Monday, December 31, 2012
Thursday, December 27, 2012
Today's the day I purge some detritus off my hard drive. In a file labeled "Bobby Personal" I found a Word document titled "Good Ideas." I had no recollection of what it contained, not suprising since the date I put it there was 6/7/2007. I find the best way to get rid of things is to delete them sight unseen; if I look at each item, I will find a dozen reasons why I should keep it.
However, "Good Ideas" got looked at and just maybe if I pass it on to you, I can safely let delete it. I would certainly give credit to the person who came up with these good ideas if I could, but unfortunately I didn't save that part. Nevertheless, good ideas always should be passed on, don't you think?
Easy Deviled Eggs - Put cooked egg yolks in a zip lock bag. Seal, mash till they are all broken up. Add remainder of ingredients, reseal, keep mashing it up mixing thoroughly, and cut the tip of the baggy, squeeze mixture into egg. Just throw bag away when done. It's an easy clean up.
Expanding Frosting - When you buy a container of cake frosting from the store, whip it with your mixer for a few minutes. You can double it in size. You get to frost more cake/cupcakes with the same amount. You also eat less sugar/calories per serving.
Newspaper Weeds-Away – When you start putting in your plants, work the nutrients in your soil. Then wet newspapers, put layers around the plants overlapping as you go, cover with mulch and forget about weeds. Weeds will get
through some gardening plastic, but they will not get through wet newspapers.
Squirrel Away - To keep squirrels from eating your plants sprinkle your plants with cayenne pepper. The cayenne pepper doesn't hurt the plant and the squirrels won't come near it.
Flexible vacuum - To get something out of a heat register or under the fridge add an empty paper towel roll or empty gift wrap roll to your vacuum. It can be bent or flattened to get in narrow openings.
Measuring Cups - Before you pour sticky substances into a measuring cup, fill it with hot water. Dump out the hot water, but don't dry the cup. Next, add your ingredient, such as peanut butter, and watch how easily it comes right out.
Good-bye Fruit Flies - To get rid of pesky fruit flies, take a small
glass fill it 1/2" with Apple Cider Vinegar and 2 drops of dishwashing liquid, mix well. You will find those flies drawn to the cup and gone forever!
Get Rid of Ants - If you use chalk lines where the ants are coming in, they won't cross it, so I think this is even BETTER - as we need ants to aerate the soil and clean up dead bugs as they are great scavengers!! Put small piles of cornmeal where you see ants. They eat it and carry pieces home, but because they can't digest it, it kills them. It may take a week or so to stop the ants, especially if it rains, but it works and you don't have the worry about pets or small children being harmed!
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
A decade ago I found this list and have enjoyed using it so much that I'd like to share it with you again for 2013.
1. I will reread a book that I loved as a child.
2. I will finally read that classic from high school that I’ve been avoiding.
3. I will find a book of poetry and read some aloud.
4. I will spend an hour in aimless browsing at a library.
5. I will read a book written in the year I was born
6. I will create a journal and keep notes about the books and magazines read.
7. I will assemble a list of my favorite people and send them my ideas about
books (favorites, recent reads, and the like)
8. I will read a book to a child.
9. I will gather a few friends and read a play out loud
10. I will read a book on the history of my town.
11. I will read a book written from a political point of view totally opposite my own.
12. I will read a book about a place I’ve never been.
13. I will reread a book that I just didn’t “get” when I was eighteen.
14. I will read a book written by a non-American.
Monday, December 17, 2012
I was interested to learn that you have changed your major, moving out of the engineering field and into the science field. Neuro-science, I think you called it. Your poor old grandma, who always was much more interested in people than in things, is pretty much out in left field when it comes to understanding that kind of study. Regardless, I know you will do well. I asked you what you intended to do once your academic training was finished and you said, “Probably some kind of research.” This letter is to give you a suggestion.
But first, I need to tell you a little bit about me that you don’t know. I don’t tell everybody, because they will think I am weird. But here’s the scoop. I see faces. I suppose finding faces started out with your great-grandma telling me to look at the lady in the moon. Yup, I saw her! If my sis and I were bored with nothing to do and if it was a lovely day with nice puffy white clouds, she would suggest that we go out and find faces configured in the clouds. So from an early age I was predisposed to see faces.
But – and here’s where I want you to not think me weird – I tend to mostly see faces in linoleum flooring used in bathrooms. In our house on Greenwood we remodeled the master bathroom and I picked out a very pretty blue and white piece of flooring that when laid, looked like a tile floor. However, the minute I sat down to use the commode, I found every fourth tile to have a face looking at me. I knew it was simply a random pattern repeated stamped ever so many inches or feet. But those faces looked back at me. To say it was a bit disconcerting is an under-statement. I tried to get your grandpa to take the time to look at the face when his turn in on the commode came, but he never even tried. He had previously told me that when he started MIT he went in with the intention of becoming an architect, but shortly his professor told him to change to engineering because he had absolutely no imagination. So frankly, I don’t think he’d ever have seen a face in a floor, even if he had tried.
In our little apartment here in Mira Loma we have a bathroom floor that really isn’t conducive to having faces, but it does have tiles. One time I DID see a face in it but I’ve never seen it a second time. Which is really too bad because it was the face of a handsome man. Nevertheless, looking for him does give me something to do while I….(harrumph) sit.
....................................... from your loving grandma.
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Mother always thought white signified total cleanliness - and if a choice had to be made in colors, such as when colored kitchen appliances came into being, Mother always opted for white and made sure we knew why she was choosing it. "White always makes your kitchen look so clean," she would say. Trendiness was not a consideration; cleanliness was.
So my underpanties were always white, and my first training bra (although we didn't call them that in those days) was also white. I was inadvertently brainwashed into thinking that I was making a choice of my own free will when I marched up to the cash registers to pay for my white cotton underwear. And I did it for years, always feeling very clean and very virtuous.
So I was thunderstruck when, back in the early 1970s, Jim Sanderson, who wrote very helpful newspaper columns about recovering from divorce and whom I read faithfully in my efforts to recover from my own unhappy split, made this trenchant pronouncement: "Ladies, the first thing you need to do it get rid of your utility underwear." He was talking about white cotton panties and encouraging us to go out and buy ourselves some lovely feminine underwear, silky and ranging in colors from the palest pink to the hottest red. He said it was a start to making us feel better about ourselves. Oh, I ran to the store and grabbed up pink, blue, lavendar, yellow, red and black silky underthings, and some in wonderfully sheer lace.
Today, I still cannot look at a pair of white underpants without mentally pointing a finger at them and saying "Ugh, utility underwear!" It may look funny for a happily-married 73 year old to be standing at the counter buying lovely soft, silky and colorful underwear, but at least no one is ever rude enough to say to me, "Oh, are you buying these for YOURSELF?" Let them think what they want. I simply no longer wear utility underwear!
Now here's what this new blog is all about: I feel honor-bound to advise you that yesterday I went to Target and bought 10 pairs of white cotton utility underpants! I can hardly believe I did such a thing! I am quite sure Jim Sanderson, wherever he is, is turning over in his grave, or if he's still with us and writing in some other newspaper, is horrified!
But there is a good reason I did it. I am not a shopper; actually I hate shopping for anything and for such a thing as mundane undergarments that goes double. So of course I always wait until I am desperate, at which time I MUST buy what I need. And yesterday's foray to Target was a must. The awful laundromat here at the adult complex where we live had all but cremated my lovely little dainty wearables over time, and with the elastic not functioning any more and the nylon of the panties now stiff as medieval armor, I was desperate enough to go shopping.
But Jim, the racks of lovelies were all but decimated by Santa Claus, I suspect. There were a few thongs left (don't even imagine a 77-year old in a thong!). What WAS available were....yep, you guessed it, only white utility underwear. I refuse to get my knickers in a twist over a shopping glitch, so I grabbed a pack of ten on sale for 50% off and against my druthers paid for them and went home. There was no way I was going to go from store to store among the throngs of Christmas shoppers for exactly the right kind.
I probably will have these ugly white things for the rest of my life, since the laundromat will never damage them. Yes, I will miss those little lovelies that Sanderson wrote so authoritatively about, but so be it! I'm guess I'm really past the age of being too particular.
77 will do that to you!
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Although technically I MIGHT still be able to read a book in 2012 that would bump one of these off the list, at the rate my life is moving that probably isn't going to happen. So here they are - my 10 favorites. Not all are fine pieces of writing, but they appear here because I liked them, sometimes for the subject matter, sometimes for the story and sometimes because the encompassed all three: good writing, good story and good subject matter. And they are listed in no particular order. My biggest surprise, however, is discovering Willa Cather so many years after I had to read "My Antonia" in 10th grade. I remember nothing about that one, but her "Archbishop" book has certainly put her on my list of very readable authors!
Alice I Have Been - Melanie Benjamin
Six Exceptional Women - James Lord
Waiting with Gabriel - Amy Keubelbeck
Monday, December 3, 2012
He was such a cute, smart and verbal tyke. His use of the King's English, seemingly so advanced for his age, made everybody laugh. One afternoon in 1959 when he was about three I walked into the front yard and found him standing near the sidewalk in his little red wagon with the end of the garden hose in his hand. He was using the nozzle as a microphone to interview the neighbor kids as they came by. Another time I got a phone call from a neighbor a few doors down, advising me that Sean had just knocked on her door, telling her that he was selling tickets to the Billy Graham Crusade and did she want to buy one so she could be saved. She could hardly explain to me what had transpired because she was laughing so hard.
But his language wasn't always this precise. He hit a period in his threes where he tested word-building and my patience. He was my first child; everything he did was a surprise to me, so imagine my shock when he turned to his friend Calvin one day and out of nowhere said, "You are a big poo-poo head!" Because I like to think that we, his mom and dad, were fairly free of major epithets in our day-to-day living, I was sure he hadn't picked this kind of language up from us. Nevertheless, when he said this - and soon other similar verbal descriptions - I just had to turn my back so he wouldn't see me laugh. I was sure it was a stage and it too would pass, though I could see that he probably would need a little help from me.
Our nation's 2001-2003 poet laureate Billy Collins wrote about this very thing in
and sauntered off the beaches into forests
working up some irregular verbs for their
first conversation, so three-year-old children
enter the phase of name-calling.
Every day a new one arrives and is added
to the repertoire. You Dumb Goopyhead,
You Big Sewerface, You Poop-on-the-Floor
(a kind of Navaho ring to that one)
they yell from knee level, their little mugs
flushed with challenge.
Nothing Samuel Johnson would bother tossing out
in a pub, but then the toddlers are not trying
to devastate some fatuous Enlightenment hack.
They are just tormenting their fellow squirts
or going after the attention of the giants
way up there with their cocktails and bad breath
talking baritone nonsense to other giants,
waiting to call them names after thanking
them for the lovely party and hearing the door close.
The mature save their hothead invective
for things: an errant hammer, tire chains,
or receding trains missed by seconds,
though they know in their adult hearts,
even as they threaten to banish Timmy to bed
for his appalling behavior,
that their bosses are Big Fatty Stupids,
their wives are Dopey Dopeheads
and that they themselves are Mr. Sillypants.
He also must have had a Sean in his family!
I personally think a book of Billy Collins' poetry would be a marvelous gift to give at Christmas. And to be honest with you, his poems are about the only kind I understand. And really, really enjoy.
Saturday, December 1, 2012
And just as I’ve eaten the last bite of Turkey, so I’m letting November go. It was a good month: a little rain but which hopefully was a harbinger of more to come, a pretty heavy social schedule with lunches and birthday meals in abundance, and a paucity of doctor visits, which is always a nice thing to happen. The cars have been running well (I say that with crossed fingers), projects were finished and decisions were made on Christmas gifts. Old friends were contacted, new friends made, and everyone except the Turkey seems to be in a good place. (Well, it is too, actually, but you know what I mean!)
Thursday, November 22, 2012
After the last few rancorous months we Americans need so much to be reminded of all we have to be thankful for, and I can't think of a better way than sharing her Thanksgiving prayer.
For these things, we are thankful ...
By Joan Beck
God of grace and God of glory, we thank you for this day for stock prices that go up and a budget deficit that went down, for the fragile peace in Bosnia and for Wei Jensheng who is now free, for dividends and diversity and one nation indivisible, for e-mail and eagles and Edison and Easter, for salsa and cilantro and cinnamon.
Lord of all to thee we raise our grateful praise for 911 and 1-800, for 98.6 and 20/20, for 401Ks and 403Bs, for I Corinthians 13 and John 3:16, for Beethoven’s 6th and Brahm’s 4th, for 12 step programs and three-ring circuses and second-day mail, for Title IX and a half point over prime and 8 gigabytes of hard drive space.
Sunday, November 18, 2012
Saturday, November 17, 2012
Fleeing the intrusion of man and the certain destruction of their ancestral home, a band of rabbits encounters harrowing trials posed by predators and hostile warrens — driven only by their vision to create a perfect society in a mysterious promised land known to them as Watership Down. First published in 1972 to world-wide rave reviews and now a modern classic, this is a powerful tale about the destructive impact of our society on nature.
Now you have to admit that is fantasy. Were I to re-read it now (which I won’t), I don’t know how I would feel about it. Maybe at this stage in my life, I’m just not “into” it. I used to read science fiction when I was in Junior High School, my favorite author being Robert Heinlein. But it’s like that phase ended and I’ve moved on.
Saturday, November 10, 2012
I found the recipe in the cookbook easily, but I think probably from being so involved recently in tracking down old friends for a reunion and trying to match names and faces, I was suddenly struck with how many of my recipes have names that remind me of their origins -- mostly old friends from long ago.
- "Donna's Chicken Wings" - Donna was my daughter-in-law Nancy's mother.
- "Vera's Molded Salad" - Vera was the mother-in-law of my neighbor Pilar Umness, and the recipe dates from the early 1960s. It was a Jello salad, probably originally from the Jello Company itself. And yes, I am still making it.
- "Aunt Dorothy's Carrot Pudding" - My Dad's sister lived in Colorado and during the years I was growing up we got a coffee-tin full of this steamed pudding from her every Christmas. It was SO good. Years later I mentioned to her how much I had enjoyed that pudding, and she gave me her "secret" recipe.
- "Phyllis' Bean Pot" - Phyllis was my father's secretary. When I married in 1955 this recipe came tied to the wedding gift she gave me.
- "Medora's Swedish Meatballs" - a yummy dish brought to a church potluck in 1963. (It was the church potlucks that started me on the road to being overweight all my churchgoing life!)
- "Betty's Angel Pie" - Betty Hood was a sorority sister from my years at the old George Pepperdine College. As I recall, she and I hosted a sorority alumni lunch some years after we both married and had kids. This was her recipe and it earned its place in my culinary file.
- "Isa's Ginger Cream Dressing" - Isa was a Scottish lass married to a friend of Jerry's. I doubt if this is a particularly Scottish recipe but gosh, it was good.
- "Bill Sontag's Whiskey Sours" - Bill was a civil engineer who worked with Jerry at Pascoe Steel in Pomona, and when I went to work for Pascoe in 1972, I met them both. Bill had a touch with both steel buildings and bartending!
- "Leonard's Ginger Cookies" - Leonard was a 4th cousin I met during my early period of genealogical research. He and Juanita lived in Overland Park, Kansas and we shared great-great-grandparents. After discovering a whole bunch of "kissing cousins" in that part of Kansas, I made a trip back in 1985 to meet them all. When I got on the plane to fly home, Leonard put a bag of warm Ginger cookies in my hand; he had gotten up early to bake them ‘specially for his new cousin, he said. Everyone on the plane knew that SOMEONE had something that smelled very good. They tasted even better!
- "Lynette's Sangria" - Lynette Serna was an Istanbul expat at the same time we were there – 1991-92. During our two year stay, the one thing we Americans missed terribly was Mexican food. When one of Jerry's USA contacts needed to make business trip to Turkey, he hand-carried 24 corn tortillas for us. We invited Lynette and Buddy to our house for a major taco feed - and Lynette's contribution was a most wonderful Sangria.
- "Bert's Lukshen Kugel" - Bert was Jerry's mom, a sweet lady who introduced me to good Jewish cooking. Her noodle pudding was a lovely rendition of a traditional dish that I had never even heard of before. It's really, really good!
The only recipe I have in my collection named after a person unknown is "Helen's Cranberry Sauce." I haven't a clue as to who Helen is, but I make her sauce every Thanksgiving. And I think I've posted it on my blog before. It's easy: 4 cups of cranberries, 2 cups of sugar, and 1/3 cup of brandy. Place in a baking pan, sprinkle evenly with sugar and stir in brandy. Cover and bake 1 hour at 300 degrees. Voila!
So this past week I took a trip down memory lane with my old high school chums, and today I crown the week with my old cooking buddies.
Such fun. Lucky me. A tip of the toque to everyone!
Friday, November 9, 2012
It hardly seems possible that I could be working on a committee that is planning our 60th anniversity of graduating from Long Beach Poly High School. This first picture was taken in spring of 1947, when we are graduating from 6th grade. I will be calling many of these same kids on the phone during the next month or so, most all graduates from Poly too, as I make contact with them and gather updated information.
Poly was a big school, and we had 900 kids in our graduating class! When the Reunion Committee met a couple of weeks ago, because I'm comfortable on the computer, I offered to update the list for them. There were lists from several past reunions hanging around, and I took them, consolidated names and have ended up with 350 names. Like all the other projects I tackle, I laid out a time frame to completion, figured out a logical way to gather the information, and I've been working away at it each day.
But I just didn't figure on how many memories this would bring back! At least half of the kids shown above went all through school together; we go back a long with with lots of good times in common.
In the fifth grade a girl scout troup was formed, with all the members being pictured above. Then when we moved into junior high school, we took scouting with us.
This same bunch of girls graduated in 1953 from Poly High Schoool, and we all either went to work or to college. We mostly stayed close to Long Beach, and we held reunions every so often. In 1988, we piggybacked on a Poly High School reunion. One of the fellows in our 6th grade class photo came to the party and took the picture for us. We positioned ourselves in approximately the same order as above.
Monday, November 5, 2012
What drew our attention to this article was the penalty for this crime:
Both husband and wife were sentenced to three years of formal probation as well as counseling and 60 days of community service. Additionally, the wife was sentenced to four years in jail while her husband was sentenced to two years in jail. Both jail sentences were stayed.
Now I don't know enough about the case or about law or about evidence to say anything for sure, except that I believe this is an egregious miscarriage of justice. Something kept these sexual predators from being thrown in the clink for a long time. Whatever it was was wrong.
SCHOOL TEACHERS AND STUDENT
Saturday, November 3, 2012
But here I am today, ready to share with you a few little things that I am very fond of and have accumulated over the years.
This ewer came to us as a wedding gift from my Uncle Bill, who if you have followed my blog you will know was really not my uncle but my father's best friend. Uncle Bill, my dad and my mom knew each other from their younger years in Colorado Springs, where the Van Briggle Art Pottery company has been in business since 1901. Artus Van Briggle was with Rookwood Pottery company first, and he and his new wife settled in Colorado Springs and set up shop there. I grew up knowing about the pottery from stories my folks told. Their earlier pieces fetch high prices now; this is not an early piece and is not really a collectible, but for me it has a special connection to my own family, and I treasure it.
Relationships in the mideast were already rather "iffy" and when we had an overnight stay in Amman, Jordan to see Petra and in preparation for moving on into Israel, it was suggested by our tour guide that we not wander the streets but rather hit the sack early to catch up on some sleep. Jer and I were the youngest folks on the tour; most of them were almost elderly and they RAN for their beds. Jerry and I went down to the bar and spent the evening talking to two bartenders, Egyptians working in Amman, about the middle east and all the problems, and about how amazing we found Egypt to be.
At the time Jerry was sporting a beard, a rather scraggly one but which I just loved on him, and these bartenders kept asking him if he didn't have some arabs in his background. At a certain point Jerry went up to our room to phone his office (night in Jordan was mid-day in California) and when he left I quietly told the fellows that he was not arabic but Jewish. They apologized all over the place, thinking they had been "rude" to us. Before the end of the evening came, we purchased this little 2" high bottle of Dimple Scotch and both fellows signed their names on the label, which you will note is arabic.
We have never opened it; it has been in our curio cabinet since June of 1980. What is missing has simply evaporated over the years, though there have been times I've been tempted to help it out. The names have faded away. Within a year of being in Jordan, Sadat was assassinated, and I wrote a letter of condolence to those two fellows who were still at work in Jordan. That was the last contact with them. But the little Pinch bottle always reminds us that good people can be found anywhere.