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11.29.2012

TRANSPARENCY



I was in conversation this morning with a friend.  In the world of technology conversation is a loose word that encompasses many different forms of communication.  This one was via texts.

The exchange of thoughts, words and one liners started over a picture I sent.  My comment with it was; Driven with a touch of self delusionment!  As I pondered our banter back and forth, I wondered if there was any legitimacy to the pairing of self delusionment and certain highly driven people?  Then I realized we can all suffer from self-delusionment if we aren't careful and real.

It goes without pontificating that we all have a slightly skewed and off kilterish view of ourselves.  We are not totally unbiased.  It's just not humanly possible.  But can overly driven people be plagued with a more opaqueish sort of view of themselves than most?

I texted my friend, "true strength is showing weakness with a sense of humility and acknowledging our lack openly." 

We carried forward that thought to our flaws as people.  Our weaknesses.  Our struggles.  Our personalities collide constantly with circumstances that showcase our responses to those circumstances for the collective world to see.  This is not a celebrity vs a non-celebrity exposure thing.  It's a human thing!  There isn't really much we can hide to some degree about our lack.  And to be honest, that is more than ok.  I'm not saying wear it as a badge of honor, but let it be what it is - a part of you.

The problem is that when we try to pretend to others that we are strong, when they can clearly see our weaknesses, it ends up isolating us from them.  It does the opposite of what we are trying to portray, strength, and leaves the watching crowd with a great picture of weakness. 

I view others as strong and balanced when they can clearly see who they are and own it.  Flaws, weaknesses, lack, struggles, insecurities, inconsistencies, failings, and battles are a common denominator in all of us.  How we approach and wear our humanity to others shows strength when we incorporate those lacks or struggles and acknowledge them instead of denying them.  Others can usually see them already any way. 

Being real endears you to others.  It connects us to each other.  It though doesn't make logical sense that in being real and open about who we are that it would actually display strength even though we are showing weakness in our lives. 

We all have shit in our lives, in our thoughts,
 in our responses to circumstances that come to us at times. 
We all have insecurities and lack. 
To try to make others think you don't is a lie and the sign of a weak person. 
Want to increase in the eyes of others? 
Be a bit more transparent. 

11.28.2012

NANCY'S LAWS OF FOOD PRESERVATION


I believe our food source is tainted.  The FDA allows products and ingredients and practices involving the production of food for mass consumption that most other westernized countries do not.  Red food dye #5 was actually banned some years back by the FDA from use in production of food products.  It was said to cause cancer.  Unfortunately it was re-allowed again some time later as either the data was skewed or the standard was lowered.  My guess is the latter.

Don't get me started on food dyes that are added to foods to improve their aesthetic presentation.  Who cares if it causes allergies, stains our spleens a different color or creates a toxic build up of shit inside of us, at least our food looks more flavorful by being colorized!  I have definite issues with the FDA, farming practices, agricultural bio-engineering and chemicals in general.  It's pretty widely known in my family how I feel about food and food related things.  If it's fake, man-made, filled with ingredients that a normal person can't pronounce, I have no interest in consuming it. 

I would in fact, challenge you to eat as clean as you can for one entire week.  Clean means, no processed food of any kind, no or limited sugar, no artificial sugars, light on the complex carbs, no soda and very limited meat.  If you put single ingredient kinds of food into you it changes the way you feel.  Thus my hatred for our governing body of regulatory food and drugs, the FDA!

During Thanksgiving lunch at my parents, my oldest sister told me she made a pot of vegetable beef soup for supper the night before.  Her two married daughters and husbands and college aged daughter joined her and her husband on Thanksgiving eve for supper.  I love soup, especially homemade anything.  My sister doesn't share my love of cooking or my puritanish ways with food quite to my same degree.

She went on and on about this great soup she had made, smiling while extolling its goodness.  Made, she said, with a homemade can of our mom's beef she found in the back of her cupboard.  The date on the home canned jar of beef said 1999.  Lest you read this in some future year, the year the soup and this blog post was penned was 2012.  That beef, preserved in a mason glass jar by our mother, was 13 years old.  I wanted to crawl out of my skin.



The day after Thanksgiving I cut and pasted information from a website called, "The National Center for Home Food Canning and Preservation" (or something close to that) and texted it to my sister.  According to that site, and others I perused on the shelf life of home canned meats, cans of meat should only be kept for a maximum of 1 year or up to 3 years if the cans are kept in a cool dark environment.  Her can exceeded all maximums by 10 years.  I could feel maggots crawling on my insides just thinking about it.  She did appreciate my humorous, informative and somewhat sarcastic chastising texts quoting directly from the "National Center For Home Food Canning and Preservation".  Their slogan was; We have a BALL canning. (Though they are a real organization, I fictitiously created this slogan and claim all ownership to its marketability and revenue streams!)



It didn't move her like it did me or even seem to faze her (she gets that from our mom who will can anything that will fit in a jar).  She claims that it smelled fine, the lid was still sealed and it was extremely tender.  Based on those three quantifiers only, she used it in the pot of soup she fed to her entire family the night before Thanksgiving.  I feel that instead of bragging about using that 13 year old canned beef, she should have been giving thanks that no one got food poisoning.  She should have been thankful that she didn't create a Thanksgiving Day trip to the hospital for all those that consumed it.  Though she would have made a stellar pioneer woman or a contestant on the show "Fear Factor".

Her rationale to using it was that it seemed fine along with the fact that she didn't want to run to the grocery store to purchase a new and same decade dated can of beef.  With that kind of canned beef roulette I declared to her that I would never eat at her house again.  I would though take her to Vegas to bet some mullah on the slots.  Beating botulism odds on a 13 year old can of home-made canned beef is most definitely Vegas gambling worthy. 

Am I the only one with a food standard in my family?

11.27.2012

A THING WITH FEATHERS


Hope is a most interesting word and an even more interesting concept.  


The poet Emily Dickinson wrote about hope....

"Hope" is the thing with feathers --
That perches in the soul --
And sings the tune without the words --

And never stops -- at all --
 
And sweetest -- in the Gale -- is heard --
And sore must be the storm --
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm --
I've heard it in the chillest land --

And on the strangest Sea --
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb -- of Me.
 
 
Hope's origins are varied and somewhat mystical.  It is one of the drivers in our lives that propels us forward even when we can't see the end.  It is an unspoken but felt expectation and longing for improvement, change for the better, rescue, healing, light in the darkness.  It is a deep seated desire for the end result to be different than the present.  It helps us focus not just on the present, but the future.  It literally saves us.  It is a gift from God whether you believe it or even consciously think about God.  I like hope and I have desperately needed it in huge volumes in my life.
 
As I ran this morning I continued my thoughts from last night regarding hope.  I thought about running.  If I run and look down at just my immediate steps it becomes tedious, redundant, boring.  If I run and look up and forward I see my movement forward toward a landmark, the end of the street, that house up the way, a marker of distance that spurs me on to finish.  The distance seems shorter when my focus is not straight down at my feet, the mechanics of my running or the scenery of my shoes and pavement only.  Hope is that way too.  It opens up our heart to possibilities, to a bigger view, to something outside ourselves and away from our own shoes.
 
Hope isn't always logical though.  Unknown stuff usually isn't.  What it does is make us move outside of ourselves to something bigger than our sight, control or ability to be able to change presently.  That in and of itself takes a bit of the edge out of the struggle - lightens the load.  Is hope a form of present living denial?  Not in its purest and rawest form.  Maybe it's more of a God given, inherent coping mechanism designed to bring us to something bigger than the known, the present, the seen.
 
During a few very ill years of my life, when my doctor said he would fill out disability paperwork because I would never be able to work again, I clung to hope.  I clung to it like  someone drowning in the wide open sea would to a life raft.  And, I would not let it go.  I told my doctor that mentally I just couldn't let myself go to that place of disability.  To that place of limits and ends of things.  So I clung to hope.
 
It was during that time Rascal Flatts released their song entitled, "Feels Like Today" and the music video that went with it.  Hope screamed, urged, coaxed its way through that song as though it was penned just for me. The lyrics, music and video images added to support hope's message were a vessel used by God to keep hope afloat in my life.  I practically wore that song out.
 
Take a listen to the song and watch the video - click the link below:
Hope has been prevalent in my life most of my years.  There have been a few periods though of such darkness that I lost hope.  Without hope those dark moments sought to destroy me, pull me under, keep me stagnant and make me a slave to hurt and lies.  When I lost the man I deeply loved in my young years it kept me in bondage for a season.  When I lost him again in my middle years it nearly destroyed me.  Hope took the place of grief and loss eventually.

When I believed, even though I couldn't see the end, that there would be deep love that would come to my life, I was able to move forward.  Hope was that silent encourager, that familiar marker in the journey forward that told me it would come to pass.  And, it did.  Love replaced the loss of a lifetime.  Health eventually replaced illness.  Strength to leave an empty marriage eventually replaced living out other's dogma in my life.

Hope is most definitely a thing with feathers.  It is alive and moving.  It can and will carry you forward toward what you cannot see presently.

11.26.2012

SOULLLLLLLLLL TRAINNNNNNNNN



I flashed back to my youth.  There I was, a white girl from a farming community in the Midwest.  Nothing about me screamed cool.  I didn't have a very developed sense of rhythm.  Even rollerskating was a rhythmic challenge for me.  Dancing, well that was just not a part of my fundamentalist rearing. 

My dad would say, every time I asked if I could go to a school sponsored dance or roller skating party, "Well, you are going to have make that decision.  I just ask you, 'what would Jesus want you to do?'"  I always felt a little like the dinosaur from "Toy Story", "Great! Now I have guilt!"  I usually went any way, truly feeling that Jesus was more than ok with rollerskating and dancing.  He made our bodies to move about.  It was part of their God designed function.  In that instance I felt immediate obedience to God's design for my body.

That too is how I felt about Don Cornelius' "Soul Train" (televised syndicated predominantly African-American dancing show airing from 1971-2006).  Please reflect upon the fact that I was a Midwestern white girl, no sense of style or rhythm, living in an all white community.  I loved Don Cornelius' voice, the Soul Train dancers, their hair, clothes, shoes, free spirited movements all seemingly happening with little to no thought or effort.  It took a great deal of my effort to try not to be uncool.  Even with all that effort, I really didn't succeed at it in comparison to the Soul Train dancers. 

There was not an excess or really even a smidgen of "soul music", modern styling clothes, platform shoes, big afros, or effortless rhythm showing itself in the neck of the woods I hailed from.  There were also no African-American people. 

My fascination with "Soul Train" wasn't that their skin was black. We are all just humans first and foremost which levels and connects us all irregardless of any differences.  It was that in comparison I had no soul and no inherent God-given rhythm.  I wished I was a Soul Train dancer.  How could a Midwestern fundamentalist reared white girl get what they had?  I coveted their coolness.

My lack of rhythm highlighted itself in my poor dancing, inability to play the piano without music, my almost frigid and straight only rollerskating ability.  I couldn't whistle to save my life either.  That too was a marker of my uncool rhythm-less existence.  Maybe I cared too much that I was going to look as stupid as the cacophony of uncoolness, which played inside my head, said I was.  I just couldn't cut loose. I was white to the core and way more.

I tuned in every Saturday morning to watch and envy the coolness, the freedom of the music and the dancers.  I tuned in to hear sweet Don Cornelius' voice.  I tuned in every Saturday morning to study those dance moves, peruse the wardrobes, listen to some great music and wonder if I could ever be so cool.

I'm still wondering.

11.23.2012

THE AGE OF POULTRY



When I was a kid growing up we raised chickens and turkeys.  They were grown and fed to eventually slaughter to fill our freezer with poultry.  Vegetarians out there please take a deep breath!  I am more than ok with you NOT eating meat and allow you that choice if you will give me the choice TO eat meat.  

No cruelty to animals occurred in the raising of these various types of poultry.  They were fed and given freedom to be a chicken or a turkey inside the barn.  I always felt a twinge of sadness while holding a new baby chick in my hand knowing their cuteness would soon morph into gawkiness and then to full grown chicken looks.  Grown chickens really aren't cute or attractive.  That made it way easier to eventually eat them as fried chicken, chicken and noodles or chicken pot pie.   

When full grown and weight appropriate for butchering we had to catch the chickens and turkeys inside their pen in the barn and crate them for transport to be killed and dressed.  The best time of day to do that was early in the morning before the light of day.  You would have to sneak up behind them, grab their legs, flip them upside down and quickly put them in wooden crates.  The chickens were much easier, lighter and dumber than the turkeys.  Just like humans there are levels of smartness even in the poultry family.

The turkeys obviously weighed considerably more than the chickens, had an intuitive sense about them and were more aggressive than their poultry cousins.  Sneaking up or even chasing a turkey about the pen was both exhilarating and frightening.  They did not want to be grabbed by their legs and stuffed in a wooden crate.  And, they made it hard by not going easily or quietly - squawking, running at you, pecking unmercifully at you if your hand got near their beaks.  The trick was quickness, agility and timing.

I thought about those baby chickens and baby turkeys yesterday on Thanksgiving as I sat to eat some dark meat with a touch of gravy and a side of cranberry sauce.  How does something so cute become so unattractive and yet so good to eat?

I sort of felt that too.  It seems of late I have wondered about my own journey of age.  Much like those baby chicks morphing to gawky birds and then to full grown chickens, I have felt the aging process piling up.  I'm not sure how we can busy about life unaware and then occasionally feel like age slams into us from behind.  Like we are being grabbed by our legs, swung upside and thrown into a crate.

We age chronologically at the same pace daily,  But, there are times where it seems to collect and then crash into us causing us to show age more poignantly and blaringly than at other times.  We catch a glimpse of ourselves from time to time and see that the stress of life, the wear and tear of the years is showing itself.  It's like we have more cake on us and not enough frosting to cover it at some point.

We are no longer baby chicks or gawky teenagers but full-grown ready to be butchered not so attractive completely aged poultry.  We have finally become valuable for our insides, but our outsides are not so attractive.

I can so relate to Tom Turkey:)

11.21.2012

THANKSGIVING'S EVE


I have always loved it. I've felt its emotional connection clear through to my soul since I was a small kid. Tomorrow it's here - Thanksgiving.

It's Thanksgiving eve as I write this. Though not technically a celebrated holiday, it ushers in something sacred for me, Thanksgiving. No doubt my connection to Thanksgiving stems in part from amazing childhood memories. It though also connects to me probably because I am a thinker, a feeler and an expresser. That is really what defines Thanksgiving.

Its unadulterated, stripped back and raw meaning doesn't seem to get crowded out by the world of capitalistic commerce and money. Turkeys and cornucopias haven't yet usurped Thanksgivings relentless yet silent moniker of gratefulness.

Every year the emotions I experience while gathered with my family seek to overtake me. Every year my family braces themselves for my Thanksgiving love speech laced with tears.  Thanksgiving grants me the privilege to speak out loud the deep rivers of things I think and feel. It's my opportunity for a living eulogy of sorts for those that mean the world to me.

Gratefulness is a great companion in life, not just on my favorite holiday but every day.    Thanksgiving is a place of hallowedness.  An outlet to pause and give homage to all the good.  It's a tangible way to savor all the people and things that make our life full and rich.  My mom used to place a kernel of corn on each of our plates at the Thanksgiving table. We had to verbalize something we were thankful for. My brother-in-laws teased her relentlessly year after year until she quit the tradition. It wasn't as corny as they made it out to be. I loved it.

This Thanksgiving eve my heart and soul feel full.  Running tonight as darkness rolled in, I wondered about others as I ran by their houses.  Did they feel like I do about Thanksgiving Eve and Thanksgiving?  Was it their favorite week of the year like it was for me? 

11.20.2012

THE HAIRY ARCHES





Maybelline Blond is my color.  Not for my hair color.  My hair is totally au-naturale'.  That color most closely matches the color of my own natural eyebrows.  I have to draw on a portion of both of my eyebrows.  I free-hand them. 

You might be thinking that possibly I had scorched off all my facial hair from too close of proximity to extreme heat; campfires, bonfires, a house fire, a welding flame, the trash burn barrel as a child, the space heater or open oven door (it's electric, calm down!) I huddle in front of every winter when cold chills me to the core.  Neither have I waxed to the extent of pulling all current and future hair follicles from my eyebrow area.  My lack of brow hair is beyond my control. 

It's probably just a genetic propensity.  I never really had to pluck my eyebrows a whole hell of a lot.  Age and disease have thinned them causing the middle to end point of both of them to all but disappear.  It seems eyebrow hair has reappeared though on my menopausal chin!  What a great picture you have of me right now - little to no eyebrows and a few random middle aged chin hairs.  Oh baby!   Pace yourself with my beauty.

I know a lady who stencils on her eyebrows.  They are not lightly filled in to give the appearance of greater fullness.  No, they are stenciled on like a capital A elementary school how to print alphabet letter lining the perimeter of a classroom.  I often wondered if she picked out the size and shape of the eyebrow stencil to her liking.  Or if, much like picking out a new pair of eyeglasses, someone said, "That size and shape look great on you!"  They don't look great or natural but literally verbally shout out at you when glancing at her, "I AM NOT REAL.  LOOK AT ME.  I AM NOT REAL!"

Some years back on an annual Thanksgiving weekend away shopping trip with my two sisters and mom we left the hotel early to begin a day of shopping.  The hotel room must have been dark.  Maybe we were still drugged from Turkey the day before.  Standing outside a store waiting for it to open I looked up at my mom, now outside in natural light.  I broke into hysterical laughter.  My sisters saw what I did at the same moment.  Our mom had drawn on her eyebrows mistakenly using her lip liner pencil.  There she stood, giddy with shopping excitement (politics and shopping elicit the same passion in my mom) totally oblivious to her precisely drawn on arched PINK eyebrows. 

I am a creature of habit.  If I do my morning routine of getting ready out of order I mess myself up.  Leaving the house one morning for work I glanced in my rear view mirror about 5 or 6 blocks from home.  I looked different.  What was it?  EYEBROWS!!!  I had only the few wispy pieces that I have naturally.  I slammed on the brakes and went home to make myself look like me.  Without them people might not recognize me. 

Just out of high school I went on a date with a guy that had a unibrow.  He was a nice guy from a nice family who went on to be highly successful in life.  I couldn't get past the eye brow thing.  I realize that was long before the metro style that some men adhere to currently.  He could have used a men's hygenic movement that would have shown him proper eyebrow manicuring.  Manicuring is too mild of a word for what needed to be done on Tom's eyebrows.  Hedge trimmers would have come in handy.

I've seen a few children that unfortunately, even at a very young age, need some separation of the brow work performed on them.  Conjoined twins have nothing on them!  Granted it might be hard to pluck a 7 year old's brows without some tears, but their fragile self-esteem is at risk without that intervention.  I vividly remember the first time I plucked my daughter's eyebrows.  I think she was in 6th grade.  There were a few tears and possibly a baggie of ice.  I've always held to the thought that, much like a band-aid being ripped off of hairy skin, fast is always best.

Beau Bridges and Andy Rooney both had overly unkempt eyebrows.  How their wives let them leave the house looking like that is troubling to me.  I think that same thing every time I stand and talk to my neighbor.  His eyebrows, nose hairs and ear hairs scream, I COULD USE A $9.99 WALGREEN TRIMMER

Eyebrows are either distracting or unnoticeable.   I once thought about having my eyebrows tattooed to fill them in.  I get sick of pencilling them in.  How would those tattooed eyebrows look when I am 70 years old and have silver hair?  Maybe by then I either won't care about my eyebrows or will become like my mom and use my pink lip liner pencil on them.

11.19.2012

MRS. SCROOGE, bah hum bug!


There is a myriad of reasons why I am not much into decorating for Christmas.  My mom tells my husband that he married Mrs. Scrooge.  She says that because, in the years preceding Doug's presence in my life, I did not really put up Christmas decorations.   Many times, not even a tree.

I am far from Mrs. Scrooge no matter how much teasing my mom tries to dish out.  I don't begrudge others the pleasure they get from decorating their houses.  Ok possibly I do if it crosses my subjective decorating taste line into the world of Clark Griswold.  Then, I must admit I ridicule and judge the people inside the house based on the tackiness of the Christmas craps in the yard.  Some of you do too!

We decided to put up the Christmas tree last night.  Our reasoning was that next weekend is Thanksgiving, an extended no-work weekend.  We wanted Thanksgiving weekend to be a weekend of nothing.  No agenda.  No have to's.  And NO SHOPPING! 

That would be the part of Christmas I might dislike the most.  The ridiculousness of gifts.  That in the world that most of us live in we NEED more stuff.  Which leads me to Christmas decorations.  I have a distaste for excess in any form.  And to me, Christmas decorations fall into that excess, knick-knackie sort of category.

It could be too that I got very ill when my daughter was in 5th grade.  There were some years that I did not have the energy to spare to do anything but try to stay alive.  I spent one Christmas in the hospital.  I found out Christmas decorations were not essential to my survival.  I lived and regained health but by then I didn't need decorations to make it special.   Christmas music and cookies, yes.  A Christmas tree, not so much.

My husband is Father Christmas.  He loves Christmas decorations.  Two years ago, when I met him it was December 28th.  Christmas lingered still in stores and houses.  When I walked into his house for the first time I was floored.  His house was beautifully decorated in everything Christmas.  A large flocked tree with small blue and white lights and a matching theme of blue, silver and white stood majestically in his living room.  It was literally like a page out of a magazine.  

That same Christmas I had in my house, to fully round out the holiday spirit; a large bowl on my dining room table with gold and red Christmas balls that I had got at Goodwill for $2 and a small potted Christmas tree I had bought for $40 at Lowes.  That was it.  It took 5 minutes to put up and tear down.  Simple, sparse and Charlie Brownish.



 


Last night Doug decorated our house with beautiful decorations and that beautiful flocked Christmas tree that he brought into the marriage.  We played the movie ELF while decorating.  He asked if I would help with the lights.  I smiled with great love but shook my head no.  He laughed and continued.  I had my bowl of Christmas Goodwill balls to place:)


Every morning since September I play Christmas music while getting ready for work.  Mrs. Scrooge wouldn't do that, would she?

11.15.2012

THE TALE OF ONE BEEZER



I thought about what to write today.  It was a tie.  The comparison of Brach's caramels to Kraft caramels or the adventures of my left boob.  Tails, left boob.  Heads, caramels.  Tails won.

Breasts, mine and others, have been a subject of many of my writings.  Some may think it a fixation, boob envy, or even strange to talk out loud about their girlie parts in the manner in which I do.  I call most things like I see them, boobs included.  And, since I see mine daily it gives me fodder. 

My breast cliff notes read as follows: 

I didn't get any breasts really until I was about 15 years old.  I measured 27 inches in bust size in 7th grade,  The biggest size they ever increased to was during my one pregnancy and that was to a 34 C.   They were referred to as "beezers" when I was young as though they were the understudy to real substantiated breasts.  Cleavage is a foreign word to me much like anything written in Russian is.  I have a wide open four lane highway between my breasts.  My friend dubbed them "wee mounds" which, from a writing word picture standpoint, is a great visual description!  I once tried to duct tape around my chest to create cleavage for a picture to entertain my girlfriends.  I was even unsuccessful in that venture and could get them still no closer than one full car length from each other.  My best friend in school shoved me while clowning around before math class while I was holding a pencil.  I fell forward on the desk implanting a piece of the graphite/lead into my non-existent cleavage area.  It still resides there today.  Once in 9th grade I dove into the swimming pool at a boy-girl party and as I came to the surface so did my now bare breasts.  Tony P. got a smiling eye full. It's not that they were big, but what 15 year old boy doesn't want to see even a beezer!  They presently are a bit lower than they used to be failing prey to the natural law of gravity and age.  I measure in currently at a 32 almost A cup.  Wearing a bra is very optional for me as most of the time you can't tell whether I have one on or not.  I sweat profusely in between my breasts when I run garnering that gift from my Grandma Weldy who had extra sweat genes.  There are men out there who LOVE and PREFER small breasted women even though the Porn industry says different.  I do most definitely have the upper body of a 12-14 year old but with collagen poor skin.  My husband says they are the most beautiful he's seen.  He claims he could pick  them out of a line-up.  Not sure in what world that would happen!
 
I thought all those thoughts about my breasts this past week as I have had two separate mammograms, and today, a left breast biopsy.  My breasts have seen more strangers in a week than their whole lifetime!  They have also been gal handled, squished, squeezed, marked with a black marker, poked, cored into like an apple and left a bit sore and bruised.
 
We live in an overly cautious medical world.  Fear reigns supreme in early diagnosis both for the patient and a clinic.  It saves lives, I get it.  Thankful I am for technology to detect minuscule granules in breasts even. 
 
The radiologist came to talk to me earlier this week, after the second mammo in a week.  He said, "If we cannot, without 98% certainty, identify what we see a biopsy is performed."  Being the realist that I am, practical beyond measure, not wanting to waste time and money and mental energy on this, I wondered if he could say with say 80-90% certainty what he was seeing.  Those percentages were high enough for me. 
 
I felt caught between a system of over precaution and fear of the momentum of my life changing.  I like neither of them.  You know I won $65.00 in a slot machine while on vacation over the summer.  Would I gamble my chances or do the due diligence?  How many times are tests ordered for liability reasons?  Was this one of them?  I was willing to gamble that it was nothing but being done to verify it to the 98% mark.  My husband was not. 
 
Sitting on the stereotactic mammo chair with my left breast firmly implanted between the plexi-glass plates much like a flattened Wendy's hamburger between a bun, I felt panic rise in me.  I had inherited a bit of claustrophobia from my Great Grandfather Warren.  Combine that with not wanting to be there, the uncomfortable can't-get-a-full-breath because of the angle and the inability to wiggle about, I fought the urge to cry and run.  Instead I did what I do, used irreverent humor to move myself away from serious want to suck me in stuff.
 
The woman doctor, whom I had never met before that moment, walked into the room after I was pretty well prepped for the actual coring.  She introduced herself and I responded, "Great to meet you!  The nurses and I just finished up shooting this year's Christmas card photo."  The crowd exploded.  I felt my panic diminish as I took to the mike slinging boob humor like flap jacks at the IHop.  The doctor said she never ever had anyone tell her they were going to use that shot in the chair on their Christmas card.
 
She said the words that I tell my husband and daughter I get alot, "You are so funny!".  Golly gee whiz doc, I KNOW IT!!!  They would both of course never believe me that yet ANOTHER person gave me the you are so funny accolade.  They are poor losers.  The both of them:)  I will go for the laugh, even while having black marker marked on my left breast, a tube the size of a grade school thick pencil sticking out of it and blood dripping down the hospital gown that was designed for someone 3 times my size. 
 
Remember the Disney song from the movie "Snow White", ..... whistle while you work?  Snow White sang it.  Now I just have to whistle while I wait to find out if those 20 samples were just a clearing of any liability sort of thing or if they were a life saving sort of thing.
 
I left them wanting an encore by saying upon my departure, "It's a good thing I don't make a living by showing these things off.  I would starve to death!"

11.14.2012

MEDIC! MEDIC! MEDIC!



This is a true story.  The player's names have not been changed to protect the innocent as there were no innocent participants in anything that follows. 

Just today I did the following to myself in my quest to get from one thing to another quickly; I drippled coffee down the side of my insulated mug which narrowly missed my cream colored cami which I was wearing underneath my blue cardigan sweater.  I nearly dumped the entire contents of my open and carelessly sprawled purse onto the floor of the car as I whipped around the corner on the way to work perilously catching the mess just before it plummeted off the seat.  I created a drop of blood on my cami as I gave myself a shot of insulin in my abdomen causing yet another stain I will not be able to get out.  I forgot to put my car in park as I pulled up to a UPS drop box and opened the door to reach the package/envelope slot causing the car to lurch forward as I quickly slammed back on the brakes.  I cut my thumb on my Cutco knife while trying to cut through a butternut squash I was trying to put in the oven before going out for a run after work.  I totally forgot that overfilling the blender with hot soup to puree it before finishing its wonderful cream squash soupiness would cause an explosion of molten lava soup to be splayed across my forearm, the walls, floor, cabinets, counters, handles, and in every nook and cranny of the blender itself, along with my slippers, shirt, jeans and skin.

I move at the speed of light and the above noted paragraph is sometimes the result of careening at full throttle into everything I touch.  Most definitely I get that from my dad.  Just ask my mom, my sisters, my daughter and my husband.  I want to think I am more careful than he is, but by reading my own day's log of injury events I cannot in good conscience and with honesty say that.  The thing is that it still doesn't really slow me down.  Occasionally it will cause a few swear words to fly, the momentary band-aid to be had, a few minutes added to my Olympic race since I have to stop and clean up something I created in my haste, dictate a change in clothes or possibly cause some lasting pain for the next few days.  Temporary I say.  That stuff is all temporary.

That's what I told myself a week or so ago when, while coming up the basement stairs in my underpants and flip flops carrying a laundry basket of clean clothes, I missed the top step and fell forward with no free arms to catch my fall.  I hit the wood step with absolute abruptness causing my full body weight to fall mostly on my right ring finger.  Who does that, I giggled to myself as I pulled back up to an upright position and glanced at my finger. 

The pain was sharp and intense.  I figured I broke it, but what was there to really do about a finger.  Plus it was my bad hand with three surgeries under its belt and bad finger that already had not much feeling from the middle joint to the tip.  That bad ring finger already made it impossible to press my palm completely flat on any surface.  Those surgeries had previously created new possibilities to use my cup shaped palm as a drinking cup if lost in the wilderness, or for a cereal bowl if there were no clean ones in the house.

The now distinctively curved to the left top joint of my right ring finger from my fall UP the basement stairs merely added to the distorted and diminished use of that part of my hand.  I winced but marched onward to work.  I had long since lost the ability to play octaves in that hand fully.  Pain eventually dwindles if you can wait it out. 

After being strong armed by my husband, who threatened to quit taking the herbs and vitamins I have him on if I didn't go get it X-rayed, I went.  I told him it was broke and there wasn't a lot to be done since it was already a bum finger anyway.  Irregardless of my plea to do nothing, we went to the doctor.

Yep, it's broken, my doctor said flatly as I laid my right hand on his desk.  I asked if there was a way to pull it back straight.  He explained that it appeared to be a crush break and that requires micro hand surgery.  A straight break yes could possibly be pulled back and splinted to heal straight.  An X-ray was needed to determine the type of break.

As the lady X-ray technician laid my right hand on the x-ray plate she positioned my hand in differing positions.  What I noticed was that it appeared she was filming not my ring finger but my little finger, the one next to the really crooked and swollen one.  I wondered how to tell her that she was NOT filming the right appendage.  Direct was best. "I was just wondering," I said casually, "Why you are filming a non-broken finger when the broken one right next to it is NOT being filmed?"  Her eyes widened as she looked at my hand and then the paper.  We started over filming the actual broken finger.

I wondered in the course of my life how much charging full steam ahead had cost me in small injuries, a few surgeries, the lost time of clean up, ruined clothes, broken dishes or had actually ended up adding more time to the process than if I lowered my RPM speed a tad.

I really didn't wonder long.  I was on to the next thing.  Today's accidents on the job of life were a result of speed and an overly full mind.  A deadly combination!

11.13.2012

WALKING ANGELS



My brother-in-law and sister were over for dinner recently.  He asked if I had told Doug, my husband of two years, the story of my angel.  I smiled, reliving it again in my head and spirit as I recalled what he was referring to.  "No", I said, "I haven't."

About seven or eight years ago I was a Realtor in a small-medium sized town in the Midwest.  It was a day like many others that involved some driving about the county looking at properties, meeting clients, checking signs, stopping in the office, and the like.  I believe with every fiber of my being that there exists another world that we humans aren't necessarily privy to seeing, a spirit world.  A world not tangible like mine was that day, but intangible.  I believe there are things bigger than my mind and scope of understanding. 

Just because I can't see something, know it in the visual and total understanding sense, does not mean it is not there.  Maybe we don't always see that world because we are pretty wrapped up in our own - the world of visuals and self and things we clearly know.  That in and of itself doesn't leave much wiggle room for us to see the invisibles around us.  Many of you too know of the walking angels in our midsts.  You've met them.

As I exited right off the highway I merged onto the divided four-lane street that would take me downtown to my office.  I glanced in my rear-view mirror checking before I entered the flow of the street traffic left of my merge-on lane.  I saw nothing.  I quickly put my left turn signal on indicating I was merging over.  At that exact moment of moving my car left, I heard brakes being slammed.  Glancing in my mirror again I saw a small Ford Bronco now dangerously being whipped back and forth behind me.  I had not seen him in the blind spot of my car.  What happened next was like a scene from a movie and I was a player in it.

Everything, though happening in split seconds, was unfolding as though it was a slow-motion replay on Monday Night Football.  In his attempt not to hit me, and in reaction to my moving over, he slammed on the brakes so hard it caused his vehicle to swerve and then catapult end for end at least 3 times.  I was watching it in my rear-view mirror just like a movie, trying desperately to accelerate away from the chaos that was speeding towards my car. 

How he never hit my car in his rolls, I do not know.  How he never hit anyone else in those other 3 lanes of traffic, I do not know either.  I stopped the car with panic and screaming thoughts at full force, surely I have just killed someone, how am I not hurt, how did my car not get hit by him!!  I couldn't control my wild thoughts and began to run from my now parked car toward this now upside Ford Bronco realizing I may face a seriously injured person or worse, a dead person.

I'm not sure how fast either of us were going.  I suppose I may have been increasing my speed to merge onto traffic at 40 mph.  He was probably going that speed himself.  At that moment I felt the weight of it all as I had failed to see him in my mirror.  What had I done!  The sense of responsibility I felt was crushing.

In the moments between my exit from my car and the time it took to run towards his, he emerged from his vehicle.  Crawling through the back window, he came out swearing and raging.  He was moving toward me quickly as he screamed and spit anger and rage along the way.  Accidents are strange.  There are things you can't remember and things that become hyper clear.  As he exploded and engulfed the distance of space between us, a man appeared by my side. 

I was watching the raging man heading for me with anger that appeared could endanger me and yet I glanced around trying to figure out where this man, who now stood calmly by my side had come from.  He quietly moved in front of me to face the angry man.  I can't recall him saying anything to the man, but somehow, by his mere presence, the driver of the other vehicle backed off slightly though still raging words loudly at me.   

It was an odd sensation and yet the most calming and natural feeling in the world.  I did not know him, couldn't ascertain where he had come from, didn't see a vehicle parked nearby that would indicate he stopped to help.  I felt taken care of, covered and protected.  His presence, without many words, was bigger than I can humanly explain.  Something indescribable in his manner, his presence, his spirit was unlike anything I had ever felt.  He did not leave my side almost like a shield. 

The police arrived on the scene, two city police cars.  As I turned toward the officer who approached me, I glanced back toward my silent guardian.  He was gone.  I looked all around - toward traffic, the parking lot, the side of the road.  He was completely and utterly gone in a split second.  I turned back to the police officer who rebuked the other driver for his raging behavior and commanded him to move back from my vicinity. 

As I hung my head and sobbed, the police officer, full of compassion said, "That's why we call them accidents, things that we don't mean to have happen that do."  He shared that the other driver was driving a borrowed vehicle that had no insurance.  I asked the officer did he see which way the man who had been standing by me when he pulled up went?  He looked at me, "What man? I saw no one."

11.12.2012

THE SIMPLE LIFE, MY ASS.



I'm English, not Amish.  Just thought you might want to know.  You might be laughing at that statement as if it were so obvious it didn't even need to be said.  I mean really, would an Amish woman write a blog?  Let alone an irreverent one as well.  It's highly doubtful.  Their lines though of delineation for life in a post-modern society are varied, irregular, perplexing, and somewhat blaring contradictory.

I'm not Amish, but grew up around the people and religion of the Amish.  This isn't a lesson in history about the fact that technically the Amish originally hail from a break off from the Catholic Church.  Much of their ritualistic church traditions and rote come from that historical religious lineage.  I will let my friend Big D, a former Amish girl, school you in some of the traditions and inconsistencies of the Amish way of life.  She also has a great sheep story which highlights deviant sexual behavior, a rampant but silent issue in their "simple people" lifestyle.

Their buggies share the road in my part of the country.  Their horse shit splatters the under body of my car causing me to swear as I stop to wash my car before pulling it in the garage.  Their houses dot the countryside intermingled with the English.  Many are warm and inviting.   They are though very much human in every way.  They are not as different as you might think on the inside though their outsides and lifestyle is a bit more archaic than the English (that's what they call us).  Modern times have likewise collided with their simple folk ways.  Wal-mart is a favorite shopping destination.  Many carry cell phones (don't get me started on that one!) now dubbed as "necessary" to conduct business (many are entrepreneurs).   And though they can't own a car, they will pay you to drive them places or pull a wagon with skid-loader to take the kids to school on a cold winter morning. 

Their contradictions are many, greatly annoying while equally irritating to me.  That was highlighted in grand detail last week.  No doubt my failings and short-comings are wide as well.  Their inconsistencies are magnified though with a searchlight with the chasm between what they portray, how they choose to live and some of their choices that color well outside those arenas.

Last week, in conversation with an Amish business owner, myself and another man, the Amish man was commenting about the re-election of President Obama.  Most of what he talked about was in second person - he knows a guy, he heard about such and such on the radio.  Even his reference to voting suggested that he did not vote in the Presidential election.  FYI - some Amish vote depending on what their district church bishop says is acceptable.  Other Amish vote on the sly, not wanting their church to know they have.  Yet others do not vote at all.

People interest me.  All types.  Why people believe, think and then act on things is intriguing to me.  His beliefs, thoughts and then words were a sad commentary on the blatant disregard this man, from the simple people, had for our country. 

He referenced wrong figures for the national debt at the start of Obama's first term and the figure published for the current national debt at the end of the first Obama term.  It was pointed out to him the correct figures ($10.626 trillion at the start of his 1st term and $15.566 trillion at the close of Obama's first term), though the numbers were really not totally specifically relevant to his premise which followed. . .

"What do I care how big the national debt is?  I run a business,
make great money and don't care as long as I am making
a significant amount of income.  It doesn't affect me." 
 
Those were his words as close to verbatim as possible.  He said it in a cold, uncaring, disconnected from humanity and this country sort of way.  For an Amish man, one who hailed from the simple people, he sounded more like Donald Trump, Cornelius Vanderbilt or Andrew Carnegie.  It was an out for self statement.  A turn coat declaration of capitalism from an Amish man whose whole way of life is based around living quietly and simply unadulterated from the world. 
  
I was incredulous inside as he arrogantly and pompously puffed out his chest like George of the Jungle.  The combination of his words, body language, tone of voice and place of perchment from his Amish life made me disgusted.  It made me angry.  It made me sad.
 
Was this an extension of his being a pacifist?  From being removed from the culture that he lived in and the country he abided in? This ruse of the simple people was no better than the English who blatantly drive cars, fly in airplanes, show skin in their attire or who make the news constantly with their capitalistic greed. 
 
We should care about our country, the state of the place we call our nation.   The moral and ethical obligation of our government should  be reflected in its policies, budgets, administration of programs and the debt of our country.  
 
I have to wash your horse shit off my car so you are most definitely a part of this country!

11.09.2012

TOPPING THE SCALE!


As many people as exist, opinions abound in reflective numbers. Even if you claim neutrality (like my Swiss national people do), that is still a marked point in the line of thought.  Having no opinion is still something, a thought of nothing.

Politics for the past year and a half leading up to the 2012 presidential election gave platform, a spotlight on opinions and convictions. All of those opinions and convictions caused us each then to form an opinion regarding each other's convictions, thoughts, and opinions.  It seems a never-ending cycle.  I am opinioned out.  It's like white noise.

We think politics, the political system and politicians are so different than us. I'm not so sure they are.

We too sometimes say one thing, but do another.  Once in awhile we make promises we fail to keep.  Much of the time we think we have control of all things and then things well outside our control side-swipe us.  Too often, if not kept in check, we want to live beyond our means justifying that doing this or having that is a "need".  Lots of times we think about taking the easy way out, the more beneficial to self road.  More times than not, we believe how we drive, think or act is at a much higher functioning level than most people.   And always do we truly believe our beliefs and opinions are the right ones.

That said, we are really no different than politics, the political system and politicians.  We are human and flawed.  It shows itself much like the hands of a clock hit twelve every hour. 

Do we really truly believe that a party, a president will be any different than the sum of all that they make up?  Do we truly believe it is a set of political ideological beliefs that will create right decisions and a right course?  It might be a start but it's not the whole of the equation.

It is so easy to get off course.  To veer ever so slightly close or over the line.  And if a car or a steep embankment doesn't await us, then we don't notice a consequence.  Crossing the line isn't imperative when it's not immediate in its results.  It's like neglecting the maintenance on your house or car or your body.  There is a point where deterioration spreads and increases, even compounds because of neglect.   Politics and our country's issues are the same way.  We have put off, delayed, even denied that we need to get it back between the white lines.

We veered.  We neglected.  We didn't make hard decisions and tough cuts because there was no impending on-coming car, steep embankment or rotting wood or dripping water heaters.  Watch the show, "The Biggest Loser", if we abuse or neglect long enough the process back to health and balance is long and hard.  Not impossible but tough.

We as a nation are on the scales and it's not pretty.    

11.07.2012

YOU CAN'T ALWAYS LOGIC IT AWAY



Did you ever notice that logic doesn't work in certain circumstances? 

It rarely works with very young children.  It prompts the verbal badminton game of, "Why? But why?  Why is that? How come?"  Logic as well never really trumps fear no matter how much of it is used.  Fear is illogical in all, part or some of its realities.  Logic does nothing to meet the fear with a language it will hear.  I was reminded of that today. 

Logic is the premise of reasoning by observing the general to the specific.  It is deducing something bigger into something smaller with rationale, with cause and effect.  It is reasoned thought over irrational thought or feelings. 

The problem, the lack it brings to the table, is its lack of addressing the emotional connection to illogical trains of thought and/or fear.  Emotions are powerful.  Now those thoughts and/or fears can be partially real, merely perceived or hold such a low of probability of occurring that winning the 143 million dollar Powerball lotto would hold a greater statistical chance.

I wondered today, when faced with the illogic of fear, if understanding fear is a better back door approach  and preface to using logic with others.  Because logic is brain sense or intelligent deduction, finding and acknowledging the power of fear might give me a better understanding of its total illogicalness - why fear is trumping logic.

Fear is said to be an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain or a threat.  How do you undo the belief that causes the fear, the illogical emotion?  Why does someone believe anything that they believe, whether it be a fear or a conviction?  

We are taught certain things in very overt ways many times.  But we catch other teachings by observing the covert and sometimes even not aware, the unconscious.  If we hold a belief long enough, whether it is true, accurate or logical, it will be assumed as true to us.  Our perception, based on what we know, have been taught, experienced, is now our reality.

I have gone around the barn on this logic issue.  I really have no more answers on how to get logic to penetrate fear or illogic than when I started - only a bit better feel for maybe its powerful grip and what doesn't work.  

11.06.2012

MY RARELY USED LINEN DRAWER



Napkin rings are interesting to me.  I don't quite understand them, and yet I am extremely drawn to them.  They aren't something that are used on a regular basis unless you are in the State Dining Room at the White House.  I can't remember the last time I used any.  They really aren't needed when you buy 500 count white paper napkins from the Dollar Store.


I have a drawer in my hall linen cabinet that contains all things table topping related.  Items such as; tablecloths, table runners, cloth napkins, center place mats, and a box of four silver plated Christmas napkin rings from Pier One, which I have never used and desperately need to be polished.  One of the tablecloths is still in its original packaging as I have never used it either.  I absolutely love my seven-foot hammered top dining room table.  It's the showcase of that room, and I really don't desire to cover it up with a table cloth.  Now decorating with napkin rings and linen napkins would make that dark wood pop indeed!  Am I going for a look though or practicality?  What would Martha Stewart say!

My mom uses tablecloths pretty much all the time.  She has them for every occasion, every season and in just about every fabric or vinyl material you can dream of.  On my daughter and I's annual Christmas cookie making day, I drape the end of my seven-foot dining room table with a vinyl table cloth that is mint green and probably 25 years old.  Atop the vinyl tacky table cloth is wax paper where warm cookies cool from trays out of the oven awaiting mounds of icing and sprinkles.  I also use that vinyl tablecloth when the grand kids want to do markers, crayons and glue at the table.  It's a safety precaution in that instance, not a decorating table item!

Cloth napkins always disturb me slightly.  I wear lipstick liberally.  Wiping my mouth of a crumb or dribble of food creates a smear of lipstick across the napkin.  I don't want to have to wipe off my lipstick on a Kleenex previous to eating for fear of "dirtying" the napkin designed to be used for wiping!  My face or hands, presently wiped clean on the cloth napkin, have now created dirt on something else that will have to be soaked and washed.  That is merely transference.  It's illogical in so many ways.

When we have completed a holiday meal at my parent's house, and begin the clean-up, my mom will say, "Just roll that table cloth up and put it on the washer.  I will soak it and wash it later."  I haven't found a great many products that get ketchup, wine, coffee, cranberry salad or Thanksgiving gravy off cream colored napkins and a linen tablecloth.  None-the-less, I will peruse the napkin ring section of World Market, Pier One or Bed Bath & Beyond as they are to me like diamonds are to other women.
   

11.05.2012

AND THAT'S ALL I NEED.....


As a non-shopper who hails genetically from a shopper mother and, whose only off-spring I have been a mother to is a shopper, I try not to shop unless there is something I need or am looking for.  Stuff makes me feel cluttery, so why would I want to purchase more stuff. I do not readily relish even grocery shopping.  I am both equally overwhelmed and underwhelmed at shopping and stuff.

Occasionally though I need something.  More accurate would be that I have to purchase some item because what I have has been worn to death and is actually past its natural lifespan.  The reasons why I dislike shopping are varied.

For instance, I am picky.  I have a certain style I like, a certain color that I gravitate toward, a certain feel of fabric, the point of a shoe, or the way something, either clothing or housewares, appeals to my pared down, free-spirited and unconstrained ways.  If the item doesn't meet that standard, then I don't buy it.  Even, if the item I am trying to replace it with is in desperate need of retirement. 

Recently at the mall for a walk through, mostly to wander a bit in Barnes and Nobles and lust after books that I will not pay full price for, I was overwhelmed a bit.  There were row after row of cookbooks.  Books that cooks desired to have published.  No doubt they spent time and energy to fulfill a dream to make it to the shelf of a Barnes and Noble.  What set that cookbook on the second shelf apart dramatically from that large one facing outward on the top shelf?  The choices and presentation was a bit astounding. 

Compound that by all the books in that bookstore.  Shelf after shelf after shelf of published and authored books, some by famous authors and some by first time published writers.  What would make a story, a book get noticed, get read?  I got lost in that endless supply of books.  More would follow behind them taking their place as the next best read.  Exhausting all those books were at that moment.

Out in the mall itself were stores galore.  Some of those stores had certain things that I liked, ie Yankee Candle.  But really, how many candles do I need and how many times can I give one for a gift?  And did I need it to be a Yankee Candle at that?  I mean could I get by buying one cheaper somewhere else. 

I perused once again everything in the GAP, but nothing much was a whole lot different than when I stopped in while in Chicago a couple months ago, or two weeks back when we came to get my husband some new dress shirts at Macy's.  Did I expect to find something new and overly exciting that wasn't really there before?  Clothes bore me really.  I usually don't like the styles out there and end up saying statements in my head like, "There is no way in hell I would ever wear that!" as I pass by rack after rack of hideousness.

There were kiosks in abundance as it is now headed toward that wonderful November-January 1st holiday shopping time of year.  I've found that more choices don't necessarily make me want to buy more, something or really anything at all.  It just usually makes me a bit disgusted at the excess of stuff in the world.  I also don't like when kiosk operators try to lure you into their mall-hall-store with phrases like, "Can I just ask you a question?  Do you have one minute?"  My answer is always NO to both questions. 

I didn't stop in at Banana Republic even though I loved a black cardigan sweater there I had tried one several weeks ago.  Even with 20% off it was still a ridiculous high price.  I had to believe, or cling to the fact, that I could live and flourish without it, though possibly not looking as sharp as I could without it.  There would always be "some thing" out there that could convince us, cajole us into purchasing it as the end all to end alls.  Black sweaters would probably always be made.  There would be others.  Hopefully cheaper.

As I walked the mall end to end I did not buy one single thing except an order of Chick-fil-A chicken nuggets that Doug and I shared. It seemed like an eternal supply of too much and all the same sort of stuff.  Cookie cutter sort of clothes, predictable stores, stuff galore!  How much did I need?  And really, I couldn't think of anything I really even wanted.  Well, that is not exactly true, I did want a lake cottage in Northern Michigan and my Powerball ticket to be a winner.  But that was all I needed...... well, and that our kids were in marriages where love abounded in huge measures and that our grand kids grew to be great and kind people.  And, possibly that black sweater at Banana Republic.   

11.02.2012

FUN SIZED CANDY, the modern day soul cake



 
Halloween was a couple of days ago.  It's a strange sort of holiday.  I can't say that I have a moral aversion to it necessarily nor a deep love for it.  I just don't totally understand its purpose like I do with the other big well celebrated holidays.  But none-the-less, I participated in its festivities of passing out candy to those kids that ventured to my doorstep.  This year I bought chocolate candy to pass out instead of the Twizzlers licorice I had last year.  According to my husband, "no kid wants Twizzlers at Halloween!"

The word Halloween itself has some Christian roots.  Originally said as All Hallows Even (for evening and yes I meant to type the word Even), it was the night before All Saints Day (November 1st).  That day was a celebration of the Saints and for prayer for those who had passed on - that hadn't reached heaven yet.  Children would go door to door collecting "soul cakes" as a means to pray people out of purgatory.  It was a sort of obligatory holy day.

 
The wearing of costumes has been linked to All Saints/All Souls Day where it was traditionally believed that the souls of the departed wandered the earth until All Saints' Day (November 2).  All Hallows' Eve (November 1) provided a last chance for the dead to get vengeance on their enemies before moving to the after life. In order to avoid being recognized by any soul that might be seeking vengeance, people would use masks or costumes to disguise their identities.



Though the word itself has some Christian influences and connections, it is also theoried to be steeped in paganism dating back to Celtic times of the Samhain Festival.  Harmless enough, the Festival was celebrated October 31st and November 1st to celebrate and mark the end of harvest and the beginning of winter, the darker months.  Rituals of slaughtering cattle for the winter months evolved to theories of human sacrifices being made. 

Samhain was seen as a time when the 'door' to the after life opened enough for the souls of the dead, and other beings such as fairies, to come into the world. The souls of the dead were said to revisit their homes on Samhain.  Feasts were had, at which the souls of dead kin were beckoned to attend and a place set at the table for them.  A sort of "feast of the dead" and "festival of the fairies".  Harmful spirits and fairies were also thought to be active at Samhain.

Who cares right? Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. .  .  .

In its modern present-day state of celebration, Halloween centers itself around costumes, pumpkins, corn mazes and the like, with its culmination in the quest and stock piling of candy.  Mostly, the crux of this holiday that doesn't cause the banks to close, schools to give kids a day off or the stock market to take a holiday, is going to stranger's houses dressed in some costume to hide your identity and receiving in return candy.  Black, orange and sometimes purple are the traditional colors of Halloween.  It seems that we have culturally taken some of the pagan and Christian rituals associated with this holiday's beginnings and mixed them together. 

The words trick or treat was said to indicate an idle threat of mischief to the homeowner or his property if no treat was given out at the doorstep.  Very few kids at my doorstep just a few days ago said trick or treat.  I said it to them in an attempt to get them to participate in this strange holiday's traditional exchange.  Some had great manners and said thank-you after receiving a piece of candy.  Others just stood there blankly treating you like a car part on a conveyor belt. 

In a world where people keep more to themselves, don't engage with strangers for fear of danger, this holiday amazes me.  Why am I not a stranger to most of the entire neighborhood on that day?  What makes a piece of candy and a costume break that barrier?  And who in the world needs to end the night with a plastic pumpkin full of fun-sized candy? 

I like what some local dentists have taken to doing, buying kids' Halloween candy off them for $2 a pound.  The candy is then included as part of the packages to the troops overseas for the holidays.  You know it'll just rot your teeth out:)  That must be why carved pumpkins usually don't have teeth.

11.01.2012

NATIONAL CINNAMON DAY



Preferences abound in just about every venue, category, or thought in life.  We are a subjective humanity.  I most definitely am one of those people as well.

Meeting my sister for coffee this morning, I only drank one cup at home knowing great flavored coffee awaited me.  I love the little eclectic coffee shop we were meeting at to catch up and laugh, lament, and generally let it all hang out as only sisters can do with no effort or thought.  Arriving before her, I stepped in line which was a few people deep.  My slightly over middle aged eyes could not see the coffee flavors adhered to the carafes behind the counter so I moved toward them to get a closer look.  I wanted time to ponder which flavor I would color light tan with half and half and drink 3 cups of before the several hours with my sister ended.

I was though, slightly distracted by the woman in front of me who was missing a third to a half of her teeth including the front ones and donned two barely any-hair-on-her-head thin ponytails.  Her, I am attempting a 4 year old's hair style, showcased a barrage of clips and barrettes to keep the too short pieces back.  She had so much make-up on I couldn't decide if it actually made her look better or worse.  It did momentarily cause me to look away from her other features and study her face in greater detail, which wasn't necessarily a good thing.  Chatty though she was and I engaged with her for a bit before moving toward the carafes to better read my choices.

Ethiopian, Sumatran, Tanzanian Blend, Cinnamous, and Pumpkin Pie Decaf.  What in the hell!  I hate regular coffee unless I am guaranteed it is as smooth and velvety as that $110 bottle of Cabernet I fell in love with.  And cinnamon flavored coffee is just not high on my list of flavors I crave.  What coffee shop in the Midwest in November has two flavored coffee of the day choices that are basically identical and filled to the brim with cinnamon? (said very sarcastically though fully acknowledging it is currently the season of Autumn)

I stood waiting in line now disgusted at my choices.  My expectation was now not going to be met!  I had foregone my second cup of caramel vanilla cream coffee at home thinking there would be a grand flavor here.  Who the hell has their only two flavors both drenched with cinnamon!  I would say something when my turn at the ordering counter arrived.  It just seems to come out no matter how hard I try to keep it in.  They needed to know that customers who drink flavored coffees might prefer one cinnamon choice and something non-cinnamonie.  At the very least, they needed to know that cinnamon was a polarizing spice in coffee.

My sister also likes flavored coffees.  When she arrived I filled her in on the cinnamon crisis that faced us.  We were next in line.  I stated, what to me anyway, was more than obvious.   "Let me get this right.  Your two flavors of coffee today are both cinnamon laced?" I said nicely.  Maybe a bit caught off guard with my deep observations on cinnamon and unsure of why that was an issue she replied, "Yes."   "Well, cinnamon goes a long way and customers probably would prefer possibly to have at least ONE non-cinnamon flavored coffee choice." I said. 

We stood there in a dilemma.  Neither of us wanted either cinnamonish flavor nor did we want a regular roast that we couldn't guarantee its smoothness.  I continued on with the clerk, "I guess that leaves us out.  We'll have nothing then."   I watched the other woman behind the counter have a look of puzzlement on her face over this coffee exchange.  No doubt she did not feel as passionate about cinnamon as did I.  I was nice, but stated my view of how they could better serve their customers with one less cinnamon choice.

Walking down the street, we decided to try the other coffee shop in town.  They had a regular roast, a decaf and a flavor of the day.  There was a chance at least to still get a good cup of flavored coffee.  I asked what their flavor of the day brewed coffee was.  Pumpkin Spice!    There was now a full-blown cinnamon flavored coffee pandemic sweeping the downtown coffee shops!  We walked out.

When I was a little girl there was a nursery rhyme that went like this...
 
         What are little boys made of?
         Snips and snails,
         And puppy dog tails,
         That's what little boys are made of.

 
         What are little girls made of?
         Sugar and spice,
         And everything nice,
         That's what little girls are made of.



I was not made of sugar and spice, especially not cinnamon!  And I wasn't feeling all that nice at the moment.  I NEEDED another cup of coffee!  Did that coffee shop not know though medicinal benefits can be had with certain amounts of cinnamon, too much could make you throw up if eaten raw by the teaspoon full?  It just seemed careless to assume that ALL people who like brewed flavored coffee would prefer both their options for the day be a cinnamon flavor.  Really bad marketing on their part.

Pumpkin pie is absolutely delicious.  Cinnamon is a great compliment to that vegetablish dessert.  Molasses cookies are to die for.  The brown cinnamon melds well with molasses and ginger to make a cookie creation that's hard to stop eating just one.  Oatmeal paired with a touch of brown sugar, cinnamon and cut apple chunks satisfies the belly and the soul.  Cinnamon and sugar mixed together and sprinkled on heavily buttered toast is one of our grand kids greatest delights. 

They gave us a choice alright - drink two flavors of cinna-overload or go without.  We went without.