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final
California is getting to be a mighty expensive place to live. Yesterday I actually purchased a chuck roast and a dozen eggs and parted with $26.00 and change. When the butcher informed me that the 3 1/2 lb. roast would come to nearly $20.00, I asked if a vehicle came with it. I have to give it to him he laughed. Saying the dozen eggs in my cart were going to be nearly $5.00, he said, “well you voted for it”. What? What did I vote for? I’m Canadian, so I’m fairly sure I didn’t vote for it. However, I would be interested to understand why my eggs are now costing what my chuck roast used to and my chuck roast what I used to buy two filet mignons for. On to the next market where I usually purchase the bulk of my groceries. After an hour of poking and prodding and satisfying a handful of coupons I approached the checker. In my basket were two packages of pork chops, several types of cheese, 1/2 lb. of lunch meat, a loaf of bread, some soup makings, a few items from the produce department, a bunch of bananas and several frozen food items. The total was $118.00.

Curious about Proposition 2, once my groceries were put away I turned on my laptop. Sure enough it was overwhelmingly passed by California voters and had specifically to do with giving chickens plenty of leg room (or drumsticks in this case) in their cages. The butcher said it also required the fowl have toys. What that means I did not get answered in the piece I read about the bill. Bill, legs, the whole thing is custom made for chickens. At any rate it’s sort of a free range affair. Hence the hike in egg prices. I’m all for the chickens being comfortable but I hope this doesn’t mean spas and workout areas. Some of the birds I’ve gotten lately are already a bit tough.

A friend of mine called over the weekend. She recently downsized to a one bedroom apartment in Santa Rosa. Santa Rosa is the county seat of Sonoma County, a lovely place to be about an hour north of San Francisco. A one bedroom is her area is going for a minimum of $1,750 for a decent location. A single lady approaching retirement age, she told me she is looking at actually retiring about the same time the Neptune Society stops by to pick her up for her final flight over the Pacific. Even with her savings and Social Security if she wishes to enjoy her golden years work will definitely be included in the package.

If you drove the 55 miles south and decided to break camp in San Francisco the price for housing is much dearer. One bedroom apartments are leasing for around $3,000 and if you need that second bedroom add another $1,000 to the pot. Whew.

Minimum wage workers can’t make it in today’s economy. The problem with this is that as soon as they raise the hourly rate to help minimum wage workers survive prices go up accordingly making them once again unable to afford what they need. I’ve noticed too there are a lot of silver haired workers in fast food restaurants lately and other typically minimum wage careers. With baby boomers cresting the hill older workers are moving into these lower paying positions. People are living longer, and working far past their retirement age. While in a chain department store yesterday, I was waited on by a lady I’m sure was well into her 80’s. I think that’s great, mind you. People with nothing to keep them busy often fall into disrepair, but I can see where young people might finding it more difficult to find these positions.

Millennials, the 16-34 group are not purchasing homes or cars at the rate the previous generation did. Some of this sluggish purchasing is due, according to those who watch such things, to delayed maturation. Growing up seems to be less attractive than when I was trying to figure out how to do it.  Certainly it is a more costly proposition. School loans are prohibitive, leaving kids in massive debt once they surface their college years. Housing, as mentioned before, leaves options such a group housing often the only alternative. Looking back I’m glad I achieved adulthood when I did. One granddaughter of mine has declared she plans on still living at home at forty. From what I’ve observed this may not be far beyond the realm of possibility. A beautiful young woman loaded with potential, the world outside of the front door seems too big for her at the moment. I hope this changes soon as time has a way of passing by before you’ve noticed it in life.

At any rate, I’m getting ready to put my $20.00 chuck roast in the pot along with the $12 and carrots. Once done, I’ll make a couple of $2 eggs and a piece of toast. McDonald’s is starting to look pretty good right now.

I love, love this cheese sauce, and not just on broccoli. Sometimes I make it and dip garlic bread in it. Yum.

Broccoli With Beer Cheese Sauce

1 lb. broccoli florets
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Garlic salt
1 Tbsp. butter
Salt and pepper

Place florets in steamer. Sprinkle with lemon juice and garlic salt. Cook until tender. Drain. Toss with butter and season with salt and pepper.

Sauce

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cup chicken broth
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup beer
1 cup Mexican style cheese, shredded
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
Salt and pepper
1/2 Tbsp. lemon zest
Paprika

Melt butter over medium heat in saucepan. Whisk in flour. Cook for 1 min. Whisk in broth and milk. Cook and stir until mixture is thick and smooth. Whisk in beer and cheese. Stir until cheese is melted. Add Worcestershire sauce and mustard. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking for 10 mins. Remove from heat.

Serve over Broccoli sprinkled with lemon zest and paprika.

final2
With an outbreak of measles dominating the news lately, there’s a lot of talk flying around about vaccinating children. As a youngster the available vaccines were limited to polio (thankfully), DPT (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis), and smallpox. Measles came along later, after I’d already suffered through it. As with most of my peers I survived the three most popular childhood diseases of the time, measles, chicken pox, and mumps. Of the three I probably enjoyed mumps the least. This, I suppose would like be saying you preferred an appendectomy to brain surgery. Mumps had my glands swelling up until I looked like an ardent squirrel tucking away nuts for winter. With the other two I simply scratched my way to health. Clawing my body to such an extent my grandmother put my mittens over my hands to prevent scarring. Still, I managed to wriggle out when miserable leaving several small poc marks above my left eyebrow as a memory of the ordeal.

Both my children were required to have all the needed vaccinations, by then including measles, prior to entering school. Moving around a fair bit in their formative years, I literally carried a loose leaf notebook which I referred to as their “papers” containing all required documentation allowing them entrance into pre-school first and all those following. My AKC Shih Tzu had less papers to her credit.

My brother-in-law from my first marriage actually contracted polio, or “infantile paralysis” as a child. For those of you youngsters unfamiliar with the disease, it is viral, usually entering through the mouth then targeting the nervous system. Back in the day when it reached epidemic numbers many children and adults were left crippled after coming down with it. The accepted treatment with no vaccine available were braces for the affected limbs. However, a woman by the name of Sister Kenny introduced an alternative treatment to the U.S. eschewing bracing the legs for a less conventional form of therapy involving massaging the affected muscles, a healthy diet, and retraining. Told her son would most likely be crippled my mother-in-law took him to Sister Kenny and if you looked at him today you would never know he had ever had the dreaded disease. Now, of course, there is an excellent vaccine created by Dr. Jonas Salk that successfully keeps polio at bay in the United States.Polio remains endemic in three countries – Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.

I have to admit I wonder why if a vaccination is available that will keep your child safe, you would choose not to allow him or her to have it. I do understand we are bombarded with side effect paperwork and articles with medications, but if I did not take any medication coming with frightening literature attached I probably would long ago have succumbed to pneumonia or massive infection. This is not in any way saying we should ignore such startling information,  because at times the cure can be more intimidating than the disease, just not be so cautious as to stand in the way of our well being or our children’s well being.

Another thing to consider is those coming in contact with your unvaccinated children. These kids are unable to defend themselves if too young to be vaccinated thus very vulnerable to whatever the unvaccinated child might be carrying. In essence the decision you make could impact many others around you.

You can’t protect your children from many things today no matter what precautions are in place. Helmets are available for everything imaginable. Last time I was in a toy store I was amazed at the armor for sale to accompany bikes, skateboards, roller skates, in-line skates, sleds, and toboggans. Pretty soon dolls will come with protective gear. If we purchase all this and still they get hurt, why not opt for a tetanus shot which virtually insures they will be protected at least from lock jaw? Forgive my confusion.

At seven, my son presented with a rash. Along with this lumpy bumpy skin, he had a fever, and a tongue that looked as if he’d recently enjoyed a raspberry lollipop. At first I thought he had measles, although he’d completed all his shots. Whisking him off to the emergency room, as it was a Sunday, I was ushered into an examination room to wait the appropriate three hours to be seen. A doctor came in surprisingly quickly to examine my boy. After some poking and prodding he left and came back in short order with two more doctors now wearing masks. Hmmm. Discussion ensued, and my uncharacteristically quiet youngster’s eyes grew bigger with the entrance of each new member of the hospital staff into the room.  Within an hour we had a quorum. Diagnosis, scarlet fever. At one time this could have been a death sentence. Fortunately, with penicillin it is treated much like strep throat. Highly contagious we were sent home and instructed to remain on “house arrest” for four days until the rash subsided and the contagious phase of the disease had passed.

Our family is big on doing things other families only think of for the most part. We get in odd situations, contract weird maladies, and in general live life outside of the box. My son also had shingles at the age of nine. Who knew? In children the disease manifests the ugly skin rash, but bypasses the pain involved in older patients. If not for the red army of bumps marching across his lower back I would not have known he had the disease at all.

We humans are such highly delicate mechanisms. Our bodies amazing on the worst of days with their intricately intertwined systems and largely misunderstood thinking processes all continuing to be examined while we’re alive and often after we’re gone in an effort to understand what makes us work.

This chile verde got an A+ from my chile verde in-house critic. Good and fairly easy to throw together. As always if you wish to beat the heat, make the Rotel tomatoes regular diced.

Crock Pot Chile Verde

8 flour tortillas
4 lbs. boneless pork loin, trimmed and cut into cubes

Seasoning Mix

2 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. oregano
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin

Mix spices together well. Place meat in large resealable bag. Add spices and squeeze and shake to distribute. Place in refrigerator for 1 hr.

Spray 6 quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Add meat to bottom. Combine sauce ingredients and pour over top. Cook on high for 9 hrs. Serve with flour tortillas, rice and refried beans if desired.

Sauce

1 Tbsp. chicken bouillon
1 cup water
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. oregano
1 28 oz.can green enchilada sauce
2 12 oz. jars salsa verde
1 10 oz. can Rotel tomatoes with Lime Juice and Cilantro
1 14 1/2 oz. can diced tomatoes

3

As a kid I loved fly, actually looking forward to the hustle and bustle of the airport and soaring high above the clouds in the friendly skies. That was back when airlines spent time wooing potential customers with acceptable food choices, free drinks, blankets and pillows, and even pleasant flight attendants walking through the aisles with offers of magazines or newspapers to pass the time. Anymore you’re lucky if you have enough room to squeeze into your seat if in coach, and will find not so much as a peanut tossed in your direction while in flight.

Aside from the amenities virtually disappearing of the map, it seems every time I turn on the news there’s another airline related disaster or near miss to report. This morning was really the kicker. A pilot en route to Las Vegas found himself locked out of the cockpit after taking a bathroom break. Really? I can’t think of anything that would get my sweat glands operational more quickly than finding the pilot seated next to me fastening his seat belt on a commercial flight. Las Vegas is often a rough place to land prone to desert crosswinds, but without the pilot at the controls, I believe I’d be looking around for a parachute and revisiting my connection with my maker.

Even prior to all the recent airline incidents I had become a white knuckle flyer as the years passed. As a twenty-something I applied, and was accepted for a position as a flight attendant. Unfortunately my husband wasn’t as enthusiastic as I about the prospect of me flying about without him so in the end I settled down and raised a family instead. Although not a fan of my aviation career, he eventually chose one of his own in a way. After joining a friend in his private plane on a trip from L.A. to San Diego he was severely bitten by the flying bug. Small planes are not my thing. Hanging precariously from a propeller high above the ground, placing my life in the hands of someone who may or may not know what they are doing does not bode well for my lunch passing pleasantly through my digestive system.

Before I knew it flying school brochures were turning up on the coffee table, discussions about saving for a plane were initiated, and after several months a deal was in place for flying lessons to obtain his private pilot’s license. Ach. Before the ink was dry I made it clear I did not share his enthusiasm about this venture. Not that I didn’t support his choice to learn to fly, I did. I did want it clear I did not have any intention of making such a lofty goal for myself, if you will. Love, I know means never having to say “I’m sorry”. However, in this case, “I’m sorry”.

Secretly I hoped this new found passion was but a passing fancy. Similar to his loss of luster for the Harley Davidson with the for sale sign in our garage, the flat-bottomed metal boat in our back yard yet to be repaired, and the in-line skates gathering dust in the back of the closet. He surprised me, however, persisting in his lessons. Each Saturday I dropped him off at the local airport and watched as he climbed into the cockpit of the small Cessna with dual steering used for lessons. When I picked him he would excitedly relate his lesson for the day and enthusiasm for the solo flight coming up once he’d completed his hours. I smiled, then I prayed. Then I prayed, and I smiled, wondering if it was against the law to duct tape your spouse to a dining room chair for his own protection.

As the day of the solo flight approached an idea took form in his boyish mind. What if I went with him? “Wouldn’t that somewhat diminish the solo portion of the program”, I would argue? As the idea grew and mushed around under his skull it gained momentum. Young people do ridiculously stupid things, and looking back we were no exception. Insisting we had toddlers who needed at least one parent he persisted. Let me preface this paragraph by saying my first husband was a very charming man. Irish by descent as well as temperament, he was blessed with dark curly hair, twinkly brown eyes, a well chiseled face, and truly the man could have sold a flat of blow driers in an Alopecia ward. Also, he convinced me he’d had a premonition if I didn’t accompany him on th<span e flight from the L.A. area to Santa Barbara things wouldn’t end well. As I said, I was young.

How could we do this, you ask? Dropping him off as usual at the appointed spot, I parked far down the runway and waited. I couldn’t help but wonder if his instructor wouldn’t notice him taxiing to another location before taking off but somehow he accomplished gathering me up and preparing for takeoff. To say I was questioning my decision as the runway sped by outside my window, would be a gross understatement.

In the air we hung on the whirring propeller and turned our nose north. I was hoping all my affairs were in order as we headed up the pass. Wind had picked up. The wings dipped from one side to the other in the currents. Jokingly he asked if I’d like him to show me how the plane reacted to a stall. Really? Why did I marry this man, my mind inquired? He was far less charming hundreds of feet above sea level. My fingers gripped tighter on the door handle and I reassured myself there were parachutes on board if the need arose.

Amazingly we made it along the pass and leaving the turbulence behind us headed in towards Santa Barbara. A bank of fog moved in making visibility difficult. My husband picked up the radio and carried on a dialog with the flight tower. According to the man in the control tower the airport was pretty well socked in so they were going to talk us in. “Mama”. Flying virtually blind, the voice on the radio issued instructions. Suddenly the voice became agitated telling us to abort the landing. We were coming in sideways it appeared. A suspicion I had already entertained as I was basically hanging from my seat belt.

My guardian angel must have been sitting on my shoulder that day as somehow that small plane’s wheels located the ground below and held the landing. Never was I so glad to step out onto the earth. Nursing a cup of coffee in the small cafe on the grounds I informed my pilot to be I would be taking the bus home. I suggested he do the same, but he insisted on going back and finishing his “solo” flight. As I said before, “I’m sorry”.

In the end he was a good pilot. Unfortunately, he passed away not long after his thirty-third birthday before ever buying his plane, but he enjoyed soaring up there in the clouds and I even joined him on occasion white knuckles in place.

Arroz (Mexican Rice)

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup uncooked long grain rice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup chopped onion
2 green onions, sliced
1 14 1/2 oz. can chicken broth
2 Tbsp. chunky salsa (I use hot)
1/3 cup tomato sauce
1 Roma tomato, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and sliced thin
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/8 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. salt

Heat oil over medium heat in deep skillet. Add rice. Stir and cook until rice turns golden brown. Add garlic and continue cooking for 1 min.

Add broth, salsa, tomato juice and all remaining ingredients to pan. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for 20-25 mins. covered until rice is tender. Allow to sit for 5 min. Fluff with fork.

Serves 6

2
Have you noticed every time you search for a product on-line, the item you’re searching for begins showing up in the ads in your email account, and every other site you frequent? Hard to overlook. If not the exact item, other items “you might like” show up expanding your search parameters to like merchandise. What annoys me about this is if you happen to be looking for a gift for a member of your family sharing the same computer, they too are privy to the pictures spoiling the surprise. Truly we are being tracked for everything from our taste in clothing, our viewing preferences, what coffee we enjoy in our cups in the morning, and who we follow on Twitter. Our TV forwards intel to our service provider on our viewing choices, our frequency of viewing, and our pay channel electives.

Grocery store or pharmacy receipts, besides providing us with proof of purchase for our items send information to the store’s computer tracking whether or not we prefer Florida’s Own to Minute Maid, if we buy 2-ply Charmin or 1-ply Quilted Northern. These preferences in turn are reflected in the coupons we receive when rewards are issued. Little escapes the voracious appetites of information gathering software. Should we purchase a house, our information is farmed out to insurance companies, moving companies, and any other company benefiting by somebody making such a move. Reached 65? If so, mail will begin to come in offering you inexpensive disposal options, cremation perhaps or The Neptune Society. Life insurance companies names will appear on envelopes in your mailbox with insurance available with no medical questions asked for those over 60.

Back in the day information was gathered at a much slower pace. The IRS, the DMV, your medical facilities, all had your basic data but it was gathered more slowly, kept on cards or in banks of file folders. Today it is at your fingertips. Want to know where that old boyfriend is? Google him. If he’s out there for a small charge you can find out what he’s up to these days and who he is up to it with most probably. Truly it is an information highway, and we are all blips on the screen.

I prefer a little more anonymity. Not that I’m planning on knocking off a bank, or have anything to hide. So much transparency makes me squirm a bit like a specimen on a lab slide. An oversized eye observing everything I do. Somehow to me it feels as if someone had broken into my house and rifled around in my lingerie drawer. I suppose I will have to get used to it. Certainly it’s not going away anytime soon.

Misinformation gets gathered along with viable data. Another person’s information could well turn up on your side of the stack. A ways back I received a call from a bill collector. The man began the conversation by telling me I owed money on a car loan. The car had been repossessed, sold, and money was left owing on it. The original loan holder then sold the loan to this man’s company for collection. I explained that this must be another woman with the same name. Certainly my name is not unique by any standards. I went on to say I couldn’t have acquired the loan at the time he mentioned because I lived out of state during that period of time and had never owned the vehicle in question. Accelerating his threatening tone, he demanded payment insinuating everything from sending a large gentlemen named Guido to my door with a baseball bat to attaching a lien on my property including the loaf of bread in my bread box to my house to exact his pound of flesh. “What part of this information are you not receiving, I asked again?” This time he got seriously ugly. I put Rick on the phone, or as we refer to him, the enforcer. The gentlemen, and I use this term in its loosest translation, never called again.

Scammers are on the make with all this valuable loose information flying around. People tracking these information stealers get one scam cleaned up and another pops up on the radar. Zooming in the scammers break down the firewalls of large corporations slurping up our information like hungry tigers atop an unfortunate water buffalo. Several of the larger stores I frequent have issued notices recently advising me their systems have been breached and information pirated. Yesterday I got a notice someone had tried to dip into my bank account information. Changing passwords regularly and using unusual combinations diminishes the risk, but they’re getting smarter every day.

I don’t know what the answer is. I don’t think there is one. When I lived in West Virginia a lot of people there escaped notice by living in the isolated hollows prolific in “the mountain state”. These shadow people do not fie income taxes, work only for cash, and do not register for anything requiring giving up personal information on themselves thus keeping their secrets their own one generation after the next. An accurate census could not be gathered in the state because these “holler dwellers” exist well below the radar their comings and goings held close to their chests.

Bill Gates was expressing his concerns recently on what our world will look like in 20 years Many jobs will be taken over by software leaving a glut of human workers with not enough jobs to fill. HAL is lurking out there in the not so distant future, not simply captured on film but at a workplace near you. Perhaps all this will pass unnoticed as the rest of us are busy taking selfies.

Albondigas is a soup that is a meal in itself. Serve with rice on the side and let your guests add it to the bowl as they go. Absolutely delicious but if spice is not your thing, this soup is not for you.

Albondigas (Meatball Soup)

Meatballs

1 1/4 lbs. ground beef
3/4 lb. ground pork
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped fine
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cumin
Pinch of cinnamon
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp. salt
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine ground meats with remaining ingredients mixing by hand until smooth. Refrigerate covered for 1 hr. Roll into balls (about 26).

Cover baking sheet with tin foil and spray with cooking spray. Place in oven for 20-25 mins. turning once. Drain on paper towels and refrigerate until read to add to soup.

Soup

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, sliced 1/2″
2 large carrots, sliced 1/2″
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups chicken broth
1 15 1/2 oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
1 10 oz. can Rotel Tomatoes with Lime Juice and Cilantro
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. coriander
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1/3 cup frozen peas
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. salt
Cooked rice
Flour tortillas

In stock pot heat oil over medium heat until glistening. Add onion, celery, and carrots. Cook for 8 mins. until vegetables are tender. Add garlic and cook for 1 min. Add all remaining ingredients.

Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 50 mins. stirring regularly. Add meatballs and continue cooking for 10 mins. uncovered. Remove from heat.

Heat flour tortillas in microwave for 1 min. placing damp paper towel between each tortilla.

Serves 6

1Super Bowl is hours away. Usually we have plans in place for this momentous event but this year we’re hanging out with each other and the cat (a Seahawks fan) enjoying the large flat screen TV occupying a good portion of our rather small living room.

What a week! This year started out running and refuses to slow down. At the beginning of the week Rick had an appointment in the town we lived in prior moving here. A recurring appointment, showing up on the calendar every six weeks, I usually accompany him on the hour or so drive. While he’s at his destination I meet old friends for lunch or do some shopping to pass the time. Lunch with a friend was on the calendar this trip.  I hadn’t seen her in over a year and was looking forward to it.

With several errands to run prior to the appointment time, we headed out early. The weather, so very strange for January, was balmy enough to prompt me to dress in a short-sleeved tee-shirt with a long over blouse and jeans. Arriving at the bank, the last of our errands, Rick went in to ask a question about the car loan while I texted my girlfriend to tell her I was in town. I hopped out to use the ATM and got back into the driver’s seat since I would be dropping Rick off and continuing on to lunch. Easy peasey. Shutting the door I felt a tug on my neck pulling me to the left and realized I’d shut my over blouse in the door. Not able to move my left arm I reached across with my right and pulled on the door latch. Nothing. Really? I mean, REALLY? Do these things happen to anyone else? I need names. No matter how many times I pulled the latch wouldn’t release.

Rick appeared at the bank door and began gesturing for me to come in. Using my only available hand I waved back. Now he was signalling for me to get out. I shrugged. Exasperated, he came to the window. I put the window down and explained the situation. Looking at me as if I had announced I’d been abducted by bubble headed aliens in his absence he attempted to open the door. Again, nothing. Not believing this was happening he reached inside and tried it that way. He did everything but apply the jaws of life and still I was stuck. The simple solution would have been to remove my shirt, but the way it was caught I would have dislocated my shoulder trying to wiggle out of the sleeve.  This brought to my mind a comment by an ex-boss of mine prompted by a phone call from me to say I’d be late for work due to my daughter had driven my car through my garage door. He said, “if it was anyone else calling I’d think you’d simply overslept, but since it’s you, Susie, I’ll see you when you get in. Bring pictures.” I tried to locate them for the blog, but to no avail. If you’ve seen Jaws you get the idea.  Fine.

Next the gentlemen helping Rick in the bank showed up at the door. Seeing Rick struggling he walked over to ask if he could be of assistance. Explaining once again my predicament I now I had two men staring at me as though I’d told the story of the little green men. Finally, after fifteen minutes of tugging and swearing the door gave way. So thankful was I that I did not have to call my girlfriend and explain I was going to be late because my arm was caught in the car door. I did tell her the story over lunch. Knowing me well she nodded, never skipping a beat while scooping up her salad.

Besides this ridiculousness, things around the house have been going to hell in a hand basket. I was afraid to get into bed last night for fear it would drop through the floor or collapse while I slept. Don’t laugh, this too happened to me once. My husband and I were sleeping in the wee hours of the morning.  We’d been gifted satin sheets as an anniversary present. For fun, I’d put them on when I’d changed the sheets. Personally, I’m not fond of satin sheets. You tend to slide off them like butter off a hot pancake. Also, they make you sweat, but that’s not the story. At any rate in the middle of the night the foot board on the bed, for reasons still unknown, detached itself from the frame. Immediately following, the foot of the mattress and box spring dropped at an exaggerted angle forming a sort of mattress slide. Like two deer on any icy pond we flew down the slippery sheets landing in a messy pile knees under our chins at the end of the bed. Sitting up trying to gather our thoughts the headboard caved in as well dropping the mattress and box spring squarely between the slats and propelling us in the air. Our elderly neighbors below, sure the end of the world had arrived, phoned the police. Fortunately there is no crime on the books listed for misbehaving bedroom furniture. Assuring everyone we were uninjured they went about their way.

Yesterday I woke up to cold water running from the tap in the kitchen. This would be less unusual if it were running from the tap marked “cold”. Waiting until Rick had his coffee, as two days ago the blinds in the front window broke, and we already have a repairman scheduled at the end of the week to look at the new dishwasher installed last month, I mentioned the problem. After a moment of silence he said he would call several plumbers once dressed. As luck would have it, after three plumbing experts examined it our water heater was pronounced D.O.A. To add to the excitement of that news, it appeared it was an unusual type of water heater requiring a more expensive replacement. Given the numbers we were quoted, I cautioned Boo, the Queen of Cats, she may have to get used to life without her pricey treats for a few months or possibly get a part-time job.

So that’s my crazy month in a nutshell. Hopefully during February Murphy will take a holiday.

These colorful veggies are just the best. Served with my fig marinated lamb chops, too yummy.

Briami

1/4 cup olive oil, divided
2 onions, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and cut in coarse chunks
3 courgettes, cut in 3/4″ slices
9 heirloom fingerling potatoes cut in 1/2″ slices
2 large tomatoes, cut in coarse chunks
3 large radishes, sliced thin
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 1/2 Tbsp. dried dill
1 1/2 Tbsp. freshly chopped parsley
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat 2 Tbsp. of olive oil in large skillet over med. heat. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently for 10 mins.

Meanwhile place chopped vegetables in large bowl. Season generously with salt and pepper. Add onions to mix and toss with seasonings and remaining olive oil.

Pour into 9 x 13″ bowl sprayed with cooking spray. Wrap tightly with tin foil. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, removing foil and stirring every half hour.

Serves 4

1
A friend of mine with a lot on her plate at the moment was expressing her anxiety to me over lunch. Eating little and talking nervously it was obvious it was weighing heavily on her mind.  This set my mind to thinking about worrying, why we do it, what we gain from it if anything, and how to avoid it. My mother would have made the perfect stereotypical Jewish mother. Seriously, there’s a sit-com out there with her name written all over it. Worry for her is a lifestyle, rather than an occasional indulgence. If nothing presents itself to concern herself with on any given day she will take on world peace, the plight of the Panamanian golden frog, and what will happen an hour from now, two hours for now, or two weeks from yesterday. I read somewhere two emotions are a total waste of our bodies resources, worry and guilt. Both change nothing, tap heavily on our energy resources, and in general are emotional buzz killers.

Spending years feeling guilty about that parking ticket you tossed in the trash in the 80’s and never paid isn’t going to change a thing. You could, I suppose, go out to the landfill and dig through piles of refuge to see if you could locate the original citation or go down to the traffic division, confess your sins, and throw yourself on the mercy of the court. Truth is if they’re planning on fining you penalties for all those years the ticket went unpaid, they will do this no matter how many sleepless nights you log thinking about it. The more likely scenario is you are in a cache with thousands of other offenders in the same situation who will never be brought to task, and you wasted time on something for no reason. Either way, it doesn’t change a thing.  Decide to be a better citizen and pay a ticket the next time one comes your way and keep your feet moving in a forward direction. Be better for the experience, but do not be defined by it, or something along those lines.

There are many things in my life I wish I could do a retake on. Unfortunately, once it is written there are no “erasies”. The best you can hope for is you’ve become a better human being since then, more mature, made better more well-thought out decisions. All of us are fallible. Since the Bible was written I don’t believe another perfect person has graced our history books.

When my children were old enough to comprehend what I was saying I took them out individually and apologized for all my shortcomings as a mother. Explaining I did the best I could, loved them immensely, and surely made many mistakes over the course of the eighteen to twenty years we’d shared company. At that time I said I will issue an umbrella apology in the hopes they would forgive my lesser accomplishments, accept that I gave it a good go most of the time, and we could move ahead from there.

I tried hard to avoid “guilting” my children into doing something or applying a layer of good old motherly guilt when they did not. In our house there was a clear understanding if you did something that required parental intervention there would be a consequence equal to the crime, if you will. Once I do remember plying a little guilt. Actually I prefer to think of it as mother’s psychology 101. My son had been asked numerous times not to kick his soccer ball against the back of the house. There was a field with a backboard just down the street expressly for that purpose. When caught the ball was confiscated and an extra chore was added to his week. Still, he seemed to be missing the message.

I arrived home one afternoon from work to find the bathroom window pane splintered all over the floor and glass in the toilet bowl. Hmmm. The bathroom was on the back wall of the house exactly where the soccer ball was often being kicked. Now I don’t need Dr. Watson to deduce the games were afoot, and I mean that literally.

When my kids arrived home I sat them down and inquired as to what happened. Neither of them, it appeared, seem to have any idea how the window had come to be scattered all over the tile. Noticing my little soccer player wasn’t looking me directly in the eye, but having no CSI team on hand to provide me with tangible proof I hoisted my mainsail and took another tack.

I said, “well, it seems we’ve had a break in”. This definitely got their attention. Grabbing the phone book (yes, there were phone books where people actually looked up phone numbers back then), I began to thumb through the pages saying, “pa, pi, po…..ah, police”. Wide eyed my son asked why I was looking for the number of the police station. I explained I would have to have a detective come out and dust for fingerprints and examine the crime scene for evidence undoubtedly resulting in the criminal being incarcerated for breaking into our home. At this the lower lip began to quiver and a tear welled on the top of his lower lashes. In spite of the fact I didn’t want to hurt my little man, I wanted him to come to me to accept responsibility for his actions. Teaching them this lesson, I felt was right at the top of the list. A part of adult life that comes to the fore often as we get older. In the end without having to use a bright light he confessed. Each week he donated a part of his allowance to the cost of the replacement pane.

Sometimes a little guilt keeps us honest, and worrying about the big ticket items in our life such as illness, money, relationships, unavoidable. However, to me worrying the whole time you’re flying about what might happen to the plane takes away from experiencing the view below and the amazing sensation of being able to soar with the birds.

These eggs are a flavorful change of pace from your everyday scrambled. I serve them with naan or flour tortillas. You can heat them up or cool them down according to your personal tastes.

Akoori (Indian Scrambled Eggs)

2 Tbsp. butter
1 onion, chopped
3 green onions, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 Serrano chiles chopped fine
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1/8 tsp. turmeric
2 medium Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
3 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
8 eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp. white pepper
Salt to taste
Naan, flour tortillas, or flat bread

Melt butter over med. heat in large skillet. Add onion and green onions. Cook for 6 mins. Add garlic, chilis, cumin, and turmeric. Cook for 1 min. until fragrant.

Add tomatoes. Cook until moisture has cooked off. Reduce heat to low. Whisk together cilantro, eggs, and white pepper. Pour into pan. Mix well with tomato mixture. Cook slowly stirring frequently until soft but set. Season with salt. Serve with suggested breads if desired.

Serves 4.

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Facebook is social media I do not take lightly. According to articles I’ve read Facebook is cited in 1/3 of the divorce proceedings before the courts. This does not pertain to me as I’m neither married nor cheating, but I must admit I find it curious why someone would choose to post pictures on-line when having an affair. This makes almost no sense to me. Social media being by its very name, social, makes the likelihood of having someone other than the parties involved seeing these pictures fairly high. The only logic I can impose on this line of thinking is that the person posting the pics wants to get caught. That being said why not just opt out of the current relationship up front and become involved in the one playing out behind the scenes? Curious.

Humans interest me always. I interest myself, truth be known. After all these years I still can’t be sure of my own behavior from one day to the next much less those functioning around me. There’s no judgment on my part in these statements, only intense curiosity as to what makes us tick.

There are a lot of things in the news which concern me lately, aside from the obvious major news items. I only allow myself to watch so much news before going off to do something more heartening. Just enough to get the bulleted news items but not be saturated with all the craziness abounding in our world these days. I’ve mentioned many of my hot button items in previous blogs but I’m spurred to mention a few new ones in this blog.

Yesterday while coming home I waited while a school bus unloaded a group of elementary school students. Standing at the bus stop were three or four parents waiting for their kids. All of the parents were intently staring at their cell phones. I noticed as the children excitedly got off the bus and went to their appropriate moms and dads the parents nodded at them but not one of them looked up to welcome their little ones nor stopped looking at the device in front of them. Several of the children could be seen chatting away while the parents walked still working their fingers as they headed down the street. There was everything in that scene that made my heart feel terribly sad. Children grow up in the blink of an eye and are on to live their lives. Treasure the time you have with them and make each moment count. Your cell phone will still be there after they are gone to keep you company.

This morning on the news they were talking about the huge amount of time Americans are devoting to their phones. Several of the anchors were actually angry about being accused of devoting too much time to their much loved devices, while the weather man said he’d actually cut his usage after he noticed his toddler trying to get his attention by grabbing the phone. Worse yet he was fighting her for the phone rather than directing his attention on his little girl who finally wandered off.

Cell phones are aging us as well it seems. Looking down at them constantly is causing our neck muscles to break down and wrinkles to form. I must admit I have a bit of text envy. People who text often fly over the diminutive keyboard, and although I can key on a regular keyboard at lightening speed, on the phone’s keyboard I’m all thumbs. While trying to add a new contact the other day I called three numbers accidentally before finally getting the new number saved.

Another disturbing news item was this is the first generation in recorded history that is less educated than the one preceding it. Whoa. Unless I’m mistaken we’re supposed to be moving in the other direction. It escapes me what they are teaching in school these days. I mentioned Portland, Oregon to my grandson yesterday. His response was to be totally surprised to learn Portland was in Oregon. When I asked him if he new what the capital of Oregon was, he said, “huh”? At my last job I had a young girl ask me if Maryland (pronounced Mare-e-land) was in Europe. The same girl asked me why they put PA behind Pittsburgh on a letter. She was the mail girl.

I watched a show where they stopped college students on several noted campuses and asked them geography questions such as what was the capital of the state they lived in. One girl said “C” when asked the question about California. I hope she wasn’t planning on being a neurosurgeon. Another kid from San Diego state thought San Diego was the capital and that Northern and Southern California were two different states. Man. I’m sure if you asked either of these kids about IDrink or Retweet they’d be right on target.

My guess as to reasons for this would be the cost of educating oneself these days, the cost of living in general, sagging employment and slow creation of new jobs, and what I view as sort of lack of forward movement with the young people I’m in contact with lately. This is a general statement, naturally, there are over achievers, or achievers as always, but I see a lot of kids sort of roaming about with no idea about the future. A lot of lower paying jobs previously going to younger applicants such as fast food or clerking are now being gobbled up by more educated, older job seekers as the lack of jobs in the middle class segment increases. It’s tough world out there for kids getting out of school these days.

Ah well, that’s my gripe for a Saturday.

I will not begin to describe this recipe as a healthy choice, but these burgers are simply gooey and absolutely irresistible. Rick adapted the recipe from a restaurant in San Francisco he used to frequent when he was a kid.

Bleu Cheese Chili Burgers

1 1/2 lb. ground chuck
3 green onions, finely chopped
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 egg, beaten
1/8 cup crumbled bleu cheese
Olive oil

Sour cream
Chunky Bleu Cheese Dressing (I use Marie’s or Bob’s)
Crumbled Bleu Cheese
16 oz. can of Bush’s Chili beans (meatless)
4 Sesame seed buns, toasted

Mix together first 8 ingredients. Form into patties and broil, barbeque, fry, or broil according to your taste. Spread buns with olive oil and heat until browned under broiler or on grill and put aside.

To assemble the burger, spread bleu cheese dressing liberally on both sides of buns. Place meat patties on bottom of bun, put bun top on. Over all spoon generous amount of heated chili beans. Top with generous dollop of sour cream and sprinkle with bleu cheese crumbles. Eat this one with a knife and fork.

This, will make you a believer :)

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