Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Day After

I survived another Friday-after-Thanksgiving shopping excursion. My daughter reminded me we began this tradition 30 years ago, when she was only 11 years old. On the best of days, I do not like shopping in malls, so whatever possessed me to start such a tradition is beyond my memory and comprehension. Maybe that was the "martyr" stage of my life.

My daughter went to bed early so she would be fresh and bright for the early morning event, but she miscalculated the time difference and was up, showered and ready to go at 2:30 am. I had not gone to sleep until after midnight and, thus, did not have this problem. So, she napped and I slept on until 4:30.

At 5 am we joined the crowd outside a major department store then wound our way throughout and found goodies we could not be without. The only problem was these "goodies" were all for us - no gifts for family and friends. Time to move on!

Leaving that store, my daughter went in and out of almost every store while I moved from bench to bench down the aisle. She is a real bargain hunter, cutting out the newspaper coupons and figuring out which stores have the best deals.

The shopping certainly wasn't the highlight of the day for me, but the morning break for breakfast and the companionship were. In spite of the tired feet and aching back, it was a fun day and another to add to my stock of memories.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

After a 500 mile drive, my family is here for Thanksgiving. As I wait for them to arrive, I know that I can not go about my regular routine and remain above the concern about where they are, if there is a lot of traffic and when they will arrive so I usually plan a marathon of baking. It relieves my stress and provides them with some of Mom's cooking. All of us are winners.

After the flurry of bringing in suitcases, hugs and how are you's, we all settle down to catch up with each other. Since we talk almost every day you would think we knew everything going on in each other's lives, but there are so many things that can't be expressed over the phone or by email - a smile, a chuckle, an arm around the shoulder.

Tonight the travelers are either in bed or shortly will be. The television is off and the house is quiet again. While I love the noise of my family, I love more the peace that comes from knowing they are once more safe and where I can see and touch them at will.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Time Out

Some days you feel like talking; other days you don't. This is one of those days.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Directionally Challenged

I am directionally challenged. In other words, I get lost - a lot. It doesn't matter how precise the directions are, I will get them turned around, upside down, or they will simply disappear. I have a drawer full of directions to the homes of friends I don't visit very often. It must be a family thing as my cousin has the same problem. We have joked about leaving a trail of bread crumbs when we leave home. We may joke about lacking a sense of direction, but it really isn't funny.

Last spring I planned a day trip to a library about two hours from home. It is said that if you do something 21 times, it becomes a habit so getting to the right town was no problem as my family lived there for several years. And since the older members of the family had staked out a claim to the E.R. of the local hospital some time ago, getting to that place was a cinch.

The problem was getting from the hospital to the library. Map Quest provided directions, listing all the streets and telling me when to turn and the distance from one turn to the next. One problem - it didn't make allowances for detours.

The first detour came about because of a house fire. The street was blocked off and a policeman politely gestured for me to stop, back up, turn around and leave. Ok, I can do that. The next street over should take me to the same street on which the library was located. Another problem - street repairs with no through traffic. By the time I had backed up and turned around again, I was hopelessly lost.

I finally got to the library, but only after humbling myself and asking directions at a dry cleaners. It's really strange - I can drive to every courthouse and cemetery in western Kentucky without a hitch, but I get lost going anywhere else. Wonder why that is?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

My Take on Commercials

I know television commericials are supposed to convince you that you can not live without their products. Isn't it funny, though, how some commercials have just the opposite effect?

One commercial that turns me off is the one for Geico Insurance. Any company that has a talking, slimy green lizard as a spokesperson won't get my business. No, sir!

The other commercials that make me want to upchuck are the ones featuring Billy Mayes. What an annoying piece of work he is and what junk he is peddling! I'd like to slap Billy Mayes silly and he can stick that junk you-know-where.

What commercial would be most likely to get my business? How about one advertising digital cameras featuring a good looking fella leaning sightly toward a tombstone as he photographs the inscription. After he clicks, he would look toward the camera and say one word very softly - "Buy." Now, that would get my attention and would make me run out to buy that camera. Or how about an SUV that has special see-in-the-past headlights that can pick out family cemeteries and old roads? That ought to revive the auto industry!

Did I mention that I am a genealogist?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Last Meal

For the first time in nine years, the state of Kentucky executed a man by lethal injection last night. If you believe in legal execution, he got what he deserved. Never again will he kill two children, attempt to kill another and rape their mother. He professed sorrow at what he had done and resisted attempts for appeals so it appears he was ready to die.

I have mixed feelings about death by execution. Even when a horrific crime has been committed, I'm not sure that the taking of one life can make up for the taking of another. However, there is one aspect of executions that leaves me speechless ... well, almost.

What is this business of providing the condemned man his meal of choice right before he is going to meet his Maker? According to this morning's newspaper, the soon-to-die man had rare steak, butterfly shrimp, salad, tea and banana cream pie. What?? This man is going to leave this world in a flash and on his way out he is given a meal fit for a king? Do his jailors think he will have an easier ride to the hereafter on a full stomach? Some things I just don't understand.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Sweet Tea

Somehow in the past year or so, sweet tea has become the national drink. People of all ages and nationalities drink it, although it does kind of set me back to be offered sweet tea by a waitress in ethnic dress at a Chinese restaurant.

I've tried sweet tea in all kinds of places - from high priced restaurants to fast food places and I have to admit that just about the best is Mickey D's Sweet Tea - large size for only a buck. I have spent so much time waiting in line at the local McDonald's that the employees no longer ask what I want; it's "Hi! Sweet tea - right?" Sometimes I like to fool them and order a hamburger too, but when I get home, the hamburger is ignored for, after all, the main course is the sweet tea.

Now, most northerners haven't a clue what constitutes good sweet tea. They think you can take instant tea, add water and throw in some artificial sweetener and you have sweet tea. Yuk!

To make a pitcher of real honest-to-goodness sweet tea, you have to brew the tea. I like two different brands - Luzianne or Great American Tea, which comes from the only tea plantation in the United States. The latter is hard to find outside Charleston, South Carolina, but it is well worth the trip down there just to see how tea is grown and cultivated and to stock up on this wonderful tea. Or just look it up on Google and order it online.

If you decide to make your own sweet tea, only three ingredients are needed: tea, water and sugar - lots and lots of sugar. No Sweet and Low, no Splenda - good, old fashioned, tingle-your-lips sugar! Put your tea bags in a small saucepan and cover with an inch or so of water, bring to boil and turn off the heat under the pan. Let it steep. Now, the important part. Shovel the sugar into a glass pitcher - remember, lots of sugar. Pour the hot tea water over the sugar and stir like crazy. Finally, add cold water to the pitcher and stir again. Pour into an ice filled glass and enjoy. Notice that I didn't tell you how many tea bags or how much water to use. It really depends on how strong you want it. I usually start with 3 bags and add enough water so that it looks like the right strength. You can also use loose tea, but I never get it strained right and it annoys me to find bits of tea leaves between my teeth.

My sister-in-law calls sweet tea "sugar water," but what does she know. She grew up in Michigan and lives in Philadelphia, for Pete's sake.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Lists to Make

There is one purpose to this blog: having a place to record my thoughts and opinions, which are many and varied. I've found that as I get older, my thoughts sometimes go in many different directions at once. Maybe this blog will help keep track of them and determine which are new thoughts and which are old ones rehashed. If they turn out to be rehashed thoughts, I'll just put them on my list of thoughts not to be thought again. Right?

I'm a list maker. I make lists on the backs of used envelopes, on pads of paper, on the computer and in my head. The problem is those lists never get beyond the "making" part. My grocery list remains on the kitchen counter, the used envelope list lies neglected under more current lists and the lists on the computer and in my head are soon forgotten. Is it worthwhile to make a list? I don't know, but I keep on doing it.

Heading my list of the three foods I must have is peanut butter, followed by cheese (preferably string cheese) and then yogurt. Peanut butter is my personal comfort food. I remember being allowed, as a child, to have a spoonful of peanut butter as a treat before bedtime so I guess peanut butter is tied up with my childhood memories. String cheese is just plain fun to eat! Pulling if off, string by string, allows me to play with my food in an acceptable way. I don't think anyone really likes yogurt. Those commercials lie. Yogurt is nothing more than curdled milk and who really wants to eat that? BUT, you feel good when it's finished because it is supposed to be good for you. So, that is my list of "must have" foods. If I made a list of "really, really good foods," yogurt wouldn't be on the list.

I go to an exercise class twice a week and sometimes a yoga class another day. None of the class members will ever see 50 again. We all have our aches and pains, but there is one lady who is a pain all by herself. She is 76, has no wrinkles and wears spandex shorts. Spandex! Can you believe it? And she eats funny too. One day I heard her say her favorite meal was yogurt and a pear. She didn't even mention peanut butter. I don't like her.

So, that's what I have been thinking this late fall afternoon. Maybe I'll think again soon.