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Through The Screen Door

"Nostalgia is like a grammar lesson; you find the past perfect and the present tense"

Mass Hysteria, Mayhem, & The Media

March 16, 2011

Panic, Panic, Arm-Flailing panic!

For those of you who don’t know me personally, I work at a health food store.  And for those living under a rock with no access to TV, internet, newspapers, telegraph, or the pony express, Japan is having shall we say, “some issues”.
As most of us are turning our thoughts and prayers towards those unfortunate people, a select few are selfishly concerned, as usual, with themselves.

I have had a barrage of people pouring into where I work, bombarding us with phone calls asking frantically, and often rudely, if we have iodine pills.  What does iodine have to do with anything you might ask?  Well, I’ll tell you.  Iodine (ours is from kelp) helps alleviate radioactive sickness by protecting the thyroid from the damage that would normally occur with radioactive poisoning.  The best form for this purpose is potassium iodide which specifically targets T131 radioactive iodine, but I digress!

The point is, the Japanese people are THERE.  The danger is in their backyard, they have lost countless loved ones, with many still unaccounted for.  And yet, they are calm, polite, and respectful.  They have not lost their humanity or their dignity.  The people I am dealing with, that are so panicked, probably haven’t suffered anything more tragic in recent months, than mustard on their burger when they ordered ketchup only.

A woman became irate on the phone today, when I couldn’t tell her for certain, the impact this disaster will have on her food and water, or what she should put on her skin to protect herself.  She went on to say, she had already called the health department and they were as unhelpful as I was.  (We health nuts have known all along that a huge disaster was coming you see, but since you always look at us like we’re bananas, we’re keeping the secret of survival for ourselves!  Muahaha!)

Besides her charming self, I probably had 15 to 20 similar phone calls throughout the day.  I find the mass arm flailing panic fascinating, if a bit annoying at times.  Here’s the thing, everyday the sun beats down radiation on our heads.  Frankly, plastering your nose against the glass of your WalMart special microwave, in eager anticipation of your incinerated TV dinner isn’t exactly healthy.  Nor is the gluttonous consumption of the high fructose corn syrup, MSG, preservative, sodium, and hydrogenated oil – laden TV dinner in question.  That beloved friend of all friends, the one none of us can live without, the cell phone, emits radiation.

But do you think it sunk in when I mentioned any this in passing?  Or when I pointed out there are numerous reasons, this won’t be another Chernobyl?  Yeah, you guessed it, in one ear and out the other.  Common sense is sadly uncommon these days!
I’m not saying there is absolutely no danger whatsoever.  I’m just saying it’s interesting how we ignore health risks that stare us in the face everyday, then panic right on cue when the media tells us to.  They’re the news, it’s their job to sensationalize, to make a bad situation seem ever so much worse than it is in actuality.  Heck, they’re STILL dragging out Lindsay Lohan’s alcoholic train wreck of a life!

So here’s my professional advice to all you habitual Lemmings out there, following others over the proverbial cliff of mass panic: First off, get some aluminum foil on the old cranium to protect that precious gray matter.  Adults first, then children.  Kind of like the oxygen masks on airplanes, that way if anyone passes out, it’s all good baby!  Next, get you, your family, and those 2,000 bottles of kelp I know you’re hoarding into your basement ASAP.  Oh, and I wouldn’t eat or drink til all this is over, because the threat of contamination is simply too great a risk.  As for the rest of us, we’ll keep up with what’s going on, cautious but optimistic.

And in closing, here’s a thought to ponder as you sit in your cold leaky basement, with your family staring at you like you’re a madman: Kelp grows in the ocean…all that radioactive vapor is floating over the ocean….just a thought……………………………….

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Lazy Day Pot Roast (via A Muse in my Kitchen)

March 15, 2011

Does this not look AMAZING? It’s still cloudy enough for me to get excited about a warm pot roast and some cozy sourdough bread steaming from the oven! Plus, it’s super easy and flexible which makes it even better! Don’t you just love all her gorgeous pictures? I’m hungry…..lol

Lazy Day Pot Roast On Sundays, I usually make 'mega-meals' which means a meal that is bigger than for the two of us. It's a meal to split three ways – for us, for his parents and for my parents. Both our parents are aging and while they get "Meals On Wheels" – it gives me great pleasure to give them a homemade meal each week. I'm am sharing with you the most incredible, flexible pot roast recipe EVER! Seriously, this recipe gives you the guidelines and basics…all … Read More

via A Muse in my Kitchen

The Perils Of Insomnia

March 7, 2011

This face wants a Snuggie

Sometimes, I can’t sleep.  Or more accurately, sometimes Honey can’t sleep, and drags me down with him.  So there we sit, in a blood-shot droopy-eyed stupor, before that flickering god, the television.  And I have to ask, am I the only one who’s noticed that the most random stuff is advertised late at night?

Everything from face wash, hair accessories, and house wares to sex toys, stuff to fix your cars paint job, and that pedophile, the Slap-Chop Guy!  Maybe they figure nobody in their right mind is up at that hour anyway, so they won‘t be receiving any nasty phone calls from connoisseurs of television fodder, complaining of the lack of intelligent content?

The few times my sleep-deprived self has been conscious during that witching hour of infomercials, I’ve been utterly dumbfounded at the wide array of products being peddled!  Once or twice, my bleary eyes have deceived me into thinking perhaps I too cannot live without such necessities, as the equipment for Snooki hair or matching Snuggies for Cassidy and I!

The “3 easy payments” make it oh so much more tempting.  Why, these benevolent individuals, are practically giving this stuff away.  AND, if you order in the next 3 minutes, you get a 2nd whatchamajiggy for FREE!  Some of them have a little timer in the corner of the screen, to prey on your more high-strung tendencies, by letting you know how much of your 3 minutes, is now gone forever.  This means that not only do you have a life altering commitment to make, but now there’s a TIME LIMIT as well.

I mean, who doesn’t need a Made-In-China Noodle-Cooking, Toe Nail-Clipping, Coffee-Brewing, Hair-Drying-station for their counter?  And you know it’s virtually indestructible; because they show a car running over it!  Some paunchy guy with a beer gut, has supposedly had his for well over 10 years, and it’s still as good as the day he bought it.
And there’s an undeniable sincerity about Slap-Chop-Sham-Wow-Guy that says “Trust me, I help old ladies across the street and save puppies!”

Thus far, I am proud to say, I have resisted the sirens call of random junk! The moral of the story being, if you can’t sleep, try shutting off the TV and kicking it old school, with warm milk and cookies (homemade of course).  The mental (not to mention financial) trauma is greatly reduced.  And besides, the weather is warming up already, so matching Snuggies just wouldn’t be practical.

Spring…..will it ever get here…?

February 28, 2011

After my shower last night, as I toweled off and watched the steam continue to rise in the arctic zone that is my bathroom, I was already anticipating the delicious warmth of my down comforter. Until you’ve lived in a drafty old lady with hardwood floors, you my friend, have not been truly cold! I dried off and threw on PJs as fast as I could, charged out the bathroom door, barreled up the stairs, and burst into our bedroom……ahhhh, toasty pellet stove induced warmth!

In my opinion, one of the big selling points of our house, aside from the big yard, was the pellet stove in the master bedroom. For me, it was love at first sight! And now that I know how frigidly cold the place can get, the practicality is a major factor as well. Let me tell you, there’s nothing quite like a cold December night, burrowed deeply beneath a feathery comforter with Honey and dogs, falling asleep to the lullaby of flickering flames. It’s the coziest feeling in the world!

Which reminds me, what is up with the weather?! I’m starting to think “Sunny California” and “Global Warming” are mass marketing ploys!

Just a few weekends ago, I was cavorting about my garden, in a tank top, planting boysenberries with my Dad, Honey and critters. My friend Anna published a post about it on her blog LocalChoices

My baby fruit trees have more faith than I do, they are determinedly pushing out buds. Most of the almond orchards nearby seem to agree as they doggedly cling to blossoms. This afternoon wasn’t too frigid. I got to be outdoors in the sunshine for a little while at least. That’s one thing I don’t like about working full time indoors (one thing of many, but that’s a whole other conversation!), I feel as if I never see sunlight! I make up for it every weekend during the summer though. I frolic barefoot in the garden, ride my beach cruiser, and let the dogs take me for a walk.

As I sit cuddled in a blanket with Cassidy (German Shorthaired Pointer who is a professional snuggler and snooze champion), as close to the stove as we both dare, I have decided to use the remaining cold to plan out my garden and “mini farm”. My Dad is going to help me build the raised beds I want. I will most likely elicit help with the chicken coop as well. I’ve never built a residence for poultry and it seems an undertaking fraught with potential mishaps and failures! I am determined however. Every backyard farmer worth their salt has chickens and a garden!

Besides, being the “Pied Piper” to a flock of clucking “Ladies” is something everyone should experience at least once in their life! And it’s common knowledge that cookies taste ever so much yummier if you’ve collected the eggs yourself. Oh yes, I’m starting to get excited. Spring will be here soon.

After all, trees never lie!

The Price of Love

February 16, 2011

Well Valentine’s Day has passed, taking with it all those frothy ads that make you feel like you’re relationship isn’t valid without 50 karats of sparkling adoration! Last night, as I waited in line at the grocery store, I couldn’t help but notice all the signs and, well, RED and PINKNESS blasting me from every nook and cranny of the store. Ads for bouquets of flowers, chocolates, cards, and all the usual accoutrements were springing from every shelf, ready to pounce at a moment’s notice on unsuspecting passersby. There was a huge display at every checkout for those derelicts of society (you know who you are), who wait until the last minute, or forget completely, to get something for their significant other.

As I drove home, an ad came on the radio for some jewelry store. I don’t recall the exact wording, but it was something to the effect of “Show her how much she means to you this Valentine’s Day with a ‘blah blah’ karat ‘blah’ hand picked just for her, from our exclusive collection”. And I got to thinking…….

When did we decide love has a price tag? Since when does the size, and extravagance of a gift dictate how much affection I should read into the gesture? When did my Honey seeing something, and thinking of me, cease to be sufficient?

Well, I for one, think we should take Valentine’s Day back. It’s something we ought to have done sooner, and should probably be done with most holidays (yes mass marketing, I’m talking to you, you players of Christmas music in October).

Our rebellion against the retail machine began when my husband and I, now get ready for this, stayed home for the evening! And the plot thickens, we cooked, and *gasp* he did not buy me a card or flowers. The stunned silence is palpable, but before you have an apoplexy, hear me out on what we DID do!

We barbecued steaks, and I made raviolis with marinara, asparagus with olive oil, garlic, and asiago cheese, béarnaise sauce for the steaks, and baked sourdough bread. Dinner was, if I do say so myself, fanfreakintastic! The crowning glory of the meal, was a German Chocolate Cake with chocolate chips, made by my charming person, from scratch, with love. It’s Austin’s favorite so I try to make it at least on Valentine’s Day!

And while I did not get anything brown, sparkly, or flowery, he DID buy me the little vacuum coffee maker I’ve been coveting for months. A random gift granted, but it will last MUCH longer than flowers, and now, every morning when I make my coffee, I think of him and smile.

When Austin asked me later, if I was disappointed that we didn’t do, and I didn’t receive, the traditional Valentine’s Day fare, I assured him I was perfectly delighted with our evening.

Here’s the thing; if you’re with the one you love, it doesn’t matter if you live under a bridge, you will be happy. The richness of your life doesn’t depend upon what you have or how far up the corporate ladder you climb, but how deeply you love, and are loved. So in the true spirit of Valentine’s Day (albeit belated) and bucking the system, forget the checkbook, shut off the T.V., slam the door on those dirty dishes, and spend some time with those who are truly important!

Superbowl Blessings

February 9, 2011

Well that purely American holiday, known simply as “Super Bowl”, has come and gone, taking with it promises of fame, fortune, the pursuit of buffalo wings, and the perfect  beer commercial.  I am one of 5 people in the entire country that didn’t watch the event.  There was a time, long ago, when I still cared.  But alas, I am a football fan in mourning.  I was still in training bras the last time my team made the Super Bowl.  And so, I am boycotting the sport as a whole!  It may be the wrong way to deal with my grief, but so be it.

This year, I was more excited about a family get together and good food than a bunch of overgrown boys in spandex grappling for a small section of what used to be a cloven-hoofed barnyard resident.  How good said boys happen to look in aforementioned spandex is of course, completely irrelevant.

As is customary at our family functions, we ate ourselves silly first thing.  This was followed by taking the dogs for a walk to work off some of our gluttony, and when we got back to the house, a rousing game of Boggle was in order!

For reasons unbeknownst, probably to any of us, we always fail to peruse the directions before playing.  This results in rules being made up as the game progresses which, in theory sounds plausible, but in actual application, doesn’t work well at all.

Spirited altercations break out over issues such as whether or not names, abbreviations, or slang are admissible.  At least one party insisted phonetic spellings and/or ebonics should be allowed.  This assertion was followed rapidly by the adamant protestations of others involved, that rules and dictionaries exist for a reason.  Harsh words and red hot candies were flung across the table. Since it was becoming obvious that Boggle was hurtling us at an alarming rate towards physical violence, the decision was made to switch games to Taboo.

My 2 sisters in law were on a team, and I was paired with my brother in law.  From the outset, it was apparent, the girls had an unfair advantage…
When you grow up together, you have shared experiences of random events and persons that the rest of the world is oblivious to.  Example: Their word was “Baskin Robbins”.  The clue she gave went something to the effect of “In the 2nd grade, your best friend’s 3rd cousin twice removed, owned one of these”.  At her partner’s rapid-fire answer, exhibiting not a whit of hesitation, my brother in law and I stared at one another in mute horror.  This was bad….very….very.…bad!  To make matters worse, for some reason, whenever my frantic eyes stared at those forbidden “Taboo” words on the back of the card, my vocabulary shriveled to contain only them.  Combine that with the time factor, and it made for a rolicking party!

At first, my comrade and I acquiesced defeat before we had even begun.  But somewhere along the way, we were struck by a fiendish desire to win.  After all, others had triumphed over greater obstacles than the bonds of sisterhood.  By golly, we wouldn’t be going down without a fight!  Aside from his feverish clutching of the penalty buzzer as he hunched menacingly over my sister in laws shoulder, and my gleeful shouting of “You’re out of time so it doesn’t matter!!!” as the last remnants of sand trickled to oblivion in the base of the timer, I think we handled the whole thing with dignified class and stellar sportsmanship.  The priority is to have fun you know. The final installment in our day of shenanigans was my sister in laws to-die-for cupcakes with homemade frosting.  When it comes to her frosting, the cupcake is merely a tool to facilitate its transport to your mouth!

Later that night, as my honey and I loaded the dogs into the Jeep to head home,  I couldn’t help but feel blessed.  Life gets crazy, scary, confusing, stressful, overwhelming, and on occasion, downright depressing,  but I am frequently reminded to count my blessings.  At the end of the day, I get to sleep every night beside the love of my life, my family, both the one I was born into, and the one I acquired by marriage, is always there for me, my friends are few but dear, and no matter how questionable my character may become, my dog thinks I can walk on water!

Beauty

February 1, 2011

 

Beauty is only skin deep……
How many times did we hear that growing up? How many mothers, have repeated that litany faithfully, through the emotionally compromised, hormone infused angst, that is adolescence? Sad to say, most of my own Mother’s reassurances in regards to my looks and personality, fell upon deaf ears. As a teenage girl, your main goal in life after all, is to be beautiful! That, and she could never provide a satisfactory answer to my smug accusation that no mother would tell her daughter she should be sporting a bag on her head in public, regardless of whether or not it was true!

I had forgotten most of those conversations, until the other day. An older lady, who wasn’t one of our regulars, came into the store. She was all done up, right down to her 1940’s hairstyle and red lipstick. What really got my attention, was her infectious smile and how absolutely beautiful she still was!

As I helped her shop, we chatted about her children and grandchildren. Her love and commitment to her family was very apparent! After the war, she married her high school sweetheart, who had been a sailor. While many of her friends were writing “Dear John” letters, she was admonishing her navy boy, to come home safely!

Her eyes welled up a bit, when she mentioned, he’d been gone 5 years now. She said there was never a doubt in her mind, he had been the one for her. Then she smiled at unseen memories, and laughed that there HAD been a time or two she’d had to set him straight!

She got out her wallet to show me a picture, taken of them together, right after he was drafted. I leaned forward, expecting to see a gorgeous girl, next to a strapping lad in whites. But there, in black and white, was a kind looking boy, and a girl next door with a sweet face! She wasn’t unattractive, but she wasn’t the beauty I had anticipated.

Watching her gaze lovingly at that picture, transported to what used to be, I realized that over the years, her inner goodness and strength of character, had become so much a part of who she was; when you looked at her, that beauty was all you saw.

As usual, Mom was right all along………

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