FIFTY THINGS – A WORLD FROM WHICH TO CHOOSE

Share Your World – 2014 Week 47

Since this is Thanksgiving in the USA this week, I thought I would celebrate all week.  There is only one question this week and here it is.  I haven’t made a list like this in a long time.  I used to do it fairly frequently.  I hope you want to play along!

List at least 50 Things You Enjoy.  Here are some categories to inspire your thinking.

  • Activities
  • Restaurants
  • People
  • Foods
  • Games
  • Drinks/Beverages
  • Desserts
  • Paintings
  • Web Sites
  • Writers
  • Famous lines from books/movies.

I have too many things to list individually and too many categories. Or not enough. Sometimes there is a thin line between the two.

life-thanksgiving-ye-glutton

I’ve had to give some thought to this to see if I could stay focused on important stuff and not end up with a list full of trivia.

Stuff I Do

  1. Laughing with people I love (You know who you are and I couldn’t live, wouldn’t want to live, without you.)
  2. Reading
  3. Listening to audiobooks
  4. Writing
  5. Taking pictures
  6. Hanging out with dogs
  7. Movies and television and anything Star Trek, or with horses.

Eating Out

  1. Japanese food and Wanakura
  2. Chinese food

Favoritest Authors

  1. Gretchen Archer
  2. James Lee Burke
  3. Kim Harrison
  4. Jim Butcher
  5. Jasper Fforde
  6. Douglas Adams
  7. And many others, too numerous to name!

Let Music Fill the Air!

  1. Folk music
  2. Country music
  3. Classical music, especially orchestral and piano
  4. The Beatles
  5. Tom Paxton
  6. Judy Collins
  7. Credence Clearwater Revival
  8. Really, that’s just the tip of a huge iceberg of music.

Munching

  1. Crystallized ginger
  2. Cheese
  3. Mango
  4. Kiwi
  5. Pears
  6. Peaches
  7. Grapefruit
  8. Salty, crunchy things
  9. Spicy things
  10. Hot pepper jelly
  11. English muffins
  12. And more and more and more!

Furry Creatures

  1. Dogs
  2. Cats
  3. Horses
  4. Pretty much anything with fur or feathers!

Literature

  1. Science fiction
  2. Fantasy
  3. Urban fantasy
  4. Anything that makes me laugh
  5. History
  6. Police procedurals
  7. Mystery
  8. Time travel
  9. Audiobooks
  10. BOOKS!!!

Oops, out of room. You see what I mean? But it could also be just a few things … because I like reading and that covers all the genres, authors, audiobooks, and everything else. There are so many way to do this.

Rather than saying I love books or reading, I could say I love that little crackle a brand new books makes when you first open in and that whiff of printer’s ink.

Thanksgiving005

I should mention that not only do I love taking pictures, but I love cameras. And autumn, because that’s my favorite time to take pictures.

I could start naming all the people I love, one at a time and probably run out of room before I got to anything else. Or start listing favorite movies and TV shows. I never even got to them and I have a whole bunch of movies and shows I love.

There is a lot to love in this world of ours, in this period of time we call life. I’m glad to still be here, on this earth, in this world, with all of you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

THANKSGIVING WITH SLUSH FALLING

Shaken and Stirred – What’s the most elaborate, complicated meal you’ve ever cooked? Was it a triumph for the ages, or a colossal fiasco?


Once a year, half the population of the Blackstone Valley dusts off their driver’s licenses, takes the old buggy out of storage, and heads for downtown Uxbridge. It’s the day before Thanksgiving … and what the weather people call “a wintry mix” is plopping from above.

OPTIMISM THANKSGIVING 2013

The nasty, slushy, sloppy mix of ice and snow falling from the skies is the perfect finishing touch. Over all, when I think “holiday,” I think “expensive” and “work.” Sorry for my lack of spirit, but I think I’m one holiday meal over the line. Fortunately, the kids are doing almost all the cooking this year. If if were up to me, I’d send out for pizza, if anyone was open and delivering. Which they aren’t.

Fancy cooking has fallen victim to the years and maybe that’s not a bad thing. I used to make special dishes for the holiday. I have a bread pudding recipe to die for. Literally. It almost killed a guest one year when, despite active diabetes, he went berserk and couldn’t stop eating it. It’s that good.

I continue to make my cranberry-orange relish and cornbread. The relish is made entirely in a food processor. No one could call it complicated, but it’s a favorite. The cornbread is delicious, but ridiculously easy. It turns out that many fancy recipes are no better than simple ones. And not more popular, either. A lot of people prefer simpler food.

If you do make fancy food, you can watch hours — sometimes days — of kitchen prep vanish in a few minutes, sometimes seconds. It can be a bit disheartening. I used to wonder if anyone noticed what they were eating or if they cared.

Thanksgiving 2013 table

I used to make stuffed cabbage. It was as good as anything you could get in a New York deli or restaurant. The recipe took me years to perfect and its preparation was a multi-day event. It wasn’t difficult to make, per se. No special genius required. You merely need to be willing to do everything.

The secret to gourmet food is not skipping steps. Not taking short cuts. Not skimping on rich, expensive, caloric, high-cholesterol ingredients. You have to use the heavy cream; milk doesn’t produce the same results. Do use the entire dozen eggs, the whole pound of butter. Don’t cut back on sugar.

I can’t eat that way anymore and neither can most of us. Or shouldn’t. I’d like to keep my new heart valve for a few years.

So, other than wrapping almost the entire turkey in bacon (it’s just once a year, after all), it’s a pretty simple — large — meal. Turkey. Cranberry relish. Cranberry sauce. Stuffing. Veggies. Hot cornbread. Pies for dessert. No one had time to bake all the pies this year. Usually we have a pre-Thanksgiving  baking frenzy, but this year, we bought frozen apple, mince, and pumpkin, leaving only custard to make from scratch tomorrow. You can’t buy good custard pie.

Thanksgiving 2013 table 2

Oh, nearly forgot. Mashed potatoes. Mashed sweet potatoes. Gravy. We forgot to buy cider to drink with the meal. It’s too horrible outside to go back to the store and the roads are a parking lot. All the last-minute shoppers are out there.

I have no idea what we’ll serve in the way of drinks. Oops.

Happy Thanksgiving to all. Whatever you eat, have fun. No fighting at the table.

HOLIDAY TOURING: APRIL FOOL’S!

I got tapped by Doobster at Mindful Digressions (who was tapped by Willow over at Willow’s Corner) to participate in a “blog hop” called “Holiday Touring.” A blogger chooses a holiday, then poses 3 questions to 2 other selected bloggers. The questions are about how, if at all, other bloggers celebrate that particular holiday.

Dancing in the dark heritage museum

Doobster’s holiday was New Year’s Eve. He tapped me and TC Connor over at For What Is Most Valued to carry on the Holiday Touring blog hop by selecting April Fool’s Day. Here are the questions he posed to us:

  1. What, if any, April Fool’s Day pranks have been pulled on you? Alternatively, what is your favorite April Fool’s Day joke?
  2. Do you pull pranks or practical jokes on April Fool’s Day? If so, please tell us about some of your best pranks or practical jokes that you have pulled off.
  3. April Fool’s Day should be a national holiday — yes or no? Defend your position.

And now, without further fanfare, comes a much longer than necessary set of responses to what appear, on the surface, to be ridiculously simple questions.

1) Nobody has ever pulled a prank on me, not on April Fool’s Day or any other time. I think my friends simply aren’t pranksters. Not to mention this has never been a “big” holiday in New England. Its main significance to me is that Garry’s birthday is a few days away.

2) WARNING! Gratuitously long answer coming up!

Israel, where I lived for 9 years, does not celebrate April Fool’s Day … but Purim is (in part) celebrated in a similar manner. Even more so because other than Purim, most Jewish holidays are pretty grim. On Purim, though, Israel TV broadcasts faux newscasts and other funny shows. One year, they showed a hilarious version of “Candid Camera.” It had us in stitches for a week. This was back in the eighties when we only had one Israel TV channel and your alternative was Jordanian, Syrian, or Egyptian television, depending on where you lived.

You had to be there.

It came to pass … 1985 maybe? … I was doing what I did. Writing manuals. In this case, for a hardware/software combination product which read fingerprints. Nowadays, we have iris scanners, so this doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it was a big deal in 1985. Cutting edge technology.

It was Purim (Note: Purim is not a “get out of work” holiday.) The graphic artist and I colluded to produce a parody of the manual I was writing. I wrote the copy, he did the illustrations. I produced a few bound copies, all very hush-hush, to pass around.

Except the boss found out.

Oy. Busted. I figured I should update my résumé and start job hunting. Instead, he thrust a copy of my mock manual at me and said: “Yours?”

Meekly, I said, “Yes sir.”

“Make me a dozen more of these,” he said. “It’s hilarious. I want to give copies to the investors.” I think I still have a copy of it somewhere in a crate in the attic.

3) Should it be a national holiday? I think it IS a national holiday. Our politics are an all-year-round joke. What, you aren’t laughing?


Boston Commons and Statehouse-HP-1

Now it’s time for my to pick a holiday and pass the torch to some unsuspecting blogger who is just sitting around waiting for me to tag him or her for this honor.

I’m spinning the wheel. Spinning, spinning, spinning … slowing … and it’s …

Swoosique at Cancer Is Not Pink and Bill Brown at Evil Squirrel’s Nest!

And your holiday is … (tension is mounting … the room is silent and everyone is holding their breath in anticipation) … NEW YEAR’S DAY. An official holiday on which nobody ever seems to know what to do. When I was young and still made parties to which people actually came and everything, I gave an annual New Year’s Day Pig Out because I knew that no one ever had plans on New Year’s Day.

Here are the questions:

1) What do you do on New Year’s Day? Sleep off your hangover? Host a Victorian feast for a few dozen good friends? Nothing?

2) What are your plans for the coming holiday, if any. If you have some, tell me (and the world) what they are. If you have no plans or are, heaven forbid, working … explain how you got yourself into that mess.

3) Does New Year’s Day have special meaning to you? I (for example) became engaged to my husband on January 1, 1990. If it doesn’t have special meaning, say whatever is in your heart. Sharing, as they say at WordPress, is caring.

Note: WordPress doesn’t really mean it. Neither do I.

A 4th OF JULY TIMELINE: THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

Today is America’s Independence Day. It celebrates the announcement of the Declaration of Independence, our formal statement to King George and Great Britain that we no longer were willing to retain our status as colonies.

declaration_independence

There’s more than a little confusion about which event happened when regarding the Declaration of Independence, so here’s an historical timeline (note that not everyone agrees on this timeline, but it’s close):

JULY 2, 1776: John Adams, a leader for independence, gets the delegates to the first Continental Congress to unanimously approved the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson wrote the draft of the document as he was known to be the best writer of the group.

JULY 4, 1776: The Declaration of Independence is ratified. Thus July 4th became the U.S.’s official independence day, although John Adams argued it should be July 2nd, the day the document was ratified (rather than the 4th on which it was signed). But Adams argued about everything.

JULY 4, 1776 through August 2, 1776: Following its ratification on July 4th, the Continental Congress announced the Declaration of Independence. It is distributed and read across the colonies. The process of reading the Declaration — getting the word out — was not instant. In total, it took about a month. By which time a more attractive document displaying all the delegates’ signatures had been produced. In any case, whether or not the colonists had read or heard the document, everyone knew what was happening. Official word took longer than men on horseback going from town to town to tell their friends and family. And of course people talked in pubs. Like they do today, but without Twitter.

JANUARY 1777: The first printed versions of the Declaration of Independence for general distribution appear. By then, the colonies are fully engaged in war and everyone already knows about it.


Jefferson’s original draft, with changes by John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, as well as Jefferson’s notes of the changes made by Congress, can be viewed at the Library of Congress.

The most famous version of the Declaration, the hand-written signed document which is usually considered official, can be seen at the National Archives in Washington DC. This version was (mostly) signed on August 2, 1776.

HEY MOMMA! THEY’RE ALL HERE!

Familial Feasts  — Yesterday was Father’s Day in many countries. If you could dedicate a holiday to a more distant relative, who would it be — and why?


In Israel, they have a word that translates loosely to “close-far.” It refers to the tribe of “almost relatives” by marriage or informal adoption. This includes all the rest of the folks who claim some sort of relationship to you, like your cousin Alfie’s second wife’s husband’s niece.

Picnic-Crowd

I recommend we have a Gathering Day during which we collect all these “relatives.” The ones who are related by blood, albeit so distantly we are unclear on lines of descent (but are sure they are there, somewhere), the kids mom and dad fostered while their parents were getting a divorce. The related-by-marriage to second and third cousins and their off-spring. The brothers-in-law of our sister-in-law, twice divorced and their adopted children’s children from their third marriage.

A mighty big picnic. With guitars. And booze. Lots of burning meat. A sing along to which everyone brings their favorite dishes.

Ya think? We get a day off from work during the best time of year for warm, sunny weather and do it in a public park. It’s safer in public.

We will call it Extended Family Day. It would be a huge hit! The greeting cards and invitations alone would generate a ton of money and maybe some new jobs! No downside unless you are unlucky enough to come from a family dominated by bad cooks.

Who’s ready to jump on my bandwagon?

Don’t be a spoil sport. Even if you have no known relatives or none you want to know, you can invite all the fake aunts and cousins — or hook up to another group and be one of the almost relatives in someone else’s clan. Anyone for whom you feel even the vaguest familial attachment will suffice.

On this special day of days, water is as thick as blood!

HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!!

To all the mothers, to my mother and all those whose mothers who have passed, let’s get a little maudlin and cry a few tears for the mothers who raised us, the surrogate mothers who nurtured us.

From left to right, my Aunt Pearl, Mom, Aunt Ethel, and Aunt Kate,

From left to right, my Aunt Pearl, Mom, Aunt Ethel, and Aunt Kate,

I AM HOME – By Rich Paschall

A piece of home alone fiction by Rich Paschall

The alarm went off at 6 am as usual.  Instead of hitting the snooze bar, George turned off the alarm and got up.  It was Wednesday, trash collection day in the small Florida town.  He no longer had Ethel to push him out of bed so he had to muster the resolve to get up and take care of the chores.  Jack, the faithful terrier, got up as well and was running around George’s feet as he tried to go through his morning routine.  Terriers do not lack morning energy.

96-Rockers-NKAfter he got dressed and made his way to the kitchen, he started the coffee.  Ethel used to take care of this while George took care of the hyper active dog, but his wife of 40 years was gone now.  George had to make his own coffee.  George had to do all the chores.  George had to eat his meals alone.  This is not the retirement George had envisioned.

A little over two years earlier, George retired and moved from a big Midwestern city to a small town in a warm climate.  This was the retirement George always wanted.  He was no longer going to cut the grass.  There was an association for that.  He was not going to do major repairs because there was an association for that too.  And he certainly was never going to shovel snow again.  Before he moved south, he sold his snow blower, gave away his shovels and winter coats and vowed never to return north in the winter, if at all.

As the coffee was brewing, George set down a fresh bowl of water for a disinterested terrier.  Then he went to the kitchen door that led into the garage.  As he started down the two steps to garage level, he reached for the button that opened the garage door.  At that Jack came racing out the kitchen door and when the garage door was open just enough, he ran under it and onto the front lawn.  There he ran around in a circle for a couple of minutes before looking to see what George was doing.

George was busy dragging the plastic trash can down the driveway to the street where he parked it right next to his old-fashioned mail box.  After that he walked back to get the recycle bins.  One bin held old newspapers and magazines and the other had some cans and bottles.  He put one on top of the other and then maneuvered them on to a two-wheel “hand truck.”  They were too low and too heavy for George to drag down the drive way.  When this task was complete, George went back inside to get his American flag, which he promptly took down to the post that held his mail box.  On the side of the post he had affixed a flag pole holder so his flag could be seen as he came down the street.  George would never admit that it was a reminder of where his driveway began so he could find it easily when he returned from a drive, but that is why it was there.

“Come on, Jack,” George called and the dog raced half way to George and stopped.  It was a game and Jack expected George to play.  George was well aware of this game, every time George would move, the dog would race around in a circle and stop.  There he would wait for George to make another move and the race was on again.  George was too old for the game today and went into the garage and headed toward the kitchen door.  Jack watched carefully from the driveway.  When George hit the button to close the garage door, Jack raced inside.

On their return to the pale yellow kitchen, George put down a bowl of food for Jack.  Then he fixed some toast and took that, a cup of coffee and a newspaper he collected from the front porch and went to sit on the screened-in patio.  Jack came and laid down at his feet.  George liked reading the local news each morning.  Everything about small town America seemed exciting to him.  He read about civic improvements, about events at the library and about meetings at the town hall.  He read about the plans for the upcoming year and even the New Year’s party at a local hall.  George survived Christmas on his own and guessed he would not even be up at midnight on New Year’s Eve.  Without dear Ethel, he had no desire to stay up late.  While ringing in the New Year at a party might help bring back fond memories, they would also recall his dear wife who was gone too soon.  He was not sure he could bear that.

When the news had been devoured, George got up slowly and took his plate and coffee cup to the kitchen sink and placed them there.  He looked all around the room and could not decide on another thing to do so he thought he would go lay down awhile.  It was 10 am.  At that moment, the phone rang.

“Hello,” George said with a hint of surprise that anyone would call him.

“Hello George,” Ethel said softly.

Soon after George and Ethel moved to Florida, Ethel’s father had passed away.  He left her the big family house in rural Iowa.  It was the sort of house Ethel always wanted.  It had a big front porch where she could rock away the summer hours in her own rocking chair and a nice fireplace where she could get warm and read good books all winter.  George had no idea this is what Ethel had wanted for years, just as she had no idea he would take them to Florida on his retirement.  When she got the big Iowa house she announced to George she was moving there without him, and soon thereafter she was gone along with virtually every personal effect she could take.

Once every few months she called to see if George was OK, nothing more.

“Please come home, Ethel,” George said with a heavy dose of sadness in his voice.

“I am home,” she said and quietly hung up the phone.