Riding Life!

Riding Life!
Life is like a wild horse--Unless you ride it, it will ride you! (from the movie: "Princess of Thieves.")

Monday, August 22, 2011

C: Kitty Wars

Fifteen or so years ago my husband and I ran a boarding stable for horses.  This was to defray the expense of our horse habit—not sure it defrayed any costs, really, but it did provide us with lots of horse-nut friends.  We had “real jobs,” so our stable was a you-care-for-your-own-horse facility.  This meant that most everyone was out there every day; that, of course, meant that we all became fast friends.

This picture ibarnhallway3s similar to our barn.  It was specifically a horse barn with 28 stalls.  It was old but serviceable and time-tested.  I loved walking through, seeing our contented equines with their heads poked over their stall doors.

Part of our barn family was the cat population.  Through the middle of the barn was a raised (not quite a “loft”) concrete-floor where hay was stored.  From this section we could throw hay down into the hay racks of two rows of stalls.  This huge hay expanse made a great kitty heaven, and we sure did not mind the fact that the mouse population was kept down by their presence.  These cats just “materialized.”  They also just disappeared from time-to-time, and we knew that the coyotes that would lurk about the place at night were a constant dangecat-being-friendly-with-horsesr to them.

The cats were friends to our horses, and I have seen many a scene of affection between the species, similar to this.  

V and her family were out at the barn a lot—V’s oldest had a mare with us.  She and I (mostly V) would occasionally take some of the females in to be spayed.  It seemed a never-ending battle and, truly, it began to seem like the kiss of death.  It became a running joke that those we selected for the operation were either soon run over by some car or just disappeared like so many before them.  Neutering the males seemed like a lost cause, too—there was always another tomcat down the road to impregnate our cats.  So, we soon gave the population control thing up.

Two cats who stand out in my memory were sisters, tortoise-shell cats like this picture, here.  We called them “Daphne” and “Camou,” which was  a tortoise shell cat reference to her camouflage-like pattern. They were difficult to tell apart, and were almost always seen together.  I suppose that it should have been no surprise that they turned up pregnant at the same time.

Daphne was the first to have her kittens.  We knew about the litter in the hay.  On the day they were born, I spied Daphne moving her four kittens, one-by-one down the hallway.  I know that mother cats do this frequently, seeking a safe place, so I did not think much about it until I spotted her less than half an hour later going back the opposite direction with a kitten in her mouth.  I began to pay attention.

What I noticed was that when Daphne was moving away from the originalcat carrying kitten 1 site of the litter, she seemed noticeably bigger than when she was going back toward it….it dawned on me: Still pregnant, Camou was moving her sister’s kittens.  And Daphne was bringing them right back.

All afternoon these sisters moved kittens, and I did not know quite what to do but watch the drama play out.  I did find where Camou was taking them, and I would check periodically.  Sometimes there would be a kitten or two llitter of kittensying there.  Sometimes there would be none.  Daphne would take spells when she nursed what kittens were in her nest.

Finally, later than night Camou had her own litter in her own bed.  You might think that having her own four kittens would satisfy this mothering urge, but no—she seemed to have grown to love the first litter, too.    The moving started up again.

We at the barn were all aware of it and somewhat stressed out about it.  Finally everything settled down.  All eight kittens ended up in a big pile in the hay together.  Both sister-mamas were right in there with them, lying giant litter of kittens there nursing them all, showing them off happily when we would come to check on them.

As these kittens grew, we never really knew who belonged to whom.  I wonder if these mother/aunt cats knew?  I wonder if it mattered at all? I think not. 

I miss my barn days.  C

Saturday, August 20, 2011

C: Child from Another Planet? A Bright Spot in the World.

smiley face Yes, every once in a while God does something that stands out in the midst of the mundane world…
I’m probably the last person on this planet to know about her, but I was flipping channels last weekend and happened upon a clip of this child on a PBS fundraiser.  I had never heard of her, but sat in total disbelief—slack-jawed, really. 
Look at this video—hang in there through the America’s Got Talent promo stuff—you won’t regret it:
Jackie Evancho.  She is ten years old. TEN YEARS OLD!  I did a little Googling on her and found some interviews.  What poise!
The story goes that two years ago—you, know, back when she was 8?—her mother took her to see The Phantom of the Opera.  She was enchanted with the music, got the soundtrack and began singing around the house.  Mom thought she sounded pretty good. 
Ya think?
I guess the rest is gonna be history.
Jackie says that she does not perform any special rituals before each performance—only to thank God each time for her gift and ask that He be with her on stage…
It was her special dream to sing with the great Sarah Brightman, the evancho and brightmanoriginal “Christine” in The Phantom of the Opera.  Here is a picture of the together during their  performance.  If you go to youtube you can see many clips of Jackie, including this performance.  Believe me, she more than holds her own with Brightman.
It is, indeed, like God decided to do something really special with this child.  She seems the total package, doesn’t she?  There are very few people more beautiful physically than she and with that amazing talent…her parents must vacillate between pride/joy and abject fear at such pressure on their child.
Anyway, I was captivated and thought that some of you might enjoy hearing her as well.  C

PS. Jackie's mom did want everyone to know that she has had a couple of months of voice lessons...right...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

C: Winds of Change and Bruins in the Area?

future Well, after two years of nursing my hurt feelings over the divorce, Son has decided to take a job two and a half hours north.  It is a good opportunity for him to combine work with his passion for outdoor skills. 

Much as I know it is time for him to go (and he has been good to stay as long as he has), I will miss him.  He has seen me back on my emotional feet, good son that he is.  I am thankful that he’s not out of reach, at least.

My mother is worried sick.  My mother’s job in this family, however, is to worry—especially about her grandkids.  My sister and I think she’s adopted “worrier” as her identity.    She has called me with all kinds hobowithbag of “what ifs.”  I reminded her that not too many years ago, young men (at what? 18 or 19 years of age?) would kiss their mother’s on the cheek, saying, “I’m off to seek my fortune” and go off into the sunset, their belongings tied in a rag on a stick.

At least it’s not that bad…at least we have cell phones and internet now.  I don’t know what I’d do if he was headed West on a wagon train!

Besides,” I told her, “Worst-case scenario is that he has to come home!”  Won’t happen, I’m betting, but still nice to know that’s the worst.

So MIL treated the two of us for a “goodbye/looking forward to the future” dinner at Red Lobster.  DSCN1395DSCN1396

She splurged and got a big ol’ lobster from the tank!  She’ll be having Red Lobster again tomorrow!  We brought three containers of food back with us.

Son had his favorite: Crab Legs and Scallops, finished off with hot coffee and the “chocolate wave” cake and ice cream.  We all left stuffed.

We’ve been having an odd going-on around here.  Three times this weekmystery I’ve had broken (inside eaten out) watermelon in my driveway.  I meant to take a picture,but by the time I get a chance to, they’re gone. 

These melons are not sliced open, they are clearly broken open.  The insides are scooped out. Whatever is eating them eats the good central part and then apparently comes back and finishes the rind.

The spot on the driveway is right even with my neighbor’s garden (which, I know from her gifts to me, has watermelons).  It is clear that this is where the melons are coming from, but we’re talking over 100 feet distance.  I’ve wondered what could be coming to eat these melons and what would be big and dexterous enough to move a good-sized melon from the garden to the driveway.  And why?  I speculate that it is to eat it on the hard surface of the driveway, out of the bumpy grass but who knows for sure?

I have a theory.  I believe it might be a black bear.  It is the only animal around here that I know might could move these melons in this way. I Googled the question of whether black bears like melon, and I found out that they sure do!  In fact, zoos often toss them into ponds or pools in the bear enclosures because they float.  The bears fish them out of the water and carry them up onto the bank to break them open and eat them.

Here are pictures from the Museum of Life and Science, Durham, North Carolina.

Bear swims to fetch the floating melon:

bear melon 1

Bear takes melon out of water:

bear melon 2

Bear enjoys melon on bank…notice this one has TWO melons!

bear melon 3

If a bear can do that, he can surely get one to my driveway from my neighbor’s garden.  I can’t think of any other animal out here that can do that.

What do you think?

Just this past June I’ve written about the bears out here.  It is a bit of a concern that they would be habituated enough to come this close, but my neighbor has thought she has heard one nearby.  I won’t be walking after it starts getting dark.

Chili is inside each night with me when I’m home, but it makes me wonder if he knows anything about this!  Will keep you posted if there are developments.

The weather was fooling with me this week.  A couple of mornings ago it almost felt like fall, but by afternoon it was blistering again.  I say this every year, but: I am so ready for fall!

Hope you are all well…and avoiding the bears.  C

Sunday, August 14, 2011

C: Chili – Trying to Seize the Mowing Opportunity

I’ve written before about how I believe our animals know more about us and have more cognitive ability than we like to think.

My remaining DSCN1087dog is a three-year-old Belgian Malinois, “Chili.”  My other pet is “Sasha,” my cat who predates Chili in this household by a couple of years.

Sasha is one skittish cat.  She was born here and has never been mistreated at day in her life, but my mother and I are the only humans she wants anything to do with—making occasional exceptions for Son.

Sasha has lived her entire life on my back porch and in our fenced back yard.  She has her own little kingdom back there, shared with birds, who take their lives into their own wings by being there, and a raccoon who peaceably comes to her dish to share her cat food.  She makes occasional forays outside the back yard fence, but only few.  It is to this that we attribute her long life.

I have never been able to get Chili to quit thinking of Sasha as prey.  I have come to terms with the fact that he  is incapable of this.  The few times he has gotten into the back yard, he has gone like a rocket trying to get her, ignoring my commands.  And his is normally a very obedient dog. We have solved the problem by making the back porch/yard off limits to Chili.

Chili knows and respects this fact, and he has stopped trying to go out theDSCN1145 door when he is in the house and I go out onto Sasha’s porch.  He knows  the rule and respects it.  But he sometimes goes to the windows of my breakfast room which look out onto Sasha’s porch.  He watches my cat, and I do not like the gleam I see in his eye.

Today I was in doing laundry and, as is his custom when “Mom” is home, Chili was in with me, following me around when I move from room to room, lying around when I am sitting at work on the computer.

Son started the lawn mower up and was riding it back and forth through the meadow next to my house, working his way to the back yard.  When he made it to the yard section, Chili became restless.  He looked out the window which is at my back utility porch (a different porch, opposite side of the room from Sasha’s windows) toward where Son was working. 

Chili began to whine, which is very unusual.  He began pacing from the window back to me, then back to stare at Son out the window.  Then back again.  This is very unusual behavior.  He clearly wanted me to get up and let him out.   I was wondering what the heck was going on. Normally he is quite content to be with me even when Son is outside.  This was not his normal request to go out.  It seemed to me that he would want to avoid that noisy lawn mower, but he was getting rather insistent.

Then Chili did something that gave his motives away to me.  He left his post at the window and moved across the breakfast room to look out toward Sasha’s porch, then back to the other window, then back to me and then back to look out at Sasha—whining all the way.

The pieces of the puzzle fell into place.  This evil dog realized that Son had to open the back gate to mow the yard….his chance to get the cat! 

I spoke sharply to him and he reacted with pure guilt.  Ears went back, tail between his legs.  Oh, he was guilty, alright—of impure thoughts about my cat.

Here’s his mug shot:

DSCN1311

You think you can’t tell when a dog is guilty?  Look at this little video from YouTube and then try to tell me that.  I don’t know this dog, but I can tell you one thing: she’s guilty!

 

When Son came in later, I asked, “Has Chili ever gotten into the back yard when you mow?”

His answer: “Oh, yes!  I have to watch him like a hawk.  When I get the mower he tries his best to get in the gate and run like a streak around to try to get Sasha!

So, Chili remembered, put two-and-two together and was asking me to let him out so he could take advantage of the situation!  His body language busted him!

And we call them “dumb animals!” C

PS – am I anthromorphizing here?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

C: Vintage Recipes and Vintage Ways of Dining

wonderwomanaward I loved V’s post on vintage recipes.  I knew MawMaw—knew V’s other grandmother, too.  Elsie, I must say, was a character—a Wonder Woman.  She was a kind, intelligent woman who could have been really something in today’s world of more opportunity for women—she raised a wonderful son mostly on her own.  Now that I am “of an age” to appreciate what her life was, my hat is off to her.  V has written about her before and must again.

But the topic of recipes and meals with grandmothers is what I want to talk about.

Both my grandmothers came from country stock.  My paternal Grandmother, Lyda, was accustomed to cooking for farm hands.  She was a humdinger of a cook, too.

When we would go to Lyda’s house for Sunday dinner, theangel foodre would ALWAYS be these things:  Fried chicken, chicken and dumplings, mashed potatoes, a salad and angel food cake with canned peaches, homemade  biscuits (I don’t remember rolls) and a variety of vegetables.  Those were just staple dishes. (I never see Angel Food Cake without thinking of my grandmother).

What would be different at each meal would be the addition of some of these: ham (often served), pork chops, and what she called “beef roast,” which would be braised in gravy.

Yes, my Grandmother Lyda would serve up to four meat dishes and a groaning table of side items and desserts for Sunday dinner.  As I think back, it amazes me, but I realize she was still in farm cooking mode, harkening back to the days when she would have a bunch of hungry men crowded around her table.

My other grandmother, Gertrude, was also a good country cook, but she never served such a lavish table.  Gertrude was much, much poorer in her young mother days than Lyda was, and Gertrude’s meals were plentiful in quantity but not so lavish in array was were Lyda’s. 

turnip greens Gertrude would have a main meat dish with sides of vegetables—always potatoes included.  On her stove would be a BIG pot of greens of some kind, “cooked down real good.”  Ummmm.  And her green beans would be “cooked down,” too, with bits of bacon or ham and—yes, it’s true—seasoned with some of the bacon drippin’s (grease) she kept in a container on her stove, adding to it each time she fried bacon.  Listen, you youngsters, everyone, including my mother, kept a silver metal drippin’s container on their stove to use for seasoning back in those days.

Something both my grandmothers did is something you don’t see today.  Both these women were spotless housekeepers.  This was the day before plastic wrap.  I don’t recall either of my grandmothers having plastic containers.  They kept a big supply of “flour sack” dish towels, clean and folded.  When we got up from the noon table (the bflour sacksig meal was always mid-day, not evening), all the leftovers were moved, still in their serving bowls, to the kitchen table where they were covered with clean dish towels, awaiting  the evening meal.  I don’t remember anything being refrigerated for those several hours between meals.  The food just sat at room temperature until folks got hungry and helped themselves again.

And I don’t remember one case, even, of food poisoning.

Neither of these women would understand—nor care to—my grab-and-go lifestyle of Lean Cuisine in the freezer.  I don’t much like it, either, but what’s  a single girl to do?  I have MIL, who graces me with meatloaf and last night let me have the rest of her Stouffer’s lasagna, which was great!  But she’s in the same boat—we just don’t cook anymore. 

My Grandmother Gertie’s style of poverty cooking was reflected in some of the dishes she was known for.  One of them was bread pudding.  It was not chunky like bread pudding you see these days, but smooth and rather  thin.  There was no fancy-dancy whiskey sauce for it.  It was just plain left-over bread mixed with milk, eggs, sugar and cinnamon.  She usually baked it in a 9 x 13 pan, and it was served room temperature, cut into squares.  It was delicious.  It was a way to avoid wasting old bread—a delicious way.

Grandma lived about an hour south of us.  One time my Aunt N, who lived two doors down from us, made the trek to see her.  For sombread puddinge reason, my mother did not go with her.  A few days later Mom was speaking with Granny on the phone.

How’d you like your bread pudding?”  Granny asked.

What are you talking about?” was Mom’s answer.

They got to the bottom of it…It was Mom’s “turn” to get a pudding from Granny, Aunt N having had the last one.  When Aunt N visited, Granny sent Mom’s pudding by her….never made it.

I got it home and it just called to me,” was Aunt N’s confession.  “I sat and ate half of it by myself.  The boys finished it off.”

These octogenarian sisters will still occasionally say something like, “N, remember when you ate my bread pudding?”  Ah, memories.

But we live a freezer/fast-food lifestyle nowadays, don’t we?   I think back to Lyda’s huge meals and Gertie’s bacon grease seasoning and wonder at the fact that people were not any heavier than they are today—in fact, I think we have more weight problems today, don’t you? 

V’s theory is that, for all the “unhealthy” cooking methods, the food was at least “from scratch” and not processed (except for Lyda’s store-bought Angel Food Cake and canned peaches).  I remember both my grandmothers sitting on the porch shelling peas or snapping beans in preparation for the meals.  Those sessions of women companionably snapping beans (us kids helping sporadically) were comforting times for me, listening in on their chatter. 

peas snapped beans

Most everything was fresh, and what did come from the freezer had been frozen, “put up” from fresh state by my grandmothers.

I see in V’s vintage recipes the trait both my grandmothers shared—avoidance of waste, turning vegetables that would otherwise be unused into chow-chow and pickles.

But that style of life requires full-time homemakers, something becoming scarcer these days.  Different days, different styles.

Oh, for some of Gertie’s bread pudding….  C

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Cowgirl V: I Love Vintage Recipes

 

 

hearth_and_home

 

In the many years since my grandmother Elsie’s passing in 1977, I’ve often perused my great-grandmother Ada’s recipes(Ma Ma Elsie’s mother), handwritten in faded pencil in a small, falling apart ledger book.  There are various recipes from Chow Chow, Chili Sauce, Piccalilli, Tomato Relish and homemade catsup; there are different varieties of homemade pickles,  pies, cakes and old fashioned chicken remedies!  Particularly interesting to me are the vinegar pie and buttermilk pie, and Mrs. Pruitt’s Fruit Cake (with a cup full of whiskey or spirits poured over each one and laid away for a month before serving to age to perfection!  Now, I have not tried many of these recipes, but I’m going to!  This week I’m going to make vinegar pie!

After visiting Karen of    http://thisoldhousetoo.blogspot.com/,  earlier this week and seeing the prolific harvest from her  beautiful garden, I decided today would be the perfect time to post a couple of recipes from this 19th century collection of recipes.  Here goes:

 

vintage handwritten recipesReally, the pages look just like this!

 

TOMATO RELISH

Scald and skin 15 ripe tomatoes. 

Pare, core, and cut into small pieces, 6 sour apples.   (I’m thinking Granny Smith apples might do well here)

Peel 5 medium sized onions. 

Chop all of these very fine, using a food chopper if you have one.  Put in a large saucepan with 2 level Tablespoonfuls of salt, 3 green peppers or 1 level teaspoonful of black pepper.

1/2 pint vinegar.

Bring to a boil and boil 1 1/2 hours.

Remove the vessel from stove; put relish in jars and seal while hot.

 

Taste of Home tomato relish

This photo from www.tasteofhome.com

 

     SPICED TOMATO RELISH

Peel & slice one peck ripe tomatoes, add 6 green peppers, 6 onions, chopped fine.

2 Tablespoonfuls cinnamon

1 Tablespoonful of salt

2 teaspoons cloves (I would go scant on this heavy spice) My notation.

2 cups brown sugar

5 cups vinegar

Boil mixture 2 hours.  Seal while hot.

* This one I use with success.

 

*That last remark was my great –grandmother’s—I have not tried this recipe, but I think it sounds good! 

*A peck equals approximately 13 pounds of tomatoes.

                                                                              

imagesCA90X10M

 

CHILI SAUCE

1 peck of tomatoes

6 big onions

3 green or red peppers

1/2 tea cup of salt

2 teaspoons of ground allspice

2 teaspoons of ground cloves

4 teaspoons of ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon of black pepper

1/2 teaspoon of red pepper

1 tea cup of sugar

1 1/2  pint of vinegar

*  I think this sounds especially delicious and spicy—especially with that red pepper!  No cooking directions were given for this recipe, but there is also a homemade catsup recipe which says to bring to boil and simmer til thick and when a teaspoonful is removed and placed in a saucer, no water will run from it.  Then put in sterilized jars or bottles.  I’m sure this could be processed in a hot water bath to be food safe—that is what I would do!

My son planted his first garden this year.  The cucumber harvest has been plentiful and he has made over 60 jars of pickles—dill, garlic and bread & butter varieties—and those bloomin cucumber plants are still producing!  Unfortunately all the heirloom tomato plants I bought have yielded little—perhaps due to the deluge of rain we had right after planting!  Now we are in a terrible drought—up to 114 degrees this past week—miserable for man and animal—BUT it rained last night and again this morning!  So, unless I break down and find a good deal at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday, there won’t be any tomato relish here this year!

So I am just wondering!  How is your garden faring in this extremely hot summer?  What is your best crop so far—and are you putting up food for the winter?  Canning and/or freezing your extra produce?

V

P.S.  Just wanted to add here that right after posting this, I visited http://www.beverlysbackporch.blogspot.com and she had this amazing recipe for Old Fashioned Tomato Preserves that sounds quite easy!  It is a sweet preserve with a sliced lemon and orange in it which is a little different twist.

C: The Universe

Discovery-Channel-LogoNight before last I watched the Discovery channel’s opening episode of their “Curiosity” series.  If there was ever a curious person (in more ways than one!), it is I. 

 

If the adage “curiosity kills the cat” were true and I were a cat, I’d long be dead.

curiosity

The pilot episode was presented by Stephen Hawking, the great British physicist/cosmologist who has become a celebrity brain, of sorts. 

By the way, I have learned that a cosmologist is one who studies the origin and structure of the universe and time/space relationships.  The universe is defined by Wikipedia as “the totality of everything that exists”.  Hmmmmm.  Hmmmm.  Big topic.hawking

I am sure you have seen Stephen Hawking.  He has written several books for mass publication—for us lesser minds—seeking to open the world of physics and cosmology to those of us with more pedestrian IQs.  He is made even more remarkable by the fact that he is wheel-chair bound, almost entirely paralyzed by ALS, and is among the longest-living victims of this awful disease.  He speaks only through computer-generated means.  A tiny sensor attached to his cheek uses those movements to generate his words and voice.  His voice is totally synthetic.

His subject for the series:  Did God create the universe? 

I was intrigued by this great mind and by the topic, in general.  Son and I tuned in, ready to learn.

Now, let me say that I am a Christian,having been raised nominally a Christian and some thirty years ago having come to a much deeper faith through a rather remarkable event…another post, maybe.  My faith has formed the cornerstone of my life for thirty years.  Because of the “curious” turn of mind that God gave me, I’m rather an expansive, flexible Christian (I know, I know…sounds like an oxymoron to some), which I believe is wholly-endorsed by my Creator.  I dearly love to hear opposite points of view, dearly love it, especially from persons I believe to have credible intellectual standing.  In other words, I love to have my mind and my faith challenged.

My openness to the views of others has never shaken my faith, although it has honed it.  One thing I do not doubt—for a second, even in my darkest moments—is the existence of God.

So, Son and I settled down, ready for this great mind to ‘splain things to us.  We listened through his fascinating discussion of stars and suns and galaxies and black holes.  Mind-boggling and intriguing.  Then we moved on into the nature of time—bending it, for example, (black holes apparently benuniversed time—who knew?) which I must admit totally loses me.  I, for one, would like to know how to stretch it…

On he talked about  the probable beginning of the universe—the “big bang” and on and on.  There was a sense of “See!  I’ve proven this!” as we progressed.

And I’m sitting here thinking: “Okay, so if the big bang theory is correct, then why did it bang in the first place?  And what caused the bang?  And what was there before the bang?”  In other words, what is the answer to the question of “first origin?”  (is that a redundancy?).  I realize I am not the first person to ask this question; still…

According to Hawking, there was nothing before the big bang.  Nothing.  Not even a bunch of space because, you see, there was no space before the big bang.  There was no matter, no energy, no time, no space.  And then the Big Bang occurred and there was suddenly matter, energy, time and space, where there had been none of these ever before (but then, “ever” did not exist back then because there was no time). Hmmmm.  Hmmmm.  Hmmmm. 

Okay, I was spellbound, sitting on the edge of my chair, really understanding only that big bang I was in over my head with this whole physics thing and waiting to learn.  I was waiting on Hawking to prove this, as he promised.

But I am a lawyer.  And while recognizing that I do not have a scientific mind, one thing I am used to doing is building cases.  And in the instance of the opposition’s case, I am used to finding the holes.  I can follow chain of logic and spot a gap in that chain.

I’m afraid that Stephen never clinched it for me.  Notwithstanding his proclamation (a bit smugly) that “See, I’ve shown you that something can spontaneously come from nothing—Nothing certainly did not need a God to become something,” he just failed to do that. 

A little disappointing, but not surprising.  Maybe he tried to cram too much (as in the whole universe) into one hour…minds like mine need a lot more time to get there, I suppose.

And then he said something truly remarkable.  As the show ended, he said something like this (and this is a paraphrase):  “So, there is no need for a God.  And I don’t believe there is a God, which means that there is no afterlife—no Heaven, no Hell.  We have only this one life, for which I am eternally grateful.”

Really?  Grateful?  This man who can do nothing for himself, who can speak only so long as computers still have the ability to pick up and translate his feeble cheek moves to generate a “voice” for him—this man is grateful?

Now, that is a wonder of the universe if I ever heard of one.

And it set me to thinking.  Here I’ve been moping about the house over my finances and othgratefuler “poor me” matters.  But Hawking is grateful?

I looked him up on the web and read about his personal life.  It’s a mess.  He was born in 1942, came up through college enjoying athletics (one source said the physical activity “relieved the boredom of university life…”)  He was diagnosed with ALS early and given a couple of years to life.  He’s been married twice.  One source said that he “reconciled” with his family from his first marriage in 2006…suggests a bit of rockiness, there. 

So, great mind or no, we’re all subject to the travails of life. 

If ever there was a person who had some excuse to rail against God, it is Hawking.  Here is a man of unquestionable intellect who has been robbed of any semblence of independent living and of physical activity that he clearly once loved.  It would be expected that he would be bitter about his circumstances.  Heck, if I’m upset over my late bills, then surely he has excuse!

But he professes otherwise.  He doesn’t shake his fists at God—he’s just erased God right out of the universe.  And that’s one way to come to terms with things, isn’t it?  Why even acknowledge One who has placed you in such an untenable position? 

This is an unwarrantedly presumptive analysis by me, I admit, but it’s the thought I had.

In fact, this inspired a lot more questions/analyses concerning the Nature of God, my own view of Him, of suffering on earth, and on and on and on. (you all know how I love to overthink).   But those thoughts are for other posts.    Maybe.apples to oranges

I’ll keep watching.  Maybe Hawking will one day be able to prove to me  that God does not exist.  But not yet. 

My own take on this particular challenge is that trying to explain spiritual things in scientific terms is using apples for oranges…they are just different realms.  I, frankly, doubt that God will let us “prove” or “disprove” Him.  In some instances He “proves” Himself to us, as He has to me.  So I don’t look for scientific proof to decide this question, ever.

But I sure love the exercise.  C

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Cynic C: The Most Powerful Force in the World

Yet again, blame this post on V.   She has assured me that since this has been on TV, we’ll retain our PG-13 rating.
Have you seen this ad?
It only confirms what I have learned in my fifth decade of life: Most everything revolves around sex.
You think I’m wrong?  Nope, I’m not.  I’ve practiced family law 32 years (shudder) and I know this to be true.  Now.  A bit late in the day.  I would have denied this ten years ago.
We women have got to get it through our heads: Men just are not as relational as women are.  They have a pull to sex  from a perspective that we don’t have.  This is not to say that we don’t like sex, too; only it is different for them and not nearly as relationship-based as we women assume.  And it pulls in a way that can lead (often) one away from family and fealty.
Notice in the video—it’s the men scrapping for it.

The last issue of Discover magazine has a whole article on this.  Just look at these quotes from it (p 48, 7/2011 issue):
Men don’t require any information about a woman other than what they can see with their own eyes.

Solitary, quick to arouse goal-targeted, driven to hunt..and a little foolish. The male brain is designed to be more visually responsive to sexual stimuli than the female brain is…

The male’s desire software is like Elmer Fudd…always on the hunt for …wabbits…easily fooled by ducks dressed as rabbits…but never gets discouraged.  He reloads and gets back out there.  tomorrow is another day…to bag a wabbit.

What you may have long suspected is true.  Male brains are designed to objectify females..
Sorry, that’s the facts, Ma’am.snow white

Why is it important for us to know this?  For me to continue to beat this drum?  Because we women need to plan our lives with this in mind—not  with the idea of a fairy-tale life which we’ve been sold over the years.  

Look at this picture of Snow White and her “happily-ever-after” (bet not…)prince .  He wasn’t in this for the relationship—she was comatose when he fell for her, for cryin’ out loud.  All he needed to "fall in love" was what he saw with his own eyes.  Poor Snowy, however, thinks it's something different....

We need to understand that over 50 per cent of marriages in America will end in divorce, and most of those will be because of the difference men feel about sex—need for variety, for instance.  It leads them to abandon relationships we women would never abandon. 
We need to be teaching our daughters to love their husbands with their whole hearts, but to be able to fend for themselves.  There is a great chance that they will have to.
Yeah, I know, I know: your guy is different.  Mine was too for 40 years.   Ask V.  If ever elmerthere was a paragon of Christian, salt-of-the-earth, husbandly virtue, mine was,  Until a 29-year-old came calling and that tendency to objectify kicked in and Elmer Fudd popped out…it is an amazing dynamic, and we all need to acknowledge it.
Sorry for the preaching…I know I sound like a jaded scorned woman.  Okay, I am a jaded, scorned woman but from my profession I just know it’s an important topic for women.  I help them manage this issue on a daily basis.
I feel like Cassandra on this topic…like I wrote about a few weeks ago here.  I am right, right, right on this topic, but those who need to hear cannot.
Thanks for listening if you haven’t tuned me out by this time.  C.

PS – By the way, I remember when showing bras on TV was a bit edgy…now we’re talking douche, viagra, and on and on…boy our kids are getting an early education, aren’t they?

PSS – Yes, I know there are unfaithful women, too.   We’ve had a close brush with this recently.   And, yes, I know that there are men who resist temptations.   I’m talking statistics, here.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

C: Summertime

heat wave I am born and raised in the South.  So why is it that the hot summers always seem to take me by surprise? 

Can you believe it is so hot?!” I’ll say to someone…well, yes, it gets hot here like this each and every year, Dodo. 

In my defense I must say that others make the same comments to me.  It’s just a way of making conversation, I guess, and the heat is main topic right now.  My little car registered 106 coming home yesterday, and it’s not going to let up through the rest of the week.  As I write this at 4 am, it is 86 degrees, and my computer forecast says 106 again today…

V and I were talking about growing up in Arkansas in the 50’s when no one had air conditioning, not even in the car. Ooooooh, I remembecar window downr my bare sweaty legs sticking to the car seats and driving with the windows rolled  down, glad for the warm air moving through the car.  We would fight for a “window seat” so we could lean into the air (kind of like this dog in the picture!)…these were the days before seat belts and car seats.  (Can you even imagine a car seat without air conditioning???).

V and I both remember uncomfortable nights with the attic fan whirrring.  Sometimes my mother would put a box fan in the open window (all windows were  open at night or you would suffocate) and the night air would be pulled across our bed, giving us some relief, letting in the night sounds we now miss, too.  There were some nights that warranted a wet wash cloth to cool the face.

I knew families in old-style houses who still used “sleeping porches” when I was a child.  These were screened-in porches where beds or cots would be placesleeping porch copyd so that the family could escape some of the heat at night, especially from upstairs bedrooms.  One of my good friends’ home was a huge two-story house with most of the sleep space upstairs—which became stifling.  Their sleeping porch was expansive, holding five or six  twin sized beds turned here and there.  It was screened on all sides and at night felt positively refreshing.  The only problem was the grandaddy long legs who lived there, as well.  Those and the mosquitoes.  To be truthful, we lived in peaceful (although creepy) co-existence with the long-legs—the mosquitoes, however, were a different story.

Mosquitoes were a fact of summer nights back then.  We all had screens on the windows but, I swear, those pests would find every little hole.  Most nights we would hear the whine of a mosquito buzzing around until she found some exposed skin to pierce.  Miserable. 

I would have to say that the prevalence of air conditioning has revolutionized life.  I read somewhere that it was a turning point in the growth of Atlanta for big business.  No doubt.  Who would intentionally expose oneself to that heat and humidity when you could locate your business in a more temperate clime?  Oh, I know that even the northern states have their share of hot days, but here in the South they stretch across a good bit of the summer.

My two animals (cat and dog) are outside all day.  Chili has to wait until I get home to get to his air conditioner.  Sasha, the cat, is outside all the time.  I have noticed that they both take refuge deep under our porches where it is at least cooler.  We take care to keep fresh water out for them.

I work in the downtown area where we see the homeless pacing the streets, and I feel for them.  I know that there are respite shelters for them to have some cool, and I am thankful for the folks who provide that.

witch cartoon

You know, I have to say that part of my awareness of the extremes of  weather is age, surely.  Although V and I swap memories of the hot, summer nights, I do not recall our playing stopping for the heat.  We played hard through the summer—barefooted.  My mother was careful to make me come in for an afternoon rest under the fan (V was a late riser and, therefore, not a napper), but other than that, summer time was full-tilt fun for us.

We romped around the yard on our stickhorses, finding shade when we got a little hot.  And, of course, the tinkling music of the snowcone man’s truck would bring us to action, scrambling to get our quarters so that we could make a purchase.  We had our own personal water jars in the refrigerators.  Our mothers kept them full and they were ice cold, waiting on us to come in for a swig, straight from the jar.  I remember that when my water jar was an old pickle jar, it never quite lost the pickle smell/taste, which I did not mind at all.  Now kids get their cold water from refrigerator doors!  Not quite the same…nostalgia taking over, here…

So, my memories of summer as a child don’t usually focus on stifling heat, but rather these things:

  • Kool-aid sipped from metal tumblers that felt ice-cold tosprinkler the hands;
  • Playing in the sprinkler.  For some reason, V and I called this “shower baths”;
  • Crisp slices of ice-cold watermelon on picnic tables at the local “watermelon stand” where people would gather on summer nights to buy melon and trade news of the day;
  • The comfort of the sound of the attic fan—bygone now for most of us but a great comfort at night.

Hope you are able to stay cool…watch out for your animals.  C

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