Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Are You Part of the Problem

 I rarely preach, but I'm pissed!  Let me get on my soap box for a moment. This has to do with Covid-19. The new mask mandate is totally avoidable, Hell, the entire disease is avoidable - if a majority of the citizens of this country would get vaccinated. Scientist , yes, those who have spent most of their lives dedicated to the study of public health and immunology, have been very clear in their statements that until  70-80% of us are fully vaccinated, this dreadful virus will not 'go away'. Not only will more Americans die from it, Covid19 will continue to mutate, getting harder and harder to get under control.

And for those who say getting vaccinated and/or wearing a mask is a restrain on their 'freedom', perhaps they should consider what 'freedom' really is. The definition of 'freedom' is: the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint. Well, consider this - none of us will have that power if we do not overcome this virus. In such cases, there will be no hindrance or restraint of Covid19. So it is your choice, you can temporarily give up your 'freedom' or take the chance of the virus exercising  its freedom.

It is simple, it is free, it only takes a 20 minutes or so, and can be found at most drugstores down the street or around the block. If you are holding out due to political rhetoric or ideological pressure, for the sake of your young children, grandchildren, or older parents - just do it. You don't have to admit any weakness you may feel, no one needs to know. If totally necessary, get the vaccination in a neighboring town, wear a hat and sunglasses, or a large trench coat, should you fear any judgmental friends may see you. Doing so will be your part of the solution.

As soon as I was eligible, I got the vaccination. And, at that time it is was a difficult to get an appointment for it. Now, there is no excuse. Anyone can walk into a drug store, Dr's Office, or Medical Clinic and get it. However, due to the hesitation, misinformation, peer pressure, and, in some cases, simple laziness, too many of you have failed to do so.

We are now experiencing a new mutation - the Delta mutation that has made this awful illness even harder to control. And, as a footnote, had we already had 70-80% of the population vaccinated, this would not have been such a serious issue.

When the mask mandate for the vaccinated was dropped, many of those not vaccinated chose also not to wear a mask. This is where the problem got worse. As one vaccinated, I had done my part. I no longer had to fear getting a severe case of the virus and suffering hospitalization, intabation, or death. I was safe, but those un-vaccinated were not. Opting their freedom by choosing not to wear a mask gave the virus freedom to spread and mutate. Now more younger people, 99% un-vaccinated, are suffering hospitalization and, in some cases, death.

As for 'break through' transmissions, this is rare and almost never causes hospitalization. (An exception being those with preexisting conditions and auto-immune issues). Naturally those who want to spread the misinformation about the vaccine say this is a sign that the vaccine does not work. In truth, it is the opposite, it does work in preventing severe illness or death. More importantly it is the only way the virus can be controlled or stopped. 

It is terrible to hear doctors and nurses talk about those young un-vaccinated patients' last words before getting intabated are often, said between gasps for their breadth, 'can I get the vaccination'. Then it is too late.

I may be cruel here, but I have lost all patience. For God's sake if not already vaccinated, get vaccinated. And, share this with anyone you know who is not already vaccinated. Don't be the thoughtless and ignorant one. Don't fall for the peer pressure of those who know no better. Do your part. I can't speak for you but I'm tired of all this, I do not want to wear a mask. And, I have little patience for those not willing to listen to the scientist and medical profession.

In short, you can be the problem or the solution. You can bend to false information or choose to do your part. However, should you choose the former, take in mind you are doing your part to extend this deathly virus. 

Monday, July 26, 2021

To Infinity and Back in an Instant

When I first got my Instapot, I was confused, but that is not unusual.  This 'Instant' notion was new to me, so I understood my learning curve would be a bit steep. What I was not aware of, was the time warp of the concept. An example of this was a recipe for  'Ligurian Lemon Chicken'. 'Ligurian' refers to the Italian Riviera. But I digress.

The recipe said: 'Serves 4-6, Prep Time: 15 Minutes, Pressure Cook Time: 12 Minutes'. Pretty straight forward, I would say.

I gathered my ingredients and went to work, following the directions:
  • juice 3 lemons
  • finely chop garlic, rosemary, and sage
  • add lemon juice and olive oil to chopped herbs and marinate the chicken for 2-4 hours
  • then saute the chicken in the inner pot for 15 minutes
  • remove chicken, add wine to inner pot and de-glaze - 3 minutes
  • return chicken to inner pot and cover with marinade
  • cook for 12 minutes
  • remove and serve

Now at my age, I realize this is new math and I have an old math mind. But still, aren't there 60 minutes in an hour. 2 to 4 hours equals 120 - 240 minutes - best I can calculate. But, before that there was the time preparing the marinade. Even with my fairly good cooking skills, it took me a minute or two to juice 3 lemons. Then maybe a minute or so more to 'finely' chop the herbs.

According to my calculations (using the shorter marinading time)  1 minute juicing lemon + 1 minute chopping herbs + 120 minutes marinating chicken + 15 minutes to saute the chicken + 3 minutes de-glazing the pan + finally 12 minutes cooking = 152 minutes (aka 2 hours, 32 minutes). This is where the time warp comes in. My only guess was that the pressure of the Instant Pot compressed the prep time from 137 down to a mere 15 minutes. Not so much in my case, but then this concept was new to me. Does that mean that this mystery pot shrinks the prep time so that when all is done, you are back to the future?

Sunday, July 25, 2021

I Don't Fry Chicken

That's right - you heard it here. I don't fry chicken. I stopped trying a while back. I could never get it right. Didn't matter who tried to teach me, what cook book I was reading, what TV show I was watching (even when I was holding my nose right - as my aunt once told me you had to do), I never learned to fry chicken

While I'm confessing, I might as well tell you I cannot make a good biscuit. I can make any kind of bread from scratch - yeast, sour dough, soda, it doesn't matter, but biscuits - can't do it. My grandmother made the best little biscuits in the world. So much so that after her death, when her kitchen things were divided up there was a major free-for-all among the five grandchildren over the metal covered dish she put her biscuits in to keep them warm. Anything we thought that would help us replicate those delicate, delightful Redband (she only used Redband) flour biscuits. But thanks to Modern Marvels, Pillsbury has saved me (and possibly my marriage) with their frozen biscuits.

For years, I could not cook collards in a respectable manner. My mother told me I needed to cook them twice - and add sugar - that was the secret. My mother-in-law's cook, Clemmie,  told me that sugar was a "no no" and you just "throw them in a pot of water, bring them to a boil, lower the heat to simmer, and cook 'til done." (Please define "Done" - I need some help here.) Finally, I found a recipe that worked for collards (that's humiliating to admit). I bet I'm the only southern women who uses a recipe to cook my collards. "Season to taste and cook 'til done" just didn't cut it with me when it came to collards. When you are dealing with one of the trinity of southern cooking, one cannot take a chance.

I am about as southern as the best of them but I was beginning to think this was some special club and no one was showing me the secret handshake. You are telling me I can make a souflee to die for, a flan that will make one swoon, cajun chili chicken with lime that will seduce your taste buds, but I cannot dredge a simple piece of chicken in flour and cook it in hot oil. Come on now, I'm from "good family". . . and I never wear white shoes after labor day. What other proof do you need?

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Seasoned Cooking or Why Never Washing Our Frying Pan Didn't Kill Us

There was this great article in Time magazine entitled "A Pan for all Seasons" and I only wish I could take credit for its brilliance. If you are a southern cook it says nothing new but supports everything you already know. I can hear those great cooks in kitchens of my youth shaking their heads and saying, "Uh, Duh." I guess this means a Lodge frying pan is the "in" thing now.

I get tickled when I try to explain to someone the secret of good southern cooking starts with the cast iron frying pan that never leaves the top of your stove. And, it is better if you are lucky enough to cook with a second or third generation one. (In our family, it was the second most sought after possession in the will, and second only to the Mikimoto pearls. But, I digress.) Nubies are following along with great interest until I get to the part about cleaning it - or not.

You see (as you should know) with a true cast iron frying pan, it never sees soap and water. You clean it with salt and a good rag. This is where the true cooks follow along and the Martha Stewart and Paula Deen wanna be's leave to find something on the Food Channel. The key to the frying pan is having it seasoned - hence the beauty of a "hand me down". Of course, Lodge now has pre-seasoned frying pans and I will admit they are truly seasoned, so you can skip the part where you grease the pan with Crisco, put it in the oven for God knows how long (until the smoke alarm goes off), and then take it out, wipe off the soot, let it cool and repeat the process. 

Every time I finish cooking with mine, it is an act of love when I wipe it clean and rub a small amount of oil in it (while it is still warm) knowing it is then ready for my next culinary adventure. It is a thing of wonder - although not magic, it will not fry chicken on its own. Trust me, I have tried to see if it could - to no avail.

We were taking our oldest daughter to look at the University of the South on her college tour and low and behold if we didn't find ourselves in Pittsburg, Tennessee, home of the  Lodge foundry (and, better yet, the Lodge factory outlet!) On our way back we stopped by to see everything Lodge. I was able to get a deep sided frying pan, which is what I use today. And, after one visit by the fire department and finally just taking all the smoke detectors down in the kitchen, I am proud to say I seasoned it myself.) Now I also have a Lodge cast iron wok that I use regularly and stays on my stove top.

So, yes, I also cook with an assortment of Calphalon and Le Cruset, but it is the Lodge cast iron pans that tells me someone show 'nugh knows how to cook. When I walk into someone's fancy kitchen,  I don't look up to see what's hanging on their pot rack, I look down on their stove to see what sitting there. Chances are, if they have a cast iron frying pan, it never leaves the top of the stove. 

And if, under your breath you are saying, "I just couldn't have a pan that was never cleaned with soap and water." Darling, let me tell you two things, if you are in a southern home, never eat the fried chicken and if the sanitation of the cast iron frying pan were an issue, most of the deep south would have long been wiped out by some pathogen. 

Friday, July 23, 2021

Wily Chipmunks, Lurking Cats, and Innocent Joggers

 When walking Ellie and Marshall, I have learned there are several I need to be on the look out for several obstacles. When we are out before dawn around 5:30, we have encounters with runners wearing headlamps. If I happen to see them first, I can prepare Marshall so he will not take the oncoming runner as an approaching enemy. 

I have learned the walking schedules of the local dog owners. For instance, the older gentleman with his well behaved Jack Russell take their constitution at 7 am each morning. The other Ellie (an older Australian Shepard) is walked around 7:15 each morning, Several doors down a young man takes his 2, rather large, Labradoodles to work with him each morning. It is best not to be around his back door between 6:45 and 7:00, just saying. 

It is not that Marshall is vicious, quite the opposite, he is a very loving dog. He just has a 'funny' way of showing it. When confronted by a stranger, especially a male, he will start barking and lunging on his lead. Now remember he is a full size Yorkshire Terrier. A true dog lover will see his rapidly wagging tail and realize he is not out to get anyone.

Ellie on the other hand thinks everyone wants to be her friend and she never wants to deny them that opportunity. 

Over the past year or so, I have managed - most of the time - to avoid ugly confrontations. Of course the local squirrels and chipmunks have no schedule. They dart about, climbing trees and scurrying across the grass at their whim. I honestly think the chipmunks are very smart (and brave). If they notice us approaching, instead of running for cover, they will sit up and take notice. They seem to understand the lengths of the pups' leads and stay just 12 or 18 inches away. Needless to say this drives the pups mad.

But, we now have a new nemesis, a yellow house cat belonging to one of my neighbors. The feline stays outside most of the time. He lurks, much like the Cheshire Cat. He will sit quietly under a bush until we approach. At that time, he will make his way, very slowly and methodically, out into the open. At this point, he will sit and start methodically washing his face, knowing full well that the pups are restrained. 

By this time the pups, especially Marshall, are apoplectic.Yet the cat just sits there, seemingly unbothered.  I just try to round them up and drag them home. It is not a pretty sight. If I look back over my shoulder, I see cat slowly make his way back under the bush. I assume to lie in wait for the next unassuming dog and their owner.  

Any day I expect to round the corner and see an agitated rabbit scurrying about muttering that he is late. Meanwhile, all I am doing is trying to walk my dogs while avoiding any snags, wily chipmunks, lurking cats, or trips through the looking glass. 

Thursday, July 22, 2021

We All Love Our Southern Mothers - Eventually

This year, my mother would have been 89 years. Like most southern women, I had that love, hate, ignore, love relationship with her. As a baby we all dearly love our mothers  - what else do we know?

Then we start to age and the truth starts to rear its ugly head. Southern mothers dote on you as a child, dressing you as they did their Shirley Temple doll. Well, in my case it was in gingham and ric-rac that I swore led to most of the ills in my life and finally my road into therapy. In reality, they were expertly handmade dresses that not every mother had the skill to make. It was a practical way to dress a little girl who was growing quickly. Looking back on family photos, the dresses were not the precious smocked bishop dresses my granddaughter now wears, but they were cute, well made, and the appropriate thing for a four or five year old to wear in the early 1960's.

Years later, my brother and I were dealing with a raging alcoholic totally out of control. Every time the phone rang you never knew what it foretold. It could be mother dear, sober, calling to chat. It could be some unintelligible very southern accent trying to explain something that made no sense. Often it was my brother telling me of another "crisis" we had to deal with. Or, worse case, it would be some stranger informing me they had my mother and I needed to come get her. 

One can only deal with that stress for so long until you realize that the counselors are right - if she is not going to help herself - you cannot save her. So I walked away. For several years, I ignored her. We had no contact. If I could not save her, I did not need to have my life go down the drain with her. And, yes, it was hard to explain to family and friends why I had nothing to do with my mother.

Then drawing on that inner strength that all southern women have (if they decide to use it), she emerged sober, healthy, remorseful, asking forgiveness, and ready to live the rest of her life. That was the good news - Mama was back. Of course, once again, my life was complicated - Mama was back.

Even though we spent time together, there were the phone calls to instill guilt that came if there had been several days without any communication, "Well, I just wanted to make sure you were OK." or "I know you are so busy, but . .. " and always, "I just wanted to let you know that Mary Johnson died. The funeral is Tuesday. I know you do not have time to go, but figured you would want to hear it from me."

She was there to help me with the girls before they were old enough to take care of themselves. Looking back on it, our visits those last years of her life were an inspiration to me, watching this lady live her second life, helping anyone she could, thankful for every day she had, always telling me she was lucky to be here. Watching her walk with her four foot eight inch body slightly crooked to the left due to the bone breaks from the many falls while she had her proclivity with the bottle, was quite humorous but it never slowed her down. Learning (quickly) that anywhere she went in town required a circuitous route that included a trip past our house. And, if a car was there unexpectedly there would be the phone call. "I happened to be going out your way, and saw . . ."

When Cokie Roberts wrote her wonderful book, We Are Our Mothers' Daughters I found it frightening at first. Was I going to be like this to my daughters? But looking back on her life, I can only hope that I can have that zeal for life, that appreciation for every day, the unapologetic southern female disposition, and the love for my family that my Mama did. 

Now I have to read the obituaries myself to learn who died since Mama is no longer here to keep me apprised. 

As most of you know I wrote about my very southern mother in Sterling Silver and Dollar Stores  

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Slipping into Fashion and Ditching the Pantyhose

My Mama, my dear Grandmama, my holier than thou Aunt J'nelle, and my sweet Aunt Kat all counseled me from a young age - "Never leave home with dirty underwear - what happens if you are rushed to the hospital, what would the doctors think?" Of course they went further to drill in me that a young lady never wears a dress without a slip. I doubt young women these days even know what a "slip" is. But, I digress.

I remember when the teachers at our private school in the late 1970's requested, albeit very politely, to the board of trustees that they be allowed to wear proper "pant suits" to work in lieu of the required regime of dresses. After much ado behind closed doors, the board relented. No doubt the fact that some of the members were married to teachers and wished for peace at home may have had a bit to do with the concession. Life went on and the morals at the institution did not digress into a full "women's liberation" movement as was predicted by some of the old stalwarts.

Although I still enjoy dressing well,  am very comfortable in dresses and skirts, and even "high" heels don't bother me, years ago I took a bold personal wardrobe step and quietly ditched all my pantyhose. In the winter I will wear tights, which I have always adored, however, the diabolical sadist who designed such a thing as pantyhose had it in for women. And women bought the itchy, uncomfortable, and ugly scheme with sheer (no pun intended) joy thinking they had been freed. 

My generation was born well after the hose and garter years. Well, long after that style was relegated to the bedroom and Victoria's Secret. So I have no skin in that game - so to speak. As long as I show up presentable - as in clean clothes (especially underwear) that coordinate (no red plaids with fushia polka dots and orange stripes) that fit correctly and are stylish but not too trendy who gives a damn if I shirk masochism and ditch the pantyhose?

I have a friend who often asks, "Do these people have a mirror at home?" Didn't someone want to stop them from making a fool of themselves or exposing us to their disgusting failure in fashion? One does not have to have money to dress in a way that does not make them look like buffoons. Or worse yet, thinking they are a Milan model in their size 24 body - it ain't pretty. Like my daddy used to say - you can't put two tons of fertilizer in a one ton truck.

A prime example of all this came to me several years ago when I was attending the Celtic Festival and Highland Games. Many people were dressed in costume for the affair. There were colorful kilts and tartan scarves and wraps. Many of the outfits were down right elegant. Then there was this "lady" who either did not have a mirror at home, friends who cared about the impression she made, or she thought she still was that size 2, 16 year old girl she fondly remembered from years ago. And someone wants to castigate me for shucking my pantyhose. Seriously?

This Scottish lass was dressed in a bright red flowing gown topped with a bodice, laced so tightly she resembled a fat pig, complete with rosy cheeks. Added to that, the tonnag she was wearing resembled a tartan table cloth.


Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Ah, The Magnolias

I have recently taken up painting some of the photographs I have taken over the years. It is cathartic, relaxing, and each one brings back the memory of the subject. Where I took the picture, how I found it, and what it took to get there all come to mind. But all this aside, my work pales in contrast to my mother's talent. Mama could paint, very well, and in oils. 

My mother had many talents - seriously. She iwa a seamstress. (She made my all my school clothes until I went into total revolt.) She was a great cook. (Unfortunately, she never let me in the kitchen, so I never learned from her.) But most of all she was a very talented artist.  As I was growing up she would dabble in oils, a camellia here, a sea scene there, but her pes des resistance was a project she undertook as a present to my father in celebration of their 15th wedding anniversary. This mission of hers took a year to complete and turned our dining room into her private studio for that entire time. According to her - the light was right. Knowing her proclivity for the bottle, it was close to the liquor cabinet and the ice in the refrigerator.

The subject of the picture was Magnolias and it was large - 3 feet by 5 feet. So for a year she would go in and out of the dining room carrying various magazine articles on Magnolia grandiflora. The dining room table was covered with an oil cloth and she had an assortment of different tubes of paints and linseed oil. She would bring leaves and branches in to make sure she had the texture correct and in June the room had the delightful fragrance of the blossoms themselves as she refreshed her vases daily.

This was all behind closed doors - we were not allowed in. Once I crept in to survey her progress. There it was, this huge canvas, the background in dark gray with the beginnings of the leaves and branches. This was going to take a while. And it did. But eventually it was completed. On the back, she wrote in pencil, "To My Husband, Happy 15th Anniversary, With Love" and presented it to him. He was touched by the gift, she was proud of her work, I was thrilled the ordeal was over and we could have our dining room back. The picture went on the living room wall and our life went on.

Fast forward 20 years - during their divorce (our most recent unpleasantness). In one of her moments of non-sense, my mother demanded the Magnolia painting. She said it was her work and she was entitled to it. My father reminded her that it was a gift from her and he had her hand writing on the back to prove it. The Magnolia went to him. That very afternoon, he showed up at my front door with the painting. "I never want to see this again", he said as he handed it to me and left. I always liked the painting, so I put in on my dining room wall.

As many times as she was in and out of my house, my mother never commented on the painting. It was hard to miss. Most people don't have an original oil painting of that size hanging in their dining room. Then one day, she stopped and looked at it, and then looked at me. "When did you get that?" she asked.With that I knew her battle was over, my mother was back, and I was thrilled.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Not That I would Ever Judge Anyone

I don't mean to be judgmental, however there are times one has to question another human being's actions.

Yesterday I was standing in a fairly long line. While waiting I was privy to the conversation between to the two women in front of me. The first to speak was obese, could hardly walk, and generally looked unhealthy. Her friend was not in much better shape, but was most likely 75 pounds lighter which still put her in the extra large sizes. The conversation went like this:

"God, I'm finally going to get my knees done," said the first one. "I'm so tired of hobbling around, always being in pain, dealing with medication for high blood pressure, and now they say my sugar levels are high."

"Well good for you. I know that will make you feel better," said the second.

"I don't know about that, I am having to do so much to get ready."

"Like what?"

"Well, I'm pretty proud of myself. I've started watching what I eat - you know cutting out fatty and fried foods and pasta and bread. I've even started eating vegetables. When I go out anymore I try just to order a salad."

"Now that will make a difference."

"My doctor says so. He says it will lower my blood pressure, my triglycerides, my weight, and help with my knee. And it is really so easy. All I do is watch what I eat."

About this time we had reached the buffet table we had been so patiently waiting for. The first lady got her plate and added a good helping of pasta salad. Next was a nice green salad. She passed.

"Don't you want some of the salad?" asked her friend.

"Not today"

Then we moved onto to the fried chicken. She took a piece and hesitated. I could see what was going through her mind - her diet and her knees. I felt her pain. I had dieted before. Just then she put the large piece of chicken on her plate and picked up a second.

"You know I was only going to get one, but then I realized I would have to stand in line for a second piece. And with my knees and all...."

Naturally, not only did she get a heaping of BBQ, she made sure she had a bun to put it on as well as lots of sauce. By this time, I had had enough. I had no pity for her. We parted ways. I went to get some iced tea and she made her way to the desserts.

Obviously she had the easy part down - she was watching her food alright. 

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Back to the Future Without an E-Ticket

44 years ago, in the summer of 1977, I had the privilege of traveling around Europe with a good friend of mine. 

My father believed that my brother deserved a larger allowance and a new car given he would be dating and he would need the resources. While I was on a reduced allowance and drove a used AMC Gremlin because, after all in his mind - I would be dating and therefore, someone else would be paying for my dining and entertainment. Ah, but the days of southern chivalry were long gone before the 70's. However trying to explain that to my father was hopeless. Ironically he did not think twice about funding a trip to Europe. That, he saw (thankfully) as an experience everyone could learn from. But, I digress.

We set off from Lyon (after a Maymester class in France) armed with our Eurail Pass. Now, for those of you unfamiliar with a Eurail Pass, in those days this was the equivalent to a Disney E-ticket. (Showing my age, the original "E-ticket" was the ultimate ride ticket at Disney world on a scale that started with "A" - being the Mad Hatter Tea Cups to "E" that got you on Space  Mountain.) This magical pass allowed one to travel first class on any train, anywhere in Europe. And, at that time, the price for the pass was very reasonable. Better yet, unlike the US, most of Europe is accessible by train.

The trains were mostly new, well run, comfortable, reliable, fast, and always on time. Our pass not only gave us First Class seats but if we were on a night train, we had access to sleeper accommodations (that afforded us breakfast service of tea, jam, and fresh warm croissants served in our "room"). This came in handy when we were unable to find a place to stay due to lack of suitable or affordable hotels. If all else failed, we could take an overnight train to Amsterdam, usually the furthermost destination from wherever we found ourselves. Then the next morning we would take a short train ride to another destination we had yet to visit.

All this reminiscence comes forward to America's train service, or lack there of today. Amtrak has struggled for years to break even and serve the country. My experience  several years ago was an example. Where as in Europe, there is a train system from small towns to the major cities that crisscrosses the continent, in the States a few lines go up the Eastern Seaboard, across the country east to west, and up and down the west coast. Only the northeast has a decent train system, but even that is lacking.

Notification that our train was delayed was made in red pen on a small white board propped up at the ticket window. Unfortunately that notification was updated often given the delay ended up being almost 90 minutes. I will admit that Amtrak has a text messaging system that notifies passengers who had registered their cell phone numbers of the delays - however it lags behind the white board.

Instead of having a ticket with a seat number and designation as you board the train, your paper or phone is swiped electronically - new age! Then your seat is assigned (in some mysterious system) by an Amtrak employee crossing your name off a piece of paper as you step on the train. After you are seated (in your assigned seat) another employee comes and sticks a torn piece of paper with your destination handwritten on the luggage rack above your row. (Something akin to "Paddington" pinned to the Bear).

No doubt as one makes their way up the north east corridor and boards the Acela (the high speed upscale train that runs from Boston to DC) they will find themselves on board a modern train, that travels at high speeds offering amenities and comforts professional travelers expect. Customers can enjoy the Acela Cafe with fresh salads and craft beers. So I can say in this case after 44 years we have gone back to the future. 

Comparing my experience riding the train these days, as pleasant as it is, to the many train rides I enjoyed across Europe in 1977, I may as well have been  running through a pillar at King's Cross Station in London to find Platform 9¾ and catch the Hogwarts Express to Hogsmeade Station. It was hard to fathom that this was a mode of transportation, a quasi-government funded entity, of one of the most powerful nations in the world. 

Yes, we can send a man to the moon, develop nano technology (that only Michael Crichton can explain in his novel "Prey"),  design phones that are smarter than their users, yet we cannot make our trains run on time. Where is that DeLorean when we need it?

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Joe or Java

Staying on the "coffee" theme, I recently had a "Just where did that come from?" question. Why is the beverage often referred to as "Java". Well it seems that coffee was introduced to Southeast Asia by the Dutch in the 1600's. They initially planted coffee on islands in Bali and Sumatra. . . and Java. Originally coffees were noted as 'Single Origin", as in coming from one specific island. Think Sumatra. Over the years, the single origin references were dropped. However, for some reason all coffee started being referred to as 'Java'. So there!

And "Joe', as in cup of Joe? It all started with the US Navy. The story goes that Josephus Daniels was  Secretary of the US Navy during the Woodrow Wilson administration. On June 1, 1914, Secretary Daniels issued General Order 99 that prohibited alcohol aboard any US Navy vessel -not a popular move. Much to the dismay to the sailors, the strongest beverage available on a ship (boat or submarine) in the Navy was coffee. In response, a cup coffee on aboard began being called a "Cup of Joseph", which eventually became 'Cup of Joe'.

Of course there is also the thought that the that the origin of this reference was based on coffee being the one beverage that the common man could afford - Common Man as the 'Ordinary Joe'. Soon it was a cup of "Joe".

So now you know the rest of the story.

I'll spare you the sagas, the stories, the fables, etc of the origins of Coffee's other names, such as dirt, mud, brew, cuppa, daily grind, lifeblood, tar, rocket fuel, and worm dirt, to name a few. No doubt there's a good story there - or not.