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Wednesday, July 30, 2014
The first time I ever noticed a conch shell was when I was three: It was on the floor near the fireplace in my grandparents’ dining room. Oh I touched it a lot and thought it was beautiful but had no idea what it was or where it came from. To me it was a thing of beauty and mysterious. The colors of it were intoxicating.
And I will never forget my grandmother telling me that the conch shell came from the ocean. Well that didn’t help me understand it because at that time I didn’t know what an ocean was nor had I seen one.
“What’s it do?” I asked. “Just it just sit there?” “No” replied my grandmother “It’s magic.” “Magic?” I asked. “Magic.” And she put the huge conch shell up to my ear and told me to listen for the sound of the ocean. I heard it and was wowed even if still I didn’t know what an ocean was at all. “I love that sound” I told her. “It’s the magic of the conch shell” she whispered.
I was caught so many times picking up that conch shell and listening to the magical sound. By the time I was seven or eight, I realized that it wasn’t the ocean sound at all—it was sounds of what was around me. And that inflated my belief. I couldn’t believe it was true and yet I knew it was.
Forward in time and I must have at least four conch shells in my house. And what do I do with them aside from looking at them? I put one to my ear and hear the ocean—for the childhood magic of that shell will always be with me.
And why not believe what my grandmother said? Magic is where you see it or in this case hear it .
Copyright © 2014
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When I was little, I never was afraid of tornadoes or storms. We never had a tornado here in my state until 1991 which was a rare happening. Very rare and very terrifying. From that point on, if the weather channel mentions a possibility of a tornado hitting my area or state, I work myself up into a complete frenzy. I try to avoid that channel and go on with other things and then I'm back on that channel watching. Why do we terrify ourselves by looking at that? I know the reason: We want to know and yet don't want it to happen.
Sunday night we had a tornado watch and the hysteria started for me. Kept going out and looking at the sky to see if it had changed any. Made sure all batteries were charged, flashlights were within reach and kept waiting and watching the weather channel. What was an hour or so felt like years. No tornado happened: My area was spared. And I was so grateful. All that frenzy for nothing but then it could have happened--the tornado that is.
Severe storms scare me as well and like the first sentence above, we used to never have them here. Never. But when that derecho hit, it was the worst storm I've ever seen. Never even heard that word before in my life but trust me it was the most powerful storm ever in this state as well as in surrounding ones. High destructive winds, hail and much damage to houses and the like. And so now I fear the mention of "severe storms."
The weather pattern is changing and not for the better. Seems as if these tornadoes and severe storms are more and more frequent.
And it's not just my state that gets affected; it's your state or country as well. There's a saying "You can't change the weather." No, you can't but it seems to me that there are many factors now that are causing tornadoes and severe storms. Are they man made factors? Makes me wonder.
Meanwhile, if there is a mention of either of these two things, I go into frenzy mode. And who likes that? No one that I know of. Seems as if when severe weather is predicted, it doesn't happen and when things seem calm, right out of the blue horrible weather conditions appear.
At least that's my take on it. All I can do is be prepared and pray t hat nothing happens for in these days you never know what type of weather we'll have. Frightening to say the least.
Copyright © 2014
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Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Nellie was a friend of my grandmothers and lived about two blocks away from her. The first time I ever saw Nellie, I was shocked because she could hardly walk. I was all of six years old and just assumed that Nellie had a husband. Remember asking my grandmother if she did and was told this story:
"Nellie had a husband" my grandmother said. "He was a nice man until he did something really bad." "Really bad?" I asked her. "Really bad." Being six years old I only knew some bad things and wasn't prepared for what would come next. " What did he do?" I pleaded with her. "Well it went like this. Nellie's husband told her that he wanted to drive to California and did she want to go with him. Of course she wanted to go. But the bad part was that Nellie's husband had also asked Nellie's best female friend to go along with them." "That sounds okay to me" I told her. "It wasn't an okay thing. When Nellie had packed their clothes and got in the car, her husband made her sit in the back seat. And Nellie's friend sat up front with her husband" replied my grandmother. I had no idea why that was a bad thing at all. There was nothing in my six-year old mind to comprehend it at all.
"Did they make it to California?" I asked. "Did they! Why when they got there, Nellie's husband took off with Nellie's best friend and left her stranded there alone." "Alone?" I asked. "Alone." "How did she get home?" I quizzed her. "She had to take an airplane back here all by herself."
I shoved this story about Nellie in the back of my mind. It didn't make any sense to me at all at that time.
My grandmother always talked to me like I was twenty which was a good thing and yet kind of rough to understand what she was telling me at times.
By the time I was eleven, I understood what had happened to poor Nellie. She had been abandoned by her husband and cast aside for another woman. Since Nellie lived alone, I again asked my grandmother what happened to him. "Nellie never saw him again in her entire life. He just up and vanished with that woman."
I knew full well the moral of this story: Never let your husband ask your best female friend to go along on a long car trip and NEVER be forced to sit in the back seat of the car or you'll wind up like Nellie did. Alone.
Whenever I saw Nellie, I felt nothing but pity for her. By the time I was fourteen, she passed away taking her grief along with her. Guess a lot of you would say "Why did she let her husband force her to sit in the back seat in the first place?" That is my reaction as well to this entire short story. If it had been me, heck if I would have in the first place!
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Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Good grief! Everything that we buy has shrunk; I'm not talking about clothes or shoes but food and the category called junk food. I know you are aware of it as well. Last week, I wanted to buy a steak and so, when I was in the grocery store I looked for a New York strip steak. I found several all right but they were about three inches wide. Three inches! Put them back down and thought how absurd. Who would buy them? Definitely not me. By the time I'd have fixed one, it would have been scarcely visible after frying it.
Then there is the subject of bread: If you buy locally made bread in a wrapper, you no doubt have noticed that if you hold up a piece, you can see through it. That happened to me and when I tried to put peanut butter on a piece, the bread simply collapsed into a lumpy heap. Who do the bread makers think they are fooling? Definitely not me. And definitely not you. Why not make it thicker and charge us more? The prices are already sky high.
I was watching an old movie and ironically, a man was eating a sandwich: He had to hold it with both hands. The bread was huge and the man was not.
Cookies have shrunk to the point that they look like wafers. First time they were shrunk, I stuck my hand in the bag and was absolutely shocked to feel the size of the cookie much less to see it. When I was little, cookies were huge and generally, I only ate one. I'd have to eat six or seven of today's tiny ones to equal one from long ago. Pitiful.
The list could go on and on but I won't bore you with a thousand things. Point is that we, the consumers, are not deceived. We are being ripped off. And unless you grow your own beef, make your own bread or sweets, you are just like me in the rip off category. Yes, convenience is the word in today's world. There was a time when I made my own bread and cookies--but that was then and not now. Does it do any good to complain? Doubtful for would the giant corporations listen?
Meanwhile, watch that see-through bread: It's deplorable.
July is national ice cream month but personally, I think any month is one for ice cream. You can just have a lot more this month to celebrate! Whatever your choice of flavor might be, just go for it. But have you ever wondered who started making it and how? I thought it was something American made but WRONG! Ice cream making went back as far as 200 BC. Amazing isn’t it and how was it made?
After reading a lot about ice cream, I discovered that in the year of 200 BC or thereabouts, ice cream was made by having servants or slaves [to a king or emporer] go up to high mountain tops that were snow-covered. These men had the horrific task of digging out snow and ice and carrying in back down steep mountains by pulling a handmade wagon. Once their destiny was reached, others who served the king or emporer had to take the snow and ice out of the wagon. After doing that, whatever the royal wanted put into it was his choice—such as berries or lemons or the like. And the workers had to stir that by hand into the snow and ice. In China, the emporer liked ice mixed with milk and rice: And that is what the upper-class ate at that time for ice cream.
And as soon as that was done, the king or emporer set out to eat the homemade ice cream [not like today’s ice cream but similar] along with his chosen family and guests. If the king or emporer lived in a hot region, you can guess that the ice cream was devoured quickly! The royals of that time and a little later who lived in cold climates had the pleasure of eating ice cream at their whim but pity the poor workers or slaves to them—for they had the disgusting duty as described above.
Forward in time to about 400 BC and Arab countries as well as those in Africa were also making ice cream by using the same method: Someone had to climb high mountains, retreive the ice and snow and cart it back to the palace. And once again, whatever the choice of flavoring the royal wanted was added to the ice and snow. If you live in another country other than the United States, google the history of ice cream in your area—might be surprised at what you find out.
When the United States became a country, people here wanted ice cream as well for they as well as their forefathers had eaten it in England. But the United States had no emporer or king in its beginning and still doesn’t as you know well—we have a president. Read that George Washington kept cellars under ground [all Americans did at that time—no electriticy and no refrigeration] as did other prominent and non- prominent people. The recipes for making ice cream in 1776 and years forward came from Quaker colonists who brought their own recipes with them when they came here to settle. Again some had the grueling task of digging ice and snow [indentured servants] and carrying it down steep hills to a specific place. This ice and snow was kept in tin containers and put in cellars underground a house or a building nearby.
Cellars were built underneath as a basement is today of sorts. Stairs led the way down to them and it was here that the above was kept till someone wanted ice cream. But a change was made and that was that when the ice and snow was put into tin containers, rock salt was added as a first layer, then ice and snow, then more rock salt and so on till the top of the container was filled. What did rock salt do? It lowered the temperature of the ice and snow to way below freezing. And this fact allowed the ice cream makers to be more variable with types of ice cream made. This was really the first ice cream here in the United States. Some people still do this today!
An African American man named Augustus Jackson made many ice cream recipes and is credited with inventing a way to manufacture ice cream in 1832. Eleven years later, Nancy Johnson of Philadelphia got the first United States patent for a hand-cranked freezer for ice cream. From then on, everyone could have ice cream—if they wanted to make it themselves or have someone do it for them. Imagine after the invention of electricity what transpired with ice cream! There were ice boxes in houses and unlimited possibilites.
Fast forward to today’s time and if it’s ice cream you want, all you have to do is to go to a store to buy it—any flavor and any way—slow churned, low-fat and/or with fruit, nuts, chocolate or whatever added is there for the taking! And since it’s July, go for it! After all, ice cream is wonderful and be so grateful that no one has to climb high mountains anymore to get ice and snow—who’d want that job anyway? Long live ice cream! Enjoy!
Photo from online.
This is a repost from last year; thought you'd enjoy!
Sunday, July 6, 2014
You know how it is—you inherit things, put them aside or in a china cabinet and never use them ever. That’s what happened to my great grandmother’s scissors that my grandmother had kept. And my grandmother died 43 years ago. For 43 years, I stared at those scissors and never used them. If you were to see them closed, they look like a dagger but the handles have inlaid pearl on them. Sharp doesn’t begin to describe them.
About four months ago, I went to my china cabinet, took out those sharp scissors and decided to use them and use them I have. And why not? While I have been using them, a strange thought occurred to me: These scissors are cutting things that my great grandmother couldn’t have conceived in her wildest dreams such as plastic coatings on packaging that no one can get open except with the use of them. They’ve cut open ends of microwavable dinners [Could she imagine that at all?,] bagged cat food, blazing hot frozen peas in a plastic bag, tags off of garments and things and the list goes on forever of things that we take for granted and yet were not invented in her lifetime at all.
I can only hope she somehow knows that her great granddaughter is using her treasured scissors for when she used them, they were for her trade: Dressmaking. Maybe she’s scorning me for a dressmaker I’m not, I can’t sew a lick. But I sure can cut things and when I paint on watercolor paper, I use those scissors to trim the paper.
Moral is: If you inherited something and are just looking at it, use it. Don’t let it just sit there forever collecting dust. I am loving these scissors and yes they’re sharp but also beautiful. Can only hope that I don’t misplace them and wind up sitting on them for that would be the end of me. Now that’s a scary thought but knowing how star crossed I am, it could happen. Let’s hope not. Meanwhile, I’m loving my great grandmother’s scissors.
I know you've been wondering where I've been and it's not been an illness or anything like that: It's been a
laptop that was dying month by month. Before I got a new one, I could only stay on it for a total of 8 minutes and it was so infuriating!!
I've missed you and missed being on here.
Look for a new story today or tomorrow.