Monday, December 29, 2014

Food & Fun in 2015



January:       A jovial jubilee with celebration in the air
                     Start the year with Jackrabbit stew, if you dare.
February:     A fabulous festival, now don't get the jitters
                     We'll have some fudge and fruit fritters.
March:          A merry month of marvelous mirth
                     With milk and meatballs from the
                      land of your birth.
April:            An amazing assembly alementation
                     Apples and almonds produce salivation.
May:             A mysterious mass of a mob of people
                     Eating macaroni and muffins below the steeple..
June:             A joyous jambalaya under the sun
                      Let's have jams and juice and Jamaican rum.
July:              A joking jabberwocky-filled jamboree
                      Who's bringing the jam and jelly beans?
August:          An amorous alliance, who's counting the cost?
                       Bring the almonds and applesauce.
September:     A sagacious symposium run by the boss
                       He wants sauerkraut, salsa and squash
October:         An obligatory observance is in the loop.
                       This calls for ostrich eggs and oxtail soup.
November:     The neighbors nuptials have a redneck theme
                       With bowls of nachos, neck bones and nectarines.
December:      A daring demographic dazzles the crowd
                       Serving duck and dumplings and dessert - Oh wow!




Monday, December 22, 2014

Ah - Relaxation


Life can be fun, exciting, entertaining, stressful.  All these things and more.  And when it gets just a bit too much of whatever is going on, it's good to have a way to relax.  Fortunately I have many ways to lose myself in some form of activity and just let the world go by.

One way is to do a little painting.  I'm certainly not a true artist.  No one is ever going to want to buy one of my "works of art," but I get what I need from the activity.  This painting  has no title, maybe someone can suggest something suitable.  It's done in acrylic paint, about 16 by 20, and I have it hanging in my computer room.  I enjoy looking at it.  (But then I can be easily amused.)

I'd love to hear how my cyberfriends like to relax and get away from the stresses that can befall all of us.  Please feel free to share.

Take care and may you all have a wonderful week full of holiday cheer and lots of time with good friends.  Merry Christmas to everyone.

Monday, December 15, 2014

It's Christmas

                 (This post was first published on this site in Dec. 2012.  I hope you
                   enjoy the repeat. - Karen)

It's that time again, isn't it?  So for your consideration I present the lyrics to a song I wrote a long time ago.  First, though, let's set the scene.

It's late at night, the lights are dim, a little blues music is wafting through the air.  There is a fire in the fireplace in the snug cottage as you look out the window to snow falling softly blanketing the ground.  (Think Norman Rockwell or Thomas Kincaid.)  And someone sings softly.

                         Come On, Santa

Christmas time is coming and I'm making a list
Won't you tell me, Santa, can I have what I wish?
I want someone to love me, to hold me good and tight
So hurry up, Santa, swing on down tonight.

Chorus:    I hear jingle bells and tiny reindeer
                 Please tell me Santa, are you getting near?
                 You have got my address and I will be at home
                 Come on Santa, don't leave me alone.

I've been singing Christmas carols and decking the hall
I'm getting ready for old Santa to call
Bringing what I need to fill my lonely nights
So hurry up, Santa, swing on down tonight.

Chorus:

I have been so good, Santa, you would not believe
Looking forward to what is under my tree
If Santa got my letter and he read it just right
So hurry up, Santa, swing on down tonight.

Chorus:

Come here you jolly old elf.



Monday, December 8, 2014

Distorted Life's Journey



It can happen to anybody.  You start off with a plan.  It may even be well defined and clear in your mind.  Then something happens.  You don't know how or why it happens, but all of a sudden your vision becomes distorted or a bit blurred.  You seem to have lost your way.  Do you quit, or do you find a way to go on?

It isn't always easy to go on.  How do you do it?  All I know is, you just have to come to the understanding that you can either stand still or move.  And to me, movement is always the better course.  But how can you move when things are so bleak?  A few suggestions I have found helpful:

     1)  Step back and take time to reflect on what may have happened.
     2)  If you have taken an emotional blow, give yourself time to get past it.  But not so much time you find it easier to be totally inactive.
     3)  Remember that you can't change others, you can only work on yourself.  So focus on what you need to do to help yourself go on.
      4)  Spend a little time on your Attitude of Gratitude journal.  It's always nice to reflect of the blessings you have rather than the things you feel are lacking in your life.
     5)  Rethink your goals.  Is it possible you've missed a step or tried to take a giant step when it's time for baby steps for a particularly difficult phase?
     6)  Pick a date and plant yourself in the right place to get yourself going again.

I like a quote attributed to Oliver Wendell Holmes:
     Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.

What about you?  What have you found helpful to get yourself looking forward to what can be rather than to what has faded into a distant past? 


Monday, December 1, 2014

What's Your Attitude?



I am eternally a dedicated optimist.  Oh, there are times I have my down periods, but they fortunately never last too long.  So when I decided to do a papier mache project in the form of my initial, I decided the completed form must denote an attitude.

This "K" came to mind when I momentarily had a thought of Steven Urkel, the character on the TV show Family Matters played so very well by Jaleel White.  To try to capture that attitude, I made it with a slightly backward bent with one foot projected forward while the other was placed to the side.

I put teal paint in the papier mache pulp and inserted a design of puzzle pieces.  When dried I wiped the piece with a thin layer of more teal paint  over the top of the piece, followed by polyurethane to make it water repellent.  The finished form stands about 20 inches tall.

To tie this in with my attitude I'll include a few quotes I like.

     The world is full of cactus, but we don't have to sit on it.  -  Will Foley

     I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.  -  Mahatma Gandhi

     Become a possibilitarian.  No matter how dark things seem to be or actually are,  raise
     your sights and see possibilities - always see them, for they are always there.  -
                                                                                                     Norman Vincent Peale



Monday, November 24, 2014

To Knot or Not


I have heard folks say that one of the greatest inventions is the wheel.  Now I won't say it wasn't a great improvement in the lives of people and is a direct contribution to our modern forms of transportation.  However, that idea needed earlier creations to come to fruition.

I'm talking the whole concept of all aspects of sewing.  Think of what that craft brings to mankind.  How do you come up with the idea of all the necessary steps to sew a project from beginning to end when you have never seen it done before.  And yet it happened, and not just in one place on the globe.  No, it was a world-wide development for people in very different environments.

Going all the way back to the Neanderthals, humans have benefited from the ability to obtain hides from animals, treat the hides properly to use them usefully in providing clothing, shoes, blankets, and probably other things we have forgotten about down through the ages.  One aspect of the process is the skill of making threads and laces and learning how to knot them to come up with a finished product that serves a specific purpose.

You know how little kids look when they learn to tie their shoes?  They have spent years watching the adults in their lives tie shoe laces.  These tykes determine to learn the process and work diligently to twist the two laces around and through just so, then pull tight, loop around a make a bow then pull and tighten.  And they must learn how to do at least a couple of types of knots - the hard knot necessary to secure a seam in a piece of clothing so it doesn't unravel, and of course the easy bow knot to do a shoe so you can pull it apart later to remove the shoe without effort.

This learning takes awhile to get right, even though the adults have been familiar with the concept for thousands of years.  What must it have been like to be the first to come up with the idea?  Were they sitting around the campfire discussing ways to keep those scraps of hides close to the leg so the scraps would stay in place as they walked or ran through the forests?  Did someone suggest a skinny strip of hide to wrap around the scrap of hide to hold it close?  How much experimenting was necessary to wind up with the final draft?  Did the naysayers laugh and call them names for trying to do this?

But aren't you glad they did it?  Without the laces and the ability to knot them, how could they ever have learned to attach the sharpened rock to the end of a long stick to aid them in killing those animals.  How else when you came up with a wheel could you manage to put two of those things together attached to another stick (the axle) to have a pair of wheels to later be added to a cart which could then be pulled with a horse/mule/oxen?

No, I can't see the wheel coming around without first learning the skill of sewing.  And this one craft/skill provided shelter, warmth, clothing and shoes for everyone in the community.  This was one thing that benefited all in just about every aspect of daily life.  So hats off to those unknown people who made such a positive change for everyone.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Fire House Wieners



                            (from my unpublished cookbook Fighting Fires and Feeding Firefighters)

 
    
 
 
Ingredients:  1 can (14 1/2 oz.) stewed tomatoes     2 or 3 heaping Tbsp. salsa
                      1/2 pound wieners                              black pepper to taste
 
To prepare:  Put tomatoes and salsa into saucepan.  I use salsa strength preferred by the family.  Add pepper to taste.  Bring to boil over medium flame and let simmer for about 10 minutes.  Cut wieners
into about 1/2 " lengths.  Add wieners to tomatoes and cover.  Continue cooking until wieners are nice and plump, about 10 minutes.  Serves 2 or 3 people.  Serve with cheese toast.
 
* * * * * * *
                     
City Ordinance, Little Rock, Arkansas, 1866:
     The Fire Engineer in command was given the authority to direct the hook and ladder men to cut down and remove any building, erection or fence, for the purpose of checking the progress of the fire.  With the advice and agreement of two City Aldermen, the Engineer is also given the power to blow up and building or erection during the progress of a fire for the purpose of extinguishing the fire.
 
 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Those Falling Leaves


Just a few days ago, this bush was thick with bright crimson leaves as autumn was exhibiting its full glory all around town.  Today was a crisp fall day with a brisk wind which made for a delightful day to be out and about.  It also continued to send leaves swirling across yards.  Of course the leaves have been falling for several days now, but today just put them into overdrive.  It won't be long until there will be only bare limbs displayed everywhere.

This reminds me of a quote by George Cooper.  While he mentions October, it fits today just as well.  He wrote:

               October gave a party, the leaves by hundreds came -
               The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples, and leaves of every name. 
               The Sunshine spread a carpet, and everything was grand,
               Miss Weather led the dancing, Professor Wind the band,.

Enjoy the fall, for winter will soon arrive.  We then will have to wait and suffer through the cold and bitter time until we again can get out and enjoy the beautiful days of Spring.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Is This a Good One?


How do you choose a good melon?  Recently at the grocery store a gentleman and I engaged in conversation about that very subject.  He gave me a short instructional talk about just that.  First you find the grow spot where the melon lay on the ground.  You can see that it is lighter in color with some scrapes acquired during the growing process.  Put the melon down where it is sitting on the grow spot.


Now place one hand on the side of the melon, holding it securely in place.  You then use the other hand the gently but firmly slap the melon on other side.  You are not doing a karate chop, however.  You don't need to smack it hard enough to split he fruit.  When whacked, you should hear a nice solid sound.  If the melon sounds hollow, forget about it.  It won't be good.  This one had that nice solid sound.

I bought the melon and took it home.  When freed of its rind, cut up and allowed to cool in the  refrigerator for a period of time, we enjoyed the delicious melon with our supper.  As the gentleman had guaranteed, it was very good.  Next time I'm shopping for melon, I'll keep his instructions in mind. 

Does this ring a bell with you?  Or do you have a different way to test the watermelon before taking it home?  I'd love to hear from you,


Monday, October 27, 2014

Election Time Again


  
A lifetime ago as I became an adult I can't believe how naive I was about politics and politicians.  I actually believed the majority of candidates really had the interest of the country foremost in their hearts and minds.  Over time I did become much more cynical and this song, written in 1989 and incorporating some of the events of the day, was the result.  Specifics may have changed somewhat, but the overall concept unfortunately seems to have remained.

                                                 I'M A CONGRESSMAN

     I spend my life kissing babies and shaking hands
     Get important jobs for all my friends
     Pass a few laws every now and then
     It's a damn tough job being a Congressman.

      Chorus:  Yeah, I'm a Congressman living up on a hill
                     We tell you how to live your life and better still
                     We take all your money that you send to us
                      And spend it like we please, just have a little trust
                     In your Congressman.

     I believe in making young people pay their way
     So put my son and my daughter on the government pay
     My brother-in-law drives my limousine
     While my wife struts around the town acting like a queen.

     I'm a Congressman, son, thanks a lot
     I appreciate your vote now just get lost
     We can argue six months over minimum wage
     Then turn around and say we need a 30,000 raise.

     Cho:

     I got a secretary don't know how to type
     I make a lot of money from a book I didn't write
     I sell a little influence whenever I can
     It's a damn tough job being a Congressman.

     Cho:
  
     Tag:  Yeah, it's a damn tough job being a Congressman.

              

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Puzzle of Life


 
 
This is one of my first papier mache projects.  I decided to create my last initial, and I wanted it to stand alone when finished.  My life's philosophy has always incorporated the idea that life can change in a moment.  There would be no real rhyme or reason to a lot that happens in a lifetime.
 
Also, you can never predict how the rough passages will come out.  You can't foretell when it's going to settle down and experience smooth sailing.  So, yes, life is a puzzle indeed.
 
I am also a puzzle person.  I like to work the jigsaw puzzles, especially in the winter when it's too nasty to get out in the weather.  When I started this project, this was all swirling around in my head.  Going through a closet I realized I had a couple of puzzles with missing pieces.  So I pulled one of them, and rummaged through the box to look for the ones I wanted to incorporate into the finished work.
 
Can you tell that one side (the top one) has a pretty smooth finish?  The other I pushed the pieces into the papier mache mess so there is a jagged finish.  While working up the pulp I found an old container of a child's watercolor set.  I started mixing in colors into the pulp, using browns and oranges because they matched some of the background colors of the puzzle pieces. 
 
The pulp just slurped up that color and absorbed it quickly.  I wound up going back to the store and getting a few more watercolor sets, going through those colors in no time.  After completing the piece, I went back several times and repainted the watercolors until I was satisfied.  After a few coats of polyethylene I declared it done, a ten inch piece of special memories. 
 
I did this piece a long time ago, but still find pleasure in having it on a bookshelf.  Do you have a special work of art you created for your own pleasure that has stood the test of time, at least in your own mind?  Love to have you share.



Monday, October 13, 2014

Achy Little Piggies


                    There was a time I suppose
                    When I had pretty little toes --
                    Those stubby nubbins at the end of the feet
                    That let you dance to your special beat.
                    They knew their place and they kept it
                    Till they started acting decrepit

                         There came a time deep in the night
                         I slept, my eyes shut tight
                         But those little traitors (to call their right name)
                         Put all decency to shame.
                         For stabs of pain in my big toe
                         And swelling red skin did quickly show

                    Peace was gone now from my slumber
                    Those little piggies had my number.
                    To touch the sheet would make me shout
                    You know the rest - I had gout.
                    A vicious disorder I declare
                    It makes me squawk:  This just ain't fair!!!



Have you suffered some disorder you had to deal with?  Plesase share.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Season for Love

 
There's something about a beautiful fall day.  Today has been one of those days.  Beauiful weather, moderate temperature, the hint of rain in the air, though as yet none has fallen, and fall decorations popping up all over the place.  The picture above is one outside a business here in Perryville.

Then, when all seems right in the world and there is no way for the day to get better, the radio plays a song that captures the feeling of love in the air.  One from my childhood that has always stayed with me and pops up out of the blue is "Autumn Leaves" by Roger Williams.  I do like that song.  Yes, it is melancoly, but the tumbling piano keys mimic the colorful leaves and their trajectory as they fall from the quickly changing trees everywhere.

What about Rosemary Clooney singing "Shine on Harvest Moon?"  How can you not like this song?  And a little side note:  did you see the Blood Moon yesterday morning?  I tried, but didn't get the timing right.  (Heavy sigh!!)  But I shall try again come April 2015 when it is again supposed to make an appearance.

Another song with a fall flavor is "Whoever's in New England" by Reba McEntire.  She has such a beautiful voice and the song is wonderful.  I'm not sure I'd have such a forgiving attitude, though, if I was in that same situation.  I'd probably be singing, "Keep your sorry self in New England 'cause I'm completely through with you."

There are more songs, of course.  Do you have a favorite?  I'd love to hear from each and every one of you, because music does indeed bring us all together in a special way.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Monday, October 6, 2014

A New Beginning

                                                    (An old Perryville school building)

I remember my first day of school.  I think I remember the actual event, but it is possible what I remember is the retelling of the story of that first day.

My older brother was already in school and we often walked with him, though there were times he came home in the presence of others.  The school was at most maybe a half-mile away, so it wasn't far.  When I started Mom walked us both to school.

I enjoyed the morning.  Then we were sent outside.  So out I went.  However, while the others headed off to the playground, I headed off to the house.  I thought the day was over and we were being sent home.  Needless to say, Mom was less than pleased to see me walk in the door.  Once she determined why I was there, back we went.

She strongly impressed on me that when school was out the teacher would say so.  I was not to leave until then, and even then I should stay until I saw my brother.  We would go home together.  She took me inside and explained the situation to the teacher.  I apologized, of course.  Kids did that then.

Before she left the building she also visited my brother and told him to make sure I was with him when he left for the day.  So every day the teacher would make sure I knew it was okay to leave and watch to make sure my brother was with me when we did leave the premises.  All that was not necessary.  The lesson had been adequately instilled in my mind and I certainly was not going home alone again.  But a routine was established and we practiced that until Christmas.

At that time we left California and moved to Rush Springs, Oklahoma.  There we rode the bus, so I had to wait to leave until the bus arrived for us.  I did miss that daily walk, though.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Something Special


There are some things that just come into your life unexpectedly, but yet feel like that should have been there forever.  This weaving is one of my special treasures.

I attended a speech-language pathologist convention in Hot Springs, Arkansas, about 25 years ago.  While I enjoyed most of these events and visiting with others in the field, that year I was a bit restive.  Lunch time arrived and I felt the need to get out of the building for awhile.  So I took off, exploring the many shops in the area, just window shopping.  I didn't feel the need to look for something to buy, just a place to go and browse.

One shop had a lot of interesting decorative items and the selection was interesting.  I came upon this piece hanging on the wall and it just felt "right."  I loved the colors, the shading, the overall design.  But I was not there to buy.  I walked away and looked at other things in the store.  But I kept coming back to this one.

Finally I left the store.  We were still at a time in our lives where we were budget minded and buying some art piece was definitely not in the plan.  But I couldn't get it out of my mind.  I knew if I walked away without it, I'd feel incomplete in some way.  Finally I turned back, marched into the store, and without hesitation said, "I'll take it."

Over the years it has hung on several different walls.  First in my office when I had a private practice.  Later in a bedroom, then the living room, and finally in the computer room.  When we moved to a new house it went into the library, and now it's back in the computer room.  I look at it often, and I'm still so very glad I made that purchase that day. 

Do you have something special that makes you feel good?  Something you love to display for all the world to see, but yet can enjoy when you are alone with your thoughts?  Something that helps your creative muse emerge and lets you explore so many different thoughts?  I'd love to know about it.  Share if you'd like.

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Allure of Sleepy Hollow

                                                          Sleepy Hollow Access
                                                              Lake Maumelle

It's the brink of October and fall is in the air.  With the hint of Halloween lingering close by, the changing of the colors in the trees, the shorter days of autumn, it is easy to remember Washington Irving's story:  The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

Arkansas is 1260 miles from Tarrytown, New York, which is where Irving and his family moved in 1798 to escape an epidemic of yellow fever.  Autumn there is no doubt cooler than here.  But even here we enjoy hearing a good ghost story every now and then.  Irving tapped into portion of the brain we all secretly wonder about.

People are intrigued by this story, even down to today.  Published in 1819 it still captures the imagination of so many of us on those closed in dark days of fall.  This interest is evident in many places around the country, and yes, even here in Arkansas.

Sleepy Hollow Access is a park approximately 30 miles west of Little Rock.  As seen on a beautiful day it is a peaceful place giving access to Lake Maumelle.  The lake is very popular with the local fishermen.  My husband and I once camped there overnight, oh so many years ago.  We had fun, but when you awake on a cool morning and the fog has rolled in off the water and the visibility is almost nil with civilization not so close by, you can almost imagine what Irving's character, Ichabod Crane, experienced on that fateful night when he rode out to meet the Headless Horseman.

I don't know who suggested the name for this park, but I like it.  And I enjoy stopping by every now and then for a quiet peaceful reverie.  If you're ever in the area, look it up.  See if you are captured by the beautiful trees and quiet river.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Kids and False Alarms


People have always needed a way to transmit information about disasters, especially fires.  For a long time they were limited to using bells, whistles, gun shots and watchmen in towers.  In the 1850's a Massachusetts physician came up with an alarm system using electromagnetics and the telegraph to send a coded message to a central fire station.  There were various improvements made and the Gamewell became very popular.

However, civilization progresses in many directions.  Such was the case with sending in a fire alarm.  There came a time when telephones were saturating neighborhoods and the fire alarm box was becoming obsolete.  That was when they became  a focal point for neighborhood kids.  They discovered that pulling the hook would bring firemen with their trucks rushing into the area.  It was fun for them, especially on those long hot summer days.  It reached a point where the majority of calls coming over the system were false alarms.

My husband was a fireman in Little Rock, Arkansas, for many years.  When an alarm from a box came in they would arrive to see all the neighborhood kids waiting for them.  They would lecture the kids and go back to the station only to have the process repeated.

One time they got there to find a five year old boy standing on a box he had used to get him up high enough to pull the alarm.  He was grinning with pride at doing the call successfully.  The police also made the run and the policeman asked the boy for his name and address.  He quickly gave the info to the cop.  My husband interjected, saying that's not a good address; they don't run that high in this area.

The policeman asked again.  The boy immediately provided a different name and address to the cop.  My husband again said, no way, it's not a good address.  By talking to the other kids it was eventually ascertained the address where the boy was said to live.  It was close by.  The cop and the firemen accompanied the boy to the home and a man soon answered their knock.

The cop explained what had happened and the boy must not do this again.  The man said he would take care of it.  When asked if he was the father, he replied, "No, but I'm closely associated with his mama."

Needless to say, this became one of the stories that circulated through the company.  And the phrase enjoyed a period of time when it was often used with their own kids when talking about discipline that could occur when something was reported back to their child's own mother.  "You better watch it, kid.  I'm closely associated with your mother and she'll help me get to the bottom of this situation."

In the early 1980's the boxes were deemed no longer necessary and were removed.  There was a resultant decline in the number of false alarms.  The neighborhood kids had to find something else to occupy their summer days of boredom.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Clickety Clack

                                                (train depot in Morrilton, Arkansas)

When my granddaughter was quite young, doing some walking and definitely some talking, she loved for me to make up songs about her.  She wanted to learn them, every word of them.

One day in Little Rock her folks were checking out an antique shop in the old train depot.  She got restless, so we went outside and sat on a bench, hoping to see a train come by.  To pass the time, I made up a song for her, which she loved.  She would watch my face intently as I sang to her.  When I was finished she would say "Again" which she produced with the initial sound. 

A few days later I was in the car with her and her folks and we stopped at a railroad track.  She asked me to sing.  So I did her train song.  It wasn't long until she had it down pat.  She was pleased, though her parents were not prone to thank me for this attribute.  For a very long time she would sing it anytime they were in the car and stopped at a track, over and over until the train was gone and they were again on their merry way.  I thought I'd share the song with you.

                    Sitting on a bench by the railroad track
                    Waiting for a train to go clickety clack
                    When that train comes whistling by
                    S________ M____ is going to say bye-bye.

                    Bye-bye train, when you come by
                    S________ M____ is going to say bye-bye.


I miss those days of creating simple songs for her enjoyment.

Do you have a grandchild event to share?  I'd love to hear about it.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Love Bowl


I have always been interested in trying something new every now and then.  To me it does get boring if you stay with one thing all the time.  Several years ago I became interested in papier mache.  I decided I needed a couple of bowls.

My middle sister was not overly impressed.  "Oh, yes," she remarked, "everybody needs a paper bowl."  But art is not always functional.  This is for looking, not for filling with soup or ice cream.

I used a bowl from the cupboard for an armature, covered it with cling wrap and a little Dawn dish washing soap.  Then I covered that with papier mache formed from a packaged mix with water and blue acrylic paint mixed into the wet mess.  This was spread over the bowl and left to dry.  I then removed it from the household bowl and continued with the red for the inside.

At one time I had gotten into making fancy candies using molds.  I used the candy molds to make the little white hearts.  When dry, I added a little more blue to the bowl and mashed the hearts into that.  It was allowed to dry until cured. 

It may not be museum quality, but I had fun doing it and managed to make a few more things over those years.  I don't know it I'll ever get back to the craft, but I have learned over the years to never say "Never!"  If the mood strikes, there's no telling what I'll wind up making.

I do hope you have something that gives you satisfaction in the creating and joy in seeing it later.  Art is for everyone, and you don't have to be a master to get pleasure from the process.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Shades of Revenge

I am proud to announce the availability of my new book, Shades of Revenge.  It's the paranormal fiction tale of two female ghosts haunting the same house.



Mandy Furman and Nora Peltzer haunt the Peltzer mansion.  Shades of their former selves, they must adjust to being dead as well as to the fact they were both murdered by the same person.

Jealousy, anger and exasperation mar their relationship and adjustment.  Mandy must find her hidden physical body before she can move on to the next realm.  Nora must understand her death was not an accident and also must accept who brought about her untimely death.

Mandy's cousin, Chester, joins forces with Nora's friends, Babs and Calista, to search for evidence to bring their killer to justice.

Will the two female haints and the others succeed, or will the list of victims become longer?  Will the two ghosts be able to overcome their ties to the Peltzer mansion, or will they continue in their tiresome earth-bound state?

The book is available at Amazon.com.  And if you read it and enjoy the book, it would be wonderful if you would post a review on the site.  Thank you.



Monday, September 8, 2014

Laughter Through Time

The world learned of the death of Joan Rivers this past week and we have seen reruns of her humor and recalled times of her life when she spoke in a voice that changed the view of women comediennes forever.

She's not the first to come to the public attention through the universal medium of television.  One of the first that I recall was Erma Bombeck (1927-1996).  She wrote articles for newspapers and magazines, wrote books, and appeared on Good Morning America for years.  Her style brought out in the open the trials and triumphs of motherhood and housekeeping. 

It's not that people had not experienced her same difficulties.  It's just that before the public arena of television it was not generally talked about.  She gave people permission to laugh out loud at the commonplace daily life of raising kids and keeping house.  As she wrote:  Housework, if you do it right, will kill you.

Another early funny lady was Totie Fields (1937-1978).  Totie made fun of herself.  A truly great singer, she used her music to lead into her comedy.  She made fun of herself in a way we could all relate to.  In one bit she mentioned meeting Princess Grace Kelly who complemented Totie's work.  To return the complement, Totie replied, "I use your phones all over my house."  And I really enjoyed her singing "Perfect."

Joan (1933-2014) had an acerbic approach.  She made caustic remarks about life and the people she met as she traveled the world, with many celebrities the brunt of her barbs.  She had no qualms in entering the realm of vulgarity, but she could, and often did, speak "words of wisdom" about the ways of humanity.

One time she mentioned a celebrity on the Johnny Carson show who was proof that "peroxide causes brain damage."  When Johnny asked didn't she think men actually preferred intelligent women, she replied, "No man ever put his hand up a woman's dress looking for a library card."

Three very different women, each with her own distinct style of comedy, yet also each showing a unique view of life, each opening the door just a bit wider for those who wanted to carve their own way in the world.  Love them or not, they all helped women to progress in realizing we really can live life on our own terms.  We don't have to be cookie cutters, doing the Stepford Wife waltz through life.

Thanks, Ladies.  I have laughed with and because of each of you.  I have been enriched with the various and nefarious ways learned at your feet.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Trashy Days

It's almost a daily ritual.  We bring sacks and sacks of stuff into our house to use in every part of our lives.  And everything that comes in must, at some point and in some way, go out.

Where does all that garbage go?  Ever since man appeared on this earth, we have had a problem of trash disposal.  Of course, I doubt it bothered early man as much as it does our modern world.  For one thing, there were a lot less people then.  And, for another, they didn't have the means to accumulate as much stuff.

I hadn't given it a lot of thought, to tell you the truth.  Oh, I do my share of recycling and trying to reuse as much as possible.  But I recently heard of a place I'd like to visit.  It's the Trash Museum in Hartford, Connecticut.  (They even have a Facebook page, if you'd like to check them out.)

It's managed by the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority, and is geared to educate the public about the importance of proper disposal and recycling.  You can watch the process of sorting from a mezzanine area as they discuss problems and solutions to waste. 

They also have a 12'x36' mural by Ted Esselstyn of Higganum, depicting trash disposal from prehistoric times up to modern days.  And there is a gift shop with a line of souvenirs related to their themes.

Museums of various kinds attract my attention.  I love to visit them, wherever I go, whenever I get the chance.  If I ever make it up to that part of the country, I'll have to check them out.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Dancing Down Memory Lane

It's late August and September is nipping at our heels.  Heat is still hanging around, making sure we really appreciate the coolness when it comes.  School is back in session, and class reunions are being planned and discussed.

Radio was a necessity in our lives back then.  What I miss most about those radio days is that we could listen and get such a variety of musical styles then.  Now it all seems segmented.  If you want a genre, you turn to that on the dial (or however you're listening now) and that's all you get.

Does anyone else miss the musical mixings that used to be so common.  I remember listening in one afternoon to songs from the Everly Brothers (Bye Bye Love) and the Platters (The Great Pretenders); Pat Boone (Love Letters in the Sand) and Chuck Berry (Maybellene) or Little Richard (Tutti Frutti).

One moment you could be listening to the Kingston Trio (Tom Dooley), then maybe hear Bobby Darin (Mack the Knife) followed by Carl Perkins (Blue Suede Shoes) with a follow-up from Johnny Cash (Folsom Prison Blues).

People liked humor in their songs then, for sure.  Remember David Seville (Witch Doctor) and Sheb Wooley (Purple People Eater)?  And of course Del Reeves had a popular song (Girl on the Billboard).

Looking back, I think what I most appreciate about our radio days is the lack of vulgarity.  Oh yes, we had suggestive lyrics and aggressive love songs, but the writers knew then they could not get by with graphic semi-porn.  They had to rely on talent, and they had to appeal to a sense of humor a bit (okay, maybe not too much, but at least a little) higher than early adolescence.  Sure we had the Everly Brothers singing about "Wake Up Little Susie," but at least they put limits on where the story line went.  (Sorry about that.  Just had a I've Got to Rant moment.  But it has now passed.)

Enjoy the rest of summer.  Sit back, relax and take a sip of some good sweet iced tea.



Monday, August 18, 2014

One Cool-Thinking Kid

Hot summer days have often left us wanting something to partake of that would cool us off and slow us down to enjoy the lazy passing of time.  That's not something new to us or our generations.  It's been going on since the beginning of time, I'm sure.

Wealthy Romans would have ice carted from the mountains down to the villages, and the ice would be mixed with fruit bits and fruit juice to give them a form of snow cone.  History tells us they weren't alone.  Similar practices were showing up in China, India, and the Arabian peninsula.  And as we can all attest, these shaved ice confections can sure hit the spot.

But it wasn't until 1905 in San Francisco, California, that an accidental discovery lead to a treat still popular today with kids of all ages.  Eleven year old Frank Epperson had some powdered soda mixed up, using a wooden stick to stir the concoction.  He left some of the stuff out on the porch overnight.  When he arose the next morning, there was his treat, still there, but now frozen onto the stick. 

Now Frank wasn't a dense lad.  The next summer he was selling his treat to the neighborhood kids.  But it wasn't until 1923 at the Neptune Beach amusement park in Alameda, California, that he had a good commercial business going.  The next year he applied for and got a patent for his Episicle, which soon were a big hit.  He soon changed the name of the treat to "Popsicle," and it is still widely eaten by folks everywhere.

Frank didn't enjoy the profits from his "invention" long, however.  In 1925 he sold his patent to another company to pay off creditors.  The Popsicle today is still the Popsicle, although the varieties have grown in number and taste.  But it still hits the spot on a hot summer day when you need something light and refreshing to consume while relaxing, indoors or out.  I don't know that Frank invented anything else,, but he did leave us all a cool taste treat we can eat just about any time of year, 

Thanks, Frank.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Little Life Music

Sometimes something happens and I have no choice but to put the situation to music.  So there is truth to some of this ditty, but there is also imagination working into the song.  I envisioned the thing set to a light-hearted march.  I do hope you enjoy.


                       PROPOSITION MRS. K

          I was walking down the street, enjoying the sun
          Having a good time, looking for fun
          When a man walked up, stopped me on the street
          Called me by my name and he looked so sweet

              Cho:  I've got a proposition for you, Mrs. K
                        Would you like to make some money today?
                        It could be fun, it could be swell,
                        Take your time and think it over well.

          Well my blood's not blue and madam's not my name
          But I'm always ready for a new game
          So I listened to what the man had to say
          Cause money talks and I can use some today.
          He put thoughts of jewelry inside my head,
          A life of luxury on a silken bed
          With diamonds and a jacket of mink
          It might be fun, now what do you think?

               Repeat chorus

          He pointed to a shop on the street
          Said I sell shoes to put upon your feet
          You look like you could sell a shoe or two
          I need some help, yes, you might do.
          Well, I dropped my jaw and my ego hit the floor
          And I'm not walking a so tall any more.
          I thought he saw me as a sexy turtle-dove
          But he wanted me to work and not to love.

               Cho:  He had a proposition for this Mrs. K
                         He wanted me to sell some shoes today.
                         Now that's not fun and it's sure not swell
                         I thought it over, and I can tell him -

                         Well!!!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Putting Shoes on My Barefeet

Some days it's hard to make a choice.  Do I go barefoot, or do I decide which shoes to wear?  It isn't always an easy choice, for I am naturally a barefoot gal.  I like this thought by Michael Franti:
          You learn a lot when you go barefoot.  The first thing is that every step you take
          is different.

There must be others with these thoughts.  K.D. Lang sings "Barefoot."  Harry Chapin recorded "Barefoot Boy."  Jake Owens sings about "Barefoot Blue Jean Night."  I can relate to all of these.

However, shoes and boots have turned up more often in the musical world.  And the songs often skew more to a life with a beat.  Remember when Nancy Sinatra sang about "These Boots Were Made for Walking?"  And Shania Twain had a later hit with her song, "Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?"

An earlier song was Dodie Stevens singing about "Tan Shoes and Pink Shoelaces."  And we can't forget Carl Perkins song (also recorded by Elvis Presley) titled "Blue Suede Shoes."  Of course you can go way back to get a listen to Red Foley singing about "Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy."

Another thought I like is one by Amy Adams:  I like Cinderella, I really do.  She has a good work ethic.  I appreciate a good, hard working gal.  And she likes shoes.  The fairy tale is all about the shoes at the end and I'm a big shoe girl.

 But let's not let ourselves get carried away with all this talk about shoes.  Charles Barkley sums it up pretty well  when he said:  These are my new shoes.  They're good shoes.  They won't make you rich like me, they won't make you rebound like me, they definitely won't make you handsome like me.  They'll only make you have shoes like me.  That's it.

And we'll close with the immortal words of Phyllis Diller:  You know you're old when someone compliments you on your alligator shoes, and you're barefoot.

We'll talk again later.  But remember, watch where you put those feet, especially if you are barefoot at the time.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Freedom of Failure

In yesterday's Arkansas Democrat Gazette I read an article by Stephen Marche:  Failure is the muse of writers.  Over the years I had read a lot of things denoting the downside of being a writer.  He did a good job encapsulating them in an interesting article.

I have also noticed the ascendancy of entrepreneurs in making note of the times they fail over many different enterprises.  I'm sure you've heard the adage:  The only one who don't fail are those who never try.  And I do agree somewhat with the thought.

Marche points out that all those folks are really wannabes in the failure world.  The top of the heap in coping with the knowledge of failure are all the writers in the world.  Failure is built into the job description from the very get-go.  He (and others) have pointed out that there are over 300,000 books  published every year in the United States.  Anyone can figure out that the vast majority will never make it to any best seller list anywhere.  And of those who do achieve some modicum of success, there is always the thought it will not be repeated.

So, why write?  I'm sure there are as many reasons for that as there are writers.  But everybody's got to do something.  Some write and make a decent living at it.  They would most likely include those who have found a way into the world of professional writers in all the various forms - entertainment, journalism (although sometimes there is little difference between some of them), advertisers, editors, promoters.

I can only speak for myself.  I write because I just can't see not writing.  I like to write fiction.  I write to entertain and try to bring a bit of quirky humor to a story line.  I didn't try to write for way too many years, because I really didn't have confidence in myself and worried about the resultant criticism that would surely follow.  But over the years, I would jot down story ideas or produce short stories.

Then came the time life lassoed my freedom and I wound up in an ever more restricting environment due to circumstances well beyond my control with no foreseeable end in sight.  No, I didn't wind up in jail.  But you make choices in life in how you deal with the vagaries of aging and with family members facing horrible challenges.  I found for myself the best way to deal with this was to write.

I can write whenever I need to escape yet stay in place.  I can write as often as I find time or let it go whenever I can't focus on the words or plot or characters.  And I determined to self-publish because I face only the deadlines I impose on myself.  I can't get out and market the work, but I can still get it out there.  If God grants me time, marketing can come later.  If not, oh well.  There are still the occasional books sold and the very welcome odd bits of comments on the work.

I relish these comments, whether from family, friends or complete strangers.  I like them whether they come from reviewers' comments, e-mail, snail mail or phone calls.  And now as I do the finishing work in preparing my third novel, I still enjoy what I'm doing.  How long will I do it?  I have no idea.   

As for all those thoughts of failure, I actually find a real freedom in the knowledge that is lurking out there just around the corner.  Statistically, I have to fail.  So what?  In my mind I have achieved success because I have completed some real stories.  From my viewpoint, any sales put me ahead of the game.  Any positive feedback gives me moments of true joy.  And I can look at the finished product and see real achievement rising from times of sadness and stress.  I know that life has not gotten me down, that I can still have fun and find amusement somewhere in my mind that can relax me and push the devil back down into his dark place, alone.

What more can you ask from life's journey?

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Shady Side of History

It's summer here in the United States of America.  And a strange one it has been.  We've experienced some cool weather for this time of year.  But the really hot weather will still make its presence known.  And when that happens, we will all be searching for some cool, cool shade.

It has been that way everywhere throughout history.  Mankind prefers his climate to suit his own preferences, rather than submitting himself meekly to what the climate delivers to him.  The proof exists all over the world.  Whether it's sculptures on monuments in Egypt, paintings on Ancient Greek vases, or ancient artifacts found in China, man has been bringing his own shade with him wherever he traversed in the form of parasols (protection from the sun) or umbrellas (protection from the rain).

Of course, the devises were available to the nobility of the world, carried by the common man to protect his "betters."  But at least 600 years before Christ, portable shades were popping up all over the world.

People are still looking for ways to improve on this simple design.  In fact, there are so many designs submitted to the U.S. Patent Office, that it is said they have four full-time workers to assess the designs. I read that by the end of 2008, the U.S. Patent Office had registered 3,000 active patents.  Many of these involved making designs to make them more aerodynamic for better wind flow and control.

For all these patents, we rarely see umbrellas in use around the country.  Of, yes, when it is raining they will pop up here and there.  But many dash from car to building using anything at hand to try to keep a bit of the weather off the head.  Maybe it's a newspaper or book, a plastic bag, or a shirt collar pulled up as high on the head as possible.  But you don't see folks just strolling around the area with that bit of material to keep the hot sun at bay.  Or perhaps, I just live in the wrong part of the country to see them on a regular basis.

In fact, we seem to use the umbrella more with our outdoor furniture.  Whether on a patio, a deck, or a porch, we do like to sit out under the shade as we sip our sweet tea.  (This is the south, after all.)

I myself carry an umbrella with me at all times.  It's under the driver's seat of my car.  But that is really where it remains.  I do intend to put it to better use, but then the notion just slides away from the brain and the item stays in place in the car.

Maybe I'll do better.  But then again, maybe not.  What about you?  Do you use the brolly?  That's a term more often associated with our friends in Britain, New Zealand, Ireland, and Australia - among other countries.  How do we bring it to the forefront of the grey matter and put this very handy item to more use?  Let me know if you have any ideas.


Monday, July 28, 2014

Legal Final Ten

Today we look at the final ten of the fifty states and some laws that made it on the books, though one must wonder how and why.  Something must have happened to make the laws seem reasonable at the time, but for the life of me, it is difficult to decipher just what that reasoning could possibly be.  So here we go, one more time.

     South Dakota     -   It is illegal to lie down and fall asleep in a cheese factory.  (Does that
                                    mean it is okay to do so in any other type of factory?)
     Tennessee          -   You can't shoot any game other than whales from a moving
                                     automobile.  (Again, Tennessee is not a coastal state.  I just can't see
                                    where or why one would even see a whale, in or out of a vehicle.)
     Texas                -   It is illegal to take more than three sips of beer at a time while standing. 
                                   ( I don't have any experience in this area, but from all the old westerns
                                   I watched over the years, sipping beer does not seem to be the custom
                                   in the state of Texas.  The participants seemed to be more intent on
                                   guzzling than sipping.)
     Utah                  -   It is illegal not to drink milk.  (Okay, if you have lactose problems,
                                   you might want to inquire about getting a waiver for this law.)
     Vermont           -   Women must obtain written permission from the husband to wear false
                                   teeth.  (Is this an attempt by the men to get the women to keep their
                                   mouths shut?  Just a thought.)
     Virginia            -   In the town of Culpepper, you may not wash a mule on the sidewalk.
                                   (Funny, I've never even considered mule washing, on or off the walk.)
     Washington      -   All lollipops are banned.  (Do you suppose a legislator had just gotten
                                   a large dental bill for kiddos eating too much candy?)
     West Virginia   -   Whistling underwater is prohibited.  (Is it just me, or does the mere idea
                                   of underwater whistling seem way too quirky to make sense?)
     Wisconsin         -   It is illegal to serve apple pie in restaurants without cheese.  (Now I have
                                   to admit, I do see some sense to this one.  Wisconsin is famous for their
                                   cheeses, and apple pie is certainly enhanced by its addition.)
     Wyoming          -   You may not take a picture of a rabbit from January to April without an
                                    official permit.  (I'm totally lost on this.  Why just in the winter time?
                                    (Why rabbits?  Are they the only animals requiring this permit?)

There you have it.  Laws that amuse, and may even make sense to someone in some unknown way.  I heard someone say once, that all lawmakers should spend equal time discarding old or unwanted laws as they do on coming up with new ones.  Because you know that any law written requires large amounts of regulations on just how these laws should be administered.  Lord, deliver us from this never-ending deluge of bureaucracy.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Creative Solar Thinkers

I read an interesting article in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.  Scott Brusaw, an electrical engineer in Idaho State, has come up with an intriguing idea.  Why not use solar power to do more than provide light and heat?  Why not put them on the ground and use solar energy to make parking lots, driveways, and bike trails?  No, not to make solar covers for these items, but to cover the parking lots, etc. with the solar panels.  Lay them down and drive on them just as you would do with asphalt or other roadway materials.

Brusaw's company, Solar Roadways, uses a knobby, tempered glass to create the road covering.  He has tested the panels by driving heavy equipment on them, and is convinced they can eventually be used for highways as well.  That would be something to see.  They should keep the snow and ice melted away, and, he says, that there could be lighted LED messages in the panels as well.

They have installed a prototype parking lot already for their testing and to demonstrate their durability and use.  Evidently they still must figure out how to store the energy generated.  But at least they are thinking in a creative manner, looking for something that we may all be using at some point in the future. 

Personally, I hope they are successful, and the solar panels are one day taking us from one part of the country to the other.  And when the blizzards come, and the snow is so deep on the road sides, wouldn't it be wonderful to travel a clean, brightly lit, precipitation free highway?  Can you imagine transportation without cars sliding all over the place and winding up in ditches or worse?  I think it would be a treat to see and use. 

So good luck to you, Mr. Brusaw.  May your tribe increase and prove beneficial to all of us.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Pat Cleburne Steam Fire Engine

The Little Rock, Arkansas, fire department received a new steam fire engine in 1867, which was put into use as The Pat Cleburne.  This was celebrated in the news media of the day as follows:

          From the New Orleans, Louisiana, Crescent dated April 6, 1867, as reported in the
          Arkansas Gazette, April 14, 1867. 

     The New Steam Engine Pat Cleburne  The second class double Amoskeog engine Pat Cleburne, on its passage through (New Orleans) to Little Rock, was tried yesterday afternoon at the head of Canal Street.  ... it is the first fire engine of the kind that has been seen in this city.

          From the Arkansas Gazette, reported April 16, 1867.

     The Pat Cleburne  The new steam fire engine was taken ... for a trial of its capacities.  ...
     One of the streams was then cut off and an inch and one-eighth nozzle put on the other.  Through this, the water was sent to such a height that it was painful to the eyes to follow it upwards. ...
     The water in the cistern was beginning to get low, and the engine was removed ... and ... soon pumped the cistern full, showing that the Pat would make a first class garden pump or street sprinkler.         

 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

You Say What Is Against The Law??

Let's take a look at another ten legal issues that have arisen across the states over time.  Again, someone somewhere decided at some time or other that constituents were upset over a specific issue, enough to push this issue to some legislature's attention, enough to get the laws passed.  Remember, I found these laws on the Internet so I cannot vouch for their veracity or the time of their passage.

New Mexico       -  In the town of Las Cruces you may not carry a lunchbox down
                               Main street.
New York           -  It is against the law to slurp your soup.
North Carolina   -  Attention all cotton farmers!!  You may not use elephants to plow
                               your cotton fields.
Ohio                   -   And fishermen must also be diligent when enjoying their passion.  It is
                               illegal to get a fish drunk in this fair state.  (If you take booze to the
                               lake or river, plan on consuming it yourself.)
Oklahoma          -   It is illegal to wear your boots to bed.  (Do you think the ladies had
                               something to do with getting this law enacted?)
Oregon               -  One must wear "suitable clothing" when bathing.  (Is the "suitable
                               clothing specified in the law?  I just don't know.)
Pennsylvania      -  This law is related to the one in Oregon.  In William Penn's namesake
                               state you may not sing in the bathtub. (I wonder if they later updated
                               it to include singing in the shower?)  
Rhode Island      -  In this state, you may not bite off the leg of another person.  (I don't
                               even want to think about the reasoning behind this law.)
South Carolina   -  Evidently a pious state at the time, the powers that be passed a law
                               making it illegal to do any work on Sunday.  (I have a feeling this
                               one has gone by the wayside by now.)

So watch your actions, fellow citizens.  You do not want to run afoul of the law in any of our fair states.  In reading this and the past lists, how many are you in danger of doing?

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Future Looks Good

As you travel through life you are always running into the perpetual nay-sayers.  So often folks predict a dire future for all of us because the young people don't want to learn or do anything productive.

Now it is true that the negative captures the public attention far more than the positive.  But the positive is out there, and sometimes it rears a beautiful view of something wonderful that is about to happen.  Oh, what a wonderful thing it is to see that fine future and the possibilities that loom before us, stretching far into the future.

One such story came our way this week.  Two years ago a 12 year old Florida girl, Lauren Arrington, won 3rd place in a the zoology category of a science fair.  The daughters of a couple of scientists, she used her inquiring mind to ask questions of some value about lionfish.  Her results came to the attention of Craig Layman, a professor working with graduate students from Florida.  They replicated Lauren's study and came up with results that supported her findings.

Their studies have now been published in the Environmental Biology of Fishes, and the good professor gives Lauren credit for her work.  Good for her for getting her study extended by the grownups, and good for the professor and his group for including her work by citing it in the journal.  This is the way things should be done, in my opinion, with all working together to figure things out, and showing a willingness to share in the glory when the results are in.

With folks like this in the world, we must get some good information that can eventually be of value to the world.  Way to go, people.  My hats off to all of you.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Summer Becomes Bearable

It's July.  And in the Northern Hemisphere that can mean a lot of long hot days.  It's a time you want to get out early in the day or later after dark.  To traipse about outside in the full blast of summer heat in late afternoon can be miserable.

Yet, what could it be without man's inventive spirit?  We have come to expect comfort even in the heat of summer, the cold of winter.  We not only expect it, we demand it.  Why?  Because we are now used to it and oh, how we hate to lose something we really enjoy.

I'm glad I live in a time with such creature comforts.  Back in the 1880's there was no air conditioning.  Some of the history of creation and inventions can be a little murky without clear documentation.  But I've read that in 1882 Schuyler Skaats Wheeler invented the fan.  A few years later Philip Diehl added an electric motor.  Then a few more years later, Diehl added an electric light to it.

Ceiling fans, of course, do not cool the air.  It moves the air around people and in a still, hot atmosphere the air movement makes one feel cooler.  It was a big improvement to man's life.  And the fans became common in a large part of the country, especially in the more urban areas.

In the more rural areas of the country, such amenities were not as available.  Many years ago we met a lady who was quite elderly.  The discussion turned to ceiling fans.  She said one day her family got in the wagon and their father took them to a town not too far away, for he had heard of a family there with an electric fan.  All the way over they discussed what they expected to see.  She said they decided before they arrived the contraption would be shaped like a paper hand fan with a motor moving it up and down to blow the air on them, just as a paper fan pushed the air across the face.

They were wrong, of course.  But can you imagine the excitement of going to see an unusual (to them) contraption that would make life easier and more enjoyable, even in the pulsing heat of deep summer?  When was the last time you were excited to see something new? 

Monday, June 30, 2014

A Little Spice In Life

Last week I suffered a short bout of abdominal distress, likely caused by eating the wrong food.  My grand daughter brought me some ginger ale and crackers.  I like ginger ale, but it's just one of those things I forget about most of the time.  It does seem to help with stomach distress.  Some say it's merely a placebo effect, and that may be.  Who cares, if it seems to work?

Ginger beer has been around since about the mid 1800's, I believe.  Later, a different carbonation process eliminated the alcohol though the taste appeared to stay pretty much the same.  So now, it's used more as a mixer for alcohol if the buzz is desired.  But it does have a great taste that is decidedly different from other colas and sodas.

The ginger taste has been used since about the eleventh century in Europe.  The spice is a preservative for pastries and bread, which is a great asset.  But the taste is delectable as well.  Sometimes the spicy batter was mixed up and served as a cake, sometimes as a flat cake - often cut in shapes denoting humans, animals or celestial stars, and often as a thick slice of bread.  You know what?  I like them all.  Again, a taste that is often set aside for long periods of time until I rediscover a recipe or boxed mix and just have to indulge.

And let's not forget the Christmas season when you often see gingerbread houses decorated a la Hansel and Gretel style with enough candy to boggle the mind of any wicked witch enticing hungry children into her home.  Our local Max Milam Library has an annual event of decorating them as an event for the kids in the area.  They actually use graham crackers for the houses, and when you have about 150 kids show up for the event you can see the necessity of fast, sturdy construction.

I have consumed more ginger ale this week, for the taste enjoyed last week slung a craving on me.  I  have yet to bake any gingerbread, but it could very well be in my near future.  And I will certainly enjoy the treat.

Do you have a special treat that may go forgotten for periods of time?  I'd love to know.