Saturday, December 21, 2013

Green Jello Stuff

There was a time in this country when no holiday dinner would be complete without a jello mixture of some sort.  No pot luck either.  One fateful potluck in the late 70's, just months after we first met Luke Skywalker and the gang, I first encountered Green Jello Stuff, and had to learn its secrets and make it mine.

Now this wasn't just fruit added to jello, a favorite of my grandma and my mom. This was creamy and crunchy.  This had nuts.  And this has, in the intervening years, fallen so out of favor that if I make it now, I better be prepared to eat all of it.

There is probably a better name for this delightful concoction, as well as an official recipe.  All I ever received was a rough list of ingredients form the lady who brought it to the potluck, so here you are:  make green jello, but don't use all the water, add some cream cheese and throw in some canned pineapple, some cut up celery, and some walnut pieces.

My interpretation:  Make a large box of lime jello, but only add half the cold water.  Instead stir in an 8oz. block of cream cheese, softened (it will mix in smoother if you first add some of the warm jello into it, a bit at a time beating until smooth, and then when it is really soft add it all together).  I do about a cup of pineapple chunks or cut up slices if that is all I have on hand, drained of course.  A few handfuls of thinly sliced celery and a handful of chopped walnuts, a few stirs, and just let it set up in the refrigerator.

Really, it's good.  Yes, I know, it is green.   Still, I keep thinking I need a red jello companion for it, really make our holiday complete.  You know, I used to do this recipe where you mixed some yogurt in jello...

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

When Words Attack

Warning, this post contains words that may offend you (but in a good cause).

What is the difference between a word that is merely offensive to some people and one that crosses the line into hate speech that.  In my opinion, the line is a word that is used in a manner that ridicules, threatens, or marginalizes another person based on race, religion, gender, sexuality, or God (nature) given limitation.  

People pretty much know that "Nigger" is hate speech.  People are coming more and more to recognize that "Faggot" is as well.

But what about "Retard?"  To me, it is.  I asked a few people, they agreed with me. I Googled it, and it turns out it is a hot topic.  Yet when a friend used it on Facebook the other day, saying that people who dress a certain way "look like retards" not one of the comments that followed objected to the use of the word. 

I understand that it wasn't that long ago that the "R" word was a regular part of TV family banter to show siblings quarreling or similar behaviors.  And people who have been hurt by this word complained, so it is properly leaving the realm of accepted language.  But when I messaged this friend privately to say that maybe they weren't aware that many people are offended by this word the response was that they would not alter their speech based on my sensitivities, so I should just un-friend them.  So I did.

Now, I am not easily offended.  Talk body parts and fluids all you want.  But I will stand against bullies, I will defend the weaker, and I will call something a hate word when it is a hate word.  I have known too many people who have been hurt by the use of this word to take it lightly.  I am not going to change my mind on this.

But I am curios, so I would really like to hear some other voices, other opinions. Language evolves, and attitudes change.  There was time when the "N" word was commonplace, but the "fuck" now heard casually everywhere was shocking. Where do you draw your personal line of acceptable language?  When and how do you confront language that you find hurtful or hateful?  If it is done publicly, do you respond publicly (should I have said something in the comments on the status rather than in private message)? 

I am willing to stand up for what I believe on this, don't get me wrong, I am not second guessing myself.  Rather, it made me examine the reasons behind my values, and I think that is a good thing.  As I have contemplated it, I have come to the conclusion that even if I am the lone voice on this one (which I don't think I am) it means enough to me that I will not back down.   

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Never Not

Ah, the joys of season! Social occasions filled with foods and drinks., caroling, shopping in busy stores with long lines, and pain.

Really, don't ask me how I am.  I don't like to talk about it because I am so tired of it that I can only imagine how those closer to me feel.  But I am never not in pain.

I have learned to manage my fibromyalgia, mostly.  I guard my sleep like the precious commodity that it is.  I try to balance just enough physical activity with not crossing that line that will leave me exhausted for days.  Being past the worst of the hormone rages helps, too.  But yes, I still have it, and a sleepless night can make me feel like I have been run over by Santa's cute little reindeer.

And I'm not just a picky eater, I still have gout.  The meds help, a lot.  But I still get random toe pains.  Sometimes an ankle will just start twinging and hurting for no apparent reason.  Add to that, I have the beginnings of arthritis, especially in the joints that have suffered the worst of the gout attacks.  So, some days I move slower than others.  Some days climbing the stairs is harder than the steep hills I hiked every day as a kid.

So please invite me a long, but also please understand that I may need to sit more, keep warmer, or not be able to eat or drink everything on the menu.  Don't be offended, I have learned to take care of myself.  I try not to whine and complain.  If I say "Go on without me."  It really is me, not you, and I really don't mind. It would make me more sad if my stupid old body kept you back from whatever the fun is.  I'm a big girl, and I can't take care of myself.

Today is a good day, but yes, there is a stab in this finger, my shoulders are vaguely achy, oh, and that wrist just joined the fun.  I am never not in pain.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Fair Warning

I feel like I need to explain something.  I have another blog out there, and if you are interested and know me on facebook you have probably seen it.  I started that one for a specific purpose: to talk about aspects of my spiritual journey.  Then, at a later point, I decided that I wanted a place to talk about other stuff and started this one.  But I need to be really clear, I don't write either of these for you.  I write them for me and share them with you.

Yes, I have secondary reasons for each one, or why would I write them at all.  My secondary reason for the other one is that I have friends who are interested.  My secondary reason for this one is to let off steam, share random ideas, and because I'm just vain enough to think that something I have to say might be worth something to someone.

That being said, I also need to say that unless I actually write the words "I need some (advice, help, guidance, information) then I don't need your advice.  I especially don't need you "should."  If you find yourself starting to type "You should" to me at any point, just stop and keep it to yourself.  That isn't to say I don't treasure your opinions and ideas, but there are ways to share them with me without starting off with a phrase that says "you are doing it wrong."

I have several friends who are atheists.  Now, I don't care that they are atheists, but I do care when they use language and post against other people's spiritual beliefs in a way that is as hateful, if not more so, than the behaviors of some of those belief systems they are attacking.  Calling another person stupid for what they believe is just wrong, I don't care who you are.  There are better ways to share information than attacking another person.  If you are my facebook friend and you do this on a regular basis, I will choose not to see most of your posts.  If I don't have any other good reason to keep you as a friend I will drop you.  I'm too old and life is too short to keep any more anger and hate in my life than I can avoid.

I have friends who are some type of pagan.  They tend to be the most respectful.

I have friends who are more traditional "Christians."  To them I would say, no, I'm not "unteachable."  That is an offensive word used to write people off if they don't agree with your theology.  No, I don't have chapter and verse memorized (in most cases) and no I don't want to go look it up.  I have spent to many years of my life in those discussions.  If you want to have a real discussion, then you have to be willing to spend the time to really hear my side of it, not just look for key words that you can try to stab with your scripture sword.  If that is the discussion you want to have, go read my other blog, or lets plan on spending some time together.

I love my friends.  And if you are reading this, and I don't know you, there is a good chance that if I did know you I would love you too.  But you need to know that I also am learning what it is to really love myself.  This is your fair warning:  though I will try to be respectful, if you pull the stuff I have outlined in this writing at this time, I am going to call you on it.  If that offends you, then you don't understand, but that isn't my problem.  Really.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Obligatory Thankfulness

It isn't that I don't have a lot to be thankful for.  I really do.  Oh, not that I don't have some challenges, who couldn't use better health and more money.  But I see friend after friend do obligatory thankfulness posts year after year, and they are almost always the same things : family, kids, job, home, enough to eat.

Thanksgiving used to be my absolute favorite holiday. I loved that it wasn't about anything but hanging out with family, sharing good food, and being thankful.  As my kids have grown and married, however, family has become more complicated.  So we compromise and switch off and figure it out, but it isn't the same.  I miss ....

I miss the women of my family, my older generations all gone.  I miss the home made fudge my grandma would have in the candy dish, her light as air biscuits, her special dishes and silver.  I miss my Aunt Eunice's weird and often inedible salads from some recipe in the newspaper.  I miss my mom's fussing, and the way her long, strong hands looked, as she dried them on her apron.

I miss the traditions.  I miss the photo session to show all the generations, where we are all dressed in our holiday best.  I miss the cousins tumbling around on the floor while the men tried to watch the game, in B&W of course.  I miss (weirdly) the smell of cigar smoke.  I miss the after dinner walk in the park.  I even miss being crammed too tight around the table, and the obligatory "Let's go around and everyone say what you're thankful for."

I miss the times when everyone knew that all the stores would be closed and Friday was the day to rest up from T day, and maybe start getting the Christmas decorations out.

But I am thankful, for my kids and grand-kids, both near and far.  I am thankful that my children have found love and marriages that bring them joy.  I am thankful that, in these tough times, and though they are inadequate retail jobs, and some of them have to go to work tomorrow night so all you crazy people can buy all that stuff no one really needs for a few dollars less on Friday, well, at least they have jobs for now, and we are getting by.

And I sincerely, with all my heart, thank God that I have the freedom to my beliefs, the chance to express myself, a world of almost instant information and entertainment from a machine in my warm bedroom, and access to modern plumbing.  Yeah, like every year, I'm especially thankful for flush toilets and nice, hot showers.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Ranty Rantiness

I am feeling...irritated?  Frustrated?  Discouraged?

So, I belong to a hobby group (you know who you are) but it could just as well be read as club, or church, or gaming community, because I have seen the same behaviors in all of those.

And sometimes you could even say family or workplace.

And this group gathers based on a mutual interest.  They are passionate and they have high ideals and great plans to be this fun, supportive, educational, whatever community.  They have spoken and unspoken definitions of what it is to be one of them, and who is to be viewed with disdain, who is in, who is out, who gets recognized, praised, rewarded, whatever.

And then they get mean.  Oh, not all of them, but groups within the groups get power and start using it to keep other people from getting all the good cookies.  I expect that in so much of life, but if this organization gives some lip service to good manners, or service, or loving one another, then it makes me want to scream in someones face.

And no, I'm not being naive, I understand that that is just how the world works.  Man is nasty, political animal who often doesn't play well with others.  I realize that I keep foolishly hoping that people will think things through once in a while and at least try to behave the way they say they believe.  And of course, I keep getting my hope cruelly smashed all to shit.

So, why are there so many songs about rainbows?  'Cause there is always a dreamer, someplace.  And me.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Last Beach Bonfire

Along the beaches of the OC assorted chunks of wood are piled into a concrete ring on a beach and set alight.  Friends or family or church groups or drum circles gather to roast wienies and marshmallows and choke on smoke.  It is a grand tradition.  And it may well be going away.

This has not been an easy summer for my family.  We thought we were going to have to move, and much it was consumed in looking at houses, packing, and fear.  As the back-to-school sales geared up and we found out we didn't have to move, we realized that we had not had a single beach day.  (Okay, that's not true.  There was a birthday party for a friends daughter early in the summer.  I was too cold to think about it as much as I am now.) So we did what is done, and created a Facebook event, invited everyone we knew and planned a day at the beach.

Only a few beaches have the fire rings.  People who live near these beaches don't like the noise and the smoke.  Word is that this is the last year that Corona Del Mar and Newport beach will have them.  Huntington Beach says they will not give them up.  Yeah, Huntington Beach, you know, where they had that riot after a surf competition earlier this year?

Even at Corona Del Mar, where we went, the rules have changed.  You used to be able to set up a small grill in the pit to cook some food before you had your fire.  Not anymore.  We found that out the hard way of having the beach cops tell us we had to put it in the car.  Now.

But we made do.  People came, though not nearly as many as we had thought.  It was fun, but....

Someone has to get there early, usually before noon, or the rings are all staked out.  Then there is dragging coolers and beach toys and chairs and shade and setting everything up.  There is taking turns going to the water and the bathroom, so the pit is never left unguarded.  It makes it a long day for an old grandma, before we even get to the bonfire part.

This time I loved how we all gather along the sea wall to watch those final minutes of the sun slipping behind the boats and rocks.  It made me happy in my heart when so many of us decided to wave bye bye.

But this wasn't my bonfire.  This wasn't a church group, like when my boys were teens and we sang worship songs around the fire.  And yes I had a few friends to chat with, but I really wanted someone to cuddle with or sing with.  There were more of the young adults, friends of my kids, that showed up after dark and took great delight in incinerating marshmallows.  By the end of the evening I felt invisible.  I feel that way more and more these days.

I don't know that I will ever go to a beach bonfire again.  I won't so never, just that I don't know.  The two days of weariness and sore muscles (so far) do not seem worth the price for a tradition that is no longer mine.  I'm thankful for those years past, thankful that my kids were baptized in the ocean, thankful that my daughter sat on the beach and looked at a friend and began to realize that he was more.  And I'm sorry for all the bonfires that will never be once the rings are gone.  I will always love going down to the where the land and ocean crash together, I just don't think I'll be going in such big chunks of time ever again.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Something easy to eat at the end of a long day.

This is how it goes when we go play medieval for the day.  I get up at 6am, get dressed, load up my truck, drive to an event (hopefully caffeinate on the way), unload, set up, play in another era, reverse the process, then me and my closest friends and family spend money we don't want to on food that isn't good for us.  A lovely day spent in pretending the past ends in the worst of the modern world.

So this slow cooker recipe pops up on Facebook, and it looks really yummy and easy.  Unlike a lot of the recipes I see, this one is not sweet and uses ingredients that could have been used back then. But it says cook 6 hrs. and these days out are 10-12 hours long.   I tried it out today with a few changes.  Everything came from Trader Joe's.  And I cooked it 10 hours on low.

It if effing fantastic; it has a rich, savory flavor, and the meat is falling apart.  It would be good over cooked grain or noodles, but I will be doubling it for our crowd. Add a veggie or salad and dinner is on!

Savory crocked chicken

2.5 lb. bag of frozen boneless skinless chicken tenders
1 of the little pouches of peeled garlic cloves
1 bottle amber ale
about a teaspoon dried oregano
about a teaspoon sea salt

Throw everything in a slow cooker and cook on low for at least 6 hours.

What I changed - chicken tenders instead of breasts, garlic cloves instead of garlic powder, and there was no salt in the original recipe.  Next time I might use more garlic and add a bit of pepper.

Yeah, and doubling it, or maybe tripling it.  Hey, it is really that good, trust your mama.

The other day a friend said to me "I can do whatever the hell I want to, at my age. I could walk down the street in my underpants, and no one would even notice."

A lot of things go through my head.  I see things, read things, do try things, think about things.  I have experienced a whole bunch of life.  I'm thinking about life, the universe, and everything, while most of the people around me seem to be thinking about who the next Batman is, or shoes.

Yeah, sometimes I think about shoes, too.

So, I have a serious blog, way over there, that I hardly write in.  I mean, it just isn't set up to contain a recipe I'm trying, this craft idea, a joke, and all the stuff above.

I promise not to walk down the street in my underpants.  All other bets are off.  Wonder if you will notice.