Thursday, July 12, 2018

Well the infamous food processor that wouldn’t die has done it again.  Today I made beet relish.  I chopped up the beets, onion, carrot and green peppers.  The thing is indestructible.  Thank you again Scadutos for the donation.

Beet Relish
4 pounds, beets, cooked and peeled
4 large onions
3 large green peppers
1 Tbsp whole cloves
1 ½ cups sugar
1 ½ cups vinegar

Grind beets, onions and green peppers.  Tie cloves in cheesecloth bag.  In large kettle combine vegetables, clove bag, sugar, vinegar, ½ cup water and 1 Tbsp salt.   Bring to boil, reduce heat.  Cover and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove clove bag. Ladle into hot jars, leave ½ inch headspace.  Adjust lids.  Process in boiling water bath (half pints) 15 minutes.  Makes 13 half pints.

Now that is what the recipe reads.  I know Diane at the Extension Office would have a hissy fit, but this is how I adjusted the recipe to suit me.  (“That’s not acceptable”, is what Diane would say!)  But I am a cook who does fluctuate with her recipes.  I have threatened to make rabbit tacos or hot dog fried rice before but never have.

I don’t feel badly when I have to substitute because I don’t have a certain ingredient.

I added shredded carrots, a jalapeno pepper and fresh grated ginger.  Instead of water I used the water I cooked the beets in.  I didn’t use whole cloves but instead used ground cloves.  I also sprinkled in a little nutmeg.

It is delicious.

Today I jumped on the bandwagon and made kale chips.  I seasoned with garlic, paprika, onion powder and chili pepper.  I sprinkled with pink salt when they were finished.  I hated them!  They tasted burned and were horrid.  I'll go back to my kale salads.

Peace be with you.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

When I was in college a group of friends went to a bar to hear some live music.  I hung my purse over the back of my chair and enjoyed the show.  Later, I got my purse to get some money for another drink and realized I had been vandalized.  My money was gone including a silver dollar my uncle had given me at birth.

For some reason, I can’t remember why, I looked at the guy sitting right behind me.  He attended the same college and was known to be a “little shit”.

“Empty your pockets,” I demanded of him.  He just laughed and looked away to talk to his friends.

I got up from my seat and grabbed him by his shirt front.  I pulled him into my face and said something to the effect that if he stole my money I was going to kick his ass.

One of my friends pulled me off him.  Two other guy friends told him to empty his pockets.  He did so and there was my silver dollar.  I started at him again and my friends pulled me away.

“You got your money back, let it go,” they told me.

I believe we all left about that time.

I never did run into that little rat again.  I’m afraid if I had, I would have given him a good thrashing.

Peace be with you.

Photo of me at 19.  First year of college.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The question my daughter has given me to answer this week is, “What do you think is the meaning of life?”  I have searched my entire life wondering what the meaning of my life is.  I have had many influences throughout my learning experience.  One of the first thoughts that came to mind was something I read from Boris Pasternak, “Man is born to live not to prepare to live.”  I had read this in my teens and got it wrong.  I thought it read, “Man was born to live, not to prepare to die.”

Another teen influence was from Literature.  “Carpe Diem.”  I always thought if I got a tattoo (I’m not going to.  I’m too old.) it would be this.  Seize the day.  I believe every day you are given is a gift.  I have tried to live my life to the fullest almost every day of my life.

The Beatles sang a lyric that has been a great influential theme in my life. “And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make.” And no, I didn’t take this in the sexual interpretation.  I have believed in karma for most of my life.  I try never to do harm and I really like to do things for people.  I loved being a mother and wife.  I loved taking care of our home and cooking and baking for those I loved.  I enjoyed my career (well, most of it) as a school secretary and loved doing things for the students and teachers.  Now as a volunteer I enjoy doing things for my friends and family.  And even an occasional stranger.  (Recently, I bought the guy behind me at the grocery his rotisserie chicken.)

I did some research on the internet about quotes from influential folks as to what they thought was the meaning of life.  One of my ultimate favorites was from von Goethe a German writer and stateman.  He said, “The man who is born with a talent, which he is meant to use, finds his greatest happiness in using it.”

The Dalai Lama said, “Our prime purpose in this life is to help others and if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.”

The Roman philosopher, Seneca, stated, “Begin at once to live, and count each day as a separate life.”

“The meaning of life is whatever you ascribe it to be.  Being alive is the meaning.”  This was from Joseph Campbell who is a Professor at Sarah Lawrence College.

And the Buddha said that happiness is achieved through values, strengths and passions.”

After taking all of this in and truly meditating on the question of the week I have come up with this…The meaning of life is to do the best with what you have, and to enjoy each day to its fullest capacity.

Peace be with you.

The above photo is one of my favorite memories with my girls.  We were at the Art Museum in Milwaukee and I had to pose as this statue.  Unfortunately,  I played around with the picture and ruined it by transposing another photo on top of it.  Oh and I almost got us thrown out of the museum by tap dancing on a piece of art that looked like a platform wood floor.

Friday, June 22, 2018

One of my favorite stories from childhood would have been Rapunzel.  I’ve always been a fan of long hair.  And I think the idea of escaping is another thing that I am sure attracted me to the story.

In my parents’ religion, it was considered sinful for a woman to cut her hair.  My mother was constantly cutting her own hair.  She would wear it up for a while to hide the fact from my father.

When I was in third grade my sister, who was ten years older than me, took me to a hair salon and had my hair cut very short.  I remember my father threw a tantrum over it.  My sister’s theory was that my hair was baby fine and if it was cut it would get thicker.  It must have worked because I have plenty hair on my head and other parts of my body as well.

Thinking about Rapunzel, I had to go on line and re-read the story.  I wondered as a child how the witch got Rapunzel up into the tower.  I envision this old hag carrying a little baby by its long hair up into the tower.  And also, if she didn’t want anyone to find the child, why didn’t she silence her, so she couldn’t sing and draw the prince to her?

The first dream I ever remember as a child was where I was locked in a castle room.  I was lying on a stone bed and was crying.  The door to the room was opening and I just knew whatever came through meant danger.  I wonder if the reading of the Rapunzel story triggered this nightmare of mine?

There were many stories relative to the Rapunzel story.  It was fascinating.  One was even considered “bawdy”.

I read that Rapunzel’s name came from rampion, which is a name given to several plants, one of which is campanula.  I thought campanula was bell flowers but it seems that it was formerly grown as a green for salad.  This is what Rapunzel’s mother craved while pregnant with Rapunzel, and which got her into trouble with the witch that owned the garden that her husband was stealing from.

There is also a Rapunzel syndrome where the person eats their own hair and gets an intestinal malfunction.   How disgusting is that?

I also wondered about how Rapunzel gave away that she was having a prince visit her.  One story tells that she complained that her dress was getting too tight, indicating that she was pregnant.   Suggesting that she and the prince have been doing more than talking.  This is in a children’s story?   Another version, Rapunzel asks the witch why it is easier pulling the prince up than her.  Suggesting that the witch is overweight.  I have to believe this is the story my mother read to me not the one about the unmarried pregnant woman.  I just know I would have had questions.

I think, all in all, the story just fascinated me.  I even played a game as a child and tied a long towel around my head and pretended that I was Rapunzel with long lovely hair.
I had to cut my hair when I was a senior in high school because the school felt the cheerleaders looked better with shorter hair.  I will never forgive them for that, but in a couple of years, I had my long hair back.  Now when I have my hair cut, I get it cut as short as possible.

Peace be with you.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

My mother was one of the most lovable people in the world.  She was hospitable to my friends and especially loved to cook for them.

She was very strict with me.  I got my fair share of whoopins.  Her favorite quote to let me know I was getting in trouble was, “Are you looking to get some willer tea?”  She was threatening to go get a switch from a tree and whip my legs with it.  I don’t think we had a willow tree but I’m sure any little twig would do.  I was a pretty good child because I don’t enjoy pain and I knew if she threatened willer tea, I’d better cool my jets.

I remember once (and only once) running from her when she was going to spank me.  I think I got it with a thin wood board, learned a valuable lesson, and I never ran from her again.

I had many nightmares as a child and mother would get up and come lay next to me until I fell back asleep.  I loved the smell of her.  She smelled of talcum powder and Prell shampoo.

My parents often played music and sang together.  My mother had this tiny little whiney voice and Daddy had a full bass voice.  They sounded wonderful together.  Daddy told me how he met my Mother.  He said he and some friends were going to attend a certain church because a girl he was interested in was singing.  He said when he saw my mother and heard her sing, he forgot all about that other girl.  From that time on, she was his girlfriend. He told me after she passed away that she had been his girlfriend for seventy-six years.  It broke my heart.

My parents were very religious and almost everything was sinful.  I remember once my girlfriends and I were dancing in the living room, probably to American Bandstand.  My mother came into the room and began to do the Charleston.  I was totally astounded.  I had never seen my mother so happy and energetic.

When I was in Junior High School, I had a good friend named, George.  George was chubby and loved to come to my house because mother would always fix him something to eat. George had a crush on me but I had my eyes on someone else.

George asked me out in front of my mother once and I told him I couldn’t because I didn’t have anything to wear.  My mother spoke without thinking and asked George if he had ever seen me naked.  George turned a hundred shades of red.  My mother realized what she had asked him and quickly left the room.  I’m sure George told all his friends and mine what she had asked him.

Mother was kind, innocent, and welcoming to all my friends.  Her specialty was these hamburgers that she cooked up in a pressure cooker with diced onions.  They were reminiscent of White Castle burgers.  Everyone exclaimed that Mother Goose made the best burgers in the world.  With the last name of VanHoose, all of us were nicknamed “Goose” by our friends.  She naturally was Mother Goose.

I wasn’t surprised at the overwhelming attendance at my mother’s funeral.  So many people came up to me and told me they had loved her so much and would miss her.  Sometimes, I miss her too.

Peace be with her.

Friday, June 15, 2018

I have many favorite memories of my childhood.  My fondest memories were from travels to my Aunt Ola’s house in Kentucky.  She always had freshly made chocolate pies for us.  They were my favorite pie.  We would play guitars and sing on the front porch.  This one time we made a picnic lunch and went to Jenny Wiley State Park.  We played in the creek, hiked all over, and some even crossed a rope bridge.  I couldn’t do it because I am afraid of heights.  Daddy found a sassafras tree and taught us how to whittle off the bark and eat the yummy goodness inside of it.   I’m sure I remember it mostly because of pictures we had taken.

Another favorite memory is of people gathering at our house to play music.  We had so many folks staying with us that my mother put me to sleep on quilts that she placed in the bathtub.

I also loved going to school.  I loved playing on the playground with so many of my friends.  I enjoyed learning new things and did well in all my classes.
I had a wonderful childhood and cherish the memories.

Photo is of my cousin, Faye, Jeanie and her cousin, Trish and me eating wstermelon on our front porch.

Monday, May 21, 2018

What fascinated me as a child?

I pondered this question for quite some time before I came across the answer.  I was looking at Facebook and saw a reference to Our Lady of Perpetual Astonishment.  That truly describes my childhood.  I was in awe of so many things.  I loved the stars, I loved the sunshine, I loved walking barefoot in the grass.  I loved singing and I loved jumping rope.

Strangers fascinated me as well.  For one thing, I had this stupid accent and everyone around me talked differently, well except for my family, of course.

I loved hearing what my friends had for dinner.  I wanted to know what they got for birthdays and Christmas.

For a child, I loved talk shows on television.  They talked about things so very strange to me.  I watched Mike Douglas and Merv Griffin religiously.  I probably got away with it because Daddy was working, and Mother had housework or gardening to do.

Something that didn’t fascinate me was cartoons.  I wanted to sleep in on Saturdays.  I got up usually in time to watch the Tarzan movie.  I liked Tarzan much better than the Roadrunner or Daffy Duck.

When you grow up in a very strict religious household where almost everything is considered sinful, the world is an amazing place.  I guess because most of it was taboo for me, it made it all the more wonderful.

I was astonished that Daddy would trim our trees back every year and they would come back and continue to grow.  I was astonished that my mom could make just about anything and she never opened a cookbook.

I was astonished at my neighbors, the clerk in the grocery store, my teachers and the students in my classes.

I think I still have that in me.  I have had such a tremendous life and I have done things that I never thought as a child I would do.  I’ve swam beneath the ocean, I’ve flown in a balloon too many times to remember how many.  I’ve learned to make chicken cordon bleu, lasagna, Mu Shu Pork and things I’d never even heard of as a child.

I have a husband who loves me and I have two of the most wonderful daughters ever.  And now I have two son-in-laws that I adore, and a new grandson.

Life is just fascinating!

Peace be with you.