Let’s get real, people…

Kids are dying unnecessarily in our country.  These mass shooting tragedies do not have to happen.  They just don’t.  I’m certainly guilty of putting my thoughts and prayers out there but the folks in Florida are correct…we need action.  Writing to our legislators is one way to do it but they are too fearful of losing their jobs so most will not stand up to our current President.  Our current President doesn’t have a clue about the realities of day to day life amongst us “common people.”  He was raised in a vacuum of privilege, attended private schools and has people who do everything for him.  I’m not sure when he last stepped into a public school.

Though I stay away from political discussions for the most part, this whole mass shooting issue has me disgusted and upset beyond reason.  I’m not a total anti-gun person but I am an anti assault weapon person.  There is no reason for individuals to need to possess an assault weapon.  But let’s talk about the real problem.

There is no quick fix for this issue.  Banning some types of weapons, advocating for mental health treatment and having resource officers in every school are all starting points.  However, there have been huge changes in our society in the last few decades and those have not been taken into consideration.

Speaking as a retired teacher, who taught high school English for 25 years, I’ve watched our young people become desensitized to many things.  As a kid I watched plenty of television but was fully aware of what was real and what was fantasy.  Because of the advancements in technology, the television and films kids watch today are ridiculously realistic and horribly violent.  Naturally they seem to assume this is how life is conducted.

Our nuclear family structure has also changed drastically.  Our society has become one in which people value and prize material items to the extent that they don’t want to make economic sacrifices because they want to have “stuff.”  This often requires both parents to work outside of the home.  Children are not as closely supervised, are indulged, and are largely not held accountable for much of anything.  Look at the role models they have in professional sports and the entertainment industry.  Look at the fashion trends for young women.  If they don’t dress in a trendy fashion they are ostracized.

Social media has created a new level of viciousness in bullying.  Kids are bullied and where one or two other kids might have known about it, now entire schooldays and communities become aware.  Naturally teen suicide has increased along with teen depression.

I’m too upset to continue.  I’m well aware my opinions will not be agreeable to all.  They are my opinions, based on my experiences in a community similar to that of Columbine or Parkland.  There is no simple answer but we are existing in a society where our leader is a huge schoolyard bully.  Just look at the names he’s given to individuals through his social media participation:  Lyin’ Ted Cruz, Crooked Hillary, Sloppy Steve, Rocket Man, Sneaky Dianne Feinstein, Lightweight Kirsten Gillibrand, Dumb as a rock Don Lemon, Little Marco Rubio, Crazy Bernie Sanders, Psycho Joe Scarborough, Cryin’ Chuck Schumer, and, of course, Pocahontas.

I’m going to be thinking long and hard about how I can effect some change.  Our legislators certainly don’t have it within them to be of help.

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Best laid plans…

As most of us know, we can plan, plan, and plan some more.  And, as most of us know, plans don’t always work out.  I adhere to a firm belief that things happen for reasons so when things don’t pan out as I feel they should, I force myself to stop and take a deep look at the big picture.  In other words, God is trying to tell me something and I darn well need to stop and listen.

Don’t believe me?  You don’t have to but I know it’s true for me.  Case in point:  January 1977.  Midway through my freshman year of college, I was working and partying my way through the semester break.  I was young, healthy, had no clue what I wanted from life, but was attacking life in a willy-nilly fashion.  I’d just spent a semester carrying a full load of classes, working at least 30 hours per week, was trying to find my way in a college environment ill-suited for me and hanging with a whole new group of friends.  As one who chose to live home and go to college, my high school “friends” who went away to college seemed to forget I existed.  Knowing I was financially responsible for my college education, I spent most of my free time working.

Unbeknownst to me, I had just navigated a very difficult emotional few years and was ripe for disaster.  I chose to go out with some former high school friends, I was sooooooo thrilled to be included, even though I was not feeling well.  We went to a couple of bars, passed a can or two of beer between the six of us in the car, and had the kind of fun night that 18 year olds have.  The next day I visited my school’s campus and bought my books for the upcoming semester, then I went to work.  I still didn’t feel well but that’s life.  Within the week I would be diagnosed with mononucleosis, a rather serious case it turned out to be, complete with jaundice and a distended liver.  My exceedingly busy life came to a screeching halt.  I’d attended exactly one day of class for the second semester.  I wouldn’t be back in a classroom until the following autumn.

Threatened with a hospital stay, I assured the doctor I would be a model patient.  It wasn’t difficult because I was only awake for about one hour out of the day.  It was just past midterms when I was deemed healthy enough to go back to school.  Really?  How was I supposed to do that?  I accepted the semester was a wash, had no social life and didn’t know what to do.  I did what I do best, I read.  Since I read quickly, I went through the entire Agatha Christie collection within a month.  Then I discovered the work of Mathew Brady, the revered Civil War photographer.  It took all of my strength to peruse those huge books containing the collections of his work.  The tone of the photographs matched the bleakness of my outlook on life during that time of illness.  But after weeks of quiet rest, countless blood tests, and hours of introspection, I came to the disturbing conclusion that I was not happy with my life.  Well, I had plenty of time to think about how to change it.

When mid-April rolled around, I had formulated a plan.  It involved working full-time for the remainder of that semester to save even more money so I could transfer schools after two years.  As time passed, the plan became more specific but it was conceived during that time of recuperation.  It had taken a major event to allow me to stop and evaluate my life.  That isn’t to say the resulting decisions I’ve made have been stellar but I always learn something from these episodes.  This has happened a handful of times in my life.

It’s happening now.  Approaching this shoulder arthroscopy with a cavalier attitude, after all I’d had the other one done a few years ago and it wasn’t bad, I figured I’d be up and running within five days.  Yeah, well, I’ll have some coffee with that crow, please.  As much as I can plan for things, I again forgot the lesson I’ve learned from the esteemed poet Robert Burns:  “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men/Gang aft a-gley.”  No matter how carefully I’d planned, I forgot to figure in the x-factor, or the great unknown.  What I didn’t make much of an allowance for was pain.  The other one wasn’t terribly painful.  This one is.  Overall, I deal with pain quite well.  This time it’s knocking me for a loop.  Taking pain meds and driving are mutually exclusive.  I live alone.  Hadn’t factored in the non-driving circumstance.

The upside is I’ve had loads of time to reflect.  I’m so thankful to have a man in my life who seems thrilled to help me.  And he even understands that I have difficulty accepting help.  And he keeps returning even after I’ve had a meltdown, cried, yelled, and used language that I didn’t even know I knew.  This generally happens in the late morning after the shower is taken.  It’s not pretty.

But it’s canceled out by all of the good.  My neighbors and friends have overwhelmed me with meals, treats, and flowers.  I’ve had several visits filled with laughter.  And I’ve had plenty of time to reflect on the current state of my life and what needs to be tweaked.  Overall I’m very grateful that my period of convalescence will not be lengthy and that I’m so lucky not to be dealing with a far more serious issue as many people are.  Most of all I need to remember to be thankful and humble and patient.  And I need to remember that any plans may be disrupted at a moment’s notice.

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Gadgets and gizmos and life

My two weeks with the diabetes sensor ended today.  Actually it came off yesterday when I was changing my clothes.  Try to recall the most super-duper adhesive bandage you ever wore and add a tiny needle to it.  Riiiiipppp, off it came.  I was not unhappy as it was becoming a bit of an irritant.  Overall, it wasn’t bad.

What was horrible was having to look at the results along with my endocrinologist.  It was pretty much what I expected, only worse.  The sensor disc from my arm had been continuously testing my blood sugar levels for 13 days.  Somehow they transfer the data to a meter-type device and then to the computer.  Several pages of charts and data are then printed out.

Now, I know I eat way too much in the evening and if the emotions are charged, watch out.  And when I overeat, I’m not munching on broccoli or apples…it’s usually some carb-loaded crappy food or fatty meat.  We diabetics know that carbs are not usually our friends.  Most people in general know that fatty meat isn’t good for us either.

Well, my doctor was explaining the results and showing me how the data was tracked.  We could see that things go okay in the morning and then there are some gentle ups and downs until about 5 p.m.  And here is a direct quote from my endocrinologist, “then it all goes to hell.”  I asked if that was the technical explanation.  We both had a good laugh.

Apparently he doesn’t want me living in hell which is nice.  There could be two explanations:  1). I’m not aware of the carbohydrate values in the foods I’m overeating, or 2) I’m not acknowledging the amount of carbohydrates I’m ingesting and then using an appropriate amount of insulin.  I told him there was a tiny percentage of #1 but it’s mostly #2.  There is more work to be done.  An appointment has been set up for me to meet with the diabetes educator.  Then for 1 week I will track all of my food (the good, the bad, and the ugly) and my estimates for carb values and then the amount of insulin used.

After that, we will create a fresh plan of attack which will include substitutions for some of my bad foods, etc.  since I have great difficulty facing my eating issues, by being honest about what and how much I eat, my doctor suggested the following:  he told me to face it as a number issue, like a math problem.  If I can analyze it from that standpoint, then it should be more helpful.  Makes sense to me.  I’ll work on creating that mindset.  This all happens during the beginning of February.  I wanted to wait until after I have my shoulder scoped in a few weeks.  One thing at a time.

Trust me, I’ve had tons of nutritional counseling throughout my adult life.  In the last two decades I’ve met several times with diabetes educators.  I’m not a stupid individual.  But for the last thirty years I’ve had difficulty controlling my eating.  It feels very much like an addiction.  I’m learning to change my mindset.  It has to be changed slowly and that has not been my strong point in the past.  So, I have to focus on proceeding slowly.  I’m moving forward and that’s a good thing.

The picture is one I found on the Internet but it shows the sensor with its “probe.”

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You need a nudge?

I’ll nudge you.  Since people seem to like to read about struggles, I’ll throw one out to you.  I’ve talked about struggling with weight issues.  I’ve talked about struggling with overeating issues.  I’ve talked about struggling with health issues.  Let’s get real.  I will show you what NOT paying attention to your health can do.

I was a very active child and very thin.  Play was a 24/7 lifestyle for me….running, jumping, bicycling, swimming, skiing, you name it and I likely did it.  My competitive nature drove me to perform even if I was injured because, let’s face it, we are kind of stupid when we are young.

When emotional health issues kicked in during my college years, it became all too easy to “medicate” myself with food.  Food has always been a comfort thing for me and I could get away with it when I was young.  But with college and life beyond it comes a more sedentary lifestyle.  Inactivity leads to weight gain.  Weight gain causes increased “weight” on an already serious depression.  Depression causes the need for comfort.  Desire for comfort leads to eating.  Eating causes weight gain.  Weight gain causes physical health problems.  See where I’m headed?

Before you rush to judgement, because some of you will, please understand I’ve also done a great deal to counteract all of this mess.  Counseling has been a part of my life for decades.  Medication has been part of my life for decades.  Diets and weight loss programs have been part of my life for decades.  And yet, here I am facing a momentous “decade” birthday year as an obese person who has depression, generalized anxiety, atrial fibrillation, diabetes, and high blood pressure.  Before you rush to judgement, because some of you will, here I am facing a momentous “decade” birthday year as an obese person who has a more than competent intellect, a capacity to feel far more than the average person, an innate drive to write, a desire still to play in any body of water I come across, an ability to make others laugh, an endless capacity to get up each morning and start each day expecting to make improvements in some part of my life.  Oh yeah, I’m lucky enough to still have a mom who gets that it’s not “all in my head” and hurts for me because she understands what it takes for me to get through each day.  And I have a man in my life who accepts me the way I am and some close friends who do the same.

So, what will I be doing this week?  Tomorrow morning I will be at my Weight Watchers meeting and I hope to be in the pool at the local YMCA a couple of mornings for aqua exercise class.  Maybe you’ll be there!  I’ll greet you with a smile because I will be glad to see you.  And if you see a cool gadget on my arm, just know it’s the latest and greatest technology designed to help me manage my diabetes.  Because, you see, I’m not a quitter.  I have too many stories to tell and too many laughs yet to enjoy.  Time to quit ignoring my body when it tells me it’s tired of lugging around this overly large carcass.  I’m tuning in and it will not be a perfect journey; I have to get over that unrealistic expectation.  This is a momentous “decade” birthday year.  I don’t dread it, I celebrate the fact that I’m still here.  So, nudge this…

N.B.**This quarter-sized device is called a CGM, or continuous blood glucose monitor.  Through a tiny filament just under my skin it is monitoring my blood sugar levels for two weeks.  The subsequent printout will aid my doctor and me in future treatment to lower my levels.  Kind of cool, huh?  I’m all about cool.

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Coulda, shoulda, woulda…gonna?

For all that I preach about not “dying with your song unsung,” I’m not doing much of my own singing.  My intentions are good.  I’m always planning to finish crocheting the afghan I started about 20 years ago, or to delve into the cross stitch project I’ve prepared, to bake some Christmas cookies, to clean the house, to cook for myself, to finish the damn mystery novel already, to lose 750 pounds by next month, to live in the cabin in my head for real.

Is it too late?  Have I missed my moment?  Does it matter?  No, no, and yes.

It matters to me.  What has taken me a long time to accept is that it’s okay that this process has taken so long.  Though many of those around me have never understood what it takes from within me to slog through each day, I’ve learned to accept that I’ve done a pretty marvelous job.  I’ve also learned to accept that it wasn’t within me to:  “paste on a smile and feel better,” or “stop dwelling on the negative and think happy thoughts,” or “everyone gets sad now and then.” 

Even people who have a loved one afflicted with depression/anxiety are impatient and don’t understand why the loved one just can’t move on.  Believe me, we would love to leave it behind in a heartbeat.  Are there some who dwell on it and wallow in it?  Sure, there are.  I’m not one of them.

I’m well aware that there are people out there who would trade places with me.  I feel for anyone who is physically ill and facing insurmountable challenges.  I’m not trying to minimize any of that.  But at least it’s tangible and there is no stigma surrounding it.  Enough of that.

Visiting my cousins in Vermont a few weeks ago stirred up a lot of stuff in me.  I was truly a happy kid when we lived in Burlington.  It made me ache inside when I thought of my early life and the joyous feelings of life back then.  It made me glad to see my cousins are living what I’d hoped would be my reality.  It drove home the fact it won’t ever be my reality.

I’m kind of all over the place here which annoys me because I like my writing to be organized.  I’m blessed with so much:  a mom who has done so much for me; a guy who thinks I’m the best thing since sliced bread; a home that is cozy; an ability to use the printed word; a chance to connect with my biological family.  And yet, I feel so useless.  The brain that allows me to think and feel, the brain that allowed me to be so passionate about my teaching, is the brain that holds me hostage.  It didn’t allow me to finish my career on my terms.  It made me throw in the towel.  It’s hard for me to live with that.  I’m not a quitter.

But there is still enough of that little Vermont kid in me:  scrappy, happy-go-lucky, quick with a laugh.  It tells me my moment may be just beginning and no matter how much my bones ache because of the chronic sate of being overweight, I can slowly reclaim a decent level of fitness.  And no matter how I ache inside because of “lost” dreams, I have the ability to create new dreams.

Today I’m going to connect with that kid in a time-honored tradition.  I’m going to play the Jo Stafford tunes once found on an old album of my parents, as I’ve done for dozens of years, and I’m going to decorate my Christmas tree.

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Family trees, twigs and broken branches

Family comes in many shapes and sizes these days, a far cry from the traditional four-person family of the 1950s.  How fortunate for us.  If some of you have been bitten by the genealogy bug as I have, I’m sure you’re familiar with the requisite research-based websites.  There are also more than a few television programs that discover people’s pasts.  In some cases, they reunite adopted folks with a member of their birth family.  It’s always a happy ending, on tv anyway.

From the time I was old enough to understand (6 or 7), I’ve known I was adopted.  It meant, to me, that I was chosen to live with people who could provide for me and that, due to circumstances beyond control, my birth parents were unable to care for me.  Though my upbringing was far from easy, I was provided food, shelter, love, and a chance to achieve higher education.  My “home training” was well done.  I was raised to be kind to all, to demonstrate good manners, and to do my best at whatever I tackled.  I’m proud to be who I am.

Several years ago, I was vexed by a number of medical oddities that had befallen me over the years.  Spurred on by cautious curiosity, I made the decision to search for my birth parents.  I certainly didn’t want to cause angst or to shame anyone.  However, I did want to know if I was in store for more weird medical situations and I needed to understand what had shaped me.

For much of my existence, I’ve never felt as though I’ve belonged.  I was a tomboy who thrived as a child in Burlington, VT., because of the opportunities for tons of play time outdoors.  Moving to upstate NY was a huge change and put the brakes on the development of myself as an individual.  I learned quickly to fit in and do what was expected.  That said, I wasn’t afraid to create my own niche, that of “jock bookworm.”  If I wasn’t bouncing a ball, I was reading a book.

But I yearned to ride horses, play the drums, water ski, ride dirt bikes, and many other things female suburban teenaged girls were not encouraged to do.  I loved traveling back to Burlington each summer to spend time with my friends.  We swam, played tennis, rode horses and all that wonderful outdoor stuff I missed.  As life progressed, I began to work during the summers and old friends moved on.  I passed up a great opportunity to attend college in Burlington, but I can’t cry over spilled milk now.  I spent decades fitting in.  But I still wanted to know who I am.

After many years of research, endless hours staring at computer screens and at microfilm screens, perusing newspaper archives and making telephone calls, I can say I’ve discovered my roots.  Though the one meeting I had with my one living birth parent was less than idyllic, certainly not like the tearful, joyful things they show on tv, it was not awful.  I was not inspired to pursue that avenue much further but it didn’t dampen my spirits in moving through the family tree.

And you know what?  I’ve met some wonderful people.  Even better is they are my blood relatives.  My mother is the woman who raised me.  She will always be my mother.  She sacrificed tremendously to provide for me and I will forever love her for what she has given me.  But meeting folks with whom I share genetic components has been very humbling.  My mom and I are the last of our family.  And while that’s sad, it’s life.  I go forward knowing how much family I really have.  I’ve met several cousins now, mostly first cousins.  They are warm and loving people.

This past weekend I was invited to a post-Thanksgiving celebration where I met more relatives I’d never met before.  It was truly one of the happiest days I’ve had in decades.  It’s always a risk to step into the unknown but I seem to have a guardian angel.  Those I met this weekend:  an aunt, some first cousins, and several first cousins, once removed were so thrilled to meet me it seemed unreal.  It was a beautiful experience.  And it took place at a “cabin in my head” setting, like my very own Hallmark movie.  Did I mention they live in Vermont?

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Embracing the past…

In the past few years, I’ve done a tremendous amount of genealogy.  I find it fascinating and have learned things I would never have known.  Why is it important to me?  I don’t have a good answer but I am passionate about preserving the past.  History directs my movements, inspires me to write for our local historical association, and encourages me to document the history of our local school district.  There is so much that people don’t know about the past.

Back in 2010 when I was cleaning out my dad’s apartment after his death, I found some items I had never seen along with some I had seen for as long as I can remember.  One item was an old lamp, badly stained by decades of cigarette smoke.  There was never a question of me casting it aside.  The lamp was fashioned from an old jug.  Since then I’ve learned that vessels of this type are known as stoneware advertising jugs.  Once upon a time they contained various liquids, depending upon the business they advertised.  What I didn’t know was they are very collectible and there is a huge market for them.

My stoneware lamp says, “M. Dugan, Cor. Arch & So Pearl Sts., Albany, NY.”  What I know is that Michael Dugan was my great-great grandfather—my paternal grandmother’s grandfather.  I’d heard through the years he ran a bar or saloon and was a liquor peddler.  According to Federal Census records, he and his family lived on Arch St.  This is considered part of the South End in Albany.  The South End has always had a reputation for being a “tough area.”  I’ve searched through many records but do not know on which corner this establishment stood.  Two of the corners still exist, the others have been incorporated into a full portion of roadway and parking lot.

Of the little I know about Michael, he was born in Ireland in 1835 and came to the US before the Civil War.  Why he came to Albany, I have no idea.  He served during the Civil War as part of the NY 13th artillery, and had 6 children.  Cemetery records tell me two of his sons died young (14 and 19).  A third son I cannot trace.  Of his three daughters, one (Minnie [nee Mary]) was my great grandmother.  I am unable to determine the fate of the other two.  Michael died in 1906 having outlived one wife and leaving another to mourn his loss.  So there is no doubt that the stoneware advertising jugs I have are antiques.

The larger of the two came to me the other day.  In the past few years, I’ve searched for these on the Internet and would stumble upon auctions that had already occurred.  To find this one recently was a dream come true.  Plus, it’s a 2 gallon jug which I never knew existed (with the Dugan name on it).  I will continue to search because I want to bring home some more.  Why?  I don’t really know but I want them back in the family.

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Back to the cabin in my head…

I haven’t visited the cabin in my head recently.  Today is a good day for it as the weather here is gloomy, blustery and showery.  Things are hopping at the cabin.  The front steps are decorated with plump mums and varying sizes of pumpkins.  Corn stalks stand guard on either side of the stout oak front door while ropes of bittersweet festoon the top of the doorway.

It’s been busy here.  Last month a bunch of gal friends came by for a long weekend of canning.  We put up quarts of tomatoes, green beans, and salsa (great holiday or house gift) followed by small batches of cherries, blueberries, pumpkin purée and some chow chow.  We had a great time.  My friends help themselves to whatever canned items they want with the understanding of bringing the empty jars back to be refilled next year.

This year we had a surf and turf night complete with some cowgirl steaks on the grill, steamed lobsters, and roasted brussel sprouts fresh from the garden.  Since the weather is oddly warm this fall, our feast was enjoyed on the deck accompanied by a cheery fire in the nearby firepit.  Normally we are confined to the spacious country kitchen.

I make a point of structuring my writing to coincide with the changing of the seasons.  Therefore, the most recent draft of a mystery novel was sent to my editor prior to our special weekend.  With the holidays looming, I am apt to spend time plotting the next novel, decorating, planning the Thanksgiving menu, and fielding the suggestions from my editor.  

Smells like the pumpkin pie is done.  The book club is coming by and will also help me make some tea sachets from some of the dried herbs from this year’s garden!  Bye for now.

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The Flag of the United States of America

The symbolism of our country’s flag invokes lots of great debate these days.  For the most part, I think I’ve taken it for granted.  Our flag has looked the same for the vast majority of my life:  stripes and 50 stars.  As a student I dutifully pledged my allegiance to it, as a Girl Scout I learned to revere and respect it, as a teacher I continued to pledge my allegiance to it.  Honestly, as a kid I recited the words by rote and never stopped to think what I was saying each morning.

The Pledge is short and straightforward.  “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”    The two most important phrases for me are:  “…the Republic for which it stands…” and “…with liberty and justice for all.”

Our country is a Republic.  The idea is that the people hold the power to elect representatives to act on our behalf.  It’s a very important concept framed within the Constitution and further empowered by the Bill of Rights.  All citizens are to be treated equally.  But there has never been total equality in our country.  The Native Americans were not treated at all well by the explorers and settlers.  Africans, and other races, were brought to this country unwillingly and treated as pieces of property rather than human beings (chattel).  Waves of immigrants, from whom most of us are descended, were each treated scornfully when they settled in this country.

We learned to be wary of people who were different.  Learn is the key word here.  We have learned to be xenophobic and intolerant.  I digress.

To me, the flag represents all that is good about our country, all that it promised our families who immigrated here.  It represents freedom:  the freedom to worship as one pleases, the freedom to work as one pleases, the freedom to believe as one pleases, etc.  The current leader of our country uses the flag to suit his whims.  He feels it only represents the military, law enforcement and first responders.  With all due respect to the aforementioned groups, I feel the flag represents each and every United States citizen.   Each of us is important to the fate of our country.  Do not let this debacle divide us.

I’m sure there are people who will disagree with me or twist my words.  This is my opinion.  Each of us is entitled to one. That’s the beauty of this country.  I don’t mean to slight the military.  Our flag is an important military symbol, I get that.  I’ve attended several funerals conducted with military honors, including my dad’s and uncle’s, and those flags mean a great deal to me.

But don’t forget, our flag is supposed to safeguard “liberty and justice for all.”  Not all citizens of our country are afforded those rights.  Ask Matthew Shepard’s parents, Ryan White’s parents and myriads of others.  If you only kneel to pray, that’s awesome.  Don’t forget those pesky Pilgrims came to America for religious freedom.  Yes, indeed.  Our flag assures your right to pray as you wish.  Don’t hide behind the flag and don’t make it into something it isn’t.  And, Lord knows, do not try to force your skewed opinion on me.

All of us citizens are afforded the same rights; it’s time we ensure everyone receives them.  Oh yeah, the whole Betsy Ross story is a myth.  Be careful.  Just because you’re taught something doesn’t mean it’s accurate or correct.

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Two fat ladies, Mick Jagger and a dainty savory…

img_0115.Intrigued?  Me, too!  If you read my blog you know my mind changes channels in a nano second.  Monday morning I received a surprise text from a longtime friend.  She was in town and had some free time.  Since we don’t get to see each other often, I looked forward to an afternoon visit.  Because the visit involved my mother as well, naturally I scurried to tidy and clean.

Though not necessary, I decided to make some sort of snack.  While the tea bags did their thing in the giant vat of boiled water, I pondered my options.  Due to the fact that I have eating issues, I don’t keep much in the house.  However I had some lovely snack crackers (very flat and crispy) and some whipped cream cheese.  Hmmm, what to do, what to do.  Aha!  Having watched the British cooking show Two Fat Ladies back in the 90s, Jennifer Paterson (one of the duo) materialized in my head (she can do that because she’s dead) and murmured something to me about a dainty savory.  Eureka, an idea was born.

Exit Jennifer and enter Mick and Keith of the Rolling Stones who began singing, “I’m just waiting on a friend.”  I remembered the video from that song (that dates me) and how I thought it was nice they were such good friends.  And it all fit.  I was waiting on a friend and indeed my friend is a dainty savory in and of herself.

My mother has always chuckled at me and my friend because I stand 5’9″ and my friend is much closer to 5′.  We’ve always been Mutt and Jeff, not Mick and Keith, in those terms.  But in my mind now she is a dainty savory.  Speaking of which, I came up with a smear of cream cheese on a cracker, topped with some freshly chopped rosemary from my garden, crowned with some sliced olives.  Not ignoring the “sweeter” side of things, I also created cream cheese on a cracker topped with lemon thyme and a few blueberries.  Alas, the crackers became a bit soggy but the snacks were still tasty.

All in all, it was a wonderful visit.  As my mom ages (now 89), one never knows how many opportunities one has to see said older person.  It was like being 14 years old all over again.  My mom and I caught up with our friend in the cozy confines of my home.  We laughed, we reminisced, we laughed even more.  Even better, my home passed the mother’s white glove test.

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