ABANDONED – THE SHACKS OF HADLEY

Weekly Photo Challenge: Abandoned

Hadley shack 74

 

In Hadley, Massachusetts, they really love their shacks.

 

hadley shack 19

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IN THE ZONE AND OUT AGAIN

In 1965 when I was first married, we lived in an apartment in one of two identical brick buildings. Our flat was 2 Q at the far end of the hall. A corner apartment, nice because we had better than average light.

I didn’t drive yet, but it wasn’t a problem. There was a bus stop right in front of our building and the university was just a 5-minute walk. When I wanted to go into town, I just hopped a bus. No parking problems, either.

One sunny day, I felt like going shopping. I did. Had lunch, bought a few things. Having taken the bus home, I took the elevator to the second floor, balancing my packages. I walked silently down the long carpeted hallway to apartment 2Q.

I tried to put my key in the lock, and it didn’t fit. Odd. Hmm. A nameplate was firmly attached to the middle of the door.

2 Q

KINCAID

My name was not Kincaid. I didn’t even know anyone named Kincaid. It was Apartment 2 Q. But not my place. Or maybe it was, but what was with the nameplate? Hmm.

Feeling increasingly dazed, I made a quick u-turn and walked back to the elevator. I pressed the button and rode back down to the lobby. I stood there for a few minutes, breathing. Then got back into the elevator back to the second floor. Should I have taken the stairs?

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Ding! I arrived. Clutching my packages against my chest, I — slower than before — walked down the hall. The pattern in the paint on the wall paint seemed cleaner and brighter. I was feeling a bit light-headed when I got to the end where that pesky nameplate still read “Kincaid.”

There was no question in my mind what had happened. I’d expected it all along.

I had slipped through an invisible wormhole. I was now in a parallel universe, another dimension. Everything was identical in this dimension to the world I knew except that in this place — I didn’t exist. Where I had been, someone named Kincaid was living. Maybe Kincaid was my husband. Perhaps I did exist and Jeffrey had gone missing.

I stood there. Breathing. Staring at the nameplate. Pacing a little down the hall and coming back.  Until finally, I looked out the window. And realized I was in the wrong building.

I’d made a simple mistake and gone into the wrong building.

I have forever since harbored a sense of disappointment. However weird, I wanted the magic to be real. I wanted an adventure in The Twilight Zone.

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MISFITS AND ODD BALLS

Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge: Week 1

Odd ball. What a cool category!

Every photographer has pictures that don’t fit into any category.

For me, they are the peculiar pictures I take which I like, but no one else quite “gets.” These are the ones I take because I see something special. The way the light hits n object. Shadows, textures, juxtaposition of objects, colors. The special smile on a face I love. The soft fading of light in the sky. But so often, I see it, but no one else really likes it. Such are my odd ball pictures.

HOME FRIES

This ultimate comfort food is probably called something different depending on where you live. Originally, the recipe was a way to use leftover potatoes, but it has become a staple of diner breakfasts all across America.

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You can use leftover potatoes if you happen to have some. You could also, in theory, use canned boiled potatoes but I think they taste kind of tinny. I cut up whatever potatoes I have in the house … there are always some potatoes in the bin.

Tonight, I used the remainder of a big bag of Idahos. They were too old to bake. I had to pick out the eyes which were barely this side of becoming a plant. There were a few bad spots to remove, too. Nonetheless, I had more than enough to make home fries that would generously serve four adults.

So here’s the recipe. It’s a seat-of-your-pants recipe, so you need to have kitchen courage in place. Be bold.

  • 4 – 5 large, washed unpeeled potatoes, cut into small pieces
  • 1 or 2 large onions, chopped
  • Optional: 1 – 2 banana peppers (mildly hot Hungarian peppers)
  • Salt
  • Paprika
  • Pepper
  • Garlic (chopped or powder)
  • Cumin or chili powder
  • Oil for frying.

I prefer corn oil because it’s pretty heavy-duty as a lubricant and rarely burns. It tastes okay and won’t kill you with cholesterol. I do not use canola oil because it is made from rape seed which is used for making heavy-duty engine lubricant.

There is no such thing as a canola. Ponder that when you use canola oil or any “canola-based” substance.

You can use potatoes that are past their prime and you don’t have to peel them. I don’t peel potatoes. It’s against my principles. Wash the potatoes, remove eyes and bad spots, then cut them into pieces suitable for frying.

Boil the potatoes until they are fork tender. Don’t abandon them and wander off to the computer or television. If you over-cook them, they’ll be good for mashing, but not frying.  The hardest part of this is getting the potatoes soft enough to eat, but not mushy. After 10 minutes, start checking until you think you’ve got it.

my skillet

You’re going to need a deep-frying pan. I use black cast iron cookware. I have 4 sizes,  from a flat griddle to a 5-quart dutch oven. I love them and the only thing wrong with them is they are very heavy, especially when full of food.

I have had to work out strategies to use them successfully since I’m not as strong as I used to be. Mine are all made by Lodge, bought through Amazon.  It’s less than half the price of good stainless steel cookware. It’s better at controlling heat. Once properly seasoned, cast iron is more non-stick than Teflon and a great deal easier to maintain.

While the potatoes are boiling, fry the garlic, onions and peppers.  When the potatoes are ready, drain them, rinse them with cold water and add them to the onion and pepper mix. Add spices. The paprika is for color. If you like things spicy (I do), you can use hot Hungarian paprika.

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It’s done when you think it is, when it tastes the way you want it to taste … and the rest of the meal is ready. As long as you add oil as needed and keep the heat moderate … and don’t walk away and leave it to scorch — this is a dish that will wait for you. Keep moving it around with a spatula.

It’s delicious. If you have leftovers, you can reheat them for another meal or freeze them for one of your “I don’t feel like cooking” days. Great with eggs and bacon … or anything. And definitely comforting.

WHAT’S WITH 1337?

What’s with the 1337 thing? WordPress uses it for a lot of things, for the top number in posts, in follows. I figured it must have some kind of historic significance to them, like the amount of money they had when they started the company, or maybe a time or maybe map coördinates.

Nope.

I looked it up. Whatever did we do before we had Google? Of course, before the internet, we would not be looking it up because this is the straight stuff: pure internet/gamer/hacker gibberish — er, slang. A bizarre distortion of language and a techno-geek in-joke.

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1337 means LEET,  a twisted version of the word “élite.” Which, over the years, has become internet slang for superior. Here’s the math: 1337 (1 – L, 3 – E, 7 – T) = LEET = ELITE.

This is supposed to be tres cool. Do you think it’s cool? I’m curious to hear what you think. I think it’s lame and annoying, but hey, I’m old. Definitely not one of the cool kids.

In fact, I’m not a kid at all.

DANCING PAINTED PONIES

Daily Prompt: Let’s Dance

by Krista on February 27, 2014

Photographers, artists, poets: show us MOVEMENT … in this case, the dance of the wooden horses on the carousel. The winter carousel, with all the riders, of all ages, bundled up against the cold yet going up and down to the sound of the calliope.

The Circle Game, Joni Mitchell

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  5. …put on your red shoes and dance the blues | thoughtsofrkh
  6. Ring My Bell | Greg Urbano
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  10. Cadence | La Gatita Oscura
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  14. Daily Prompt: Dance | EmeraldCity
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GRANDMA’S BEST ADVICE

The other day, I had one of the increasingly rare moments alone with my granddaughter. She has been going through a prolonged siege of the teenage girl crazies, a ghastly combination of hormones, boys, high school and high drama.

Clearly, she was in need of the best advice I had to offer, so I gave it to her.

“If you are going to be crazy, be crazy,” I said. “I was a basket case at your age too. Many of us were. It’s a girl thing. But trust me. You really can trust me on this. Everything gets better. Not very long from now, you’ll look back on this time and be embarrassed by some of the stuff you are doing.”

High tension wire, golden maple leaves framed by an azure sky.

And then I gave her the best advice I had: “Be crazy if you must. Just — for God’s sake, don’t put it online. Your great-grandchildren will be finding your Facebook posts and laughing their asses off. Worse, your future possible employers will be finding them too, not to mention your potential life-partners, business associates, friends and co-workers. Be nuts if you must, but shut up about it. Don’t publish it.”

I know it’s the current thing to spill ones guts on the internet. I share too, but only if I can make it reasonably elegant and I don’t mind who knows. Moreover, I’m retired. I will never again have to hunt for a job. I have the only husband I will ever need or want. My friends already know I’m a whack job and they love me anyhow.

But my granddaughter is 17. She’s got a whole life to live, worlds to conquer and all that drama published on the internet can turn into the stuff of nightmares.

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Nothing ever vanishes once it’s “out there” in cyberspace. Everything you ever wrote, ever commented is going to show up on someone’s Google search. It gives friends something to laugh about and you something to blush over … but it’s also something for those who don’t like you to use against you. It provides easy ways for people to hurt you. If you are, as I am, past the age where you give a rat’s ass what anyone thinks or says about you, behave accordingly.

However, if you are still in the job market, still hoping for a career, especially if you are a teacher or any kind of public servant. Or looking for work in finance or something which requires a security clearance … Think carefully before you publish.

Nothing you put on the internet is private, no matter what anyone tells you. I can find posts I wrote that were supposedly private twenty years ago and newspaper articles in which I am mentioned that were published in The Jerusalem Post 30 years ago.

If it goes up on any form of social media or blog? It’s a land mine on which you will eventually step.

So be crazy. Be as crazy as you want. Just don’t publish it. If it’s unpublished, it’s a rumor. Plausible deniability applies. But if it’s published? You’re busted.

BEWARE OF FLYING UMBRELLAS

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Once upon a time, my father had a business partner. I don’t remember his name, but he was a big, bluff Russian who used to come over the house and make gallons of cabbage soup. He must have thought there were a lot more of us than there were, because my mother couldn’t figure out how to store so much soup, even though we had a full size standing deep freezer in the basement and a huge fridge in the kitchen.

He and my father would go into the kitchen and produce these gallons of soup and laugh a lot. We all had to eat it for weeks until we were sure we were turning into little cabbages.

Bob (or whatever his name was) was accident prone and an enthusiastic teller of stories, most of them about his own misadventures.

“So I was at the beach, at Coney Island” he says, almost shouting because he never said anything except very loud. “Very sunny. Blue sky. A nice day to take my mother to the beach, let her relax in the sun by the water. She is just settling down with her chair. And she asks me if I’ll set up the umbrella for her. I mean, she didn’t have to ask. I always do it, but she always asks anyway, like if she doesn’t ask I won’t do it. I took her to Coney Island, what did she think, I’m going to leave her to cook in the sun?”

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We all nodded dutifully. Because he was my father’s partner and we were kids, so what else was there to do?

“It’s a big umbrella. With stripes. Red and yellow. I got it myself, on sale. Umbrellas are expensive and this was a good sturdy one and I paid bupkas for it. If you ever need an umbrella …” and he paused to remember what he was going to say. “Anyway, this was one of the good ones, with a heavy pole so it would stay put.”

We nodded some more. Our job. To nod. Look very interested.

“I opened the umbrella and had to find the right place to put it because, you know, if it’s in the wrong place, the shade isn’t going to be where you want it. So I walked around a bit until I found just the right place. Then I took the pole and a jammed it into the sand as hard as I could and it went pretty deep. Seemed good and solid.”

We were still nodding. I must have been — maybe 10? — and had been taught to be polite, no matter what, to grown-ups. We did not call adults by their first name. I think my teeth would have cracked if I had tried or my tongue would have stuck to the roof of my mouth.

“What with everything looking okay and my mother settling down in her chair with a book, she looked happy. So I figured it would be a good time to get something to eat and I told her I would go get us some hot dogs — and something to drink. She said that was good, tell them to leave the mustard off because — she’s always reminding me but I know, I know — she doesn’t like mustard.

“I walked all the way over to Nathan’s — pretty long walk, all the way at the end of the boardwalk — because they have the best hot dogs” at which I was nodding with enthusiasm because Nathan’s does have the best hot dogs, “And fries. I got five, two for her — no mustard — and three for me. I was hungry,” and he paused to pat his substantial belly, “I started walking back. I could see where to go — I could see our striped umbrella all the way from the boardwalk.”

Nod, nod, nod.Nathans at Coney Island

“The weather suddenly began to change.  Suddenly. Big clouds coming in from the ocean. And getting windy. This was all happening fast while I was out getting the dogs. Funny how weather changes so fast at the beach, you know? So now, I’m almost there when up comes a big puff of wind. That umbrella pulls right out of the sand and flies at me. Whacks me over the head. Boom. I thought my head was gonna come off.

“I dropped the food and fell over. Like a rock I fell and just lay there. My whole brain was like scrambled eggs. They had to come and take me to the hospital. I was completely compost for TWO DAYS! Two days! Compost!”

Be careful of flying umbrellas at the beach. They will turn you into compost. That’s not good, especially when your hands are full of hot dogs.

For the Weekly Writing Challenge: Object – A character sketch and some funny memories.

SHARING MY WORLD

Share Your World – 2014 Week 8

Another week, more interesting questions. Next week today, I’ll be in the hospital. Let’s have fun while I can.

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Would you rather be given $10,000 for your own use or $100,000 to give anonymously to strangers?

I’ll take the $10,000 right now (if it’s tax-free, even better) because I could pay the bills for all the doctors, get some repairs done on the house and generally not wind up living in the car before the year is out. Such a tease you are. You aren’t giving me any money really … are you? Just asking.

When you’re 90 years old, what will matter most to you?

Teeth. I would like to still have some teeth. Oh, and eyeglasses. Need them too.

Candy factories of the entire world have become one and will now be making only one kind of candy. Which kind, if you were calling the shots?

Crystallized ginger. What? You heard me. I like it. No one else does, but you don’t have to eat it.

So, you’re on your way out and it’s raining. Do you know where your umbrella is or do you frantically search for it all over your apartment/house?

Um, I used to know where it is. Was. I’m not sure. But I have a rain jacket and hat. I know where that is. At least the jacket. Not so much the hat.