Monday, June 11, 2018

Let's Be Creative!

As many of you may know, or have gleaned from what you’ve read here, I’m not much for foul language. Unless the word that starts with  F is “free” or “fantastic” I don’t want to hear it. And as for the C word – well – you better be talking about cheese and chocolate or I’ll scowl you into next Christmas.

On the other hand . . . I do love creative  language. For instance, the other day when the humidity crept through the back door and leaped onto my left shoulder, I knew within the next  ten minutes my hair would begin to “spoodge”. That’s a word I’ve created to describe the fuzz that overtakes my carefully coiffed locks when the air changes from the cool and dry of fall and winter to the ICK of summer.

Our mother, when confronted with a whiny child who wanted to stay home from school, dreamed up an illness for the teacher’s note she’d have to write the following day. Whichever kid it was was probably faking. Mom knew it. “I guess I’ll just say you had the thru-puppa-gudgeon.” Yup, that’s the word she used. It's a really cool all purpose disease. And I’ve probably spelled it wrong but I stretched it out like that so your own tongue could wrap around it for the silly thrill of saying it. Go ahead and repeat it a couple of times – I’ll wait. 

My mother-in-law was not one to use bad language, either. Thought it was low class. “There are millions of words in the English language,” she’d say shaking her finger in the offenders face. “You don’t have to use those!”  But this left her with having to be creative, too. And she was. My favorite was dopey dilldock. These words were most frequently used to describe my father-in-law who frequently transgressed and was the object of her ire. Frequently.

All through my life I’ve know people who are language wizards. Probably the one closest to me now is my friend, Marie. Hoooo boy. She has some doozies. On a few occasions we’ve attended ecumenical services together at the local Catholic church where the faithful “benuflect” before entering the pew. Once, at the butchers counter, she ordered “100 proof ” beef and failed to understand the laughter from the meat counter guy. Her husband could barely contain himself the time she looked at a restaurant menu and ordered, with complete sincerity, “chicken condom blue”. But her favorite term of utter disgust comes in the form of this plum, “dirty ratherford”. We know not from whence it sprang but she uses the phrase with vehemence when someone (aka her husband) trumps her ace as we’re playing pinochle. You don’t even want to be there.

Lastly, we have my new favorite You Tube stars, Diamond and Silk. Get these two blathering about politics and they’re going to expose a lot of S.ugar, H.oney, I.ced, T.ea that’s going on in the political realm. I just love ‘em. (Pssst – this was Mom’s favorite – ahem – expression of disdain but you didn’t hear that from me!)

So, that’s it from my side this morning. Have some creativity you’d like to share?  I’ll come back and read them later. I’ve gotta get moving on with my day. Gonna be hot and a bit muggy. Hello spoodgy hair.

Image: Free Digital Photos

Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day 2018

No One
By Susan Sundwall

No one won’t come home again
When no one goes to war
And brother slays not brother
On some clouded distant shore

No one will see poppies grow
‘Tween crosses row on row
But only wind kissed petals
Nodding there in glorious show

When no one calls the hell of war
By other than its name
And turns his back upon it
With horror and with shame

Will then there be a peace on Earth
And God will bless the more . . . when
No one won’t come home again
For no one goes to war

Image: Free Digital Photos

Monday, May 21, 2018

A Short Spring Drive

Sometimes an early spring drive is a worthy substitute for an early spring walk and I had one of those drives this morning. Had to go to the local blood draw lab and I wanted to be the first one there. They  open at 6:30. I was the second one there. But that’s probably because I didn’t rush myself. After all the sun was out and up and glorious. Not a cloud in the sky. Bliss.

Reaching the first stop sign, I had to wait for two vehicles.The second one made me ponder. It was a low riding street or drag car of some sort – all black. Like it just got its first undercoat and was right then being driven to a shop to be painted and detailed so as to inspire awe. If I hadn’t been on my way to see Dracula, I would have followed the guy to help him pick out the colors. Or not. Guys can be real funny about that stuff.

Being one of the few drivers on the road, the stillness of everything was delightful. I almost wished I were walking. There must have been a downy blanket of fog that had come over the land during the night and it was just dissipating as I moved along. Rolling down the country road I was able to see in the distance the Catskill Mountains nearly shrouded in that fog but reaching for the sun nonetheless. The streaky haze almost looked as though God himself had lit a fine cigar and blown silken smoke rings around the lofty peaks.

The perfection of my early morning trek to the lab had totally changed a half hour later as I made for home. (I got a nifty lime green arm wrap from the phlebotomist to show for my suffering – very cool). Anyway, the world had roused itself while I was chatting away trying very hard not to look at my blood filling her vials. The bank lawn was being mowed with a huge ride on mower. A little further down, at the elementary school, teachers were beginning to arrive and I knew the bus drivers were gearing up to begin their rounds to gather their young charges.The traffic circle was full of workers trying to beat each other to the jobs they all love. I could tell by the joy on their faces.

As I moved away from all this activity and got back onto the road leading to home, a barn swallow rose from the cover of some tall grass and swooped out to bebop alongside me for a few seconds. I smile and said “hello, birdie”. And then my driveway, hot coffee, and my breakfast – in that order – were calling to me and I was back at our little shack in the woods.

Yes sir, a Spring walk is a tonic, but sometimes a slow watchful drive is a pretty good substitute.

How has the season been treating you?

Image: Free Digital Photos

Monday, May 14, 2018

Repeating Myself

This is a repeat I hope you'll enjoy. The outside has been calling to me so I'm being lazy with the writing today. I got pansies and impatiens for Mother's Day and they're begging to be planted. 

Around Town                  

A couple of days a week I run errands around town. I always have my eyes and ears open so I can report back to you. It has nothing to do with national security but quite a bit to do with natural curiosity. For instance.

I was bee bopping along the road, having just come from the post office, when ahead on my right, on the sidewalk, it appeared as though someone had forgotten to take off their Halloween costume. Was this a Mr. Potato Head on steroids? The top part of this costume was brown and crinkly and there were feet attached. It was a real fight to keep the car on the road as I drew near. But the mystery was soon solved. I whipped my head back to see a rather short woman carrying a largish bag of laundry on her head. No hands! Yeesh. Wish I had balance like that.

And then yesterday hubby and I, along with our daughter-in-law, took advantage of the discount offered to veterans at a local store. 25% off. Yay and let’s shop. We went our separate ways to cover all aisles and I wound up in food (bet you’re surprised there, huh?). So I’m discriminating like crazy against all the chocolate covered biscotti, extra large bottles of olive oil, etc. And then I see a little yellow box. Of sugar cubes. Sugar cubes! I picked it up and marveled. When was the last time you saw those? A flash from my childhood came back. In the late 50’s some clinics put the polio vaccine, a pink blob of it, on sugar cubes so kids would take it. Innovative. Mostly the cubes were used for coffee and tea, though. Oh, and sugar cube igloos. Can’t leave that out. Sugar cubes were a craft supply beloved of third grade teachers in those days.

This morning I woke up with the theme from On Golden Pond drumming through my head. Good grief, where had that come from? But suddenly I recalled a trip to DC one year with my sister and her family. We were wandering through a beautiful hotel lobby when we saw the baby grand. Nobody was around and my sister claimed that Laura could play this beautiful piece of music. To prove it she did. Her fingers found all the right keys and it was lovely, just lovely. And no bell hop came to shoo us.

Funny the things that happen on otherwise ordinary days. All you have to do is keep your eyes and ears open. Don’t you love it?

Image: My late brother, Jim’s, old truck

Monday, May 7, 2018

Laugh a Little

At what age does a personality trait begin to show in a child? Does a fussy eater become a no nonsense, everything in the proper order kind of adult who still doesn’t like his mashed potatoes to touch the green beans on his dinner plate? Does the little girl who is the first to jump into the freezing lake – in March – become the go gettum enthusiastic sky diving reporter? I don’t know about them, but I do know of myself that I have loved, from a very early age, making people laugh. Today, in honor of laughter and it’s attending wisdom, I’m highlighting popular quotes from some wise comedians of old who have left their mark on me. I hope you enjoy reading them and the comments that I just can’t resist making.

Will Rogers (1879 – 1935)

“Even if  you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”

Wow, how true is this? Get your behind moving along that track cuz’ the next train is coming along to sniff your caboose. You really want that?

“Good judgment comes from experience and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.”

Oh, man, been there every week and done that every day. Right? It’s how we learn.

Satchel Paige (1906 – 1982)

“Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.”

My husband, “You know what old Satchel Paige used to say . . .” and then he uses this quote to fend off inquiring minds. It always gets a chuckle probably because it deserves to and it keeps that train moving down the track!

“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?”

Twenty five and for the rest of my life. Oh, how wise was old Satchel.

Don Rickles (1926 – 2017)

“Italians are fantastic people really. They can work you over in an alley while singing an opera.”

We have Got to re-learn how to laugh at ourselves. Don’s nobody's- off- limits “insult humor” has cracked me up since I was a little girl. We only lost him last year and it was a very sad day for comedy.

Bob Hope (1903 – 2003)

“Middle age is when your age starts to show around your middle.”

The reason I still make up my eyes and wear bright shiny lip gloss is to distract from my age around my middle. Look into my eyes when we’re talking, dear friend, and I mean it.

“I have seen what a laugh can do. It can transform almost unbearable tears into something bearable, even hopeful.”

Thank you Mr. Hope. You have spoken my heart. As someone who graced the earth for over a hundred years you prove the old adage, “laughter is the best medicine.” Causing laughter, the good kind, may be one of your own personality traits. If so, be sure to share it with others every day if you’re able. They’ll love you for it. Promise.

Image: Free Digital Photos

Monday, April 30, 2018

Mountains, Valleys and Garlic Bread

The Adirondack mountains in upstate New York are awesome. A perfect place for a retreat with a bunch-o-women you’ve known and loved for many years. Camp of the Woods sits aloft at the edge of Lake Pleasant and helps you push your real world troubles away if only for a little while. Jeans and sneakers, prayer and laughter, tears and hugs – it’s all in the glorious mix. That’s how I spent two of my weekend days and part of a third before I had to take off down the mountain for the valley below.

But there was wonder in the valley, too. Our near perfect grandson (said his grandmother) Sam, was confirmed in the faith in a beautiful old church in Hudson yesterday. For this I gladly left the lofty mountain perch. We carefully made our  twisted way up the tiny stairs in the church turrets to get into the crowded balcony of Holy Trinity where we seated ourselves and peered below. What a sight greeted us. The altar was swathed in golden light and gorgeous flowers. the choir was resplendent in red. The stained glass windows rose around us and told the tale of our Christian heritage. The robed priests added dignity and solemnity to the occasion. Sam and his sponsor, Grandma Johnson, accepted the blessing of the bishop with grace and humility. My eyes brimmed.

Later, at her always lovely home, we celebrated with too much food, fun, games and happy chit chat. I brought the garlic bread. I was, and wasn’t, surprised by the compliments about how good it was. It’s what I always make. So this is how I’ll break it down from a faith point of view then you get the recipe.

The bread is the basic element. The ordinary stuff of life – jeans, sneakers, prayer and laughter. Where we all are most of the time and needing our daily bread. On occasion we require more. Some butter and olive oil, chunks of garlic, herbs – the set apart bits that add richness to life. Sacred things like dedicated altars, towering arches and priestly blessings. They come more rarely but are all the more precious for it. And then there is the sharing. We are made to love and break bread with each other. To rest in the mountains and toil in the valleys together hashing out what life it all about with tears of joy, anger, surprise and release.

It makes me want to share with you my garlic bread recipe. Can’t help it, so here you go.

Garlic Bread

1 loaf of Italian bread cut into medium thick slices and laid out on cookie sheet
1 stick butter melted in a saucepan with ¼ cup olive oil
Add 4 large garlic cloves coarsely chopped and a dash of garlic powder
Half a teaspoon each of dried sweet basil and oregano
A quantity of grated parmesan cheese (you decide how much)
Let butter mixture blend together in pan until bubbly then spread on bread
Place under broiler for 1 minute (or a little longer, but Watch!)

Serve joyfully

Up in the mountain, down in the valley, in all the places of your life, bitter or sweet, lofty or lowly do break bread with someone over this loaf. Life and love are worth it.

Image: Free Digital Photos

Monday, April 16, 2018

Lovely Things

There will always be wars and rumors of war but I’d like to briefly depart from the daily news and remind you today of some of the lovely things. We have them in our lives all around and we shouldn’t let them be pushed aside by horrible and awful, those twin destroyers of our peace and sanity. Pause here with me and consider these.

If you are fortunate enough to live where you can hang your laundry on a clothesline and know what it’s like at the end of a weary day to slide in between wind kissed sheets you are truly blessed. The scent alone can carry you to a sunny, wholesome place, perhaps from childhood, where the troubles of the day drop away as you drift off to sleep. Shun the dryer, make the effort, and it will be worth it. Promise.

Dogs and cats, bluebirds and butterflies. Creatures of another kingdom that neither plant nor reap and yet enrich our lives like nothing else. Gifts that come to us with whiskers and velvet ears, rosy feathered breasts and divinely patterned wings. Sometimes we only catch them out of the corner of our eye, but oh, how we need that. Stroke your furry companion, feed the birds and chase the butterfly. Bliss.

The pure laughter of the littlest among us is a thing to be treasured. Every mother, father, sibling, grandparent, aunt and visiting neighbor will try to get that first giggle from the infant in front of them. It’s one of the few sounds of genuine delight on this earth and we crave it. In the baby belly laugh there is no guile, no agenda and no self. It’s an echo of Heaven coming to us from a tiny envoy who will only possess it for a very short while. If you’re the first to hear it, God has smiled on you.

From the CEO of the giant corporation to the guy who picks up your weekly trash, to the battle worn teacher, each and every one  will pause in the kitchen doorway where baking is going on. Loaves of fragrant bread, the spicy scent of gingersnaps or a bubbling apple pie – they call to us. It doesn’t just say “home” it says “Home at last!” and grabs you by the heartstrings. You want to be there with the world outside of the door you just shut – hard. Sit down, loosen your tie, take off your shoes and feed. Once in a while your soul needs just such. Indulge whenever you can.

We can’t ignore the world. It’s after us. But we can take quick moments to look at what else is there, riding alongside, given to us in full measure. Look for the lovely things. 

Image: My sweet violets