Friday, November 30, 2012

A Great Read!

I love to read!

Really, I do love to read but I just don't seem to do enough of it much of the time. Both my daughters also love to read too and occasionally one of us will find a book that we especially enjoyed and try to insist that the others read it and hopefully, that they too will enjoy said book as well.

Last week, my older daughter called and in the course of our conversation, she told me about a book she had just finished and that I should read. I told her to bring it up here sometime when she's home for a visit and then, made a mental note to myself about the name of this book she was touting so heavily but figured -knowing my daughter -it probably would be a while before she would remember she had said she was going to bring this book up here.

The very next night though, she and grandson Alex popped in to spend the night and the first thing she did was to hand me this book and tell me, over and over, that I absolutely HAD to read it because it was just a truly fascinating story and she just knew I would like it.

The next day, when she left to go home, the last thing she said as she went out the door was to shout out a reminder to me to be sure to read that book now!

And so, that's how I came to sit down -pretty much for the next two days -and read this book "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloots.

Normally, non-fiction -unless it is history of some type, is not that high on my reading likes list and this particular book is non-fiction. Plus, it is also about science and medicine and discoveries and such and I wasn't sure I'd enjoy this piece.

But to my surprise, this piece is not some really dry -like the Saharra Desert that some non-fiction books resemble (in my opinion, anyway). Not at all like that!

As a matter of fact, within a few minutes and the turn of several pages, I was hooked on the story of this woman and the legacy she left behind that has been of benefit to probably just about anyone born since the late 50s!

Henrietta Lacks was a young woman, married with five young children back in 1951 when she succumbed to a horrible and excruciatingly painful death from cervical cancer.

Now your asking how could someone who died then and of cervical cancer have done something so momentous that it would affect virtually the entire world.

Well, at that time and for several decades after that too, any lab tests that doctors may have required of anyone and also, any autopsy results too, could be used by any other doctors and scientists without prior authorization from either the patient or the family. And, that's what happened when Henrietta died as various lab test results and cell tissues and autopsy cell tissues too that were secured from her body were used by a medical scientist in Baltimore, at Johns Hopkins University Hospital. From various tests this doctor ran on her cell tissues, he made a discovery that her cells kept growing -and growing -and growing!

To this day, remarkably, her cells are still dividing and growing and being used in all kinds of test procedures!

Today they are known to the medical and scientific community as He La cells -named after the first two letters of Henrietta's first and last names.

That alone is a remarkable thing to read about and learn that her cells have been used in many, many studies over the past 60 years now that have brought about momentous changes in detection of diseases as well as the creation of various medicines and vaccines -in particular, the Salk Polio Vaccine for one, and have been part of all kinds of studies of just about any and every illness or drug imaginable.

But that alone isn't what makes this book and the story so stunning.

It's also the story of Henrietta's family -her husband, her five children as well as others who were a part of her extended family. And in that respect, it is the story of how her own family had no clue for well over 20 years that her cells had been used in experiment after experiment and had produced so many spectacular results too.

Her family though, was also dirt poor and although the use of her cells grew into a multi-million dollar business eventually, her family never received a penny of compensation from this industry. For that matter, neither did the doctor who made the initial discovery as he gave away cells tissues to other doctors and scientists because of his belief in the sharing principles of the medical science community.

Incredible, isn't it? To think of something like that happening today is a bit of an impossibility, isn't it?

But back then, it turns out it was basically the norm and it stayed that way until I think the mid-to late 90s when finally rules and regulations and laws were set up so that patients had to give consent to the retrieval and usage of their cells plus other ethical edicts were also then brought about -finally!

This book though details everything Henrietta endured, how her passing affected her family then and throughout the years and the author does an excellent job of painting a picture of her, her children and family and friends and of what their lives were like then and up through the present time with her very well-chosen prose.

It really is an awesome story and a definite fast paced page turner of a book too!

I would recommend this book highly to anyone wanting a good read and a chance to learn a good bit along the way about the medical-science community. It has humor and great sadness in the story as well but as each page is turned, you find yourself anxious to move on and find out what happened next.

Get yourself a copy and see if I'm exaggerating my opinion of this book for yourself.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thumbs Up!

This has been quite the week here -busy, busy -yes and some not so happy moments but a whole lot more that were really great and funny.

This past Monday my week began with a funeral and funeral dinner at our church. A neighbor lady, who lived two doors up the street from my house for almost all of her 83 years here was laid to rest. Her passing marked the end of her family which had been her, her parents and a brother. Good neighbors they all had been too -quiet, unassuming, hard-working people. Rest in peace, Genevieve.

Tuesday was the lunch date for those classmates of mine and I to get together. We have switched the day of the month for our lunches from the last Thursday of the month to the last Tuesday so as to give one of our classmates the opportunity to dine with us.

This month though, things were a tad different.

First off, my grandkids were still on break for Thanksgiving plus the first two days of deer hunting season are always part of that holiday break too and since Mandy had to work that day, I had the honor of taking Maya and Kurtis to the lunch with me. The restaurant where we meet is about 6 miles from my house and the entire drive from the house to the restaurant consisted of Gram giving these two hooligans a lecture on behavior -what they were to do and specifically, what they were NOT to do too. Talking -especially very loud talking -was one of the points of my lecture and Maya did quite well with that but then too, around a group of people (all adults), some who she's never met before, she does tend to clam up and get a bit shy.

Kurtis, on the other hand, talked and talked and talked but at least, he wasn't really loud so that was okay with me. He made up virtually immediately when former classmate, Helen, arrived and definitely provided her with all kinds of questions about everything and anything I think that came to his mind.

He especially likes this particular restaurant for the decor they have all around the place consisting of fish and other marine-type life as well as large and small models of all different kinds of sailing ships too. Normally, he concentrates on "the big puffer fish" they have there but this visit, he spied a few other things too -one of which was a lantern. He made a point of asking Helen loads of questions about the lantern, how it worked, when and where it was needed and so forth.

Then he spied something else on display and asked me "What's that thing up there, Gram?"

Now, I dare you to try to figure out what a six-year-old is pointing at when a question like this pops up.

I asked him what he was pointing at and he kept repeating "That. See it? That, up there!"

"Up where, Kurtis?" as I was trying to figure out exactly what he was asking about and his response then was "Can't you see it? It's right on the tip of my finger where I'm pointing!"

None of us could figure out what had caught his eye, even after we asked him to try to describe it by color or size or did it look like something else, maybe? Finally, he ended up getting up off his chair and walked around to the end of the table and pointed more directly up to it and then, was told it was a turtle and the way it was on this little pedestal, it looked like the turtle was flat but actually, it was just supposed to be a turtle swimming.

He returned to his seat, all happy and excited as he tugged on Helen's arm and told her, "We solved the mystery, Helen. It's a turtle!"

After lunch, I had to drive into town to the bank and from there, out to the diner where Mandy works for a brief stop. Then on to the Sheetz store so I could pick up a copy of the Tuesday paper and from there then, headed back home.

As I pulled out onto Rte 53, the two kids in the back seat were both being quiet, pretty well-behaved but then Maya spoke up saying "Gram. Kurtis just called me a bad name!" Uh oh, here we go!

I told her I hadn't heard him say anything so to keep this little issue of hers going, she says "Well, he whispered it to me." Yeah, right! The last thing in the world that he can do is whisper anything. His version of a stage whisper or even a for real whisper is loud enough that anyone within three feet of him could hear him.

So I asked Kurtis if he had called Maya a name and if so, what had he said. (He is generally very up front and honest and will almost always admit to things regardless of it will land him in hot water or not.

This time though, I could see him in the rearview mirror as he leaned over a bit towards Maya and in the softest voice he could muster up, he told her "I love you, Maya!"

I totally cracked up laughing, pounding on the steering wheel as I drove down the road towards home! What a character he is!

Last evening, after supper, while his TSS -Miss Dawn -was still here, she and I sat at the dining room table and worked with him a bit on his reading and spelling words -trying to prep him a bit for a spelling test he's supposed to have this week. One of the words on his list was the word "thank" and I noticed he had spelled it incorrectly, starting the word with an "f" and not a "th" and I realized he frequently makes the same mistake in pronunciation of the "th" sound. So Dawn and I really pushed him then to say it as "thank" and not as "fank." Finally, he said the word correctly and then repeated it several times for us too.

Feeling I was on a bit of a roll getting him to pronounce the "th" sound, I put my left hand up and pointing to my thumb, I asked him "What's this, Kurtis?"

He immediately responded to my question with a great answer -:"Right!"

Dawn and I both exploded in laughter on that one!

Yes, a thumb's up does signal "Right" doesn't it?

It definitely wasn't the answer I expected but I loved it all the same!

Friday, November 23, 2012


It's the day after Thanksgiving and boy, I need some more sleep!

Just took my morning Blood Sugar reading and it was a nice, low 95 -which is pretty darned good considering all I ingested yesterday. I was pretty sure it would be elevated today what with having had the usual goodies for supper -turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli and cauliflower with nacho cheese sauce, baked beans, lots of gravy and pumpkin pie -followed later with a feast of the sugar cookies my neighbor dropped off yesterday too! Then, late last night I polished my day off with a cold turkey sandwich with mayo and a little bit of the homemade cranberry-orange relish I had made that really sets a cold turkey sandwich off in the right direction.

Our Thanksgiving Meal is a direct reflection on the years we spent Thanksgiving Day as well as Christmas Day at the home of my Dad's youngest sister. For 27 years -from 1979 thru 2005 - we were always at her house for those two very important days. Up until the late 90s, my aunt-who was by then in her 80s -always fixed everything herself but then I started doing more and more and bringing various things to her house until the last 5-6 years, I was cooking all but the potatoes at my place and transporting virtually the entire meal to her home to be served.

Holiday meals, in my Aunt Mike's opinion, were to be occasions that were shared with family and also, often with various friends of hers who she knew would otherwise be dining alone that day. She stressed that to me and to my kids and they (and I) all looked forward to those dinners with her. She was not just a very good cook but also, as the Matriarch of our family, when she said she expected us for dinner, she meant be there OR ELSE! She would guilt trip anyone who missed those meals for ages afterwards.

Although my kids were still fairly young the first time we went there for Thanksgiving in 1979 -my son was 6 and younger daughter not quite four, the whole event left quite an impression on them as to what Thanksgiving was truly all about. At that particular meal, it was the last time my Uncle Arch and his wife were present with us and they, along with my other aunt, provided what my kids came to regard as great comic relief on that occasion.

My other Aunt -Lizzie -had made her specialty -plum pudding for dessert and on the advice of her daughter, she had soaked said plum pudding in whiskey or brandy and planned to ignite it at the table. However, you know the old expression I'm sure about the best laid plans of mice and men and that plum pudding absolutely refused to ignite and burn. She tried again and again to get it to light but no success which prompted Uncle Arch to tell her, after virtually each attempt, "Pour a little more whiskey on it, Lizzie!"

My kids absolutely loved that comment from him and it has stayed with them now for over 30 years as rarely does a family meal here take place that someone doesn't make that comment -even through it never actually applies to us having plum pudding -or anything else, for that matter -ever being served in the "flambeau" style! They just love saying that and I think it is probably the only memory they have too of that particular Uncle of mine.

Good times, those meals always were. Often Aunt Lizzie's son and his wife and their family would also be there for dinner -which always made my younger daughter very happy as their daughter was the same age as Mandy and the two of them then always got their meal served at a little card table at the end of the dining room so they felt they were really the princesses of the family as they got special service and their own private table then.

One year I recall, my cousin Mike's son, cooked the dinner for all of us. He was attending culinary school at that time and it was one of the few occasions when we didn't dine on Turkey and trimmings but rather, we had roast duck with some kind of vegetable/rice stuffing. I do remember he also made fresh onion soup for our first course and then the duck and stuffing but I don't recall what else he had prepared. I also have to say that the onion soup and the duck and stuffing were quite awesome dishes though! (He's now a chef at some restaurant down in Florida someplace.)

There are a lot of other memories my kids and I hold very dear from those dinners too -not just all the great food we always had but little things that made those occasions so very special to each of us.

I think the fact that those meals were pretty much regarded to be a command performance type thing by our aunt that was what galvanized the idea that family MUST be together for Thanksgiving as well as Christmas Dinners if at all possible. Regardless of the weather, we were all expected to be there and on time too! However, my older daughter often paid little to no attention to the time set for our meal to begin so that eventually, my kids and others would have a pool where anyone who wanted to participate could, for a quarter per guess, put a time on a little slip of paper and then, whoever's guess came closest to the time of older daughter's arrival would win the pot -usually consisting of about a buck and 75 cents at most. It was a fun little game to play until older daughter got wind of what was going on and got a trifle hot under the collar about it.

We still, on occasion though, revive that pool and gambling over what time she's going to arrive at various family functions but just don't do it every time. (We could go broke donating a quarter a clip some times, ya know.)

And so, because of the way I grew up with respect to Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners -always as a child, there was extra family present for both these occasions except that then it was always aunts, uncles and cousins from my Mom's side of the family whereas later on, it became a special dinner shared with relatives from my Dad's side. One great result from that is that my kids then learned more about my Dad's family growing up than I had had opportunity to do.

Yesterday after Maya gave the blessing of Grace prior to our being seated, once we began to eat, Kurtis as almost everyone around the table a question. "What are you thankful for?"

I was really surprised initially to hear him put that question out there but he sat and appreciated answers he got from those he questioned and was very pleased with himself over the whole thing. This showed me that as his age he is already understanding and giving value to the meaning of being thankful not just for food on the table that one meal but always, every day, and also to the value of sharing this with family and friends as well.

And today, I really think that our turkey must have had an extra portion or three or more of the tryptophan because either that or something else unknown or unsuspected by me is apparently giving me a severe case of the "drowsies!"

I think I'll slip away quietly while the kids enjoy watching some Christmas videos this morning with Kurt's TSS and catch a few more winks and dream of days gone by when Thanksgiving was always shared with the best family groups ever!

Hope you all had as great a Thanksgiving as I had yesterday and that you too also have memories to call up and replay of those dinners now long since gone into the annals of family history.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Pie In The Sky

So, okay this is Thanksgiving Week -we all know that. Right? And what's one of the best traditions about Thanksgiving if it isn't the Pumpkin Pie? Okay, the turkey and cranberry sauce is great, I'll agree to that. Mashed 'taters and gravy is good too but heck, you can have that with lots of other menu items, can't you? Green bean casserole is one I like a lot but some years, I guess the family gets burnt out on that one. And sweet potatoes in just about any form are fine and dandy with me but not high on the favorite list with my family. (Sometimes, I really don't understand their tastebuds at all!)

One item though that we all do really love is the good old Pumpkin Pie. (I'm pretty much the lone ranger here with my liking Mincemeat pie too, although my son will occasionally break done and have a slice of that with me.)

Because of a bit of senility a few years back that crept up on me while doing the baking for our Thanksgiving feast that year, I somehow managed to forget to add the sugar to the pumpkin mix for our pies, so every year now when I go on a baking kick for Thanksgiving Dinner, someone always remembers that year and reminds me to please not forget the sugar in the pies this year, or ever again for that matter.

I need to start my meal preparations today for Thursday's feast -if I'm going to get everything made that I want to fix this year. Tonight, I'm planning to fix my own special cranberry-orange relish that my daughter and I at least both really like. And the nice thing about it is that it will last for at least two weeks in the fridge and is great on a leftover cold turkey sandwich! (And, I do mean REALLY GREAT! Don't believe me? Try it and you'll see!)

However, I am dreading the pie preparations this year.

Pie crust is very often my nemesis. Why is that I wonder that often the things we really love are frequently things that often defy us when it comes to fixing them ourselves and yet, others can make these things, whip them up in a heartbeat with no problem? Pie is definitely my most favorite dessert -just about any kind of pie and I'm there, ready to dig in! But pie crust and I or most any kind of rolled cookie too for that matter, frequently do not get along at all!

About 10 days ago, I mixed up some pie crust from scratch and tried to roll it out and almost pitched it out as it had me very frustrated. I ended up changing my dessert plans and mushed the dough into a big ball and put it back in the refrigerator again. This past Saturday, I decided since I had a goodly amount of chicken ala king leftover from Thursday night's supper, that I would whip up some pie crust again (didn't want to risk using the stuff in the fridge for fear it would be a pain again) and I would make homemade chicken pot pie then -with a double crust, ya know, and use the chicken ala king in that. Just needed to add a little more in the way of some mixed vegetables and a few sliced potatoes too to make a really tasty filling for a pot-pie.

Well it seems I'm really on a bit of a negative roll lately with the pie crust stuff because I mixed up the pie crust, using my most reliable recipe (usually it is reliable in taste, although I often do have problems with the rolling things out, as stated above.) and began to roll out my crust. To my dismay, it didn't just tear as I tried to move it from my counter to the casserole dish, it darned near shredded on me! I've never had pie crust be that contrary under my hands!

Eventually, I ended up piecing every last bit of what I had rolled out together in the dish for the bottom crust. Every. Last. Piece! The top crust was difficult to transfer too but somehow I managed to get it moved in place without quite as much pain in the butt work as the bottom one was. I baked my pot-pie and the crust -tasty, yes -but a little overboard on the flaky side as it just crumbled up! Oh well, Mandy and I both love pot pie so we still had a feast with it anyway.

After the difficulty with the pot pie, I decided to take a chance and make a fruit pie for dessert -cherry pie to be precise -and again, the problems as before with rolling the crust and transferring it to the pie plate came back to haunt me. The pie eventually got put together and yes, it tasted very good but the amount of work that went into producing both those items was something else again in my book!

Now, between today and Wednesday, I'm going to have to give the pie making yet another shot. Can't have Thanksgiving Dinner without at least some pumpkin pies. But how will the dough rolling go this time?

I really think I will finally be able to produce pie crust that holds together while I put it in the pie pan or casserole dish the day someone in my family decides to purchase a new ebony Gibson Les Paul guitar and is able to pay cash for it too!

And, knowing what the financial situations are in the lives of all three of my kids, I don't look for that to happen anytime in the near -or the far off, very distant, future!

Which should tell you how long it probably will be before I master pie crusts!

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Beautiful day today -sky is a lovely shade of blue and the only sort of cloud formation I saw as Sammy and I did our first walk of the day was a little bit of a wisp of a cloud over in the northeast horizon! The temps are pretty decent for November too, thankfully. I probably could have got away with just tossing on my lightweight fleece jacket but I was bundled up to the hilt -as sunny days here can still be deceptively cold, ya know -had my red scarf on, along with the red, white and green hat I crocheted a couple weeks ago and my red gloves with the extension that can go clear up almost to my elbows.

Yeah, I was ready for Jack Frost to be more present that he really was but it was chilly enough that my cheeks are still a bit on the icy side as I type this.

I've been trying to take Sam out at least twice a day for a walk down our road to where the pavement ends and the dirt road to Peale (the ghost town near here) begins. It does help keep the accident level down with him, for sure!

The morning -or more like very late morning or noonish walk, is our "constitutional" -good for his innards to do a bit of a cleansing  and good for my system too in that often it pushes the sluggishness of my system to sort of rejuvenate a little bit, gives me a wake-up to the senses (especially when it's really cold) and kind of helps to jump start my mind as well.

Lately, as Sam and I walk I try to notice different things around me in hopes it will clear some of the things that are really giving me a whole lot of stress for about the past two months now. Two months ago this weekend, I really thought I was well on my way to having a complete nervous breakdown or at the very least, a major depression spell. The depression issues are still present but not quite as high-level as they were that particular weekend when the least little movement had me dissolving into tears and more tears. I hadn't cried that much in a long, long time -years, actually. Sammy and I went for more really long, long walks that weekend than I have taken in an equally long period of time too.

Right now, I'm readjusting myself to the apparent fact that I didn't get a job I applied for recently and one for which -surprise, surprise -I had even gotten a call to come in for an interview too! That -the interview part -is highly unusual for me as in the past, very few jobs that I ever applied for did I ever get a call for an interview.

I tried not to get my hopes up too high with respect to this particular job -although I really would have loved to have been hired as I could have had the option of working only 15--20 hours a week and could have gradually increased my hours if I felt I wanted to and could feasibly handle it. The other really nice thing about this particular job was the fact that it was right up my alley with respect to my degree, my field of study in college! It had darned good potential for me -at least in my opinion.

However, they had told me at the interview that they would notify all candidates whether they would be hired OR NOT within two weeks and yesterday was the end of that two week period. And, since I heard nothing from them, I am assuming that my name will not be going on their employment roster then.

So, today's walk was a bit of a destressor for me with respect to that particular potential form of employment. I had tried to keep myself as low-key as possible since getting the call for the interview and for the interview itself as I didn't want to allow myself to think in overly positive ways about being hired to try to avoid a really huge letdown if that didn't take place. And, today I'm pretty relieved that I did that otherwise, I'd be wanting to sit in a corner, drink beer, pull my hair out one strand at a time and  cry!

I've been there and done that on numerous times before -even over jobs that I never even got a callback to come in for an interview. Employment searching over the past 20-30 years, for me, has been a not very good proposition for some reason or other. When you rarely get called for an interview or even if you do luck out and get that far but don't get hired, it does wear you ego, your self-confidence levels down to next to nothing at times. Tends to make a person feel totally worthless no matter how many others around you keep trying to tell you that you'd have made an excellent person on this job or that one that you'd applied for.

Oh well! Just drop back five an punt I guess and start looking all over again!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Available -Again!

A year ago, our Church Women's Group put together a great cookbook and were able to introduce it and begin our sales campaign at our Fall Bazaar last year. We ordered 300 of these cookbooks at that time and sales over the next two months were quite brisk. It seemed for a time that every day I was either having someone stop by my house to pick up a copy (or several) or I was running around the area delivering requests and frequently, running to the post office to ship cookbooks out all over the country.

Here's a refresher photo of the cover of our cookbook -which is easy to clean, just wipe it off -as well as being very attractive too.
For some reason or other, Blogger won't let me center this photo which is just an example of the way the book is set up and the print. But, just for your information, it contains 586 recipes -all typed into the publisher's data base by my little pinkies! We selected a font that would be easy to read and slightly larger too -to allow for people to be able to read it with ease! And the fact that it is a three-ring binder, makes it easy then to put more recipes in it as you add ones you like to your own recipe collections!

Anyway, we sold these books and finally had sold the last one back in June or July of this year. We had the option that would could order a reprint of the book but had decided initially that it was too big of a risk for our group to take as the minimum amount we HAD to order to get a reprint was 100 copies and we were leery if we would be able to sell that many more copies of the book.

However, by October, it became evident to our group that we probably should take a chance and order a reprint and so, that is what we did -100 copies!

They arrived last Wednesday -a mere 4 days AFTER our annual Fall Bazaar -but since last Wednesday, I have sold two book outright (meaning to someone I ran into face-to-face) plus a lady who knew we had ordered a reprint had told me she wanted 3 copies and she came down to the house this past Monday to pick up her books I had on hold here for her.

In addition to those five books sold, I received 3 checks yesterday in the mail to send a cookbook to each individual sending their payment to us so after I ship them out today, that will be 8 cookbooks sold.

And, I also have an order sheet sitting here on my desk with the names of others who want any where from 1 to as high as 6 of these books which comes to a total of 21 requests I will be filling soon -whenever I get their checks in the mail, the books will go out the next day to those folks!

The only thing about the book that changed with our re-order is the price. Originally, we sold these books for $12.00 each but the publisher had a huge, across the board increase in their prices back in June and with those increases, we were forced to increase the selling price then of our cookbook. However, trust me, it is well worth the $14.00 we are now charging for it!

If anyone would like to order a copy of this cookbook -which also includes a very brief history of our Church as well as honoring via old photos we were able to find, many of the women who served our parish so long and so well in years past, you can order a copy by writing to me -or call me -or send a message via Facebook too.

Here's the details on how to reach me:

Jeni Hill Ertmer
1607 Cooper Ave, Box 154
Grassflat, PA 16839
814.345.6530 - or Jeni Hill Ertmer (on Facebook)

I'd be more than happy to process any orders for this item. If you contact me, I can then give you particulars on the amount of postage needed for us to ship a copy -or multiple copies if desired.

It does make for a useful addition to any kitchen and also, makes for a great gift for Christmas, birthdays, weddings, showers -you name it! It definitely would come in handy to have a cookbook with so many of the old traditional foods from Sweden as well as also featuring several recipes of the SLovak ethnicity as well! (All from some of the best cooks in our congregation!)

Hope you like the looks of our book and get inspired to order one or five our however many copies you'd like to receive!


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

On The Way

It's coming. It's on the way. Pretty soon it will be here -Christmas Day!

And just in the off-chance there's someone out there in the general public who isn't aware of this, almost every where you go or look, there's another reminder about Christmas being on the way.

Who doesn't know that next Friday is one of the biggest "holiday" occasions on the calendar as it's just about every retailer's day of merchandising magic when they open earlier and earlier each year to make their fantastic bargains even more appealing to the average shopper.

And now, we can't even go to a mode of escapism to free ourselves of the constant reminders about the upcoming Christmas season as even the Hallmark Channel on TV had begun running Christmas-themed movies like there is no tomorrow.

I probably wouldn't mind near as much the over-commercialization of the beautiful holiday of Christmas if it were not for how the materialistic madness now eclipses several other days that should be of at least equal importance.

But then those dates don't equate to extra special sales potential but rather are a type that requires us to be in a more pensive mode of operation.

I'm referring -if you hadn't already figured it out -to Veteran's Day and especially too, to Thanksgiving!

My good friend, Suldog aka Jim Sullivan, started this campaign to give at least Thanksgiving the recognition it so very much deserves a couple years ago and I have participated each year since then in his "Thanksgiving Comes First" program.

Anyone can participate in this program if you so desire. If you like to write and have a blog, do a post about why you believe Thanksgiving gets the "short-sheet" year after year when it is an equally important day -or should be -in our lives. Veteran's Day does get a little recognition but still not near the amount of play that goes to advertising whatever new items are being introduced (and lots of things that have been around too) sometimes even well before the Halloween decorations come down and the candy sales end!

Thanksgiving is a NATIONAL holiday, isn't it? A day that is designated -fourth Thursday in November -to be a special day when we all, regardless of our ethnic, cultural, religions, finances, football team preferences, etc., have and hold as one where we can all at least take a little time to be thankful for all that we have and hold dear. But how much advertising does one see year after year promoting this day for something as minor as giving thanks? Virtually none!

Yes, Christmas is a very important holiday, for sure, but with all the advertising campaigns that begin earlier and earlier and all the hype too about Black Friday and corporations requiring people to give up their entire or at the very least, several hours of the also important Thanksgiving Day, it cheapens then the meaning of Christmas -which is technically NOT specifically supposed to be about all of us going into hock for the next year or even longer, just to give as many presents as possible in supposed celebration of Christmas.

If people were to actually celebrate Christmas, they would realize the celebration is really about the most special, most wonderful gift that was given to all of us in a manger in Bethlehem, a little over 2,000 years ago!

The way to celebrate Christmas is to remember where it began and to give homage to the Christ Child, born on that day.

(And yes, I am aware that technically speaking, Christ was not born on the day we observe as his birthday but for whatever reason, it's a date chosen and it simply memorializes the beginning of his life here on earth. Nothing horribly wrong or inappropriate about that!)

I'm tired, sick to death really, about all the decorations in the stores, about all the advertising and yes, it disgusts me too that so many companies require their staff to give up their Thanksgiving to get things all set up for what -a big sale!

My family and I for many years have not always celebrated Thanksgiving on the day designated but rather on a Saturday either before or right after the actual Thanksgiving Day. We have done that because of the work schedules I often had or that my older daughter almost always has too now. She works in a hospital so obviously, they are running 24/7/365 and I worked a lot too at a job where the place was open 24/7/365 as well and someone had to man the ship, so-to-speak. There are some exceptions ya know to the work thing and how it can interplay and sure, interfere too with family plans. But there are ways around them.

Sadly, there's not much one can do though to eliminate the sights and sounds that pound away at us for several months now, in advance of Christmas. Other than to turn ourselves into a total recluse from mid-October thru to December 25th, that is.

But we don't have to participate in  supporting those places who force these things on us and what's the best way to lead an attack on a retail-type business if it's not to refuse to participate in their nonsense!

Put our values in order the way they should be and celebrate being thankful for all we have -even if you think you really have nothing -if you are able to read this and other posts along this vein, if you are awake today, that's something very important right there for which to give thanks! Family, employment, a roof over one's head, food on the table and in the cupboards and refrigerator, a mode of transportation, an education, church, parents whether still living or having passed on, children whether they are adults now or tiny infants, grandchildren especially too -clothes, books, doctors, you name it and I'm sure you get the picture. Take time on whenever your family designates as your own personal Thanksgiving Day and remember those things of importance to you.

And determine then what's more important in your life -the things that warrant thankfulness -or the extremism of the commercialization of another day that is of equal importance, yes, but each thing in its own time too.

Peace and have a blessed and very thankful Thanksgiving Day!

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Flying Away?

Where does the time go? Why is it some days just seem to drag, on and on and feel never ending and yet, a week after things felt that way, I wonder what the heck happened to those days because then it just seems the days flew off and away!

Last week was really one of those weeks for me and this week seems to be building up to be the same way.

There was so much going on last week from Wednesday thru Sunday and it seemed on Wednesday that I had plenty of time to do this, that and several other things and before I knew it, Sunday had arrived and granted, I got the things that were absolute necessity done, I still somehow managed to not get a whole lot of other things I should have been able to tend to!

Wednesday was Halloween -as I think you all know and remember that day. Maya was all hepped up to go trick or treating and Mandy had earlier in the month decreed that because Kurtis was having so many behavioral problems in school, that she was taking away the privilege of going trick or treating from him this year.

I thought about this idea, this disciplinary plan of hers and gave a lot of consideration into stepping into the fray and objecting that this might be a little over the top to do to the kid, but decided that I would keep my two cents where they should really belong -in my own mind.

But as the time drew closer to Halloween, Mandy came to me one day and voiced her concerns then too about taking this away from him and she said she had decided to allow him to go trick or treating after all with Maya.

I was relieved;; I'm pretty sure Mandy was happy with her decision and Kurtis -well, he was as you can just imagine, ecstatic!

She put together a little makeshift costume for him with a nice little dress-type hat -the kind most grown men wear with the folds in them on the top, ya know, and she got him a pair of plastic glasses with a big nose to go with the hat, dressed him in a nice pair of slacks, dress shirt and vest and told him he was going to be a "Gangster!" And he loved it as did the various houses where the kids stopped to show off for our friends and neighbors. (Maya was true to form -a witch! That girl has a fixation with being either a witch or a princess -very little variations there from her from year to year!)

As they were getting ready to leave to do their thing, Maya came up to me and reminded me that I was to be in charge of handing out candy and as such, would I please try not to give out all the "Whuppers!"

"The 'what-ers?" was my first reply and then she pointed into the bowl of candy at the little mini-packs of "Whoppers" that were in there and as she showed them to me, it dawned on me that yes, that's what she thinks that word says!

But, whuppers or whoppers -we all sure did get a big kick out of that one from her. Mandy and I decided that she most certainly must get her love for those candies straight from her grandfather because good old Poppy, who lives out in Nevada, ALWAYS loves those things too!

Thursday, last week, I spent cooking tomato-meat sauce for the three pans of lasagne I ended up making to take out to our Church Bazaar on Saturday. I also baked bread again and got 5 more loaves of Swedish Limpa Rye baked up to take to the bake sale part of our bazaar too. That meant I had 9 loaves of the Rye bread in all for the bakesale plus, I also had 10 packages of sweet rolls (6 to each pack) that I had baked and iced and were in the freezer ready to go out to the church then Friday night when we met to do the final set-up for our annual event.

To show you how scattered my mind was by Saturday morning when I left to go out to the church, I forgot completely about taking my camera with me!

Therefore, I have no photos to share today of that event!

The attendance this year was down from previous years and we think it may have been caused by a foul up on our advertising that we were supposed to have in two of the local newspapers in their "Weekend events" section as well as the fact there was no advertising that happened with the local radio station either! All this had been taken care of by the two women who always do handle that stuff and they both attested to the fact they had done what was needed in those areas so now, the fact it got no coverage from those resources is a mystery yet to be solved! Sure hope if we have another event that we are able to get a little bit of mention the next time around!

So anyway, that is pretty much how the days went by for me last week. By the time I got finished with all that cooking and baking, I was worried that my sweatshirt would never come clean of all the tomato sauce that had splattered on it and all the flour dust that had found a home on my shirt and jeans too! (It did all wash out very nicely though so nothing to worry about there after all!)

This week -election day, a meeting at church and cookbooks -the things I'm dealing with and will be part of my next post then.

At least that's my current game plan but that, like so many other things in life, is also very subject to change too -well except for the election day anyway!


Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Eleventh Month!

Well, here it is -already November and already a week of this month gone too! Where has it gone anyway that it disappeared so darned quickly?

If I thought in the past I was busy, this past week has been bordering on the edge of insane for me!

My life is normally pretty quiet here, not all that much activity but the past week a whole lot of things got turned around, sideways, upside-down and inside out too, I think.

I think I'll just try to work my way backwards over a bit of this time span and start off with yesterday.

Election Day! Yes, it was and I hope you didn't forget or even worse than that, you remembered but didn't bother to go vote. Believe you me, I can understand how people can and often do get very apathetic about elections -the way the government does operate at times it can give a bit of a "What's the use?" response or excuse.

However, if that was how you were feeling I do hope you let your good sense override the urge to keep that valuable vote right in your house and not share it! No matter how angry we do get at times with this or that of the political element in our lives, we still have that right and to ignore it, to not use it at all, is stubbornness for no good reason at all.

Remember how many people over the past two centuries and longer have died -given up their lives in sacrifice that you, that I, can still go out, freely and cast a ballot!

We can vote for a leader of this country. We can vote for leaders of our state, our county, our townships and cities -something a whole lot of other folks around the world can't have any say whatsoever in who makes the rules, the laws, the edicts that govern them.

Would you rather that right to vote be eradicated, taken away from you, from me, permanently?

I sure as hell would never want to see that for myself and certainly not for my children and now, for my grandchildren too.

I hear lots of folks say how great America is, how wonderful this land of ours is, the beauty, -mountains, plains, deserts, ocean shores, lakes, rivers-such a fantastic plethora to behold and yet, they often are unwilling to come out and place a mark on a screen to show the choice they would like to see in charge of keeping this land of ours safe and sound, as free from harm as possible.

But they sure have no problem in popping out that cell phone to call in a vote on any of the so-called reality shows on tv, do they?

I don't know how many of my readers feel today about yesterday's election but I know how I feel and I was not just happy with the results, but ecstatic and not just over the presidential election part either but proud to see so many strong, persistent, intelligent, highly educated women who won their fight in various states to have even more of a say in the future of our country now.

It's about time!

It's time now to put away all those political ploys and ads and campaign lies -er 'scuse me -"promises" that any one with a lick of common sense should realize very little of what is said in those things will actually, fully, happen! But they sure do fire a whole lot of people up into believing a whole lot of malarkey, don't they?

My theory -if anyone is interested -is survey the individual and try to see if at least some of their rhetoric matches up in some way or other with things I'd like to see happen and then, vote for the one who seems to have a little more of a handle on the realistic aspects of life in the 21st century!

That's just the way I look at it, not saying it's right or the best way or anything like that but at least I'm not voting for some yahoo just because I like the color of the candidate's eyes or the way the hair is combed or the suntan or the anything else that means zilch in the grand scheme of things but which people will parade out and vote for due to this or that silly thing after all!

This is merely the 11th month of this year and I'd like to remind people too that because perhaps your choice for whatever race didn't garner enough votes to win, it certainly doesn't signal doom, gloom and that we are now entering the 11th hour -not just the 11th month of the year!

A little respect for those who are the leaders of this great and wonderful land would be great for a starter. A little more empathy towards those who have encountered a whole lot of hardships maybe for the entire last 4, 8 or 12 years or more and especially for those who are trying to get back on their feet along the eastern part of this country and now, find themselves facing being wiped out all over again in just over a week's time by snow this time -plus wind and rain!

Say prayers for those in charge too -not that they fail but that they are able to reach out, to find a friendly hand across the aisle and do something new then -like compromise!

Try it and see what it's like. It just might be what this country ultimately needs!

Compassion, understanding, generosity, sharing and above all, try a little compromise!