THE PAIN OF REJECTION


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“Little Dancer” watercolor painting by kayti sweetland rasmussen

Our universal need to belong and to matter are as fundamental as our need to eat and to breathe. When we ostracize or reject another it is one of the most powerful punishments one person can inflict upon another.

Brain scans have shown that this rejection is actually experienced as physical pain in many cases. Pain is experienced whether those who reject us are strangers or close friends or family.

Imagine the pain and anxiety a child feels while waiting to be chosen as a team member. To be last in line, tells him he isn’t quite as good, not only as a team member, but as a person.

This reaction serves a function: it warns us that something is wrong. We don’t measure up in some important way.

Belonging to a group is a need, giving us better self-esteem and a sense of control over our lives. A belief that our existence is meaningful.

REJECTION

Ostracism threatens all these needs. Even an argument, verbal or physical is a connection; But when we alone stand on the outskirts of a group it is a uniquely harsh blow because it implies wrong-doing. Worse, the imposed silence forces us to generate more and more self-deprecating thoughts. You can fight back, but no one will respond, because we are invisible.

For most people, ostracism usually engenders a concerted effort to be included again, at least by someone. We do this by mimicking, obeying or cooperating with another group.

As a military child I went to a new school every year, in some cases more than one, making me a perpetual newcomer. Human nature cautions us against newcomers, and our automatic reaction is negative. A prime example is our prevalent attitude toward those who come to our countries from elsewhere.

Childhood bullying is an extreme example of rejection, and I survived several bouts of bullying. My mother’s comfortable, easy, soothing words always leaned toward “They’re just jealous.” Right. Even a third grader wouldn’t buy that excuse.

Children can be bullied for many reasons. The victim is smarter, the victim is dumber. The victim comes from another country or town or has either more or less in the way of clothing, food or athletic equipment. They can be either too chubby or tt skinnyIn other words, it really doesn’t matter how good or how bad you are, some kids are natural targets.

The little dancer staring out her upstairs window today may wish to be included in the group playing below, but chances are she would not be. Her goal is to dance.

We all have to find our own path into acceptance and a good life. Maybe the little boy forlornly standing on the edges of the playing field will find himself standing on a stage accepting the Nobel prize for finding the cure for cancer someday.

QUEEN OF THE CASSEROLE~~~~Porcupine Meatballs


My Grandma was Queen of the casserole. She almost had to be to make dinner stretch for the paying guests. We always seemed to have an extra room to let, and Grandma never let anything go to waste, and according to her if it was good by itself then several things together would probably be just as good and maybe better.

I’m always wary of cocky recipes. You know the sort. They swagger right off the page–or screen–all braggadoccio and conceit. They promise the best chocolate cake or they oversell themselves as the only mac and cheese recipe you will ever need. They’re the culinary equivalent of an overly enthusiastic end zone dance by a preening football player who managed to stumble his way to his only career touchdown.

And I think we all like to smirk a bit after we make one of these recipes. It’s only human nature to take a bite or two and ask, hey, is that all you got?

Having said that, today’s recipe isn’t a casserole, but it does contain ground beef and is a go-to for me, and will even stretch in a pinch. I know you’re going to roll your eyes and say “More meatballs?”, but trust my grandma, they’re good.

PORCUPINE MEATBALLS”

2# ground beef
1 package onion soup mix
2 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 cup uncooked rice
1 cup water

Gravy
1 can French onion soup condensed
2 can condensed golden mushroom soup
1 can water

Brown meatballs, mix soups and pour over, cover and simmer 30 min.
*********************************************************************************
After this, you will need dessert, and my friend Judy’s Grandma has a good one.

GRANDMA RICHARDSON’S APPLE CRISP

4 cups peeled, sliced apples
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Mix apples, sugar and cinnamon together and place in baking dish

CRUMB TOPPING
Combine 1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup sugar
12 tsp. salt
1 egg unbeaten

Mix with fork, sprinkle over apples. Pour 1/3 cup melted butter over crumb topping.
Bake 40-45 min. at 350

A BLIND DOG COMPETES IN THE LAST GREAT RACE ON EARTH


The Iditerod Sled Dog Race is on; with mushers and their sled dogs competing in this grueling race which commemorates a 1925 rescue mission that carried diptheria serum by sled dog relay to the coastal community of Nome. It has been an official race since 1978, and draws mushers and their teams from all over the world to test themselves and the stamina of their dogs.

Competing for the second time this year is a plucky little fifty pound blind dog named Laura. Her owner and handler, Kelly Maixner, a pediatric dentist, says that rather than being a liability she is a cheerleader for the rest of the team and
is comfortable running in any position except the lead. The sweet-faced dog is a victim of an eye disease called pannus for which there is no cure. It is a family affair this year as her family is running with her; her father Shane, and siblings Big Mike and Flo are part of the team.

iditerod

The 1,049 mile race beginning in Anchorage and which varies according to which route they take, generally takes 9-15 days as teams race through blizzards and whiteouts over trails running into the sparsely populated interior of native villages and along the shore of the Bering Sea, finally reaching Nome. As it takes the teams through harsh landscapes and over hills and mountain passes, the Iditerod symbolizes a link to early history.
In Alaska “Mush” means more than hot oatmeal, it’s a rallying cry to “Get Going!”

A PLACE OF HONOR


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For those of us who love dogs, it’s nice to know that a cemetery in San Luis Obispo “On a bluff beneath tall oak trees and overlooking green rolling hills is a resting place and place of honor for those who sniffed out crime and brought down crooks. Here police dogs from one California agency are laid to rest.” I’m grateful to Sue Manning from the Associated Press for this information. This cemetery for K-9s in San Luis Obispo is unique among U.S. law enforcement agencies. It is more common for dogs to be buried or their ashes scattered on their handler’s property or a pet cemetery.

No matter where they end up, dogs who are killed in the line of duty usually can expect to have a funeral similar to that of a slain officer, according to Russ Hess, national executive director of the United States Police Canine Association.

This means a service with eulogies, a color guard and the playing of taps. After all, dogs are members of the patrol force, living with their handlers and their families. In some cities when an officer retires, his dog is retired as well, and for a payment of one dollar, goes with him. A friend of ours in Newark, California has been training German Shepherd dogs for the police department for many years.

The basic characteristics of the German Shepherd make him uniquely qualified for K-9 work. It takes more than just their intelligence and good looks to get them hired for the job. Traits that set them apart from the other breeds include a natural curiosity, athletic ability and the desire to perform a job. Many years ago when I bought my last German Shepherd, a police officer in my neighborhood told me that given enough praise, she would break her back for me. Her loyalty was unquestioned and incredible. This is why there are more German Shepherd police dogs than any other breed.

In larger cities, a K-9 team has many more police dogs so that each one can specialize in a single area such as weapon detection. In smaller towns that only have a single K-9 dog or police dog make it necessary for that one to receive training in all areas of police assistance. This includes drug detection, sidewalk patrolling, suspect apprehension, and corpse finding missions.

German Shepherds are quick at learning hand signals by sight, and they eagerly obey commands given by their owner. I must admit to being a bit of a show-off because I enjoyed placing our last German Shepherd on a spot telling her to stay, while I ran to the other side of the lake, perhaps a quarter mile away, and used only a hand signal to get her to come to me. It shows the intensity of their focus, that she never took her eyes off me. Of course, this was before our population swelled and that walking path is now like a crowded freeway. I would no longer dare to do that, and certainly not with a Jack Russell Terrier.

In the San Luis Obispo cemetery, even dogs who die in retirement go to their final resting place here. Cmdr. Aaron Nix said “The K-9s are deputies” and this was our way of making sure they are honored.

To acquire the land for the cemetery was an easy sell. Confiscated drug money funded the memorial park and jail inmates helped. Now the K-9s have a place waiting for them.

Jake, a drug-detection dog with 900 credited arrests was the first buried there with full honors.

These dogs evoke an outpouring of emotion and a funeral is well-attended by locals who appreciate the service they have given the community. When residents of a town in New jersey learned a K-9 named Judge had Cushing’s disease they raised more than $12,000 in two days last year for his treatment. The German Shepherd caught 152 suspects in a seven-year career.

When Judge could no longer get up, his handler, Cpl. Michael Franks, took him to be euthanized. As he carried Judge into the veterinarian’s office last month, nearly 100 officers from across New Jersey lined up to give the dog one last thank you.

police dog

The German Shepherd in the top picture is our Eliza Jane 11, (Liza), Not a K-9, but still, the Queen of our kennel and Princess of our pack.

AMAZING GRAZING~~~~Quickfire Carbonara


Some days feel as if they are spinning out of control. Apparently we still have the same number of hours in each one, but due to the number of jobs necessary to keep our heads above water, or far too much playtime, when dinner time arrives most of us at one time or another roll our eyes and lament the absence of an idea to place upon the dinner table.

The “dinner hour” seems to have changed places too. Those who used to eat at seven, now eat at five. For some, the table itself seems to have shifted: TV trays, tea carts, and any number of quick change solutions take place in our busy society.

Remember when your mother called you in to dinner, or supper, and you all sat at the same table at the same time? She had started dinner preparations early in the day, and probably knew three days in advance what she was serving.

When the younger generation departs, they take with them the traditions of family dining. Gone are the ball game or music practice which kept dinner waiting on the stove or in the microwave. Now here you are, for better or worse, starving to death and nothing in your mind to keep the wolf at bay.

We eat a lot of pasta, both home made and dry. It’s quick to fix comfort food. I make this pasta dish frequently and never tire of it.

Fiddling around in the kitchen last night after coming home late I needed a sauce for a few frozen ravioli. I no longer can eat red sauce, so I’m always playing with other alternatives. For this one melted a couple tablespoons butter, added the zest of 1/2 lemon, then add its juice. Simmer about 1 min. then add about 1 cup white wine, cook about 5 min. add about 3 Tbs. sour cream or whipping cream and simmer till thickened. \Throw in a handful of parmegiano.

QUICKFIRE CARBONARA
quickfire carbonara

Fry about 6 slices thick-sliced bacon cut into thin slices in a little bit of oil till golden brown. Add about 6 oz white wine, and reduce slightly. Keep warm while cooking spaghetti.

Beat a couple eggs, add 1/2 c parmesan, a little olive oil, Toss the drained pasta into the egg and cheese then add the bacon mixture.. See? It only took about 5 min. except for cooking the pasta which took you 12 min or so.

FATHER OF FITNESS


jacl lalanne

Jack LaLanne was certainly a fitness superhero. Exercise guru, promoter, inventor, Jack could do it all, and kept doing it until he died at 96. Maybe that’s what it takes, find out what you’re good at and keep doing it.

Julia Child taught us to cook by way of the TV, and Jack LaLanne taught us to exercise to keep the excess weight in bounds also by watching TV. Each of them appeared on morning TV for a half hour, and we learned how to make an omelet, and how do do deep squats afterward.

Our kids didn’t bother too much with Julia, but Jack was a different story. He commanded you to stop whatever you were doing and flex those muscles. He frequently had his dog on the show, a nice white shepherd dog, which caught the attention of the little ones.

Where Julia spoke slowly, as if feeling her way along, Jack talked in machine gun mode, and you were forced to tear yourself away from the sight of Jack in his blue jumpsuits, to follow him in each exercise.

He did amazing stunts such as swimming across the Bay while towing 13 boats, long after he could have been quietly enjoying life. He lived in Morro Bay down the coast, and ate at the same restaurant each evening. The waiters knew he had the same table and a small glass of red wine.

When parking meters were first installed in Oakland, he and some cohorts showed off by bending them to the ground. No idea if the cops caught the boys.

julia

Julia occasionally dropped something on the floor and picked it up with a laugh, advising you not to tell your guests. She guided you through an entire dinner party with decorations on the table. You were always sure of a chuckle, because she was obviously having such a good time. Her many cookbook grace the shelves of kitchens worldwide.

Both Julia and Jack LaLanne were the innovators of good things, and both lived long lives, Julia passing at 91 and Jack at 96. Maybe we should take another look.

THE SECRET


AUDREY MABEE

THE SECRET

Two girls discover
the secret of life
in a sudden line of
poetry.

I who don’t know the
secret wrote
the line. They
told me

(Through a third person)
they had found it
but not what it was
not even

what line it was. No doubt
by now, more than a week
later, they have forgotten
the secret,

the line, the name of
the poem. I love them
for finding what’ I can’t find,

and for loving me
for the line I wrote,
and for forgetting it
so that

a thousand times, till death
finds them, they may
discover it again, in other
lines

in other
happenings. And for
wanting to know it,
for

assuming there is
such a secret, yes,
for that
most of all.

poem by Denise Leverton
image: Audrey Mabee

Where’s the wisdom? We’ve lost the information.” t.s. eliot

DON’T CALL IT “PLAIN” VANILLA


shalimar
If you thought chocolate was the world’s favorite flavor, you’d be wrong. It appears that vanilla wins hands down. The surprise revelation according to some scientists, is that we get our initial attraction to it before birth from our mothers. Breast milk and amniotic fluid are filled with the scent of vanilla. Who knew? It could be worse, we could have inherited the love of pickle flavor.

We can no longer call it plain vanilla. It’s the x-factor in most fragrances, conjuring feelings of cravings, warmth and familiarity. Other scent friends come ad go, but not vanilla. Remember when you were a kid and wanted to use the bottle of vanilla for perfume when your mother was baking a cake? I certainly did.

In the perfume industry the person who creates all those delicious smelling scents is called a “nose”. They can differentiate each fragrance much like a snobby French waiter can tell you what curious components are in that $60 bottle of wine you just ordered.

Some vanilla beans come from small farms in Madagascar that takes three years to grow and must be pollinated by hand within 24 hours of a blossom appearing. “This is a vanilla like you’ve never experienced” says Camille McDonald, president of brand development at Bath and Body Works. At $2,200 per kilogram, this vanilla is also the most expensive raw material the company has ever used in a fragrance, she says. The vanilla ingredient is used not only in perfumes, but in bath oil, body cream, etc. Proctor and Gamble introduced Downy fabric softener scented with vanilla in 2004, which led to vanilla fragrances in detergent, dryer sheets and dish soap. I will certainly be more prudent when splashing myself after a shower from now on.

Vanilla’s natural pollinator is the melipona bee found in the crop’s native Mexico. In the 1800’s, advances in hand pollination techniques allowed vanilla to be more widely grown in tropical climates, including Madagascar, Uganda, Indonesia and India.
Vanilla is part of the orchid family and there are many varieties, each producing a slightly different characteristic. It’s growing conditions and processing methods determine its versatility, making it a popular tool.

Vanilla milestones in the perfume business apparently started with the creation of “Jicky” by Guerlain in 1889, and continued on to Guerlain’s “Shalimar” in 1925. I have a special memory of “Shalimar”, because it was my grandmother’s favorite perfume and came in an incredibly beautiful bottle. When I was a Junior in High School, a boy I liked worked at the local grocery store. I had been walking past the produce department daily trying to get his attention for a month or so, when he finally succumbed to my nubile charms and invited me to a movie. I doused myself liberally with “Shalimar” and we hopped on the bus to Oakland. He never asked me out again, but I still have my grandmother’s bottle of “Shalimar” as a lesson not to be repeated.

GOD’S SPECIAL CHILDREN


My cousin Kendall passed away this past year at the age of sixty-one years as we count chronologically, but he never grew up. Kendall was born in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, and had Down Syndrome. His parents, my aunt and uncle, lived over seas for thirty years, and nothing much was being done at that time anywhere in early education for the mentally handicapped or the parents. Abnormalities in a birth always come as a surprise to parents happily looking forward to a life filled with so-called normal expectations, but to older parents living in a third world country, Kendie’s birth was heartbreaking and unexpected.

Their initial and common reaction was to take the blame. “what have I done?” “How could I have prevented this?”

Down Syndrome is a genetic disorder caused by the presence of all or part of a third copy of chromosome 21. It is typically associated with physical growth delays, characteristic facial features, and mild to moderate intellectual disability.
The average IQ of a young adult with Down Syndrome is 50, or equivalent to the mental age of an 8- or 9- year old child, but this varies widely. Education and proper care have been shown to improve quality of life, ideally from birth on. In the past, the life expectancy was about 30 years, but now it is about 50 or 60. Down Syndrome is the most common chromosome abnormality in humans, occurring in about one per 1,000 babies born each year. It is a lifelong condition, but with care and support, children who have Down syndrome grow up to have healthy, happy, productive lives.

Fortunately so much has changed in public acceptance of the mentally challenged. A hundred years ago, these people were kept in a back bedroom, and lived out their brief lives alone and unseen. It was assumed that they were incapable of learning, and even their existence was kept a somewhat shameful secret.

Education and proper care have been shown to improve quality of life. My daughter earned her college degree in the study of the mentally challenged, some of whom had Down Syndrome. Specialized education is a wide open field and now some children with Down syndrome are educated in typical school classes. Some individuals with Down Syndrome graduate from high school and a few attend post-secondary education. In adulthood, about 20% in the U.S. do paid work in some capacity with many requiring a sheltered work environment.

Kendall’s life fell in the middle of an “enlightenment” period in that though he was ubable to participate in an early-childhood education in Saudi Arabia, he was later sent to a school in the U.S. where he lived throughout his life. He never grew beyond the size of a 9-10 year old, and he was always cheerful and happy as a small child, with a big smile lighting his face when he was pleased or when he recognized a friend. These people live at the very pinnacle of innocence. It is we who need the education to accept them for what they are, God’s Special Children

About 35 years ago, a friend with two young sons called early one morning to tell us of the birth of a fourth son. This family prided itself on building good health, strength and athletic ability. Each was proficient in sports. As Dr. Advice answered the phone, I caught a slight change of expression as he said “Maybe God thought you needed a cheerleader for your basketball team.” He had promptly diverted the conversation from one of mixed feelings into one of positive anticipation. Their fourth son had Down Syndrome.

At the time the University of Washington had a concentrated study of the condition, and the mother of this child went there from California and learned what was being done to educate babies from birth. Instead of waiting for several years before teaching basic skills, Blair began immediately being prepared to live in the mainstream of society. Before speech, he was taught sign language, which hastened his communication skills.

As soon as possible, Blair’s mother took him into school classes and introduced him, explaining to the students that he had Down Syndrome and what it was. When old enough, he was enrolled in school and treated just as any other student. He was never made to feel “different” or out of the loop. His mother organized a baseball club made up of mentally challenged children, which developed their concept of team play, and their natural joy in physical activity. She even went to members of the Oakland Athletics professional baseball team and appealed to them for pieces of athletic equipment, which they gladly donated, taking the little team under their wing.

To see Blair today, with his show of confidence and compare him to Kendall, a lot can be attributed to his early training.

Years ago, when Blair was about 5, I received this poem from one of his older brothers while he was a student at U.S.C.

My brother Blair, was born with Down Syndrome, a form of mental handicap. December 1990

BROTHER, by Sean Hogan

Brother so kind, how can it be?
Brother “What happened? How come he can’t see?
Brother I’m sorry; you will never be like me.
Brother your life will set me free.

Mother please, the blame will never be known.
Mother in this life, the harvest can not be resown.
Mother worry not so much for him.
Mother cry more for me and Tim.

Father others expectations may run too high.
Father friends will come, fear, and say goodbye.
Father they say patience and time can only tell.
Father without you, his life will surely be Hell.

Grandpa, has Peter now become your best Friend?
Grandpa, how come you never stayed till the end?

(As Peter denied the knowledge of knowing Christ, Grandpa tries to deny Blair’s existence and relationship to him.)

AMAZING GRAZING~~~~Chicken With Artichokes


Rooster

The same three options keep cropping up as dinner choices at wedding receptions and Bar Mitzvahs: Steak, salmon and the inevitable chicken. Only of late do we get to decide upon a vegetarian meal, and who in the world wants a plateful of veggies at a party? We can have that at home.

I gave up attending an annual luncheon for my high school compatriots because the luncheon choice was either a salad or some sort of concoction containing chicken. You’re safer with the salad.

Mind you, I like chicken, during one period of my early life my father built a chicken coop and populated it with a few chickens. We lived in Connecticut at the time, and he concerned himself with running the nearby navy base, at least I thought he ran things over there. He certainly ran things at home; with the exception of the chicken family, which it turned out, was my job. You’d never imagine my father in his spit and polish uniform was a country boy, but he was, right down to the large vegetable garden and those blasted chickens.

As soon as we named a chicken and took note of its daily routine, my father dispatched it and my mother cooked it. I am not a country girl at heart, and I was never quite comfortable eating Esmerelda, but we did many deeds in the Depression which were not politically correct.

Chicken

Now as a Sunday tribute to all the Esmereldas and Henriettas we have eaten:

CHICKEN WITH ARTICHOKES

Dip skinless and boneless chicken thighs in beaten egg, then shake in flour.
Heat a little butter and oil and brown chicken lightly. Remove from pan.
Add 1# sliced mushrooms and a couple cloves of garlic and cook till mushrooms release moisture and are done.
Put chicken back in pan and pour 1 cup wine over. I used Marsala in this one but any white wine would do. Cover and cook on stovetop or in oven in moderate heat till done.
Add 1 can artichoke quarters and a small can of sliced water chestnuts. Add 1/2 cup whipping cream or more and a squeeze of lemon.