high school with the same people who were in my kindergarten class. I have been a resident of Muscogee County for over thirty years. Raising a family here, with constant, ongoing community involvement. As a result of my childhood of being 'parented' by an entire community of locals who felt they had a vested interest in my character and success, it is understandable that I am of the 'it takes a village' persuasion."

 Wordy? I can write circles around anyone who thinks they can 'out-wordy' me! Maybe not in four sentences or less, but no lack of vocabulary here...

cookin' at work....

Tuesday, January 13, 2015
...today when the recipe was for a meatball soup. I did not eat the finished product. I did eat one of the meatballs, and did not like the texture - though admittedly I am not a good judge of this sort of thing, as I cannot recall the last time I ate cow.  I was very diligent to make them right by the recipe, and was pretty careful in my measurements when I combined ingredients. But it was not something I will be putting my mouth again.

I did get lots of good feedback from customers who tried it, and all seemed to think it was good, even though several thought it needed more salt. The meatball soup had onions, bell peppers, celery and a bit of diced garlic sautéed together. Then add about half a bag of spinach, let it wilt a bit. Add some chicken stock, stir in the meatballs, some salt and pepper and simmer for ten minutes or so.

I made the meatballs from scratch, with ground beef, eggbeaters, bread crumbs and a couple tablespoons of sun-dried tomato pesto, that should have given it a great flavor.  But after making the little inch-diameter sized balls, browning enough to get them to hold together, then putting all the other ingredients together to simmer - those meatballs did not impress me at all. Maybe it's just my taste buds, so unaccustomed to consuming animal that I could not like the texture, but it was so weird, I could not make myself want to taste the soup when it got ready.

If you want specifics, you will have to look it up on the publix website, by going to Aprons.com. To find the recipe, with quantities of ingredients. Good Luck.

walkin'...to the Walk Inn...

...to my Christmas present. That will occur in late March: a sleep over at the Len Foote Hike Inn, located in Amicalola State Park in northeast Georgia. A gift I am so excited about. I've been wanting to go for years, talking occasionally with family about taking the time to make the trip. But not being specific enough to get a commitment. Generating enthusiasm in a non-committal sort of way. So we have reservations for one night, and definite plans to go.

Kinda worrisome, though, as I was equally enthused about the idea of hiking up Mt. LeConte in North Carolina three years ago. As well as thoroughly intimidated at the prospect of walking up hill all day long, for six (or was it eight) tedious, rough, rocky miles. We'd planned a route that was not so incessantly steep, but a bit longer, to allow for an easier ascent. Now I know: There Is No Easy Way.

I have been practicing. When we went to Mt. LeConte, it was in the summer, so I was getting up early in the mornings, and walking two or three miles in the neighborhood, and trying to make myself go back out in the buggy,  muggy late afternoon heat to walk more. Enough to accumulate four or five miles a day - mostly proving to myself it was do-able. I survived, but had already figured out by the time I got to the top, once was enough. Not something I needed to repeat.

I think this one will be more towards the 'fun' end of the scale. Not as steep, meaning not a continual, seemingly endless slope. Probably not as rocky, and certainly not as long. I understand the entire length of this one is five miles. Which means: if I can do four or five miles a day, walking around here, where it is generally flat, I don't think I will have a problem with the walk in the woods in March. Even though the goal is the Inn: comfy beds, good food, peaceful night in the woods, it won't be as exhaustingly steep and rocky, so hopefully I will enjoy both the going and the getting there.

Go to amicacoloafallslodge.com where you can see photos of the highest cascading waterfall in the southeastern US. I'm excited about going, even though I am sincerely hoping I do not have to climb those steps to get to the top of the falls, where the path begins, before I actually start the hiking part.

thankfulness: for hot water heaters...

Sunday, January 11, 2015
... probably not at the top of your list of current 'blessings'. But think about what your life would be like without? Can you even begin to imagine how much manual, physical labor you would have to put into getting the water to get your dishes clean enough to re-use? Pots and pans - even with the miracle of Dawn dish-detergent, without hot water to begin to loosen, melt, dissolve the gunk, you could not get rid of the stuck on food to be able to use the frying pan again. 

And what about washing clothes? Detergent, that I have a stockpile of several jugs in reserve, will only do so much.  With that handy, dandy appliance in your laundry room, you will eventually have to move the dial to change the setting to 'warm', if not all the way over to 'hot', to get some of the dirty out. What if you had to start a fire in the yard to heat up the water in a big black, three-legged pot? First you need wood, logs to burn when you start the fire. Then you have to round up the kindling to get it started. Oh, and what are you planning to use for the 'spark', to ignite your tender, and get it going before you can actually add the logs?

Now you need to put the water in the pot. You might even have to walk to the river or creek to get the water, and haul it back to the place you are starting your fire. Wait for the water to get hot. Put the clothing in, and stir it with a stick, hoping the dirt, grease, filth will magically dissolve in the water. Now you need more water to rinse with. So you have to trek back to the lake or stream with your bucket to get enough to rinse the dirt and grime out of the clothing, before you hang it up to dry. Are you dreaming about washers and dryers yet?

Now: after all that back-breaking work, you would like to take a bath. Or the modern, civilized equivalent: a hot shower. Can you see that instant hot water is something we take for granted, fail to be thankful for every day? Plus the gas or electricity to run the appliance, so it is always there, ready for use when all you have to do is turn the faucet on?  Amazing. Almost as remarkable as the Thermos! How Do It Know?

thankfulness...

Saturday, January 10, 2015
...even though I am sure it is below freezing on the other side of the glass in the windows.
There are so many things...like...

Living in a warm house, and not having to worry or doubt that it will be warm in here for as long as we need it, to keep from being cold.  And just like that thermos joke, when the weather does change, we will still be comfortable, insulated and protected from the elements.
And even though it is warm in, and cold out, to look out at the world, and see the beauty of everything there.
Notice the bright morning sun streaming in the windows, slanting across the floor and up the walls, see the little birds hopping around searching for food, fluffed up to stay warm.
Peace and quiet on a Saturday morning, stillness of a neighborhood asleep, tucked away in their warm homes and beds.
An abundance to eat, enough stored in this house to be well fed for at least a month, even if we did not go to purchase more.
The financial where-with-all to go to the store, a car to drive, and money to buy what we want, desire when we get there.
Lots of clean, dry, warm clothes to put on and keep cozy during these coldest days of winter.
Faucets that deliver fresh, potable water when you turn the handle.
Georgia Power, Atmos gas supplier, city services. The resources to pay the bills when they come, to continue to receive the services we want.

In conversation with a customer on Thursday night. A man who often stops by on his way home from work, to get a couple of needed items, check out the food demo., pick up a recipe. Always friendly and pleasant. I was in the Thankfulness mode, and telling him how much I appreciate these mundane things. Making a conscious effort to be more aware of the Little Things, like fresh water, safe city streets.

He told me about experiencing life in Saudi Arabia when he went for a year as a contract worker. Seeing life from a different perspective, where even though many in that population are wealthy beyond counting, it is a country that is still developing in many aspects.  Though rich in resources that the world desires, there is a vast difference between that nation and the one he was so thankful to return to. This man said none of his fellow workers were able to last a year there, leaving their assignments, quitting their jobs and returning to the US before the contracts had been fulfilled. He believes that the discipline of growing up in a  military family provided him with the knowledge, ability and stamina to work through that period of deprivation, distance from familiar environment and family. And, he said, even though we read about the elaborate life-styles of the ruling class, exotic homes and buildings, it is in reality a Third World Country.

I love living in the US, and am thankful daily for the provisions of the Constitution. I like feeling safe, secure, knowing I don't have to hide behind drawn drapes. Especially due to the fact that we don't have any. Nothing covering the windows, so nowhere to hide any secrets, except in the closet or under the bed.

paper cutting...pictures added!

Friday, January 9, 2015
to make the newest poster for Sunday School class for differently-abled students. The verse is from Psalms: 119:57. "God you are everything I need". I strained my brain cells for several days to try to come up with some visual I could use to demonstrate the verse. Nothing. I ended up just cutting out the letters, and gluing them on a big sheet of brown. With the (loosely interpreted) globe/earth  in the center, representing 'everything'.

The teachers send me a verse each month, near the end, for the next four weeks, and I come up with something that will help reinforce it as the students memorize the verse. I know it is easier to retain any info. when you have something to serve as a 'visual', a picture that you more easily recall to provide a little boost for remembering. But try as I might, rubbing my cold, sparse neurons together, there was no spark. The letters are brightly colored, really standing out on the dull brown background, and it is eye-catching. But nothing as impressive as some I have been amused and entertained by in the past.

Though is cold enough to immobilize a reptile, I went to the church to put it up on the wall in the classroom, so I won't have to get organized on Sunday morn. early enough to get it done before church. And feeling a bit of cabin fever, decided to go on to the mall, to walk for an hour. A good, or maybe not, decision: I stopped in a music store going-out-of business and found a $30 cd of Christmas music for $8. I'd be eight bucks ahead, but with no Christmas music if I had taken a nap instead.

Too many photos in my old skool phone for me to send the photo of that colorful poster,and get it printed here... so: later-gator...

more about Don Miller...

...the book I finally finished last night. I have been picking up, working on for nearly a month, when I habitually read myself to sleep every night. I wrote several days ago, in  a 'pondering' blog, quoting a passage from: "Through Painted Deserts: Light, God and Beauty on the Open Road." Probably opening myself up for a lawsuit, but it so spoke to my heart, I was compelled to share.

The travelers have made their way to Oregon, the Land of Coffee Shops on Every Corner. This trip occurred before Starbucks was a household name, had become a descriptive word, generic like Xerox and Kleenex. Book is copyrighted in 2005, but was published previously with a different title: "Prayer and the Art of Volkswagen Maintenance".  So Don expected to pay 25 cents for a cup of coffee, that only came in 'black', without having to answer a lot of questions about size, ingredients, add-ons. They are sitting in the coffeehouse, he and fellow traveler, Paul.

Paul asks Don what would make him most happy. They consider, talk, wonder...then Paul says:
"I have been thinking how what we really want is for people to love us. God,...friends, parents. It seems like life is all about that stuff... I have been thinking about things and I just feel like God put us here to enjoy Him, and He gave us free will so it is tough sometimes, because people use their free will selfishly, but I think He also created us to enjoy Him, that He is love..."

So now I am wondering how things would be if we didn't have that freedom? If the universe was ruled in an unequivocal state by an authority figure that set standards? Made demands without the 'grace factor'? We had to meet daily quotas to survive? But we go on our merry way, oblivious to the glorious/mundane things of this planet. People and situations we are so accustomed to having in our lives that we fail to be thankful, take notice, appreciate as gifts and blessings... until they are gone.

what she wrote...

...when I opened the email: "One of my helpers just came in the back door...and I looked disappointed. She asked what was wrong, and I told her every time the back door opens, I'm just chronically optimistic that something wonderful is about to happen. I'm disappointed by anyone who doesn't have a balloon bouquet."  Which says to me, she is always expecting a circus, complete with dancing ladies, elephants with painted toenails and clown cars to come rolling in the door.

So I had to wonder where that  'chronic optimism' could have come from? My immediate response was that it did not come from the guy who can sit here in the recliner with the remote in hand for hours on end, and stew about what sort of weather is brewing several states to the west. I have been completely baffled in recent years to discover myself married to someone who constantly worries about things he cannot control. Especially while being so remarkably unconcerned with things he does have the power to alter.

Though it may not be entirely appropriate, I would now like to give myself a large portion of the credit for these people who seem to have such good attitudes. They do have sense enough to come in out of the rain, or at least try to be prepared for weathering bad times. Literally and figuratively.
I believe they have the emotional stamina and resources to live happy, successful lives. And an abundance of basic common sense to avoid problematic situations. Ability to come in out of the bad weather. And from a safe vantage point, enjoy the perverse beauty of the storm, as the lighting demonstrates the powerful forces of nature.  While waiting for the thunderclouds to disperse, with the promise of the rainbow that will glow brilliantly in ROYGBIV-fashion in the mist when the sun shines through.

Chronic optimism: not such a bad way to live. They did love the 'Annie' musical when they were small, watching it over and over. You know: "the sun'll come out tomorrow, tomorrow...."

cookin' chick'in'...

Wednesday, January 7, 2015
... in a really unusual combination. The  recipe I made today had  olives and grapes in it. I like chicken and I like grapes but it has never occurred to me to put them in the same dish. I know I don't care for chicken salad with fruit added, so do not think I would voluntarily eat something that had hot, roasted chicken and halved grapes together. I was so sure my taste buds would not like it, I could not make myself give it a taste. It also had onions, simmered in chick stock. Got lots of good feedback from customers who said it was good, as was the salad: with stir fried  mushrooms, and marchengo cheese. If you think you want to know more, you will have to look it up for yourself on the Publix website.

she wants me to believe...

Tuesday, January 6, 2015
... I am a grandmother. But if I have been successful at refusing to be called that when attached to a wide assortment of dogs and cats, as well as backyard chickens, I won't let that happen with a rabbit that gave birth yesterday. P. called and asked what I was doing last night. I said I was putting the boxes into the box to put them up on the closet shelf. So, yes, thankfully, I am done with Christmas.

Then she asked if I wanted to hear a funny story. Which I always do. You have probably guessed that my most favorite thing in the world is to spend time laughing with my daughters. If I cannot actually be with them, to get laughs delivered long-distance is surely the next best thing.

She said her husband called her when she was just leaving the workplace, late due to meeting, to tell her there was a surprised awaiting her arrival at home. She asked if it was poop. For some really odd reason he will save the poop when the dog or cat do their 'doo' inappropriately to show her when she arrives, several hours after he gets off work. But it was not something nasty. Strange maybe, but not disgusting.

He has had several rabbits in the back yard for a couple of years. Sadly, usually cooped up in small pens he and a neighbor built. The neighbor/acquaintance was really into the 'paleo' diet, consisting mostly of protein, and decided to go into the business of raising rabbits. You can now imagine what he planned to do with the results. The novelty, as well as the responsibility for the care of three rabbits soon wore off, the neighbor completely lost interest. And the rabbits became permanent back yard residents. So C. has been feeding, watering, caring for these un-assuming hares all this time. Two males and one female. He will occasionally put them in a pen he built of chicken wire and let them graze in the backyard, but they mostly stay in little small enclosures, raised up about three feet off the ground, made of 2 x4s and hardware cloth.

When P. got home, he told her to go look in the bathroom. Which she did, and found nothing odd, amiss, unusual. He said to go look in the other bathroom. Where, in the bathtub, she found newborn rabbits in a box. P. said C. had suspected something when he fed the rabbits early in the morning before work - noticing the female pulling out fur - which is apparently a sign of 'nesting', impending birth. So he found some clean hay, other nesting material, soft and suitable for insulating babies. And brought a box home from his work to put it all in.  So now the bathtub has become the nursery. I assume since it will be so cold in the next couple of nights, to keep them warm, as they will  not be living underground in a rabbit burrow/warren or under the roots of tree like Peter, Flopsy and Mopsy.

The newborns are, according to the phone call, about the size of your thumb, and naked as the day they were born: which is yesterday. But you are Not allowed to call me 'grandma'. If I have successfully resisted the nomination all this time, I am not about to fall into that trap now. Reportedly they will need to be handled to be domesticated, so they will have grown some fur and be ready to hold when I go to TN in a couple of weeks. Not too sure How Excited I Am about that....

un-decorating....

Monday, January 5, 2015
... the season. I reported that it took me about 45 seconds to install my holiday décor: Hang wreath. Sadly it required much more time to take it all apart: probably a minute and a half. I took the wreath down, unplugged it from the outlet, last Thursday when the kitchen floor got mopped. And returned it to the shelf in the storage room where it lives for eleven months of the year.  Where upon it fell off twice, and landed on my head once.  And put the six little Wisemen and the two Santas back in the box where they reside, in pretty close quarters. It is not back up on the closet shelf yet but I will get that done today. So maybe two minutes, maximum. Goodbye, till next December

Some things I heard from my mother, maybe 'urban myths' that were so intimidating as a child, those tales likely struck fear in my heart. I don't remember any mention of dire consequences, other than the potential for vaguely ominous bad luck. Sort of dark, threatening clouds off in the distance for some of those legends passed down over the generations.  As children absorb and interpret, squirrel away in their minds, many things in ways adults can laugh off, completely ignore. 

These are some of the No-nos from growing up in south Georgia: You cannot leave your Christmas tree up until Jan. 1. I don't recall if this rule applies to all holiday decorating, but think it is probably specific to the tree. (Not a problem Here: I have not put one up in years! And don't think I even have any ornaments to put, if I did have a tree to put them on!) There are lots of families that leave lights and decorations up through Jan. 6. So I think this ban only applies to the tree. Wondering now if it was back in the era of fresh/cut trees that would get as dry as tinder from being inside for days and weeks, becoming a fire hazard. Especially in the time before electricity was commonly used to light the strings of colored bulbs on the tree: when the tree was actually lit for only one night, using wax candles.

You are not allowed to do any laundry on January 1. You should also not plan on doing any house cleaning, which goes back to the previous paragraph: get it done before the new year dawns, I guess.  You don't start any projects: the one I specifically recall is sewing. Never start any sort of sewing, meaning don't cut the fabric out, or start assembling any article of clothing on the first day of the new year. I think the threat I heard from the elders was greatly influenced by the fact that everything I wore for the first years of my life was handmade.

You can imagine what a chore clothing a family would be when every single garment had to be cut from whole cloth and put together by hand. Those 'newfangled' inventions, sewing machines would ease the task somewhat - but still, the challenge would be unremitting. Especially with children growing and outgrowing faster than you could cut and assemble.  Who wants to be doomed to that fate for the next 365 days? Chained to the machine???

I did cook, I did eat my black-eye peas, and I am optimistic about the New Year. There is probably a rule about cooking that comes under the one about cleaning, but I was  not sufficiently organized to cook the peas on the 31st. I would like to think that the positive value/good luck that accompanies the peas will outweigh the risk.  And unwilling to leave a stack of dirty pots and dishes in the sink overnight, so had to clean before bed. Still hoping for the best in 2015....

travelin'...

Sunday, January 4, 2015
...from one side of GA to the other. Got up Friday morning early and drove to Decatur. Spending most of the day on Eleanor Street, just puttering. The weather was wet and cold and yuck, so the dogs did not get walked. We took some stuff to donate to the Salvation Army, with plans to go to lunch a little country cooking café nearby. When the closet-cleaner-outer saw the servers at the café wearing cute colorful aprons, she went back to the Salvation Army donation site to reclaim a bag of aprons she meant to give. And donated to the delighted women who work at the café instead. They were wearing brightly printed, frou-frou'ed up aprons when we left. Delighted with their new attire. To the point of making the guy who was bussing tables put on a frilly apron.

Drove up to SC, to visit cousin E.,and spend the night.  A good visit, a good meal (it's always good when someone else is cooking!), and a good night's sleep.  Went to visit my pen pal who lives in Greenville. I try to get up to see him once a month, and had not been in December, due to letting the month get away from me. A confession: I always try to be nearly out of gas when I got to SC, to buy it there much cheaper than the high-tax cost in GA. Even though the price has been going down for months, I was surprised to see it under $2 when I crossed the state line. I usually stop at a Quick Trip convenience store near Anderson and buy, but found some that was (don't hate me): $1.79 near Greenville.

Went back to Decatur on Sat. aft. to spend the night with cousin F. She and a friend usually go to a movie on Saturday night, so I had invited myself to go with them. "The Imitation Game" - about the group of British mathmeticians who designed the first computer to break the codes in the Nazi Enigma machine during WW II.  A really good, thoughtful, interesting story, but a pretty sad ending for the leader of the group. He was so smart he could not function well in society, and would have probably been diagnosed with some degree of autism if he had been born fifty years later.

I knew when I left home on Friday morning I had to work today.  I had set my alarm to get up at 6, but the thunderstorm that rolled in rattled the windows and shook the entire neighborhood so badly, I woke up at 5:30. Laid there for half an hour, warm and snug not wanting to get in motion. But got up at 6 to drive back to Columbus in the pouring rain. I have it programmed into my brain to think I can get from Decatur to Columbus in 90 minutes. But I was on the north side of town, and driving slower in all the downpour, sloppy weather,flooded city streets awash in water. So it took me 2 1/2 hours to get back to town.

I dashed in the door, changed to work clothes and went to church for 45 minutes. Then on to work. Thankful that I got to see so many folks I wanted to spend some time with, and thankful to be safely home.

something to ponder...(part 2)

Friday, January 2, 2015
...would be my original plan for the previous writing. To share something I read in a book recently by Don Miller. This is a different book, written when he was living in Texas, and went on a road trip with a friend driving in a (you guessed it!) Volkswagen bus that was both chronically and acutely ill. The bus was near death's door before they left on their vision quest, and provided about half the fodder for the book: when they got stranded, parts fell off, things got patched together with speaker wire.  Compassionate people they encountered who: did repairs, provided meals, helped them get on the road again.

The title of this one, written before "Blue Like Jazz" is "Through Painted Deserts: Light, God and Beauty on the Open Road". There have been several passages, paragraphs that really caught my attention. I am reluctant to mark up books, especially when they belong to others. So I sadly confess: I wrote in this paperback, spirited off the bookshelf of a close relative. With an ink pen. It so spoke to me when I was reading recently, taking a lunch break at work. And has stuck in my mind/heart, I need to share it with anyone who will read/listen/pay attention.

The pair of travelers were en route from Texas to the northwest states, taking a circuitous route. Decided to hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. When Don gradually realizes it was a bad mistake, poorly made decision. Dramatically overestimating his ability to walk down many miles on a steep, rocky, precipitious trail. And then having to climb back out of the canyon when exhausted. A different trail, but equally demanding. So here he is, left behind to travel at his own pace, with his friend moving faster, more able, going on ahead up the constant incline.

As Don struggles up the never-ending steep, rocky grade, he ponders:
"I think to myself about the weight in my pack. Last night Paul and I talked a bit about the stuff that we carry with us.  All the weight we walk around with, emotional baggage, thinking we need stuff we don't need. We weren't getting very deep or anything, but I keep thinking about it, and how much stuff I walk around with, about how life is a dance and God just meant for us to enjoy life, not get bogged down in sin and religion. Just be good, it seems like, is the point of life; be kind to people; don't hate anybody; forgive people because we all make mistakes. I know there are always going to be exceptions to this kind of thinking, but it seems like life would be better if we could just let go of the thought we need more and more stuff to be happy, more and more of the approval of others."

I got stalled out a few pages later, had to get back to work, and have not read lately. So stay tuned: you might see  more of Don Miller musings here soon... I am wondering, if I give him all the credit and admit that I am quoting directly from a book that was copyrighted in 2005, will I still go to jail?

something to ponder...

... from a book I have been reading in a haphazard fashion. I take it with me to work, and the only time I make any progress, read a few pages, is on days when I am at work all day - long enough to be scheduled for a lunch break. I can eat my lunch in about ten minutes, but required to take an hour off the clock. So I am always looking for something to read for the next forty five minutes. Occasionally, desperately sneaking a magazine off the rack to read something that caught my attention on the cover.

But usually occupying my time with something interesting that I have been reading at home. Most likely a library book. This one is was 'borrowed' from a bookshelf I passed by and noticed the authors' name on the spine, by someone I had a read before. My knowledge of this man is that he was a reference in a sermon I heard years ago, so intriguing was the idea that I knew I needed to read the book: 'Blue Like Jazz'.  A chapter taken from this book, written by Don Miller.

Miller was attending a college in the northwest, Oregon or Washington. Involved with a group that wanted to sponsor a booth at a campus event, something like a carnival or recruitment fair. They decided their booth would be a Confessional. But instead of offering to hear the darkest secrets of passers-by, then would invite students into the tent to listen. To hear the confessions of the sponsors, the students who were manning the booth. Allowing the members of the group to open up their hearts, become transparently truthful and share their own personal fallibility, quirks of human-ness. Confessing their innermost shipwrecks to total strangers who wander in.

Would that be easier to do, share horrendous heartaches, or horrible wrong-doing with your close friends, dearest relatives or complete strangers? Is it less painful to do with someone you feel would love you regardless of mis-steps/stupidity, or someone you are paying by the hour to help turn you into a better person? Are we more likely to be completely honest with well-educated, professional, experienced psycho-babble experts or open our psyche to the ones we think will love us without regard to the gritty, muddy, foul-smelling excrement that occurs as a result of poor choices we make every day?

cultural differences...

Thursday, January 1, 2015
... would possibly be the best heading for lunch today. I married a man who was raised in the north, and I think the area where he grew up had a lot of Pennsylvania Dutch population and influences of their variation of life-style, eating preferences, syntax. He 's been in Georgia much longer than the years he spent in Johnstown, but some of those tastes and unfamiliar (to me) quirks remain.

I grew up eating black-eye peas on New Year's Day. I think most peopleraised in the south go along with  'tradition' that includes some form of cooked greens, like collards, as well as some form of pork, possibly cooked in with the greens. Or maybe chops or a smoked, bar-b-que pork butt. And of course you need cornbread to wipe your plate clean. I am not a greens girl. And have pretty much quit eating meat. But I dare not defy the Good Luck gods by failing to eat the peas. Apparently the combination of peas and greens signifies a greater likelihood of coming into wealth during the next twelve months. The more green stuff you eat, the greater the quantity of green paper money will fall out of the sky. Which could possibly explain my meager situation, since all I've ever been eating is the peas, an indicator of loose change.

The area of the country where my spouse grew up had traditional foods for ringing in the new year. But a profound, outrageous revelation to this little sheltered south GA ignoramous. His family always had a pork roast, cooked until it falls apart. Then add sauerkraut (homemade if available, from the big crock on the back porch), let that all cook together until the flavors blend. Then serve the pork and kraut over a big pile of mashed potatoes. If you dish this up onto white plates, you will notice that everything in front of you is the same color. Good luck in finding your food.

So what we had today covered all the bases: pork loin, cooked overnight in the crock pot. Then add a can of sauerkraut. Cook a pile of new potatoes, add butter and milk, smash all together, until mostly smooth. I would not ever, no, never think of waking up on January 1 and failing to eat black eye peas. So I brought home a small bag of frozen peas yesterday, that I cooked and enjoyed for lunch.

Making me remember when I first got married, started cooking in my own kitchen - it never occurred to me that you don't have to cook the Whole Bag of dried peas. You can put them dried on the shelf, in a jar and save for another time. I did not know this. So I would cook a pound of peas and we would still be eating in February. After they had turned into mush from heating and reheating.

He thought when he got up from the table today  that he had insured abundant good fortune, after eating all the things that historically, traditionally guarantee luck. And sat down to check his email. Whereupon he found he had already been awarded three million dollars from the FBI, who will be sending a debit card that will allow him to make withdrawals daily. Provided he will send a check for $375 for the processing fee.

I suggested he might have better chances if he would load right up and go to MS., spend a few days in the casino playing cards and hoping for a good run from the six decks the blackjack dealer uses.

happy new year...

...fairly accurately describes my own personal new years' resolution. Just to focus on being more content with the circumstances of life. To do less complaining about things I have no control over. Plus being more willing to speak up and attempt to alter events, situations that I can impact.  As opposed to discussing to death instead of actually making the effort to confront and be the instigator of change.

I remember as a youngster, times when my mom would insist that family members would write a List of Resolutions on January 1. I have no more recall of those particular items than anything I would have put in a Letter to Santa. Safe to assume they were fairly lame, along the lines of cleaning my room, or sweeping the kitchen. (The same list of things I need to be doing today!) Meaning my plans were so unmemorable that there was no commitment or sense of change to go along with the well intentioned list.  She had my brother and I sit and read our proposed improvements aloud at a meal. I do not have any remembrance of parents doing the same, so it was possibly her desire for the two of us to embark on a self-improvement plan to ultimately become better citizens of the world? Hmmm.... I'm thinking that proposal probably didn't even make it through the end of the month!

When I was out walking in the park with my friend yesterday, I told her about my desire to make a deliberate effort to focus on the positive things in my life. To devote less time and effort on the things I have no ability to seriously impact. Asking her to help me to be more mindful, tell me to 'let go' of situations that I am only griping about, and not actually doing anything to alter outcome. So we will see how well I can hold that thought, and pursue the higher road of releasing the little annoyances and aggravations of daily life...