NEVER BEEN BIG ON BINGO

So, the Great Minds of WordPress asked: “What’s the longest stretch you’ve ever pulled off of posting daily to your blog? What did you learn about blogging through that achievement, and what made you break the streak?”

Well, now that’s a fine question. I was reading CHRONICLES OF AN ANGLO SWISS and realized while I was answering her, I was writing the whole answer (more or less), so really, she was my morning’s inspiration. That and discovering the new little Shark rechargeable vacuum cleaner I bought really picks up the dog hair. I was dubious about their claims, but by golly, this little machine has balls!

Shark Bagless Navigator

I digress and apologize. It’s hard to keep on point this early in the day. Well, maybe it isn’t all that early. Never mind. I need more caffeine before I can properly focus on being witty.

First of all, blogging is my current profession.

Otherwise, life as a senior citizen is 24/7 tech support to family, friends, and sometimes random strangers. I admit, I get a buzz when the young whippersnappers ask for my help because they don’t know anything about their computers except how to turn them on and off. Oh, they also know how to plug them in. They grasp the finer points of supplying electricity and charging batteries, but that’s as far as they can go.

I don’t know exactly when I started daily posting. More than two years ago. It’s not a statistic WordPress provides. My streak was rudely interrupted by a vacation at a Cape Cod dump where WiFi didn’t work. While I was in the hospital, I had to send in substitute authors while I did a little pas de deux with death. I was very lucky that Garry and Rich were there for me or this blog would probably have died, even if I didn’t.

It turned out, Garry got better stats than me, which is embarrassing. What a guy. He didn’t let popularity go to his head , which might have something to do with other prizes he won over the years. I think he only counts success if it comes with a statuette or plaque.

There I go, digressing again.

In any case, the moment I could write, Garry retired. My husband is a noble man.

And so, with all the flaws in the system, I forge (forage?) on ahead (a head?).

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The more interesting question is why? I don’t know why I started posting daily. I know I’m as addicted to writing as I am to the coffee I drink while I do it. It keeps my brain ticking along, keeps my writing skills from fading into something I “used to do”. Writing stimulates all those electrical impulses in the cranium. Because I blog, I have a use for the strange thoughts that pop out.

In retirement, blogging is a healthful activity. The alternative would be sitting around the local senior center waiting for the next bingo game. I’ve never been big on bingo.

What did I learn from daily blogging aside from the satisfaction it gives me? Here it goes:

  1. Write often.
  2. Write well.
  3. Post good photographs.
  4. Be nice to the people you meet online.

That’s it. That’s all of it in a nutshell. And beware of enraged squirrels.

SNOW ON THANKSGIVING (AGAIN)

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I know it snowed last Thanksgiving too because I have photographic evidence, but I don’t remember. I know it was a terrible and long winter. That it was bitterly cold before Halloween and stayed cold until the middle of March.

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It’s not so cold this year. It has actually been a bit warmer than usual, though it’s not warm today. It started snowing — more accurately, sleeting — yesterday morning and has been dribbling icy stuff from the sky ever since. Now, at 3 in the afternoon, it seems to have finally stopped.

Nothing is falling, but the sky is a leaden white that to me, in my unprofessional role of meteorological guru, screams rain. Probably followed by freezing. In other words, ice. We have new snow tires, but they aren’t much help on ice. Nothing, including 4-wheel drive, is much help on ice.

Tempus fugit!

Tempus fugit!

So here are pictures of Thanksgiving Day, 2014. Not the dinner table because nothing is served yet … it’s all in the oven. I can smell it. The best part of Thanksgiving is how good it smells. My nose is singing a Hosanna.

72-Thanksgiving-First Snow_22

GUILTY AS CHARGED

Convicted in the Court of Public Innuendo, comment by Rich Paschall

It doesn’t take much for radio shock jocks and tabloid publications to go on the attack. If the story seems scandalous enough, or perhaps even just a little, the social media junkies have a field day as well. Re-postings of blogs of no particular merit start to appear. Links can be found on Tumblr, facebook, and Twitter as well as a whole host of new sites I have not had time to explore. Graphics show up on people’s news feeds, often with unrelated pictures with words scrawled across them. If the graphic is well made, it seems to add to the believability. The great ancient mythologies were believable to the people of those time periods. We are perhaps just as gullible.

When something of questionable authenticity appears I like to check it out on Snopes.com or other sites dedicated to debunking bad stories. A quick internet search is usually enough to check out the claims people make. Although it is often in vain, I like to add a link to the truth among the comments under some of these spurious stories. Sometimes it has zero effect as people continue commenting on the false posting itself. For some folks, proof is not enough.

There are even more insidious postings and rumor mongering going on in the area of innuendo. You imply bad things about someone and watch the story grow and take on a life of its own. There are enough false President Obama stories floating these past six years. Many imply that he has secret ties to Muslim terrorists or other anti-American groups. The whole “birther” charge regarding Obama’s citizenship keeps going around and that is followed by any number of conspiracy theories. These worthless speculations are damaging to the public welfare, especially when implied issues, although false, are nevertheless believed.

When my mother was no longer able to get out on her own, a friend would drop off multiple supermarket tabloids from time to time so they could see the latest celebrity “news.” Sometimes the talk and the tabloid headlines were so intriguing I would pick up the paper at my mother’s apartment only to find a story of little or no substance. A picture with a clever caption or suggestive headline would seem to point to a vicious scandal, and a league of tabloid grabbers would believe something they did not actually read.

Recently, an old charge of forced sex by comedian Bill Cosby resurfaced. The result has been an internet and social media firestorm. An ill-timed invitation by the Cosby Twitter account to “meme” a picture of Bill, that is to take the picture and add a graphic, ended up producing a whole host of uncomplimentary claims. Those graphics, of course, made the rounds. Cosby’s lawyer responded to all the new charges by saying, “We’ve reached a point of absurdity. The stories are getting more ridiculous.”

The man once known as “America’s Dad” for his portrayal of a wise father on The Cosby Show has now been convicted of a variety of sins by way of inflamed public opinion. It is likely to grow in intensity as long as Cosby remains in the public eye. At a recent appearance on his comedy tour, a Florida radio “shock jock” offered anyone a thousand dollars if they would go to the Cosby performance and call him out on these charges. One patron admitted she went just to see if someone would do it. No one did. A result of all the gossip and innuendo is irreparable damage to the Cosby image and career. Is one of America’s best known comics guilty of the things charged and implied? It is unlikely anyone can prove any of the years old charges, but he has already been convicted in the court of public opinion.

It was claimed that singer Megan Washington often appeared drunk on stage. While she sang well, she appeared to have trouble speaking. Reports of her performances might also include her struggle talking to the audience. Finally she decided to “come clean about it.” The issue was not that she was drunk all the time, it is that she has a speech impediment. She stutters. She explains it in a TED speech, “Why I live in mortal dread of public speaking.” It’s too bad some had already leapt to a different conclusion.

Many celebrities and politicians have been the victims of all sorts of inaccurate accusations. Some accept it and deal effectively with it by ignoring the comment. For others, the storm becomes so great they must respond. We see this in political commercials when attack ads link an opponent unfavorably with others. Here in Illinois the Republican attack ads put the current governor in pictures with the president to imply he believes what the president does. He also mentioned that the governor served in office with former Governor Blagojevich who is now in prison. You can guess the implication.

Of course, I could give many more examples of famous people who had been rumored to have done something bad through implication and innuendo. Many of these claims I could also point out were never verified. Nevertheless, they are out in the public domain and people believe them. Hence the popularity of supermarket tabloids and shows like TMZ. When the story is salacious enough, facts to the contrary don’t seem to matter much.

CRAZED SQUIRREL DEFEATED BY BAVARIAN CREME (FILM AT 11)

The Daily Post offered this prompt today:

Under the Snow — You were caught in an avalanche. To be rescued, you need to make it through the night. What thought(s) would give you the strength to go through such a scary, dangerous situation?

But … Bill Brown at Evil Squirrel’s Nest proffered this juicy idea:

The last thing you see before you wake up in the hospital!

The last thing you saw before you woke up in the hospital!

You’re out on the street one day minding your own business… perhaps humming your favorite Steely Dan song or taking random pictures for a blog post.  All of a sudden, from out of nowhere, a wild, ferocious squirrel starts barreling towards you with a nut in his mouth!!!  What do you do!?!?!?

Seriously, what choice did I have? Squirrel 1, WordPress 0.

The competition was too unfair. WordPress could never compete with this kind of sheer brilliance … so I had to write about crazed squirrel attackers bearing nuts.


Should I run? Try to hide? What thoughts run through my head?

{Thoughts …}

My insurance company is not going to believe this.

My husband is not going to believe this.

I don’t believe this.

This will make a great post on my blog.

Ow. Get your pointy little teeth out of my leg you wretched fur piece. I will turn you into a muff! What do you mean “what’s a muff?”

Thinking quickly (because I do not wish to have my leg chewed off by a squirrel on Boston Common), I reach into a greasy paper bag and hand its contents over to my squirrely nut case: “Here, have a doughnut. Now, isn’t that better than some tasteless acorn?”

Crazed squirrel, calmed by the sudden onrush of calories, fat, and mm Good Bavarian crème drags the doughnut to the nearest tree where, for the next several hours, he attempts to haul it up the trunk to the safety of branches above.

With each attempt, he is forced to consume another bite until eventually, bloated, sated, full of cholesterol, and calories, he lies in a semi stupor on the grass. It’s a well-deserved nap for a valiant squirrel who fought the good fight, but lost to a Bavarian crème doughnut. As so many of us have before and will again.

Good night Sweet Prince.

WHERE IT ALL COMES TOGETHER

Gallery

This gallery contains 15 photos.

Converge Photos are visual spaces where shapes and lines, objects, and people come together. Geometrically rich photos bring together distinct forms into a single visual surface. In other words, shooting towards a vanishing point. Which is how I do most of my … Continue reading

END OF THE WINDOWS ROAD?

It appears to be the end of the road for me and Windows.

I’m just bought what I suspect will be my last Windows machine, the most powerful Alienware computer I could configure — or afford. It had better last a long time. I’ve tried using Windows 8.1 on Microsoft tablets (two of them) as well as my friend’s desktop. I hate it.

alienware side view computer

From everything I have read, the worst of the problems of Windows 8 will morph into “features” on Win 10, the classic “smoke and mirrors” approach to software.

“Oh, it isn’t a bug … IT’S A FEATURE!”

You got that right. It’s not that Microsoft has made it impossible to run non-Microsoft products on my computer .They are protecting me from the big, bad, world. Nor will they provide me with alternative software to perform those tasks. Microsoft wants me locked into their universe and I must use their applications to do whatever I want or need to do.

If by some chance I have a twisted urge to do other things and Microsoft doesn’t have appropriate applications or tools? Gee, that’s too bad. Microsoft has set the bar, made the rules. All you zombies will march in step and pay us for the privilege.

Not this zombie. Nor a whole lot of my fellow zombies.

Mind you I am no super fan of Mac, either. I have a heavy investment in Windows-based software, which is how come I have put up with this crap so far. But there is a line over which you cannot push me because I won’t let you.

You cannot tell me to live in your universe to the exclusion of all others “for my own safety.” No matter what you believe, it’s my world too. My computer. My money. My investment, work, effort, creativity. You cannot, will not force me to do it your way. This is not happening. Thanks for warning me.

I’ll start saving now for the investment I will have to make in the future to change to a different system. And shame on you writers for not doping out the obvious end result of this shill game … the end of freedom of choice for anyone who buys into the Microsoft system.

And so, Mr. Bott, author of “Microsoft reveals audacious plans to tighten security with Windows 10” — the latest in a long line of ZDNet shill articles about the wonders of Windows 10: What happened to journalistic ethics? Did they pay you to lose them or just make it clear you have to tow the party line or else? I can’t believe you actually believe the drivel you’re writing.

When I started in the high-tech writing biz, we limited shilling for sponsored products to the “new products” columns. We didn’t feature them. We were encouraged to use our best judgment and commonsense when writing lead articles.

I’m embarrassed to have been a member of the same profession. Ashamed. You should be too.

DRIVING

Gallery

This gallery contains 23 photos.

Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge: 2014 #22 This challenge is dedicated to the paths, roads, rails and waterways by which we travel. We are a nation of roads. To our bones, we love our cars, love being in control of … Continue reading

AFTER THE TURKEY

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I’ve learned a lot over the years. By my calculation, this is my 49th year of making Thanksgiving, not counting a few years when I was a guest at someone else’s table.

I remember when the torch passed and my parents no longer wanted the job. Suddenly, they were just as happy to eat my food. I knew at the time this was a significant change in our relationship, that something important had changed.

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Since then — 40 years later — I’ve been making holidays. Although my son does the cooking, or most of it anyhow, he still doesn’t know how to make the holiday. How to set a table, figure out which dishes to use. Which flatware. Whether or not to put out the “good” glassware (but unlike me, he knows on which side the forks go versus the knives).

And despite them being among the easiest recipes in the world, no one but me can make the cranberry sauces.

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Things I’ve learned after 49 years of family dinners:

  1. Don’t get a big centerpiece. It takes up too much room and will be in the way when people are trying to converse.
  2. Not only do place settings not have to match, making each setting different is a very cool “look” (though I didn’t do it this year).
  3. No matter how many people you have coming to dinner, there will be much more food than even the hungriest crowd can possibly consume.
  4. Don’t save the mashed potatoes. No one is going to eat them.
  5. The turkey will be fully cooked at least an hour before your calculations say it will.
  6. If you cook the turkey to an internal temperature of 180 degrees, it will taste like sawdust and no amount of gravy will make a difference.
  7. Buy a fresh turkey, not a frozen one. It’s worth it. Fresh turkey tastes so much better!
  8. Put a clear plastic cover over your good tablecloth. Your guests won’t mind and gravy does not come out completely, no matter what formula you use to treat the stains.

When I’m feeling ambitious, I get more creative with table settings. I have a lot of “fiesta ware,” bright, solid-color dishes that mix and match with other pottery. I’ve given away my 16-place-setting porcelain. Storing it took up more space than I was willing to devote to something I used maximum twice a year.

I don’t buy expensive stemware. It’s not that kind of crowd.

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I don’t bother to point out no one is going to eat that much food. Don’t mention that nine pies for seven guests is a bit much. My daughter-in-law is Italian. I’m Jewish. My husband is Black. Excessive food is a cultural and genetic mandate. Please eat. Please overeat. If you don’t leave the table feeling slightly ill from over-consumption, I haven’t done my job.

The good news? I can put together a nice looking holiday table in under 20 minutes. Add on another half hour because I have to wash everything. I haven’t used it since last Christmas and dust will have its way. Still, that’s pretty good.

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Gone are the big floral displays, the fragile serving dishes. The stemware broke and was never replaced. Ditto the serving dishes. A nice table is welcoming. A super fancy, overwhelmingly elegant table is less so and can be off-putting.

Less fuss means I don’t end the holiday exhausted and cranky. I might just survive through Christmas. Imagine that!

A SOLIPSISTIC STATE OF MIND

Never Too Late — Is there a person you should have thanked, but didn’t have the opportunity? Is there someone who helped you along the way without even realizing it? Here’s your chance to express your belated gratitude.


 Solipsism (Listeni/ˈsɒlɨpsɪzəm/; from Latin solus, meaning “alone”, and ipse, meaning “self”) is the philosophical idea that only one’s own mind is sure to exist. As an epistemological position, solipsism holds that knowledge of anything outside one’s own mind is unsure; the external world and other minds cannot be known and might not exist outside the mind. As a metaphysical position, solipsism goes further to the conclusion that the world and other minds do not exist.

I am in a solipsistic state of mind vis-à-vis WordPress. You are outside of me. I deny you. I deny you. I deny you. I just can’t do you anymore. The Daily Prompt is over for me.

Just a note about the actual prompt: Yes, you can be too late. People die. Move on physically, mentally, or emotionally. Your window of opportunity — the time to communicate — closes.

Writing a post on WordPress years later does not change a thing. Maybe it will make people think you’re special because you wrote about what you should have done but didn’t. Does posting a belated thank you on WordPress fix that? I don’t think so!

As for me, if I failed to thank someone, it was an oversight. I’m pretty good about thanking people. I go long on gratitude.

I’m reasonably sure I’ve done due diligence in the gratefulness department. Not everyone who I’ve thanked was touched. Not everyone likes being thanked. Some folks were not interested in what I had to say. But I said my piece, if I was permitted.

The-End

Speaking of too late: It’s too late for me and these prompts. The bloom is off the rose. I’ve been insulted and dissed by WordPress one time too many. I tried to ignore it, get past it, but I can’t. So …

I’ll have to write about other stuff. Oh, wait, I already write about other stuff.

To all of my friends with whom I shared the fun of writing our various approaches to the same prompts, don’t be a stranger. I’m not doing the Daily Prompt, but it doesn’t mean I don’t love you. And if any of you want to start creating prompts, I’ll be there with bells on, participating with enthusiasm and verve!

HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT: THE OTHER PEOPLE IN NORMAN ROCKWELL’S AMERICA – JANE ALLEN PETRICK

Freedom_from_WantThis beautifully written book about Norman Rockwell, the artist and his work focuses on the non-white children and adults who are his legacy. The book will be an eye-opener for many readers despite the fact that anyone who goes to the Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts — or seriously looks at Rockwell’s body of work — can see that Norman Rockwell never portrayed a purely white America. This country’s non-white population have always been there, even when he had to more or less sneak them in by the side door.

These people — Black people, Native Americans and others — are not missing. Rockwell was passionate about civil rights and integration. It was his life’s cause, near and dear to his heart. It is merely that the non-white peoples in his pictures have been overlooked, become invisible via a form of highly effective selective vision. Despite their presence, many people choose to focus on the vision of white America and eliminate the rest of the picture. Literally.

The author tells the story not only of Rockwell’s journey and battle to be allowed to paint his vision of America, but also of the people who modeled for him, both as children and adults. She has sought out these people and talked to them, getting their first-hand experiences with the artist.

It’s a fascinating story and I loved it from the first word to the last. HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT is available on Kindle for just $3.49. It’s also available as a paperback.

InPlainSight

From the Author

Whether we love his work or hate it, most of us think of Norman Rockwell as the poster child for an all-white America. I know I did. That is until the uncanny journey I share with you in this book began to unfold.  Then I discovered a surprisingly different truth: Norman Rockwell was into multiculturalism long before the word was even invented.

Working from live models, the famous illustrator was slipping people of color (the term I use for the multi-ethnic group of Chinese and Lebanese, Navajos and African-Americans the artist portrayed) into his illustrations of America from the earliest days of his career. Those people of color are still in those illustrations. They never disappeared. But the reason we don’t know about them is because, up until now, they seem to have been routinely overlooked.

For example, in her book, “Norman Rockwell’s People,” Susan E. Meyer catalogues by name over one hundred and twenty Norman Rockwell models, including two dogs, Bozo and Spot. But not one model of color is named in the book.

Another case in point? “America, Illustrated,” an article written for The New York Times by Deborah Solomon, art critic and journalist In honor of (an) upcoming Independence Day, the entire July 1, 2010 edition of the paper was dedicated to “all things American.”

“America, Illustrated” pointed out that Norman Rockwell’s work was experiencing a resurgence among collectors and museum-goers. Why? Because the illustrator’s vision of America personified “all things American.” Rockwell’s work, according to the article, provided “harmony and freckles for tough times.” As Solomon put it, Norman Rockwell’s America symbolized “America before the fall.” This America was, apparently, all sweetness and light. Solomon simply asserts: “It is true that his (Rockwell’s) work does not acknowledge social hardships or injustice.”

The America illustrated by Norman Rockwell also, apparently, was all white. Seven full-color reproductions of Rockwell’s work augment the multi-page Times’ article. The featured illustration is “Spirit of America” (1929), a 9″ x 6″ blow-up of one of the artist’s more “Dudley Doright”-looking Boy Scouts. None of the illustrations chosen includes a person of color.

This is puzzling. As an art critic, Solomon surely was aware of Norman Rockwell’s civil rights paintings. The most famous of these works, “The Problem We All Live With,” portrays “the little black girl in the white dress” integrating a New Orleans school.

One hundred and seven New York Times readers commented on “America, Illustrated,” and most of them were not happy with the article. Many remarks cited Solomon’s failure to mention “The Problem We All Live With.” One reader bluntly quipped: “The reporter (Solomon) was asleep at the switch.” The other people in Norman Rockwell’s America, people of color, had been strangely overlooked, again.I have dedicated Hidden in Plain Sight: The Other People in Norman Rockwell’s America to those “other people”: individuals who have been without name or face or voice for so long. And this book is dedicated to Norman Rockwell himself, the “hidden” Norman Rockwell, the man who conspired to put those “other people” into the picture in the first place.

NOVEMBER ON WHITINS POND

Whitins Pond November

Whitins Pond, November 2014

Just when I thought the glorious fall was over for good and all, we had yet one perfect afternoon in mid November. The pond is full again. The rains came and filled it.

house by whitins pond november

Houses on Whitins Pond, almost twilight

While the swans have been absent, mallards seem to be everywhere. Maybe they are taking advantage of the absence of the swans to take over that piece of pond. They were too far for me to photograph, but I could see them. It’s nice to see birds again.

Twilight on Whitins Pond in November

Twilight on Whitins Pond in November

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.