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final

I’m suffering through a bad haircut at the moment. For some reason I’m having trouble finding someone since moving to this area who can cut my hair. I admit I was gifted with a crown full of cowlicks which, if left unmanaged, leave me looking like a sprung basting brush. Up until now this minor flaw has been manageable with the salons I’ve had available without having to consult a specialist. Truth is I’ve always secretly held to the belief when they were assembling me they sewed my hair on upside down because it grows in the opposite direction it logically should. I suppose if this is the worst thing I have to deal with, I’m in pretty good shape.

Over the years I’ve had some disastrous visits to the beauty salon, not always resulting in the touted end result…..beauty. While living in Alabama I discovered a small salon in my neighborhood. Needing a touch up, I called to make an appointment. It was a salon of the old school variety. Ladies in colorful rollers ducked in and out of a bank of hooded dryers lining one wall. The stylist who was to do my hair wore a handkerchief pinned to one lapel with a nametag attached reading “Min_ie”, the second “n” obscured by time she was to tell me when introducing herself. A well-lived in face had me guessing “Min” to be in her early nineties, though it could have been the cigarette dancing on her lower lip as she spoke responsible for the skin damage. Not that I am saying Min was incapable of doing a good job at her age. It was not the number of candles on her cake but her eyesight that concerned me. Her glasses were so thick the magnification could have picked up a mote of dust on the wing of a gnat. I’m just sayin. In spite of the obvious signs to proceed with caution, I found myself suggesting we veer away from my usual ash blonde and introduce some reddish tones to my hair. Sometimes my mouth turns off its receptor to my brain ad acts on its own accord. Either that or it was the lethal cocktail of all the chemical fumes mingling with the oppressive air inside the building. I believe I lost enough body fluid while under the dryer to make a new person.

Red, of all colors in the spectrum, is the hardest to remove once applied so I’m told. The red in my addled mind was a soft rather bronzy tone. The color I ended up with looked like I’d been left to ferment in a vat of port wine. Even my scalp was magenta. OMG. While it was being applied I commented on how dark the color appeared. I was assured once dry it would be much lighter. So not the truth. I drove home with the windows rolled up and a bag over my head. Hoping it wasn’t as bad as the mirror suggested it was, when my husband walked in the house he stood there speechless. Not a man normally at a loss for conversation, I felt this wasn’t a thumbs up. After a few moments of stunned silence he said, “what have you done”? Nope, not a thumbs up. In the end I had to pay to have highlights put it, and even at that it took several months for my hair to be able to be viewed without sunglasses. Sigh.

Another time I was job hunting in Southern California. Wanting to look my best I made an appointment at an upscale salon in the high rent district of the beach city I lived in at the time. Haircuts were pricey there, but I understood they provided wine and snacks so I was on board. Greeted by a perky receptionist I was asked to take a seat while my stylist finished his last client. Shortly, a tall painfully sparse man with black spiky hair and matching fingernails came around the corner. He could have doubled for Johnny Depp in Edward Scissorhands. Without being introduced, I knew he was heading for me. Telling me a had a perfect oval shaped face for short hair, he suggested whittling my do down and shaping it to my head. Okay. I hoped he wasn’t going to use both hands to snip. An hour later with most of my blonde hair decorating the floor by the chair, I found Annie Lennox looking back at me in my reflection. Ach. More wine please. The bill was $80. The saying “you got fleeced”, would fit nicely here.

No hair remaining and a job interview with a Texas based construction company two days away I was concerned. Having a short, blunt hair cut probably wasn’t going to be a selling point with a group of Texans notoriously supporters of big haired women. It’s kind of like going to a rodeo wearing stretch denims and a red felt cowboy hat with large white stitching. Not good. Thinking outside of the box I borrowed a short blond wig from a friend. Actually it looked real enough to be my own hair so I headed to the refinery for my interview and things went swimmingly. Offered the job I was instructed to show up the following Monday to begin what would be a three year stay working in as a Field Buyer. Along with my paperwork I was given a “dress code” which included steel toed boots and a hard hat. Oh-oh. Hard hats and wigs don’t necessary go together. I would assume every time you removed the hat the hair would naturally go right along with it. Soooo, I showed up for work the first day shorn and grinning. My new boss didn’t recognize me at first and after I’d been there a while I took some good natured ribbing about my original look. Thankfully hair has a way of growing out, so all was not lost, and this hair cut will do the same.

Tilapia is a favorite on our dinner table. This is crunchy and yummy served with a bed of Jasmine rice or your favorite side. Yum.

Sindhi Masala Tilapia Dry

4 tilapia fillets
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. tumeric powder
1 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. ground fennel
1 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. black pepper
Oil for frying

Whisk together flour, spices, salt and pepper. Dredge fish in mixture.

Heat 1/4″ of oil over high heat until shimmering. Add fish to pan and brown on both sides until flesh is light and flaky. Serve with lemon wedges.

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2I began adding floor exercises to my walking last week. This came after doing a knee bend to fill the cat’s bowl and realizing unless Rick had come to give me a hand up, I would still be crouching there. Starting slow is important. Rushing into exercise when you are somewhat out of shape leads to injuries. Also, if I kill myself the first time out, there isn’t liable to be a second time. To begin, I decided on leading off with twenty jumping Jacks. When I was in my teens I could do 100 jumping Jacks, play two sets of tennis, and participate in the triathalon and have energy left over to do laps in the pool. Those days, my body would suggest, have passed. Always in P.E. we had to warm up with 30 jumping jacks and other vigorous cardio type exercises before playing whatever sport was on the agenda for the semester. Do they still have P.E? I don’t think in the structured way we had it when I was in school. Fourth or fifth period Physical Education showed on my schedule every day during high school. One of my granddaughters said at their school they have the students walk the track three times a week. Technically, from what I understand, they’re supposed to jog, but no one does. Mostly they tap, tap, tap on their cell phones and visit. That gets my heart going, but I’m sure there’s is just plodding along.

Not being a particularly coordinated being, I won’t say I loved pulling on my gym shorts and heading out to whatever field I was playing on. Baseball, in particular, was my nemesis. Twice I got hit on the head with the ball suffering a concussion both times (this explains a lot), and once I got hit full swing with the bat across the center of my face resulting in a broken nose. The universe was trying to tell me something, and definitely it was not that I was headed for the major leagues. Basketball wasn’t my thing either. A girl about two feet taller than myself stepped soundly on my big toe while making a shot jamming my nail into my skin. Pain shot up through my spine and exited out my mouth. I’m sure that scream was heard by a peasant herding goats somewhere in Sicily. That toenail continues to come and go at whim since that day. Good news though, I didn’t have to play basketball the rest of the semester. In my defense I was fast on my feet and quite good at football. Not a sport much taken up by women back then, but I often played at the local park with friends getting by without embarrassing myself. Swimming and tennis were more my style. I was on the tennis team and took up space at the local courts often during the summer. Another sport of a sort I loved was roller skating. Surprisingly I was quite graceful at it. After showing continued interest my mother purchased skates, a case, and toe stops and I was off and running. For four years I spent weekends skating, then high school came along and new things captured my interest, but many times during adulthood I’ve tied on skates and been surprised that my feet continue to remember the experience.

In elementary school we had recess and lunch to get our energy out. When the bell rang students poured out of classrooms like roaches out of a burning building. A teacher with a whistle around her neck passed out all variety of balls from a shed by the gymnasium. Excitedly we hooked them up to tether ball strings, or played four-square or dodge ball until the bell rang calling us back to class. Hopscotch was another popular pastime during breaks. Girls carried lucky lagers used to pass from one square to the next. I’ll have to check with my grandchildren to see if such things still go on. My guess is not. I think the sound I’m hearing is my bones creaking. Sigh.

I walked with a friend this morning. Several times a month we walk, then go to lunch. Sort of a two steps forward, one step back kind of thing. Smile. She has nine-children. Whew. Definitely needed a hobby when she was younger. I have four, if you count my two step-children, and I do. Her nine children have four children combined, and my four children have nine. My oldest granddaughter, Breanna, or Bre to those of us who hold her dear, was born not long after my forty-second birthday. Being a grandma before you go through menopause is sort of a treat. Lots of needed energy left to draw on to crawl about the floor or go for bike rides. Bre is studying to be a yoga instructor and is a strict vegan. When we are together meat is not a subject I throw down on the table, if you will. If I do she is liable to ask me if I pictured the cow’s face when adding catsup to my burger. Since hamburgers are up there with the manna of the gods for me, I prefer to keep meat and vegan separate when enjoying my time with her. Sometimes it is best to agree to disagree. I respect her views on making a better and healthier earth, however. Even if I don’t choose to follow the same path where my food is concerned, I can admire and support her passion for standing up for what she believes in. One thing I will say about processed food is that it most likely is doing us in, but other than limiting my diet to nuts and berries, I don’t for the life of me know what to do about it.

While living in the south I have to admit I don’t believe I met any vegans, not even any looser vegetarians. Meat was pretty much a mainstay on tables where I lived while there and I wouldn’t suggest bringing up the “have you pictured the animal’s face” query to your host before sitting down to dinner. Number one most likely he has seen the animal’s face, and number two you may find yourself eating a bowl of raw corn out behind the barn.

Last night was meatloaf night at our house. I have made so many variations of meatloaf over the years it always surprises me when a new one crops up that I can file in the “keep” file.

Mediterranean Meatloaf

1 1/2 lb. ground beef
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 cup finely crushed Saltine crackers
1 onion, chopped fine
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp. coriander
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. ground oregano
1 small can chopped black olives, drained
8 oz. cherry tomatoes, halved
1 medium zucchini
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tbsp. olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix all ingredients together well. Spray loaf pan with cooking spray. Put meat into bottom of pan.

Mix together cherry tomatoes, zucchini, garlic and olive oil. Spoon over meat. Cook for 1 hr. and 20 mins. Drain if necessary.

1

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final
I’ve been traveling this week. Yesterday I spent the day with my daughter in her day care. For me this is always a treat, but I can imagine on a day to day basis it must take a great deal of patience and dedication to keep up with the six little pirates she cares for every day. The baby of the group, just a year, is so cute. It would be difficult to be mad at her. Funny isn’t it how babies of all species are precious no matter how cute or not cute they might be considered. To a mother wart hog, I’m sure her little one is the pick of the litter, so to speak. Aside from the children present, three dogs make their home at my daughter’s along with one huge orange tabby cat answering to Cassanova. Cassanova weighs in at twenty-five pounds. Pita, the largest of the three canines is a golden lab. Ebony, a chow mix and the middle in size of the group, is a sweet animal suffering from dementia. Jasper rounds out the trio, a small hyper hybrid who requires a daily dose of Prozac to keep him from dancing on the ceiling. The noise level, as you might imagine, can keep your ears ringing.

My mother has announced she is lonely for animal companionship since her cat, aptly named Susie, passed away. The thought of finding another feline with a similar disposition may be a difficult task. The two of them cohabited well together. As with humans, simply getting another like being doesn’t often fill the void of the one no longer there. However, with so many cats needing homes in shelters, I will endeavor to find the perfect match adding this to my growing summer list of to-do’s scrawled across my calendar.

Susie, a rather self-centered cat I must say, whiled away her days seated atop her “princess pillow” waiting for her minions to do for her. In her defense, she never wasted enough energy to scratch the furniture or jump up on things, preferring to keep her fat and sassy behind as inactive as possible. When moved to ask for treats she truly could be the cutest animal on earth, rolling about the floor or sitting up on her hind legs looking beseechingly at the Kitty Treats bag sitting on the counter. I encouraged my mother not to overdo the treats as they are fattening and most certainly Miss Susie needed no help in that area. Ah well. She lived out the last days of her life in the lap of luxury and passed on at the ripe old age for a cat, sixteen, so I guess it wasn’t all bad.

Kids are looking towards school again. How quickly this summer is flying by. I can’t keep up. I have gifts I’m working on that sit half made for parties I’ve been asked to attend for which I haven’t shopped for anything to wear. Ach. This morning I heard that Target has come up with a terrific marketing strategy for making parent’s jobs easier when shopping for school supplies. You enter your kid’s school and class schedule and they come up with a supply list. Somebody was wearing their Tom Terrific thinking cap in their marketing department.

Looking back with my kids, school shopping was always tinged with angst. New clothes needed to be bought, shoes purchased, along with the basic things a kid needs like backpacks, paper, writing utensils and notebooks. My son was always involved in one sport or another so this usually meant hitting Big 5 or one of the other sports suppliers for cleats and whatever else he needed. Cleats cost me a fortune over the years. Naturally you can’t wear soccer cleats when playing football or baseball cleats for soccer. He would end up with a variety of different types of cleats sitting in his closet which he would grow out of before the next school year rolled around.

As for my daughter her interest lay more in equestrian lessons or ice skating. I guess I should consider myself lucky. These days my son pays something like $2,500 for his thirteen year old to participate in a seasonal volley ball league. Whew. That would have been out of my league, pardon the pun, for sure. My grandchildren are involved in so many activities. This is good for them, I believe. Busy hands, etc. When my daughter’s girls were younger she participated in a pioneer camp of some sort for two years in a row. The idea was for the children to learn how things used to be done before we had the tools available to them now. The parents were asked to dress in pioneer garb and live like pioneers for the three days they attended. From what I hear it was hot and wearing those hats that tie under the chin tantamount to water boarding. Sounds like a fun time.

I went to Girl Scout camp when I was little. Two weeks of glorious water and sun was how my parents sold it to me. For them I would suppose it was a kid-free zone for fourteen days. For me it was a ride up a mountain in a rickety old bus singing camp songs for three hours. At first we were all so homesick everybody laid on their beds writing letters to our parents begging to come home. Soon, however, we were seduced by the glorious lake beyond our tents, the canoes available for our use, endless craft classes and nature walks, and the surprisingly excellent food served in the camp cafeteria. As my mother always says, I remember everything as to how it relates to my appetite. In hindsight it was one of the highlights of my transition from elementary to middle school.

At any rate. Soup is served at our house no matter what the weather. Having a lot of summer squash on hand, this was a nice way to put it to work.

Summer Squash and Orzo Soup

2 Italian sausages, cooked and sliced diagonally
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 cups beef broth
1 14 1/2 oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
1 tsp. dried basil
1 Tbsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 large yellow summer squash, sliced 1/2″
1/2 large zucchini, sliced 1/2″
1/2 cup orzo pasta
Parmesan cheese

Cook sausage in bottom of stockpot. Remove and slice. Add olive oil to same pot and heat over med.-low heat. Add onion and green pepper and cook 6 mins. or until vegetables are tender. Add garlic and cook for 1 min.

Add broth, tomatoes, basil, parsley, salt, pepper, and pepper flakes. Bring to boil. Add squash and orzo and continue cooking for 25 mins.

Serve topped with cheese if desired.

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final
There’s a lot of talk in our area at the moment about texting and driving. Californians, it seems, particularly the 18-24 age group, are still doing it in record numbers. Even though it is a ticketing offense if caught doing it while behind the wheel, it doesn’t seem to be doing much to deter people from continuing the practice. A man and his eighteen year old son were bicycling in Sacramento over the weekend when hit by a thirty-three year old man distracted by his latest text message. The father was killed and the boy is now fighting for his life. Wow. Really? On some level I could understand if the text read, “Your family is being held captive. Get me a helicopter and a million dollars in an hour or their lives will be in danger”. The reality is, the text he looked down for was probably something far less earth shattering and inane. Couldn’t these social messages wait until you’re parked to read them? My daughter and her family enjoy bike riding on the weekends. Even though they have helmets and are careful I worry a lot about them when they’re on the roads. Truth is they are one unread text away from harm, and that makes me nervous. People charged with driving public transportation are even getting tagged for this, causing accidents because their eyes are distracted instead of focusing on the road. Whew.

Every day I see drivers pass me looking down at their cell phones. Yesterday we were nearly sideswiped by a guy not paying attention who kept coming into our lane. If not reading a text they’re talking with the phone to their ear. For the man who hit these two people, I’m sure this unguarded moment is something he’ll carry with him the rest of his life. I can’t imagine if you asked him, he would feel whatever was in that message was worth the price paid to read it.

Patti Lupone, an actress presently appearing on Broadway, took a stand last week by stealing, if you will, a cellphone from an audience member texting during the show. Really it is rude. Aside from the light emitted, the constant keying it is annoying to people around you. When interviewed she asked, “why do these people buy a ticket”? No kidding. Tickets on Broadway aren’t cheap. Why would you sit and look at your phone during the entire show? I don’t get it.

Not long ago we went to the movies. Two kids in the seats several rows in front of us played video games during the entire first half of the movie. Several times they were asked by people in adjacent seats to stop. Finally, an employee had to come and ask them to leave. Don’t misunderstand me, I have no gripe with cell phones, I have one. However, as with everything there are limits and manners involved with using one. As I used to assure my children, not everyone in the world was put here for the sole purpose of making sure your day goes well.

Sometimes it is good to be disconnected, even not to be entertained. Babies left to their devices, no binky stuck in their mouths to make things better, or no adults clucking and cooing after their every need, will use their minds to entertain themselves. Fingers and toes will become fascinating, the mobile spinning over their crib, or the glistening lights on the ceiling made by the sun’s reflection on the pool water outside the window will become more interesting. Learning to soothe oneself without benefit of outside stimulus is an early lesson and, I believe, an important one.

A friend of mine recently went to a basketball game. He won the tickets on a radio station, but the face value of the ticket was $250.00. People all around him, so he tells it, spent most of the game taking pictures on their cell phones rather than actually watching the game in progress. Now I love to take pictures, as would be obvious by how many of them are peppered throughout this blog. However, the fact remains no photograph of a cup of steaming hot freshly brewed coffee will ever equal the actual aroma emanating from the pot while its brewing. Nor will a picture ever mirror the taste of that first sip. As lovely as a picture might be of your child it will never be as good as the warmth of their small hand tucked in yours, or the “feel” of their small body in your arms as you carry them up to bed. Living virtually, in this humble bloggers opinion, will never surpass actually going through the visceral process yourself.

They were discussing on a talk show the amount of screen time children are logging, some upwards of six hours a day. A psychiatrist speaking to the subject said they are actually considering classifying extreme dependence on devices a mental illness. He suggested putting a power bar in a central room in your house. Before going to bed each person, including the adults, must plug in their devices before turning in for the night. Having the phone in the bedroom while you sleep or whatever else you might be up to in there is distracting and the time after you retire should be time to rest your brain not offer it stimulation.

For me, I think we need to be aware of how much time this is stealing from our lives every day. I can’t imagine it’s going to get better as devices morph and provide more sophisticated options. What you do with your time is your business certainly, but when you are on the road and doing behaviors endangering others around you it becomes the business of the people who’s lives you potentially may affect.

On a lighter subject, these potatoes are an excellent side with a rich Mediterranean flavor. Yum.

Mediterranean Potatoe

5 medium sized red potatoes
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 15 1/2 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp. parsley, chopped
1 small can of drained black olives
1/2 cup Feta cheese

Cover potatoes in water in large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover and lower heat to med.-low. Simmer until nearly tender. Remove from water and cut in quarters.

Heat oil in large skillet over med. heat. Add onion and green pepper to pan and cook about 6 mins. Add garlic and cook an additional minute.

Add tomatoes, tomato paste and seasonings to pan. Simmer covered for 6 mins. stirring frequently. Add cooked potatoes and olives and stir well to coat. Continue cooking another 10 mins.

Remove from heat and stir in Feta cheese. Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6

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1
The next few months are going to get busy for me. There are some milestone birthday parties coming up, family is visiting, and we are visiting family. Summers seem to be the time to plan all the fun events leaving Christmas and Thanksgiving to keep winter moving along briskly when we’re stuck inside.

This past week we’ve been dealing with getting our deck refinished. As usual things didn’t choose to move along without a wrinkle at our house. I suppose I might get bored if a project went off without a hitch, and what would I write about?

The job itself was to be done in two increments. Truth is we really debated about doing it at all because in order to refinish the wood a power wash had to be done and pre-treatment laid down. With water such a precious commodity in our state at the moment, it was up for debate for a while. However, if we didn’t do something our deck was likely to deteriorate beyond the point of no return during the winter the months so the decision was made to go ahead. Damn the torpedoes, and all. This house has a deck on each floor. Along with resurfacing the decks themselves, the paint has worn off the railings. We added this to the job description.

When we first looked at the house all of this seemed to be pristine. That was two years ago. My assumption, since it’s headed down the slope so quickly, is the previous owners did a band-aid paint job to help the house’s outward appearance prior to putting it on the market. I get it. I don’t particularly applaud it, but on some level I understand the theory.

The two men who power washed the wood were very helpful. The procedure ate up most of a day with two of them working concurrently, and racked up a nice piece of change on their behalf when the bill came in. Because our son was going to do the actual staining, before leaving the owner of the business brought us up to speed on how to correctly apply the stain once purchased. It was a long explanation. There was against the grain this, and back wash that, and seamless over here. I just nodded my head like a bobble head doll hoping he’d come to an end before I got a headache. Now, if you combined Rick and my knowledge of such things, multiplied the combined information by 10,000 you would still only gain enough facts to confidently pick out a decent paint brush. Reviewing the extensive notes left me I gathered we needed water based paint, brushes, a roller, sponge brushes, paint trays, drop cloths, and good luck. Some of these we were able to pick up at the local Dollar Store, which was a bonus. They were out of luck, unfortunately, but asked us to check back on Tuesday when their trucks come in it might come in then. After measuring the square footage it was determined we needed two gallons of stain at about $47.00 a gallon. At the paint store the employee behind the counter confirmed this amount of stain should do the trick nicely. I handed him my notes with our color choice as indicated and he went off to mix the stain. Life was good.

Saturday the painting began upstairs. We decided to leave the walkway directly outside the door for last as the stain has to cure for three hours. If it was applied at night there would be no issues coming in and out while it dried. Easy peasey. The color we chose was a silver tone, semi transparent. This, at least was the color on the paper I handed the store employee. The color we came home with was a semi-solid platinum gray which was like comparing orange to red, close but no cigar. Please take notes, there will be a test on this later. Nonetheless, the color sort of grew on us as it dried, and we came to like it. That being said all but one long walkway outside the door got done and two-thirds of the lower deck when we ran out of paint. Everybody but me was decorated with it, perhaps that’s where the extra half can went, so I was elected to go back to the paint store and get an extra gallon. Okie.

Back again at the counter in the paint store I requested the additional can of stain. I explained the original color had been off but we were staying with it so please make sure this one matched the other two. Off he went to mix the paint returning shortly with no can. “Sorry”, he said”, we’re out of the base for that paint. It is special order so will be in next week.” Hello? This was not news I wanted to pass on to Rick who was already well over this project and not going to happy that we were going to look like a zebra upstairs and down. Not only that but you only have a certain grace period after the pre-treatment is done to get the sealant on. Sigh. I was good until he said perhaps I should have gotten three gallons to begin with. Now, they were the ones who said two would be more than enough if you remember, and if secondly if they didn’t have the base now, they probably didn’t have the base three hours ago when I bought the first two cans.

So our flower pots remain in the driveway waiting for the deer to stop by for lunch and our deck remains half in and half out. Hopefully by next week it will be gorgeous and all frustration tossed away with the gooey tarp.

These are flavorful and yummy. Be sure to wrap them well around the skewers.

Middle Eastern Kibbeh Kebabs

1/2 lb. ground beef
3/4 lb. ground lamb
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 onions, grated and dried
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. hot paprika
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. ground tumeric
1/4 tsp. ground ginger

Olive oil for basting

Bamboo skewers soaked in water for 1/2 hour
Pita bread

Grate onions. Place in collander for 2 hrs. to drain liquid. Squeeze and put in large mixing bowl. Add meats.

Mix ground meats well with spices. Place in refrigerator for 1 hr. Soak bamboo skewers for 1/2 hr.

Wrap small amounts of meat in flat log shaped configurations around center of skewers, molding to fit tightly.

Preheat grill for medium heat being sure to oil grates.

Brush kebabs with olive oil. Cook over medium heat, turning occasionally until cooked to desired taste (about 6 mins.).

Serve with pita bread and sour cream sauce

Sour Cream Sauce

1 1/2 cups sour cream
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. Sriracha sauce (more or less depending on taste)
2 Tbsp. hot salsa chunky
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix together and allow to sit in refrigerator 1/2 hr. before serving

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final

Insurance is an interesting commodity. A business where you purchase something you’re not supposed to use. In particular, car insurance irritates the life out of me. You might go along for years with no accidents or dings on your record, then someone slams into you. Once the damage is reported and repaired you are rewarded by an increase in your monthly premium or could lose your insurance entirely. The same is true of homeowner’s insurance. It’s nice to know you have it but you really don’t want to put a claim in unless you want to pay more for the privilege of doing so. What a convoluted business practice. Yes?

Another thing that I find a bit confusing are time shares. You pay to own something technically you own but can only use for two weeks out of the year. Hmmmm. These are things on ponder on lazy days like today when the only thing moving are the white puffy clouds passing by the window.

I enjoy these marketing strategies. Perhaps I’ll open a car lot. You pick out a car you like. In turn, I will sell to you with the stipulation you can only drive it two weeks out of any given year. The rest of the time the other “shareholders” will be using it. Naturally, I will receive a nice commission for setting you up with such a juicy deal.

While on the griping dais, I’m incredibly tired of getting all these robo calls. Kudos for the woman who actually sued and was awarded $1,500 per call for each annoying interruption in her life. Taking all the right steps initially she first asked not to be called again, then reported them, even filed suit, and yet the calls continued to roll in. Ours come in at the same time every day, usually as we take our seats for dinner. Blocking doesn’t work because they switch numbers and the game is on again. There should be better regulation, and hopefully will be, now that someone has slammed her foot down and said “NO MORE”. One voice really does make a difference. My mother gets a ridiculous volume of these calls asking for money. She called the other day to tell me a man she could barely understand called to tell her she’d won two and a half million dollars. That is good news. Now my deck can get done and I can sit on the beach sucking on straws. Fortunately, she’s savvy enough to know these are not real. They prey on the elderly or vulnerable people among us like sharks in a heavy swimming area. Actually the sharks are doing what’s expected of sharks, it’s the people I find disgusting.

To add to the mix of my busy week my computer seems to be feeling the tension as well. Several times I’ve had to reinstall programs to get them to kick back into action. Apparently I’m in good company as I heard both the stock exchange and United Airlines suffered computer incidents resulting in complete shutdown of their functionality and angry customers asking what the hell happened. It is scary to realize how dependent we are on our computer systems to keep us moving forward. Our Achilles heel, if you will, in a way. Such a vulnerable spot for people intent on causing mischief or worse.

Another interesting piece of news surfaced this morning. An airline seat manufacturer has actually come up with a way to cram more passengers in coach, or steerage as I’ve come to affectionately think of it. Amazing. Already you’re practically perched in your neighbor’s lap! The new suggestion verges on disturbing. The drawing shows a seat facing forward with a seat directly next to it facing backward. This would mean sitting facing a stranger possibly for five hours or much longer. How uncomfortable. Why not just stack us like plastic lawn chairs on the patio? It’s not like we needs our hands free to eat.  Also it’s come to light the airlines are in collusion with one another to keep the price for a seat on the rise. For all the extra cost to fly there is no money left over apparently to pay anyone to guard our luggage. They’ve laid off luggage “guards” to save money so they can add to that huge profit margin they keep racking up. Crooks are now waiting at the baggage kiosks to help themselves to whatever unchaperoned bags happen to rotate by. Suggestions from the airlines regarding this are that passengers not stop to use the restroom on the way to their way to the baggage area. This also may not be a viable plan. Somewhere I read they’re thinking of downsizing the restrooms on planes as well. Should this be the case since you cannot turn around in the ones in use presently, using the downsized restrooms may well only be an option for anyone under eighty pounds. I swear I’m taking the train from now on.

I’ve got the vacation blues. Really want to head out to a warm beach and a couple of days of floating in the ocean followed by margaritas at a busy beach bistro. Instead, we’re having our deck refinished. Sigh. It’s good, but not nearly as good as feeling the sand squishing through my toes, not nearly as good. Making the deck decision really wasn’t ours, nature had taken its toll and either we refurbished our deck or walked of our front door into thin air. As we basically live on the second story of our house the thought of either repelling to the driveway or installing a zip line didn’t seem doable.

So, having relieved myself of my frustrations I know feel light and refreshed while you probably are wondering why you read this darn blog.

I do a lot of spinach variations but this is my favorite. My family loves the fried cake on the side. I use this fried cake idea for dessert with berries and ice cream or any fresh fruit and whipped cream. Yum, and yum.

Fruit and Spinach Salad with Fried Cake

Fruit and Spinach Salad

l 5 oz. pkg. baby spinach
10 ripe strawberries, sliced
1/3 cup fresh blueberries
1 6 oz. pkg. fresh raspberries
1 small can mandarin oranges, drained
1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 small red onion, sliced thin

Honey Dressing

5 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp. water
3 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. beef boullion granules
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together dressing ingredients and toss with salad.

Fried Cake

6 pieces golden loaf cake (purchased or homemade)
2 Tbsp. butter

In large skillet melt butter over med.-high heat. Add cake to pan and brown on both sides.

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1

Curiosity, one of my favorite traits. A person imbued with curiosity is not satisfied with seeing the hills beyond their fence but has an active enough mind to wander to the top of the hills to see what lies beyond their line of vision. If not for man’s innate curiosity about the world around him, we would still be eating raw meat by the light of the moon rather than landing on it in a spacecraft.

Curious people are courageous, I believe. They are two brothers standing in a barn in rural Indiana constructing wings on a flying machine. Curious people mixed flour and sugar in a bowl with eggs and other ingredients and came up with cake, or experimented with fermenting potatoes, corn or barley and created the main ingredient in martini, vodka. Good going, BTW, well worth the effort there. Whoever thought adding the olive was onto something as well.

These days information is as easy as the flick of a wrist. Searching, unlike in previous decades, takes little effort to achieve your goal. Perhaps the effort it takes, is what makes it worth finding?

Curious people allow us the luxury of getting from point A to point B in the comfort of a vehicle. Without their ingenuity we would still be riding on the back of a horse. Without someone’s foresight on testing the waters to see if horse was up for it, would we still using our feet for our sole (if you will) method of transportation?

For me curiosity keeps me interested in my world. Trying new things, or even trying new methods of doing old things. I read somewhere we should change up our routine regularly. Take a different route to work, part your hair on a different side, don’t put your makeup on in exactly the same order every day. Simple things, that it appears shake up our world’s a little bit. On the subject of makeup to digress for a moment, what is up with eyebrows on women lately? They are beginning to look a bit like porcelain dolls. I notice it in the stores, on TV, in magazines. It looks to me, though I’m no expert, that the actual brows are shaved and either a permanent or temporary replacement drawn on. I’m all for experimenting but this smacks of those people who actually have surgery to change their features into Barbie and makes me feel a little wiggy when looking at it. I’m just sayin.

Next week I’m auditing a couple of art classes. I haven’t been flexing my artistic muscle lately and I miss it. Graphics are still coming off of my computer but I mean hands on, pencil in my hand, drawing. This, I have been neglecting. Certainly I am not the second coming of Michelangelo by any means. I can recreate an object to the point where you would be able to look at it and identify “apple”. Hopefully, I have not drawn an orange when you do so, but I believe I have ascended to at least this point after all these years. Faces always have eluded me. Capturing the expressions and nuances of the human form is more difficult to me than say, a sleeping kitty or a bowl of fruit.

Since I was small I’ve been happiest when armed with a pen and paper, whether I chose to create an image with words or artistically. Perhaps it’s growing up an only child on the arm of the Atlantic in Nova Scotia. With a lot of time on my hands during the cold winters, and no siblings to steal any of it, I had to do something to keep the hours moving at a tolerable rate. As a teen I kept a diary, chronicling my seemingly endless attraction to the opposite sex as well as the songs I liked, dreams I had, the events of my day, and my parents, who I perceived at the time as one step above the amoeba. I wonder if diaries still exist in the marketplace? I would imagine they do. Blogs, basically, are virtual diaries I would guess.

Today I am working on tote bag designs. With the push to reusable bags in the stores, totes are a desirable items and I have some ideas I think are new and fresh. Several times I have taken on running small businesses of a crafty nature. Once I sold greeting cards, tee shirts, aprons, and the like at craft shows. I had a portable stand, basically a small shop with hinges that I dragged from one art and wine show to another in the Bay Area over a three year period. What an interesting time that was, if one where I got little sleep. During the day I worked as an administrative assistant and late into the night I labeled printed items and labored over my sewing machine. People at the shows were an ecclectic mix ranging from jewelry designers to oil painters. I had my aura read, ate many corn dogs, and met some colorful temporary friends and made some lifelong ones. Another time I took up face painting at fairs. This was fun. The children, in particular, were so delighted with their transformations into colorful butterflies or abstract zebras. As with many things it ran it’s course and I took with me some interesting experiences and some new insights. Never was I going to get that place on the shore with my earnings, but the joy I got from participating was well worth the effort.

So, I am off to dust off my sewing machine. I shall leave you with this recipe for sticky and delicious pulled pork. I love the yogurt slaw with crunchy bits of almond. Yum.

Crockpot Chipotle Pulled Pork

1 2 1/2 lb. pork shoulder
1 large onion, sliced thin
1 chiptole pepper in adobo sauce, chopped fine
2 cups catsup
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
3 Tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. molasses
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. hot paprika
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
8 small hamburger buns or large dinner rolls

Spray 6 quart crockpot with cooking spray. Place sliced onion on bottom. Place pork shoulder on top of onion. Mix all remaining ingredients but hamburger buns in large bowl and mix well. Pour over top. Cook on low for 9 hrs., stirring once. Remove meat from sauce and shred with forks. Return to pot and continue cooking on low for 1 hr.

Place buns cut side down on dry skillet. Heat on high until browned. Place serving of pulled pork on bottom bun and top with slaw.

Yogurt Slaw

1/2 head cabbage, chopped
3 green onions, chopped (white and some green)
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1 carrot, shredded
1 stalk celery, chopped

Place in mixing bowl. Mix in dressing and refrigerate for 1 hr. before serving.

Dressing

2/3 cup plain yogurt
1 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. salt

Whisk together all ingredients. Add additional salt and pepper if needed.

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