Riding Life!

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

Thursday, November 28, 2013

C: Can One Have “New Traditions?”

traditionI mean, Merriam-Webster defines tradition as:

a way of thinking, behaving, or doing something that has been used by the people in a particular group, family, society, etc., for a long time

So, is the term “new tradition” an oxymoron? (Dn. “oxymoron” is: a combination of contradictory or   incongruous words such as cruel kindness…my own suggestions are honest lawyer--I can self-deprecate-- or internal revenue service….but I digress.

We just had our first Thanksgiving Dinner of the season.  Today, Thanksgiving proper, it was Son, MIL and me.  The three of us had our own not-so-little feast so that we would have all those luscious leftovers.  And I think I may have started a “new tradition.” 

Fine Cooking had this recipe for mashed carrots.  Being a carrot-lover, I tried, it and we all loved it.  I am taking it tomorrow to Sister’s house for all my family to enjoy.  I thought some of you might enjoy it, too:

Carrot Mash with

Orange and Mint

Serves 4-6 (generous)

2 lbs carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces.

Kosher salt

1 oz (2 Tbs) butter

2 Tbs. heavy cream (mmmmm)

2 Tbs olive oil

1 1/2 Tbs. finely-chopped fresh mint

1/2 tsp. finely grated orange zest or more to taste.

Splash of Tabasco

Boil the carrots until tender, with salt.  When easily-pierced with fork, drain into colander and let the steam rise for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, heat butter, cream, oil, mint, zest, 1/2 tsp salt and a dash of Tabasco in sauce pan over low heat until the butter is melted. Dump in the carrots.

For rustic texture (which is what I did), use potato masher until you get the consistency you like (I ended up added a tad more cream).

You can also put carrots through food processor before adding to the other ingredients to get the smoothest texture, as shown in the picture.

I’m tellin’ ya, this is scrumptious, and mine had a much richer orange color than this picture depicts.

I will be doing this one again.count your blessings

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day and counted all your blessings.

--C

PS.  You should go to the Fine Cooking link above and create an account.  I’m loving their recipes and the “recipe box” feature.

Monday, November 25, 2013

C: Pay It Forward at the Starbuck’s Window

starbucksA couple days ago Son was in the car with me.  We had both had a tough day and decided that we “deserved” a Starbuck’s treat.  This something I do not do very often, and after I had placed the order at the drive-thru speaker, I remembered why.

Your total is $9.98,” the voice announced.  ten dollars

Wow!  Almost ten Dollars for the two of us!  Yes, the coffees were “specialty” coffees.  Yes, Son had a baked treat, too.  But, still, it was more than I had expected.

We were in line behind two cars.  The topic of conversation as we waited was the above…expensive!

starbucks2When it was my turn, we rolled up to the window.  I had my ten-dollar bill ready for the clerk.   I could see our order awaiting us 

The sales girl smiled and said, “The lady ahead of you paid for your order!”

I looked up in time to see the white car pull slowly around the corner.  I could see the driver well enough to know that I had never met her.  I looked back at the sales clerk.

Did she say she knew me?” I asked, puzzled.

No, ma'am, she just asked how much your order was and then handed me the money.” 

She could see my bewilderment, so she added, “You know, this is not rare.  It doesn’t happen every day, but it happens often enough that none of us are shocked by it any more.  I think it’s nice.”pay it forward

And, she’s right.  It is nice. 

Son and I talked about it a good bit as we drove down the road.  It did, indeed, lighten our spirits.  It was not the money—yes, ten bucks was a lot for a caffeine treat, but not that much.  It made us feel better than even the ten dollars justified.  It really was a lot of good will bang for that lady’s bucks—all ten of ‘em.

It inspired us, and we both resolved to do it for the person behind us next time we drive through.  In fact, both of us said we would do it soon—a special trip to Starbucks just to do this kindness.  We both crave the goodwill warmth we felt and know that it will be even warmer when it is us doing the giving.

So, I guepay it forward 2ss, it actually will be double the kindness if we follow through, because we won’t likely be together in line for a while.  So there will be two purchases borne of this one act of kindness.  Nice multiplication.

I think this kind of spontaneous joy spreading is especially appropriate this time of year!

--C

P.S. - It’s nice to know it’s okay etiquette  to check first on total amount—I’m afraid paying for someone making a run for the whole office would break me!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

C: Dumbed-Down Nation?

walmartYesterday I had occasion to be in a part of town I rarely visit.  I noticed that Wal-Mart had put in a “Neighborhood Market.”  Wanting to grab our Thanksgiving turkey and ham, I decided to give it a try.

I was so pleased.  The Market was about the size I remembered the new “supermarkets” of my childhood.  I confess that I resist going into Walmart Superstores because of the size—Want dog food?  It is waaaay over to the other side of the store. 

But this smaller version was great.  It had everything I needed and all within fairly easy reach. 

Our holidays are different this year.  I will be cooking for MIL, Son and me on Thanksgiving Day.  We have promised to indulge MIL with her footballgonavy while I sit before the fire, listening to her urge Navy on to a goal and working on my rag rug.  The next day we will go to my sisters for my family’s feast.

As I passed one of those mid-aisle displays, I grabbed a couple of bottles of sparkling cider for our little Thanksgiving Day celebration.  At the checkout stand, the checker (a young girl in early 20’s) picked up the bottle and said, “Hmmm.  Is ciderthis alcoholic?”

Before I could answer, the sacker (a woman in her 30’s) answered, saying, “No, it’s not alcoholic—it’s diet.”

Before I could say anything, the checker said, “No, I don’t think it’s diet, I think it’s alcoholic.”

Sacker:  “No, read on it.  It says right on the label that there is no alcohol, so it’s diet.”

Checker:  “Oh, you’re right!  No alcohol, so it must be diet.”

Sacker:  “Right.  It’s diet because there is no alcohol.”

I can tell you that I was fairly speechless.  I simply do not follow the logic of this exchange.  I finally got my word in edgewise:  “It is neither.  It is non-alcoholic, but it certainly is not diet.

To which Sacker, ever vigilant to be correct, answered:  “Are you sure.   I thought that diet ones were not alcoholic and non-alcoholic ones were diet.”

Huh? Still, I was lost.  “Nope.  It is neither.”

I left, wondering how these two were going to make it in life—not my problem right now, but I think it could be a societal problem in the next fifty years or so (maybe less).

Are we dumbing down our populace?

This reminds me of my sister’s drive-through window experience as she ordered the half-dozen chicken nuggets (a food she has given up completely after watching Jamie Oliver’s show about how they are made—ugh!)chicken nuggets  The speaker reply was “We don’t sell them in half-dozens.  You can pick six piece or nine piece…”

My sister decided she’d go with the six-piece item.

Or how about my bank teller not long ago who was completely clueless what to do with a check made out to “cash.”  Don’t they have teller school???

And speaking of dumb, it runs to both ends of the financial spectrum.  This week I saw a quote about Wal-mart attributed to Paris Hilton.  “What’s Wal-mart?  Do they sell wall stuff there?”  (Do you think she was kidding?) 

This may be just lack of exposure on Paris’ part, after all, why would she ever have occasion to shop in Wal-mart? parisalthough you’d think she would have sometime.  And her vast wealth means that she stands to affect the nation’s policy far-and-away more that I will ever do.

Reminds me of reading a Jackie Kennedy bio wherein they discussed her total cluelessness about the cost of things. I remember an episode where she was being chastised over the food budget.  She was quoted as saying “Well, how much can a can of green beans be?  Three or four dollars at the most!”  And this was in the 60’s.  I have never thought of Jackie as dumb, but certainly she was out of touch with the rest of us ala Ms. Hilton.

But the result of a huge portion of our population being either ill-educated or of the “ruling” class (yes, their money has a lot of impact) being so out of touch with us middle-classers spells a huge problem to me.  It is why you will never see me in a voter-registration drive—if they can’t get off their duffs and register themselves, like I did, then I don’t want them voting and making policy…

I just fear that we middle-classers will be squeezed between the ill-educated voters at one end and the out-of-touchers on the other into policy that is not good .

Well, that went unintendedly political.  I’m done.

---C

PS – speaking of ill-educated, I have to point out that I don’t think “unintendedly” is actually a word, but it sounds so “right” that I’m leaving it. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

C: Prayers Against Distractions

churchSo, it had been a hard week; hard enough that my little car did not move all day Saturday.  I just stayed home, piddling around the house.  When we left for church Sunday morning, I found my purse—and my dead phone—right where I had dropped it Friday night.

I was looking forward to a restful time of worship Sunday morning.  MIL and I slid into our pew just as the music began.  It was good.

As the music subsided, Pastor moved to the front to begin his sermon.  As he did, I reached into my purse to find an ink pen, inveterate note-taker that I am. 

As I fished around, my thumb landed on something soft, and then I felt it pierce some unknown object, squishing.  I yuckcould feel something cover the end of the thumb, squeezing up under the nail, soft, wet, downright slimy.

I jerked the hand out to find my thumb and part of the hand covered with a gooey, gross mess.  I sat in the pew horror-struck as my mind tried to comprehend exactly what had happened.

Then the smell hit and my brain made identification—it was my uneaten Friday banana.  I had slipped it into my purse on rotten banana2Friday as I had left the office, and it incubated all day Saturday  until on Sunday morning—overripe for the popping-- it was burst open by my hand in the middle of the church service.

I peered into my purse to see the damage and to find a Kleenex (no such luck). It was a mess.  I wiped my hand on my pants leg—what else to do?

The preacher started us off with a prayer, and this is what he asked of the Lord:  “Please help us clearrotten banana1 away the distractions of last week; the distractions of financial trouble; the distractions of work…”

So help me, I added my own prayer: “And the distraction of knowing there is a rotting banana oozing forth in the purse beside you…”

Amen.

--C

Saturday, November 16, 2013

C: Autumn Smiles

autumn2Does it seem trite to write about the season, autumn?  Today I am feeling very grateful for the season.  It is brisk and beautiful out, and it caused me to stop and think about what I love about autumn:

  • Pots of soup on the scoyotetove
  • Coyotes yapping more than usual
  • Warm afghans on the couch
  • Wood neatly stacked on the back porch
  • An excuse to light a firefireplace
  • Hearthside chats
  • Color of its own, not found in other seasons

autumn3These pleasures are enough to chase away the gloom of darkening days and slow-arising mornings. 

Each season has its own pleasure, but autumn seems to me to be the most peaceful.  Summer and Winter are extremes that my aging self is finding harder and harder to tolerate. 

Winter sometimes has hushed beauty, but it is interspersed with hardship.

Spring is gorgeous, of course, but it seems so busy with thespring bursting of new life and volatile weather.

For me, autumn marks the end of my relentless mowing tasks and summer heat.  It is a time to rest and await the winter.

Hope you are all feeling this, too. 

Peace, C.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

C: Consanguinity, Your Word for the Day

vocabOkay, boys and girls, here is your vocab word for the day:

Consanguinity:

Kinship characterized by the sharing of common ancestors

I learned this fancy word in law school.  It is important in estate law to determine inheritances. You need to know how folks are related and who is “closest” to  a dearly-departed.  For example, it is critical when you have to ferret among the clamoring long-lost relatives who want to claim pots of gold left by childless, eccentric old aunts who died among dozens of cats and such.

Yes, yes, I learned all this esoterica in law school…haven’t used it since. 

I had occasion to reacquaint with a cousin yesterday.  K is the child of my father's cousin, which made her What??? to me?  Consanguineous, to be sure, but how else to describe our familial relationship?

Being the smarty-pants lawyer that I am, I knew about and, therefore, consulted the "Tables of Consanguinity."  There is one below for your viewing pleasure (feel free to whip it out at Thanksgiving for figuring out who’s who in your own family):

table

After furrowing my brow over this table for a while and, not being an estate lawyer, nimble in the ways of kinship, I gave up and googled the question:  "What is my father's cousin to me???" 

And there discovered that my father's cousin is my first cousin once removed. Therefore, my father's cousin'confuseds child (K!) would be my second cousin. (Oh, lawzy!  I won’t even get into the “removed cousin” thing…).

K is "long, lost"  in the sense that we have not seen each other in, literally, years.  This is unfortunate and amazing since I like K so very much.  Our fathers were close, important to each other; and it seems we could make a better effort at being the same.  We are, by google-map, only 16 miles apart.

Why do we lose contact?  I don't know.  Chalk it up to time, as in never enough.   But it felt good to reconnect for the hour or so we were together. K brought up a shared childhood memory that I had often thought about and questioned whether my young mind had fabricated…but, no, K was there, too, and had found the experience as significant as I did.  I had not remembered that she was there, but I am grateful for the independent witness this provided to my memory.

dnaI discovered that there must be some strong strains in the old DNA.  K, like me, is “crafter,” although I suspect she probably actually finishes projects, unlike yours truly.  And, like me, she loves words.  She is a blogger, too.  Go visit her at thepolkadotskirt.net. 

So, there is, truly, a kinship.

Being with K felt like going home in some way.  Hopefully we can keep it up.  C.

PS – probably something K and I WON’T be sharing is some pot o’ gold from a long-lost relative…the luck factor has never been that strong in our family lines!

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