Monday, January 17, 2022

A Good Snow Day

 Oh, snow!! Such a novelty down here. So much so that we are clueless as to what to do. The world may as well come to an end when the weather prediction is snow. The children are thrilled - a winter wonderland. Parents are a bit more concerned about making sure there is enough food (and adult beverages) and other provisions. As soon as the little snow flakes appear on the weather forecast page, the grocery shelves are cleared of eggs, milk, bread, and chips. There is also the fear of power outrages. Unfortunately, in the south snow is often accompanied with ice.

So here we are. There is a winter wonderland outside. What is it about the ground covered with a blanket of white frozen precipitation? A snow storm is just short of a unicorn down here. It is a rare site. The children are in search of a hill. The parents are just hoping that schools will open tomorrow.

Ellie and Marshall, my pups, are not fans. Given that their legs are just short of 4 inches, 6 inches of snow is quite the challenge. After all how can you be expected to pee when the snow is up to your shoulders? 

Personally I am secretly thrilled at the site of snow. The child in me comes out. Even though I am too old to frolic about, the inner child in me delights in the site of the blanket of white. I think all of us, if we are true to ourselves, enjoy a good snow storm. 

Although we rarely had snow in my hometown, it was not unusual for it to snow on High Acres. Most of my childhood "snow" memories are from times on the farm. If there was a forecast of snow up there, if possible, Daddy would make sure we were there. Even at his age then (a good 20 years younger than I am today) he was game. I'm not sure if it is the romance of the Courier and Ives prints of horse drawn sleighs making their way their across the land or the beauty of the white winter wonderland. Whether we are willing to admit it or not, there is something about a "Snow Day"that soothes the soul.

Never mind, the impassible roads, the dangerous black ice, power outrages, and cold, let's face it - who doesn't secretly smile when snow is in the forecast? Either you can relate or you are in denial. Of course, we will all be glad when it is over and our world returns to normal. But for now, let's just enjoy when the world as we know it stops, and we can appreciate the silence of the snow falling. 

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Change in the Weather

 OMG... The world is going to end. Armageddon is in sight. The weather prediction for this coming weekend is snow (and ice). Say it’s not so!

The TV program I was watching was interrupted by that loud horn indicating an emergency situation. Rather than an announcement of impending war, the banner said (in bold type and all caps) : “Inclement weather is expected in your local area.” My program resumed, albeit with the crawler in red continuing to run across the bottom of the screen. “The National Weather Service is predicting a 20% chance of snow this weekend. Local residents are advised to prepare.”

Ten minutes later, the crawler continued, with the customary advisories to fuel your car, supply your pantry, have plenty of batteries on hand, take care of the animals, etc.  Temperatures are expected to dip into the high 20’s.

Needless to say the grocery stores were packed and very soon the shelves were empty. There were lines at the checkout with buggys filled with popcorn, chips, Little Debbies, bread, milk, eggs, bacon, and a good supply of wine and beer. I understand the chips and other snacks (and wine). I can only assume the milk, bread, and eggs is for French Toast? (Fun fact: the most popular food bought in preparation for foul weather- PopTarts. Who knew!)

The suggestion to get the car fueled, is followed by the warning: “With the chance of 2 inches of snow, Citizens should avoid driving.”  Now this part is true, folks down here have no business driving in snow. Only the large trucks with serious tires should be out there. Contrary to popular thought,  most SUVs do not fall in this category. Even though the advertisements show the car being safely driven on snowy roads, anyone paying close attention would have read in the very small print at the end of the commercial - "The previous exercise was on a closed track by professional drivers. Driving in frozen or inclement weather should not be done by amateur drivers.”

Weather radios are brought out, as well as Jigsaw puzzles and the Monopoly game.  Whatever “cold weather” clothes one may have are pulled out of the attic. For those lucky enough to still have it, the sled that was bought 7 years ago after the “The Once in a Century Snow Storm”, is still in the garage.

Now that everyone is prepared there is nothing left to do but wait for a change in the weather. Down here one of three things may happen. The temperatures will stay in the mid 30s making for a cold soggy mess. We will get a smattering of snow - just enough to barely cover the ground that will be gone by lunch. Or there will be an ungodly snow and ice storm that will block the roads, cause limbs to bring power lines down, and traumatize the area for a week or so. I'm not sure which scenario to wish for.

Time will tell. So much for snow in the south. 



Sunday, January 9, 2022

Go Away Little Bag, Before I Beg You to Stay

Ah, the Christmas gift of chocolate, that evil bag of crunchy and sweet and salty dark chocolate, caramel, and sea salt pretzels thought it had one over on me. 

Go away little [bag]
I'm not supposed to be alone with you

But, no! I prevailed. I was not going to let it get the best of me. I would not succumb to his siren calls as he sat on the corner of my kitchen counter, all 24 oz and 17 servings. I am stronger than that, after all it's just a . bag of dark chocolate, rich dark.  

I know that your lips are sweet
but our lips must never meet

No, that bag of ostentatious pretzels will no longer sit on my counter whispering my name in that 'come hither' sexy voice. He must be vanquished, - never to return. 


It's hurting me more each minute that we delay
When you're near me like this
You're much too hard to resist

The bag thought he could sit there and tempt me with the lure of sumptuous dark chocolate, creamy caramel, and sea salt. What kind of girl did he think I was? Did he think I would fall for his sweet charms.


So go away little [bag]
Before I beg you to stay

I showed him. I took care of that issue and I never need to fear being tempted by his charms or falling victim to his spell. And I enjoyed every bite. 


Saturday, January 8, 2022

Minimalism

 Part of a new year, is a new look on life. I happened upon a documentary on minimalism. This was a true "Ah Ha" moment for me. That's what I needed - to simplify my life. 

There are some issues. Down here (in the south) we not only have our belongings but we have belongings from many past generations. I couldn't consider throwing out that small metal table because it was the one my Granny kept on her screened back porch. During the winter she would put desserts on it to chill before serving them at supper that evening. Personally it doesn't coordinate with anything I have. It is an odd size and not that attractive. But there is no way I can part with it, it was my Granny's.

Upon reflection, why not? The table is not worth anything. Granny passed away over 45 years ago. And, the next generation, my Daddy and his sister, my Aunt Kat, have also passed away. What was she going to do, come back and haunt me? I am sure that neither of my daughters will see any sentimental value in it or use for it. I'll take my chances, let it go.

There is my collection of colored bottles, that can go. There are the old odd sheets,  worn towels, and wash cloths in my closet that I will never use. Gone. Looking at my buffet I note a set of 4 large Bordeaux wine glasses. I have never used them, They are so fragile, I fared they would break in my hand. Gone. There are 4 crystal liquor decanters also on the buffet. Whoa! Wait a minute, those are not going anywhere. There is a limit to this madness.

The minimalist experts say if something doesn't have a purpose then you do not need it. This gets down to the definition of "need". 

I made a plan, I would simplify my life. Of course, there would be exceptions - family heirlooms (that are not practical to keep), gifts from special people, books, etc. I can only go so far. The experts say start small, eliminate 1 item the first day, 2 items the second day, 3 item the third day . . .  and on and on. 

In the first day of my life of minimalism, I parted with 3 large trash bags full of useless junk. These went into the dumpster. I also managed to fill 5 king size pillow cases with clothes I had not worn in years, sets of old sheets (some I received as wedding presents 40 years ago), towels, several travel bags, etc. These I dropped off at Goodwill. I will consider this initial purge as my "1" Item the first day. 

This project is going to take a long long time. After all my stuff has stuff!

Friday, January 7, 2022

Escape from Reality

 Traditionally commercials after New Year's are about diets, exercise equipment, and vacations in the Caribbean.

I can remember years ago just after Christmas, Talbots would send out their "Resort Catalog". It was like a breath of sunshine and warmth to brighten the cold wet days of February. Were there really folks who could escape the wintry blahs to a tropical paradise? Or worse than that - were there really so many folks with perfect physiques, tanned bodies, having so much fun? Never in my life was I able to run on the beach, in the edge of the surf, wearing a flowing white dress, holding the obligatory straw hat.  

The catalogue was filled with pages of clothes in bright blues, sunny yellows, and festive pinks. I could look past the perfect size 2 models and the smart clothes. All I saw were pages of green grass, sandy white beaches, and palm trees. The locations for the photo shoots were traditionally exclusive private tropical resorts with colonnades of adobe walls, red tile roofs, and fountains. There were waiters in their smart khaki uniforms carrying trays of colorful drinks with little umbrellas in them.  

I will admit that several years ago, I did escape to the West Indies in January. It was like being thrown into a different universe with the warm air, the wide white beaches, and the clear turquoise water. And, yes, there was Juan, dressed in his khaki shorts and crisp white shirt carrying a tray of Bellinis complete with little umbrellas. As much as I enjoyed the trip, I never was that lithe beautiful young woman running through the surf, hat in hand. But, that didn't matter. There was the sun, the sand, the surf, and the Bellinis. This was truly paradise, an escape from reality. 

However that real world quickly returned when we landed in Richmond, Virginia. The weather was dreary and cold with temperatures in 20's and six inches of snow on the ground.  The brisk wind was truly a slap in the face. 

The following morning at work everyone was complaining about the cold. I shared in their misery. The weather was wretched. Thoughts of the warm air and white beaches filled my mind. Was my escape really that sublime? Yes, it was. Calgon, take me away (again). And by the way, where was Juan when I needed him. 

Thursday, January 6, 2022

The Fascination with Follies

 Of all things British, 2 things (as my Mother would say) slay me - follies and fascinators . 

fol·ly
/ˈfälē/

a costly ornamental building with no practical purpose, especially a tower or mock-Gothic ruin built in a large garden or park

Examples are those stone monuments that are scattered about at Downton Abbey - the one behind the house that resembles a Roman temple. 


And, if you were paying attention, there is one that looks like a rotunda that they run past while on the hunt. Basically they are what the well-to-do construct when they just want to spend money.



fas·ci·na·tor
/ˈfasəˌnādər/

a woman's light, decorative headpiece consisting of feathers, flowers, beads, etc. attached to a comb or hair clip.

Fascinaters are another "invention" of the English. For centuries English women wore a hat every time they left the house, except when attending a ball or a dinner. These evolved over the years from fairly simple hats such as:


to the elaborate



The Queen Mother was known for her hats



Then the younger crowd in the 21st century decided they would wear as  little hat as they could get away with. The Fascinater became the choice for hat required events. Some remind me of a bird nest stuck on the side of a woman's head


Others, are just something a young women chose to wear to irritate the older ladies, as in "I'll show you, if I have to wear a hat then I will"


As a side note, the Queen made her thoughts known after Prince Harry's wedding that she was not fascinated by this new millinery  style.


Wednesday, January 5, 2022

To Regift

On the 12th Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to me, Twelve Drummers Drumming - the 12 doctrines of the Apostles Creed.

 re·gift

/rēˈɡift/

verb - to
 
give (a gift one has received) to someone else.
  1.  

My definition is a bit different: the art and science of finding a new home for an unwanted, useless, hideous gift one received 

Not that I would ever do such a thing. But, I have heard that this is a practice of some people.

From what I have read, the ideal scenario is a scarf you received from Mary that you found atrocious. When you opened it, Mary commented, "When I saw it, I just knew it was you." You politely thank her. 

At the next gift giving occasion, when you need to find a gift for someone (a) you really don't care about or (b) you think would enjoy the gift, or (c) you know has no taste, you present the scarf. The problem arises when you show up for the party for Jennifer with your (re)gift and find Mary is there also. When Jennifer opens the gift, looks at it, and genuinely thanks you. You quickly look at Mary and say,"I loved the one you gave me so much, I thought Jennifer would love one also." All along you are hoping the scarf was not some "one of kind" Mary found on Etsy.

Over the years I have found myself with several such gifts. The question is - is this something that is useful for someone else (and useless for you), for an odd gift giving occasion when you do not want to make a financial investment in a gift, or (my favorite) for someone you despise. Not that that would ever occur.

By the way, I love the pink plastic Ronco battery operated onion peeler, lemon juicer, and Julianne french fry combination appliance I received this year. It is just what I wanted!

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Eleven Pipers, A Late Bloomer, and Back to Normal

 11 Pipers Piping  represents the eleven faithful apostles.

This morning I noticed that my "Christmas" Cactus was finally blooming. Not sure if the plant did not the get the memo, had lost track of time, or was a bit slow (as in "touched", "special", "challenged"). I have friends who have "Thanksgiving" cactuses - the variety that blooms a month or so earlier than Christmas. Perhaps there is a type that waits until New Year's Day to burst forth in colorful glory. Not so much for me. My plant waits until the 10th day after Christmas. Hopefully this is not a sign of things to come.

These days, I am struggling with the tiresome exercise of taking down and putting away the decorations I found so joyous in late November, re-configuring the living room furniture once the tree is removed, and dealing with the challenge of what to do with the strange gadgets I received as gifts. 

We have all made our declarations for the new year. There are the promises of benevolence, tolerance, self improvement, and the annual pledge to exercise more and eat less. The later that traditionally fails to last at most, until the end of January. Of course in 2 months, we can reconfirm these personal vows as sacrifices during the season of Lent, but I digress.

I am often accused of being cynical, a trait I find underrated. To paraphrase my favorite line from Macbeth: The Holidays are ". . . but a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets [it's] hour upon the stage,  And then is heard no more. It is a [time of much a do endured] by idiots, full of sound and fury,  Signifying nothing.” Who knew Shakespeare would have a character so pessimistic?

We pickup where we were in late November and resume our normality. I cannot speak for everyone but I question what "normal" is anymore. At this stage of my life, I lack sound and the fury.  The Bard aside, I am hoping 2022 will be a good year for everyone.

Monday, January 3, 2022

Farm to Table

The 10th Day of Christmas. The number 10 referring to the Ten Commandments.

I've come to the conclusion that it doesn't take imagination or creativity to be successful in the food world. It is the "geniuses" who have rinsed and repeated the past, repackaged it, and sold it as the newest, bestest thing you must have. 

A prime example is the fad of fried chicken in New York City.  A friend of ours from a large northern eastern metropolitan city, who thinks of herself as a "foodie" sent us a cookbook a year or two ago with a note - "This is written by the best chef in New York City, just ate at his restaurant. Check out page 23, Fried Chicken, the best thing I have ever had."

Now, there are so many things wrong here - a "foodie" from "Up North" sending friends in the deep south a cookbook by a New York chef, pointing out the recipe for the newest fad - fried chicken. And, he was serious. 

I wonder if he realizes the three food groups down here are butter, bacon, and biscuits. And God forbid he learn the secret of good biscuits - lard.  

Several years ago I posted that I failed at the trinity of true southern cooking. I cannot fry chicken, cannot make a biscuit to save me, and cannot cook collards. Although, since then, I have managed to "Master" one, compensate for another, however the third still alludes me. But, I digress.

Back to the case at hand. To think that the new chic trend of "Farm to Table" attracts so many and cost so much when enjoyed at your favorite restaurant. How many of us grew up eating at our Grandmama's gourmet table? Heck, in this case, I had two such venues to choose from.

Suddenly in lieu of Arugula and Chard, Collards are the greens served at the haute locations. Once again I grew up enjoying that gourmet fare. And the new "Heirloom" tomatoes that are so dearly priced - why the tomatoes in my Granny's, Aunt Kat's, and Aunty's gardens were all misshapen, of various colors, plump, and full of flavor. Once again, as my Aunty often said, we were living "High on the Hog" and were totally unaware.

That brings us to pork. It may be the "The Other White Meat" but down here is the base of the most reverent and sacred of southern food - Bar-b-Que. And, not just pulled pork, my Granddaddy had smoked and salt cured hams in his barns. 

I could go on about the fresh quail and dove we ate the evenings after a successful hunt by my Daddy and Granddaddy. Or the fresh oysters, shrimp, and crabs we enjoyed after harvesting and catching them while we vacationed at the beach. We enjoyed them that night, along with fresh corn from the field. Now that is "Farm to Table." 

So, little did I know I was eating at a gourmet table, eating what people pay dearly for now. We did not know it was gourmet then. Hell, we did not know the word "gourmet" then. We knew it was good, fresh food, and full of flavor. Even though I did not grow up in a wealthy family, the table was always set with sterling silver, we all ate together, and you never left the table until you asked to be excused. 

I always complained that we never "ate out". What I never knew was that I enjoying fine dining at every meal. 





Sunday, January 2, 2022

Nine Ladies Dancing

 9 Ladies Dancing represent the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit found in Galations 5:22-23. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…”

Being an agnostic, I am not a student of the Bible, the Holy Scriptures. No doubt, there are many who are sure I am doomed to Hell. Unless someone saves my soul, I am cursed to cross the Rubicon. But I digress.

Like a chalk board (or whiteboard these days), the slate has been wiped clean. In reality, the 1st of January is just another day. Well, it is a bank holiday (as they would say in Britain). But then so are Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day. However, there is much saddled on New Year's Day.

In the south, we traditionally celebrate the day with a meal of Black Eyed Peas with ham hocks (representing coins) and Collards (representing dollar bills). I'm not sure whether we think this meal will truly bring wealth or we just enjoy good food. After all down here (in the Gullah culture) we can also seek prosperity through Iwa or the procurement an Intention Doll (aka Voo Doo Doll). However, in all honesty, later in the year when some wealth comes our way, is it an Ah-Ah moment, when we stop and give credit to a meal we enjoyed several months ago (or our reliance on a bit of Voo Doo)? 

So here we are with our list of resolutions, those good intentions we plan to achieve in the next 12 months. Blessed are those with high aspirations, for they will bask in the folly of great expectations. However, they also get credit for the faith of rose colored glasses.

So I, like many others, will make that list of things that will improve my life, lighten my spirits, and save my soul. Keeping in mind that good intentions pave many roads, and not all of them lead to Hell. So there is hope.

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Eight Maids a Milking

Who would have thought that 8 Maids a Milking would refer to the Beatitudes from the Book of Matthew? Not me, but then I was clueless about the gifts of the first 6 days of Christmas.

Today we began our journey through 2022. I feel old when I think that I was born in the past century. More than half my life has been in the past millennium. But, then, as my dear father used to say, "It's better than the alternative." He also used to tell me that age was a state of mind. 

The Victorian Era ended 121 years ago. The  "Roaring 20's" were a century ago. The Go Go years of the late 1960's dates back almost 5 decades. Hard to believe that many of the Hippies and Love Children of that time are now in their late 70's early 80's. All have aged and slowed down, well maybe with the exception of Mick Jagger who seems to go on like the Energizer Bunny.

Just in my lifetime I have seen 12 Presidents, 12 Governors, and 6 Popes.  Elizabeth Regina was Queen when I was born and she still reigns.  The globe that sat on my desk when I was young would be unrecognizable now. Borders of have shifted. There are countries I studied in geography that no longer exist and others that have developed since. 

I have lived through Coca-Cola, Coke, New Coke, Diet Coke, and Coke Zero. Diet fads have run from Metracal to Scardales to Atkins, and Slimfast. There have been 6 generations of Mustangs including 13 models.  Oldsmobile, Mercury, American Motors, Studebaker, Dotson, and  Plymouth. A gallon of gasoline has gone from as low as .31 to as high $3.20. For years I can remember the cost being .33 a gallons or with tax 3 gallons for 1.00.

In 1962 John Glenn orbited the Earth in space. Since then astronauts have walked on the moon, temporarily lived in space, and now private citizen can enjoy space travel for the same cost as a developing country's economy. We have sent Rover's to Mars. Telescopes have seen the past in the galaxy. (I still cannot comprehend that phenomenon.) 

As a student in kindergarten I used a small chalk board at my desk. Today my 5 year old granddaughter has her own Chromebook for home and school. The manual typewriter was replaced by a clunky desktop computer in the 80's, a PC in the 90's, to a compact laptop, and now a smart phone. The days of corded phones are long since gone. Land lines are getting rarer and rarer. The large wiry antennae that once dotted all the roof tops were replaced by cables and now by the internet. 

The Barbie was introduced the same year as I was born. She has gone through many dozens of transformations and in the end has still fared better than I. Forgoing reality, at the age of 62, she still has her figure, her flattering legs, and no gray hair.

Hemlines have gone up with Mini skirt, down with the Midi and Maxi then back up over the knee. Women have gone from only wearing dresses to work to the pant suit to whatever suits. When I was a little girl women always wore gloves, hats, and matching shoes and leather handbags.  Men have survived the three piece suit, the leisure suit, and jogging suit.

As a child I was entranced by the Jetson's with the robotic maid named Rosie. Today I have my own self propelled robotic maid named Hazel. And, yet we have survived and indeed flourished in this fast paced "modern" world of ours. And the world and mankind will continue to evolve. 

And not to be morbid or pessimistic, I only hope we can save our mother planet Earth from the ravages of global warming. After all just as there are those who still say the pictures of man walking on the moon were created on a Hollywood sound stage, there are many who deny the disastrous changes in the weather, the rising of the sea, the loss of 1000's of species, and the destruction of the ozone layer. 

But then the innocent dinosaurs never saw the asteroid coming.