WHAT FAMILY DOESN’T HAVE ITS UPS AND DOWNS?

Eleanor of Aquitaine, “The Lion In Winter” (1968): “What family doesn’t have its ups and downs?”

Marilyn asked me to write something last night because she was running low on creative juices. I agreed but wasn’t sure what to say because I wasn’t in the best of creative or emotional places.

Yesterday, Marilyn posted a piece featuring photographs of my familyBingo! The light went on.

Family!

Garry Kaity Divot RiverBend

We are in the midst of dealing with our respective families. It’s difficult and challenging. We love them all but brokering some of these situations often leaves us in “loud conversation” with each other. Which is not fair. It isn’t even our drama.

We don’t have Mom and Dad, Gramps or Gramma, Uncles or Aunts to consult for help. We’re it!

July 1963

July 1963

So, I look at the old photos of my family from long, long ago. I wonder how they dealt with these things. They look so young and carefree. I know things were not always easy for them as my brothers and I grew up. I still recall “loud conversations” between Mom and Dad.

1990 in Ireland

1990 in Ireland

I wondered why they didn’t resolve things easily as they did on those family TV shows where father knew best and Ozzie was always at home to deal with family stuff. I even once asked my Mom why our house wasn’t like Donna Reed’s home. You can guess how she replied to me.

Family!

I look at my granddaughter Kaity ready to go off to college. I’m proud of her and wish all the good things in life for her. Like so many grandfathers before me, my memories of a younger Kaity fill my mind. Why didn’t the clock stop?

Why didn’t the clock stop for Marilyn and me when we were younger and healthier with some of those beloved family members still around to talk to us.

Silly and naïve questions, I know. We’re the “old people” now. Family begins with us. It’s disconcerting.

VERY CLOSE – THE WORDPRESS WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE

Macro fuchsia on the rail

A more perfect challenge could not have been arranged for today. Especially in view of my working for the past few weeks almost exclusively with my dearly beloved macro lens.

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I could not select a single picture, so I’m including a bit of everything from the past few weeks of macro shooting. It is mostly flowers, but also, a few other little things are included, just for variety.

late afternoon bouquet

All these pictures were taken using the Olympus f2.8 60mm macro lens on the Olympus PEN PL-6.

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A word about the Olympus PEN PL-6. Olympus dropped it into the market with no warning at a hard-to-resist price of $299. It is the Japanese version of the PL-7. I have made every comparison I can.

green bug on fuchsia macro

I can’t find any difference between the two cameras. The PL-6 was available for about a week. I bought one and it has become the home of the macro lens. You can’t get a PL-6 at any price now, not on any site, including Olympus or Amazon.

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I have no idea why Olympus dropped them into the market like that, then made them disappear. I’m grateful I was on the ball and able to snag one while it was hot!

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I can’t begin to say how much I’m enjoying this lens and camera. It is so satisfying, I find it hard to remember how I took closeup pictures before I owned it.

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EASY HOME-MADE HUMUS (NO MEAT, EGGS, OR DAIRY)

Memory on the menu? Not really. But today — there’s humus on the menu and it’s good!

I love humus and don’t understand why it costs so much at the supermarket. Especially since the supermarket stuff isn’t particularly good. So, I make it myself.

Making hummus

HUMUS

2 15-1/2 oz cans chick peas (with or w/o water drained)
1 cup organic tahina
1/8 cup lemon juice
¼ cup olive oil (NO substitution)
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 heaping tablespoon chopped garlic (more if you prefer it garlicky)

Add salt to taste (about a teaspoon and a pinch), plus water as needed.

Optional: Chopped onion and/or hot sauce

Throw everything in the food processor. Process until smooth. If it’s too thick (that is, the food processor seems to be laboring), add a bit of water, a little at a time. You won’t need much.

Taste. Adjust seasonings. I add 2 teaspoons of hot sauce (chipotle or whatever I have on hand).

Makes two good-sized containers of humus. I use one for dinner and there’s usually some left over, depending on how many are eating. I freeze the second container.

Serve with pita wedges (fresh if you can get it, lightly toasted if not). Nice with a side of fresh avocado, fresh lemon, and sliced tomatoes. In Israel, humus is typically served with a drizzle of olive oil, a shake of paprika, a bit of fresh, chopped onion and hot sauce. Often very hot sauce.


hummus with pita

I got the basic recipe from my Armenian bank manager, added a few Israeli twists. It’s good. Really good and not expensive. This is not a particularly sensitive recipe. If you have two mismatched cans of chick peas, not to worry. A little more or less water? No problem. The hardest part is cleaning up … and there is always a lot of cleanup. No matter how hard I try, humus and tahina winds up everywhere.

I highly recommend buying organic tahina. Not only does it taste better, but it doesn’t turn rock solid when left in the cupboard. Do not refrigerate it. That’s like refrigerating peanut butter. It will become solid and may be impossible to stir back to life. Tahina — organic or otherwise — does not require refrigeration, either before or after opening.

I usually make a double recipe, thus using up the entire jar of tahina. After you have collected all the ingredients and set up the food processor, you might as well make full use of it. One jar of tahina will make two big (double) batches of humus.

THE PRICE OF TRUST

Nothing is the way it used to be.

A couple of weeks ago, I needed some new nightwear. Nothing fancy. Not interested in lingerie. That’s for display, not sleeping. I’m talking about the ubiquitous sleep tee.

For years, I bought them from L.L. Bean. They were comfortable, loose, soft. Lightweight in summer, heavier, long-sleeved for winter. Then, L.L.Bean stopped making them. They decided we all want heavy flannel or pajama mix and match. In ugly colors.

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I don’t want elastic while I sleep. I want soft, loose, breathable, comfortable. Priced so I can buy more than one. Colors other than flaccid pink and dainty floral on white.

When L.L. Bean stopped making what I want, I switched to Land’s End. I’ve been wearing their sleep tees for more than a decade. But with each passing year, the fabric has gotten less refined, rougher, and the cut skimpier. The neckline has gotten tighter to the point where it’s hard to get your head through it. The price keeps going up.

I gave up. While the price has risen, the quality has dropped to completely unacceptable. I found quality sleep tees on Amazon.

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Did “new Coke” bring new customers to Coca Cola? Or did they give Pepsi a huge boost? Did Windows 8 improve business at Microsoft … or Apple?

Do corporations think we are stupid? Do they think we won’t notice when they sell us junk, reduce quality, raise prices?

I keep hearing that consumers are shopping online instead of at brick and mortar shops and it will drive them out of business. Has anyone in corporate America considered whether or not their products and stores serve the needs of the people they want as customers?

Did you know that Barnes & Noble booksellers — their brick and mortar stores — charge 30% more than Barnes & Noble online? For identical merchandise. If you want a discount card, that will cost you even more. Even with the “discount,” their stuff still costs more than it would online.

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When asked why I should buy at the store, I was told the online and “real” stores aren’t run by the same organization and have different price structures. Which isn’t an answer.

Original Coke came back. Windows 8 will pass into history in a couple of weeks. DiGiorno’s is selling pizza with “original” sauce. Eventually, if we “vote” with our shopping carts, “they” get the message. How long will it take? Will it matter?

The thing is, you can never get back the faith of customers you screw. The relationship is broken. Trust is ruined.

Is there a price tag on trust? How much are we — your customers — worth?

ODDER BALLS – WEEK 27 – CEE’S ODDBALL PHOTO CHALLENGE

Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge – Week 27

Odd Ball Photos are those pictures we take which don’t to fit into a tidy category. This week, I went out to my deck to see what I could find. A few oddities emerged.

A grill thermometer

A grill thermometer

Stone frog sun dial

Stone frog sun-dial

The longer lens - Olympus PEN PL-5

The longer lens – Olympus PEN PL-5

FINAL GONG SOUNDS ON OUR WELL STORY

It took 9 months to get the job finished, starting from when our well went dry in late August 2014, until mid-May 2015. That was when Dave, the Well Guy, showed up to finish the job. I do not know how many calls I made that went unanswered and not returned. I considered just showing up at his front door. He lives around the corner, after all, but he probably wouldn’t answer the door. I wouldn’t, if I were him.

He had the grace to not bill me until after he had capped the well and completed the sidewalk. From completion of the job, it then took a mere two months before the bill arrived. I had reached a point of giddy expectation in which I thought maybe he was doing the job free. I mentioned this to Owen, who said “Fat chance of that.”

Eventually, the other shoe dropped. The bill arrived, delivered in person by none other than the elusive Dave.

Completed well-head in front of the garden gate

Completed well-head in front of the garden gate

I’d been holding the funds in a separate account the entire time. I needed to be sure it didn’t get used for some other frivolity, like fixing someone’s teeth or buying a hearing aid.

After the bill arrived, last week I transferred the funds to the checking account so I could issue a bank check. I left a week between transferring funds and paying him to be sure the bank didn’t get weird about my moving so much money at one time. They didn’t.

When the calendar flipped into July, I scheduled Dave’s payment.  Minus $100, a small fraction of the total bill.

“Why?” asked Garry.

“How long did it take Dave to finish the well?”

Garry thought a moment. “A little more than nine months.”

“Well,” I said, “In nine months, after he calls me a dozen times asking for the money — and I ignore the calls — then, after a suitable period of time has passed, I’ll make sure he gets that last bit of money. If he has a poetic streak, he’ll get the point.”

My work here is done.

CEE’S ODDBALL PHOTO CHALLENGE – LIGHT AND TEXTURE

CEE’S ODD BALL PHOTO CHALLENGE: 2015 WEEK 25

Usually, I don’t know exactly what it is about oddball photographs that I like. This time, I know. It’s the quality of the light and the texture of the fabric. It rained all day today until about an hour ago when the sun came out. We don’t get much sun in this part of the house.

The trees block the sun through most of the day, but for about half an hour right before dusk, the sun is very low in the sky and comes into the living room. It hits the northeast corner of the house … the fireplace and the far end of the sofa. I grabbed a few shots while the sun was shining in.