USE IT OR LOSE IT!


On this last day of the year 2012, I’m reminded of all the people who like to say “I can’t believe how fast this year has gone!”

Well, I don’t think it went very fast, in fact sometimes it went downright slow.

For me personally, this was a “put and take” year. Something in was a new shouler; something out became the rest of my hard working teeth. However, I admit to being forgivably vain about the new teeth.

In the spirit of “use it or lose it”, we continued our entertainment schedule, as long as the invited guests did not object to a liquid meal. I found the turkey for the 2011 Thanksgiving dinner rather difficult to stuff into a blender.

We are very fond of soup, and since our diet this past year contained a lot of it, there were many new recipes tried and created.

One imaginative production, containing a great number of vegetables and chicken as I remember, cried out for heat, so that became jalapeno pepper which I liberally tossed in at the last minute. The assembled guests eagerly dipped their spoons and let out a collective scream for water. “I thought we’d never come back friom that one” said one friend the next day. She’s lucky they did, because shortly after that, I made this beer/cheese soup, which is a warm soul-satifying luncheon dish, or a light supper.

BEER CHEESE SOUP

3/4 cup butter
1/2 c. 1/8″ diced celery
1/2 c. 1/8″ diced onion
1/2 c. 1/8″ diced carrot
3-4 cloves garlic chopped fine
Saute vegetables until done
Add 1/2 c. flour, 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
2 1/2 pts. chicken stock
cook 5 minutes
Blend in 6 oz. grated Cheddar cheese, 2 Tbs. Parmegiano cheese
12 oz bottle of beer
Simmer 10 min.
Salt and pepper to taste

Essentially, that’s it, but the addition of a few meatballs is a nice idea too.

MEATBALLS FOR SOUP

1/2 # grnd beef
1 egg lightly beaten
2 Tbs. finely chopped onion
Tsp. olive oil
Enough fine bread crumbs to make a stiff ball

Poach meatballs in hot water for 5 min. to take off all the extra fat
which clouds the broth if using them in a brothy soup

If you sometimes have leftover greens such as chard, spinach, etc. it can be a nice addition too.

Remember what your mamas told you and don’t slurp your soup! And do have a Happy New Year!

Worry, like rust, never sleeps.

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A FRESH LOOK AT TALENT


We are all talented at something, We can agree on that can’t we?

Unfortunately, we are often not talented in the way we would have chosen to be talented.

You may have dreamed of becoming a brilliant neurosurgeon, but you can’t handle the math or the knives. A major league catcher may be your greatest desire, but you can’t catch a beachball, and your allergies go haywire in the spring.

There are so many “perhaps”; we all have different dreams and sometimes miraculously, our dreams come true. So don’t get all distraught and angsty about it. Believe me, your particular talent is hidden in there somewhere.

Maybe it’s cooking, gardening, decorating, or just being a friend. You don’t get to pick and choose what talent you have. Embrace your talent, but don’t expect anyone else to embrace you. This is your own particular thing.

I will, of course, talk about myself, because that’s what you get to do when you write a personal blog.

I always felt I could have been a fabulous concert pianist, but we couldn’t afford a piano when I was a child, and besides, we moved too often to cart one around with us.

Some time ago .I was getting burned out with sculpture and had decided to stick to tennis, at which I was pretty lousy. About this time I took a visiting young man to his church, and listened to an inspiring sermon on the surety of everybody possessing a personal talent, and the absolute necessity to share it. I felt the message was aimed at me personally, so I went home and made a sculpture of St. Francis to gift the priest with. The most prolific period of my artistic life followed that simple sermon.

You can never be an artist if your work comes without effort.

STOPPING THAT ANNOYING DRIP


526Older houses, like older people, develop drips, which sometimes become leaks, and if unattended, sometimes become floods. We have recently had the first one, which then became the second one.

We have many skylights, which have always performed their duties beautifully, allowing the California sunshine to illuminate rooms shaded by large trees, which by the way, shed their leaves in the winter months, and that’s another story.

First it was just a spot or two, which might have been deposited by a busy puppy, if the puppy weren’t six years old. I mopped it, only to see another puddle in an hour or so. This continued under two of the skylights, occasioning the careful positioning of a number of bowls and a bucket or two beneath them. As the rain continued to fall, the sound of the dripping water into eight metal bowls became a bit much for Dr. Advice, so I lined the bowls with paper towels and toweling, which worked pretty well except for the nighttime sound of a thirsty dog helping himself to a midnight beverage.

It did provide a navigational hazard however in the middle of the floor, as we were about to have our annual Christmas party in mere days. A hostessing dilemma of great import along with parking places for cars and umbrellas.

The proper adjustment of bowls is crucial, and it is not easy to trace a drip midair. Dr. Advice, being a good engineer, advised putting chaulk marks on the tile floor, and it worked fine. I need to trust his superior judgement because he once advised Boeing Aircraft to put an “UP” sign on the side of their containers after someone laid an airplane engine on its side. Elementary, Dr. Watson. I wonder if they have cartons which come with that sign on now. With the mentality of some people these days, it might behoove them to do that.

The leaks have finally been patched, but not after the visits of two roofers who would each like to put on a whole new roof, and neither would be available immediately. While thinking that possibility over, a friend recommended a very nice young man who climbed up after the rain stopped, and working tirelessly even when it was getting dark, patched both skylights expertly.

Charlie misses the convenience of drive-by refreshment, but that’s a dog’s life for you.

THE YEAR THE MOUSE ATE THE GINGERBREAD HOUSE


watch cat
The resident Watch Cat by KSR

The Christmas cakes and cookies have been baked, and the cards were made and sent on time for a change, the presents bought and wrapped. I’m feeling pretty good about Christmas this year instead of having a near panic attack as is usually the case. But one thing I’m not making this year, or maybe ever, is another Christmas gingerbread house.

We made some “pretty limp attempts” when our children were small, but one year when the grandchildren arrived, I went all out and built the world’s biggest, most fabulous three-story gingerbread Victorian mansion ever imagined by man or child.

It stood about 18 inches high, and the gingerbread was totally covered with either frosting or candy. It was beautiful beyond belief and everything a gingerbread house should be.

At the annual Christmas party it was the hit of the evening, and as its architect and builder, I glowed with pride. It stood on its own separate table in the place of honor, but unfortunately, I have lost the photos I took of it from every angle, so you will just have to take my word for it.

When the season was over, we carefully lifted this enormous confection and lovingly packed it away till the following year. We protected it with tissue paper, and carefully sealed the cardboard container against dust and dirt in the attic.

The following Christmas, while taking down the collection of holiday decorations, I opened the large cardboard box, to find——nothing.

Going down stairs, I asked my husband what he had done with gingerbread house box. Just as puzzled as I, we looked inside the box, and found one or two pieces of candy. Nothing else. Just two pieces of candy.

As we all know, it gets pretty cold and lonely outside for a small mouse, and our mouse obviously has a sweet tooth as well, so who can blame him for seeking shelter in a warm box containing a feast fit for a king, and even inviting some friends over for a snack or two? Not I.

“WHERE THE HECK IS PEARL HARBOR?”


USS Bagley

It was a beautiful sunny morning in Southern California, and I was wearing the new red wool plaid suit which was supposed to be my Christmas present bought from money my Dad had sent, but even though it was only December 7th, I had wanted to wear it before the holidays. I loved it so much I wore it all the way through high school.

My Dad been gone for most of that year, the longest cruise yet, though we had no idea where he was. He could not tell us where his ship was and according to his censored V-mail letters he was “somewhere in the Pacific”, but we didn’t know where. It was apparent that there might be trouble sometime soon.

I remember the house smelling all warm and delicious from the cake my grandma had just taken from the oven for Sunday dinner. We had two girls who boarded with us and they were hurrying to get away to the beach for the day; I had just fed our dog, Wimpy, and put him outside, when I heard the crackle of the big Philco radio change from music to the voice of President Roosevelt saying that “this day will go down in infamy.” I had no idea what the word infamy meant.

Everyone gathered around the radio to hear the news that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. I stupidly asked “where the heck is Pearl Harbor?” but no one else knew either, so we got out the large atlas and saw that it was “somewhere in the Pacific”, in the Hawaiian Islands.

We did not get the news until much later, that my Dad’s ship had been in Pearl Harbor, and was moored across the channel from the disastrous bombing of the USS Arizona. The majority of America’s major fleet, including the main battlewagons, were destroyed or badly damaged during the sneak attack.

It killed America’s isolationism, and made the American population determined to go to war and soon after, we joined Britain in fighting the war in Europe.

Having been out at sea for such a long time, they had come into the harbor to take on much needed food and water, but the attack happened before that could occur. Fortunately his ship suffered little damage.

He returned home for a brief week about a year later for minor repairs, but he would be at sea for another four years. Yes, I remember Pearl Harbor, and now I know where it is.

GRANDMA, GOD AND AIMEE, 2.


Aimee slipped unbidden into my dream last night, which brought to mind my grandmother’s fascination with her.

Aimee Semple McPherson was a Los Angeles evangelist and media celebrity from the 20’s and 30’s, the largest among a flurry of religious salesmen, all of whom were selling salvation, a commodity always in demand, and which costs them nothing to supply.

In Aimee’s philosophy, God, being Love, desires only that His children be happy, and they cast money into the collection box with reckless enthusiasm to assure them of that happiness. “Just give a little more” she would cajole, and they did.

Aimee’s call to Love offered an eternal Costa del Sol, liberally supplied with food, drink, sex and sun. Evil had no place in this ethereal paradise.

Grandma was a liberated woman seeking a new source of religious interpretation, and was enchanted with the notion that another woman could supply it. LIfe was not easy for my grandmother at that time; a single divorced woman raising two young daughters, while working and running a rooming house in the middle of the Great Depression.

The spiritual bubble burst for Grandma, a highly moral woman, when Aimee became romantially involved with her secretary, who was also married. This was simply too much for Grandma.

They had donned their swim suits and went for a swim on the Southern California beach, when it was reported that Aimee had been kidnapped. The town went crazy with worry over their favorite God-fearing darling, sending out dozens of people, even dragging the ocean searching for her body, and at least one man drowned in the failed effort. A ransom note was delivered, clarifying the terrible news that she had been kidnapped.

A month later, Aimee came walking in, swearing that she had been kidnapped, tortured, and turned loose in the desert to find her way home alone, though her physical condition belied it.

As the money poured in from grateful followers of her Four Square Church, her Temple filled to capacity but without Grandma. She rightly felt that she had been duped, and that Aimee was merely another false Wizard of Oz, hiding behind a shiny curtain.

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