You Got To Smize

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You Got To Smize

Yesterday, I read Susan Sparks article, “Put on your mask . . . and smize,” in our local newspaper, The Daytona Beach News Journal.

I want to pass along her message.

Rev. Susan Sparks is senior pastor of Madison Avenue Baptist Church in New York City. Prior to working for God, she was a trial lawyer and a stand-up comedian. To clarify; first she argued for a living, then cracked jokes, before saying amen . . . Let’s talk about the lord.

I’m not Baptist, but enjoy her articles and perspective.

She wrote about a recent venture in the city. While, everyone wore masks that covered their mouths, she caught someone in a smile, by looking at their eyes.

Evidently, Trya Banks, coined the word to advise other models about how to really smile.

The gist of the article is; although a smile is a reaction to feeling happy, a smile can create a happy feeling. In other words, a smile can change a mood.

There is little to smile about in recent news. Especially the tragic public killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis.

There’s concern that the coronavirus will have long lasting effects on how people interact. Talk of the potential harm isolation does.

I’m not suggesting we smile about these heartbreaking appalling events.  But that we continue to smile, with our eyes first.

 

. . . just saying

Readers, you can open up the links to Susan Sparks and Trya Banks by scrolling over the colored text.

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See The USA In Your Chevrolet . . .But Not

 

Virtual Travel

Fallingwater Tour

Fallingwater, a house designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1935, is located in Mill Run, Pennsylvania, and about an hour south of Pittsburgh. The house, the former weekend home for the Kaufmann family (owners of Kaufmann Department store),was designed and built partly over a waterfall.

Needless to say it is unique, well known and one of the places I would like to visit before I die. That’s why I’m going to Pittsburgh this week. It is now a museum and can be toured. . . BUT NOT. . .Because of the coronavirus.   The weather forecast sounds perfect; mild eighties, sunny and zero chance of rain. So I’m going, virtually of course.

I’ll explain.

The year 2020 was going to be a year of travel.  After all, if not now, when?

So, I ordered a Push Pin Travel Map.

The framed map came with a cheery post card from owners, Mike & Brenda, saying, “Hip hip horray!“ and to please use the push pins to “track past travels and dream of future ones,” I was excited. The television advertising jingle, See The USA in Your Chevrolet, sung by Dinah Shore, popped-in and stayed in my head. It was not going to be a Thelma and Louise adventure.

Then the coronavirus hit.

Pittsburgh is one of many places I’d like to visit. My husband asked. “Why?”

“Because I’ve never been there.”

The city sits at the junction of three rivers and includes several “Gilded Age” sites; Carnegie Museum of Natural History and Museum of Art, the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.I have always wanted to visit the city. I even know where I’ll stay.

The Renaissance Hotel.

 The Renaissance hosts Braddock’s Side Street Grill, specializing in American dishes, and Prelude Wine Bar. French-American cuisine is served at Braddock’s American Brasserie. The online pictures and description made me drool.

I believe our room has a view of the Ohio River. It’s way above my budget . . .But Not.

The Andy Warhol Museum is 2,650 feet from the Renaissance. The hotel is 15 minutes’ drive from the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium. Clink on the link below to see more.

But, Pittsburgh is a thirteen hour drive from northern Florida. We’ll stop along the way.  and spend the night in Roanoke, Virginia. Someplace cheap or maybe not. Virtual travel is basically free. Even gas expenses has been waved.  Hopefully we’ll still be awake after dark to take in Roanoke’s well know attraction, a man made star on Mill Mountain.

(Mill Mountain in Roanoke,  Falls City Pub in Mill Run and Kaufmann’s Dept. Store)

 

I enjoyed my virtual visit to Pittsburgh. Someday I’ll walk the streets, people watch and soak in the river view. And see more of the USA

.   .  .  .just saying

 

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Perturbed

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     When I overheard someone say the word perturbed recently, the word danced around in my head until I put pen to paper and wrote this vignette.
 

Perturbed

The police station hugs the railroad tracks in this rural New Jersey town. I contemplate retirement most mornings and especially today, as I skip over rain puddles to the precinct door. When I climb the steps, an umbrella pokes my neck. Inside I turn around and observe a woman hiding a closed umbrella in a corner. Then she walks toward me, her hand extended and says, “I’m Dolores.”

Usually, I am not quick to shake hands, but do so automatically and introduce myself.  “Officer Hawkins. How can I help you?”

“My husband went missing last night.”

Her voice is raspy. Her long jet-black hair parted on the side, frames the opposite eye. I wish I had gotten a haircut, or at least trimmed my mustache.

I respond. “Standard procedure is to wait twenty-four hours,” then stomp my feet on a rug, “your guy will probably show up before that.”

“Officer Hawkins, it’s so unlike Steven.” Her doe like brown eyes fill with tears.

“Well, file a missing person’s report if you want.”

I walk behind my desk, and search for the appropriate form. Dolores eases into an interview chair uninvited, and slips off her raincoat, to reveal; what my ex-wife called, a sweater dress.  She trembles at the sight of the paper work, reacting as though it is a hot potato.

Reluctantly, I complete the form for her. She describes Steven as tall, dark, and handsome. Then quickly produces his wallet. The contents spill out. She gathers the singles and worn scrapes of paper with her hands and almost perfectly manicured red nails. The index finger nail is broken.

I say, “Tell me what happened last night.” Her lips purse together before she responds.

“I was perturbed.”

Her pronunciation; emphasis on the first syllable without ignoring the rest, grabs my attention. I confirm her intent. “Perturbed. . . As in annoyed, agitated, or troubled.”

“Yes,” she studies the ceiling, “so. . . I took the dog for a walk,” she pulls nervously at a sleeve, “when I got back, Steven wasn’t there.” She tugs repeatedly at the dress to cover her knees. “I was perturbed.”

I mimic what she says, “You were perturbed?”

Now her doe eyes light with anger as she contains her passion. “Yes, perturbed,” she slips into her coat and stands, “what don’t you understand? Surely you’ve been perturbed, Officer Hawkins.”

She is guilty. But of what, I do not know . . . yet.

I watch her leave the building perturbed.

. . . . just saying

 

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Mind Your Own Business

 

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Happy Mother’s Day to all Mothers. The Coronavirus has changed the way we will celebrate the day.

I am fortunate. My daughter is with me. So, no one has to wear face masks, or wave from a vehicle to say, “I love you.”

My mother died last year at 96 years of age. She worked until she was 85. She had eight children; all surviving, and will be missed. The holidays centered around her even for those of us who lived miles away. I never heard her complain about changing a diaper or cooking a meal. She had a great sense of humor, but also a temper and I knew when to stay out of her way. This is one of the memories I have of her and me, or is it she and I?

Mind Your Own Business

After being told to go to my room, and think about what I had done, I ran away. I was three years old.

We lived in a Cape Cod style house in Levittown, Long Island. The bedrooms were upstairs. By the time my mother realized one of her children was missing, I was long gone.

She went looking and asked a neighbor wearing penny loafers and Bermuda shorts, “Have you seen a little girl?”

He stopped mowing his lawn. “I did,” wiped his brow with a cloth handkerchief and said, “I asked where she was going and I was told to ‘mind my own business.’ ” (Actually I said minch your own business because I had a lisp.)

My mother said, “That was her. Which way did she go?”

Mind your own business is a phrase I have used frequently during this stay at home virus. Until my daughter informed me. “Mom, it’s get off of me.”

She’s afraid I am getting old, and wants me to be on Instagram.

Shortly after, her dad, my husband stood in my way and asked. “What’s that?”

I held a legal-size paper in my hand. Befuddled by his question, I answered. “A piece of paper.”

He continued his inquiry, like an FBI agent. “What’s on it?”

He still did not move. I wondered if he had a concealed fire arm and thought he might flash a badge.

Exasperated I said, “Claire’s banana bread recipe.” Then circled behind him to file it in my baking folder.

I wanted to tell him to mind his own business, but said, “Get off of me,” in too loud a voice.

Happy Mother’s Day.,

. . . . just saying

 

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A Chirping Bird Pandemic

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Chirping Birds

A Chirping Bird Pandemic

My neighbor phoned to ask if she could borrow two rolls of toilet paper. Her TP order on Amazon was back ordered. The delay? It was coming from China.

I was face timing with my doctor when I overheard the request and my husband announcing he would leave the items outside our front door. Afterwards, I expressed my concern, and he reminded me. “She made us face masks,” he sighed and said, “relax I gave her the smaller rolls I bought at Walgreens.”

Life is certainly different.

I have stepped away from posting due to several life altering events and my attempt to write a novel. Writing a novel, for me, has been like saying I was going to build a cabin in the woods and waking up to discover I constructed a lean to. No worries, I am not giving up. Writing is my pass-time.

Oprah Winfrey said, “If the Pandemic hasn’t affected you something is wrong.”  I never thought I would face time a doctor. The session required a how-to discussion with a staff member who was working from home and unable to put me on hold. Long pauses filled with silence occurred during our conversation until she said, “I hear birds chirping.” I was sitting outside as I have been for most of the Pandemic. It was sweet and we savored the moment.

I count my blessings, thankful we have not been affected greatly.

Mornings, I enjoy a cup of coffee surrounded by quiet. Slowly the sun creeps up to announce its presence through the mist. Then tangles in the trees. The leaves create a mosaic on the grass while the birds sing. In the background a motorcycle’s dual pipes crescendo in a drum roll. I imagine Leonard Bernstein conducting nature and hear a rhythm band triangle chime. It is a horn honking.

How has the Coronavirus affected you?

Oh, by the way, my novel will have a happy ending.

. . . . just saying

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What Are You Thinking?

 

Bings Landing, Hammock Florida

A friend phoned to invite me out today, I declined saying I was hoping to have a thought, something to write about, as Sunday is my day to post. I had not had one yet, and explained that these days I have to jumpstart my brain, and in addition, my sister had been visiting and we had been sightseeing. The pictures above were taken at Bings Landing where we had lunch at The Captains BBQ and enjoyed the view.  

The conversation caused me to think about thinking, or my failure to. I take that back, I think but not quickly and grab paper and pencil to write down my thoughts, so I do not forget. It didn’t used to be this way.

Before turning 70 years of age, I could keep a thought or idea in my head to be retrieved later. It occurred to me that maybe there is no more room in my head for new thoughts and perhaps the reason we keep thinking old thoughts, i.e., when I was young milk was 25 cents a gallon is because we have accumulated too many thoughts, many of which are dated.

Is there a way to get rid of old thoughts? Head concussions and strokes cause memory loss although these measures would be drastic. Perhaps we can delete or compress some thoughts to make space for new thoughts by viewing old thoughts from a new perspective. For example, can stale bread be made into bread pudding?

The Daytona Beach News-Journal article, ‘Luckiest guy in the world’ reported on the 100th Birthday celebration for Howard Turner a volunteer ambassador at Daytona Beach Airport. When asked about aging he said, “I’m lucky to be walking around. I don’t have a cane. I’m not in a wheelchair, I’m the luckiest guy in the world.” Who could argue with him. He did not talk about memory loss and says he looks to the future, perhaps that is his delete button.

We know the body slows down and the mind becomes stale with aging, but should we throw the loaf of bread out or make bread pudding?

I am thinking of standing on my head, it is just a thought.

What are you thinking?

. . . . just saying

 

Bike Week ‘Jewel For Sale?’

 

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We did not go to Bike Week this year but have before. These pictures were taken ten years ago, and yes everyone was and does look younger.  We did not stay away on purpose, simply had other plans.

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We get to hear the roar of bikers sitting at home. They travel The Loop, a scenic ride along A1A down Old Dixie Highway in Ormond Beach and down Beach Street then across International Speedway bridge and back on Main Street, Daytona. There are state parks and protected acres of land along this route.  However changes will be coming to Daytona Beach. The front page headline, ‘Jewel’ For Sale? by reporter Eileen Zaffiro in the News – Journal reads, “City leaders are quietly working behind the scenes to get state restrictions on downtown riverfront property removed so they can ink deals with private developers interested in public land.”

What happened? If this is public land, how did it become private? It was Rick Scott and his Cabinet who lifted all the deed restrictions on 97 acres in Daytona, before leaving office in December of 2018.  A sneaky move, I my opinion, when the public was not looking.

Moving here I was perplexed by this mystery Floridians call, “the powers that be,” but now I get it.

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This year, the hub center for bikers was moved to Rt. 1, where The Iron Horse and many other biker bars are located, because of construction.

Brown & Brown is constructing an office building for their Insurance company in downtown Daytona. Hyatt and CiCi Brown have offered to donate 15 million dollars to beautify Riverfront Park on City Island, one of the properties who’s deed is now State unrestricted and awaiting City determination.

The historic Jackie Robinson Ball park and a county library are on the 22 acre island  public park, and if “the powers that behave their way, could be surrounded by high rise condos and hotels. It is a very beautiful spot.

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So who are these powers? They are not named in the article but City manager Jim Chisholm is quoted, “We had meetings with the City Commission when it was talked about. It was not a secret. Everybody who was paying attention knew about it.”

Residents of the area Mary Anne Jackson-Trumbull and Mary Welch who rarely miss Commission meetings say they did not know about the push to snuff out the deed restrictions. Go figure!

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The area is changing and too fast for residents to protect 97 acres from the drastic results. Please know when there is new construction here the property is stripped of all trees to lay electrical, telephone and irrigation lines underground. It is ugly and environmentally wrong.

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Mr. Wonderful says this is a great picture of me, but I am feeling very very sad.

. . . . just saying

It’s a Cray, Cray World

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It is a crazy, crazy world and I believe the reason for my deep frying corn fritters to bring to our community gathering. The invitation or flyer called the event a cocktail party for neighbors, and please bring an appetizer for the sharing table, your own chair, and BYOB. I wanted an appetizer that would hold up under Florida’s afternoon sun. The event was from 3 to 5PM.

Corn fritters were a staple in my childhood household and one I occasionally prepared for my family, more like a pancake drizzled with maple syrup and served with breakfast sausage and applesauce.

It is a crazy, crazy world. I was in search of some sanity after reading; the House passed a 700-page bill to make registering to vote easier. How can it be easier if it is 700 pages long? My brain stuck on the word easier started to spin, however I continued reading. An amendment requiring states to make it possible for 16 and 17 year olds to preregister for federal elections passed and has me befuddled, and evidently, there was an attempt to lower the voting age to 16 years of age that did not pass.

That is when I decided on corn fritters, and rather than search on line for a recipe  grabbed my well used Lafayette Cook Book and easily found a simple recipe submitted by Joan Smith. The cookbook, “a nostalgic look at Lafayette, New Jersey, through recipes, pictures, and stories was a fundraiser for their Preservation Foundation in 1989.  

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I followed the recipe, frying them and sprinkling with confectioner sugar, thinking.

It is a crazy, crazy world. Almost all Members of the House (407) voted to condemn religious, racial bigotry and hatred rather than remove Rep. Omar from her committee assignments implying that only 23 House Members believe we can say whatever we want, regardless of who is offended in America.

The spread of food at the party was colorful and delicious;  toothpicks filled with tortellini, olives and cherry tomatoes, taco pie, red and green jalapeno peppers stuffed with cream cheese, Swedish meatballs, and lasagna, made by lining muffin tins with the noodles, the filling inside, and of course, pigs in a blanket.

We had a good time and leaving grabbed my plate with three remaining  corn fritters.  

It is a crazy, crazy world. This morning a photograph of President Trump signing a Bible was featured in our local newspaper, an article discussing mixed opinions about his nonchalance as well as the fact that other presidents have signed Bibles, accompanied the photo. I wonder, who is manipulating who? Or is it whom?

What the heck, it is a cray, cray world and I will just eat the last of the corn fritters.

. . . . just saying

 

Dude, It’s Cool!

 

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Photo by icon0.com on Pexels.com

I was the last to arrive and quickly slid into the remaining seat on the bus. The driver closed the door, checked both side mirrors for traffic then pulled away from the building of Betty’s Shuttle Bus Service. The van was eight-passenger, but there were seven of us. The man behind me took up two seats and I wondered if he had paid for two, making the fifty-mile trip to the airport express, or if we would be stopping along the way to pick up a final passenger.

The girl next to him, a Laura Dern lookalike, squirmed in her thin body staring out the window.

Way in the back was a teenager dressed in shorts and a Feed the Hungry t-shirt, plugged into his cell with an almost empty backpack on his lap. Along side of him sat either his girlfriend or sister. They pushed against each other with their arms in a familiar but not happy way. The significantly older passengers in the middle seat; a man and woman about my age, looked like each other; but could be a couple. It was hard to tell.

No one spoke as the radio blared Kenny Rogers’ song, “Know When to Hold Them.”

At 6:35 AM, the sun was just rising and promised a hot day.

However, heads began to shake disapprovingly with the top of the news report of President Donald Trump’s latest tweet and lead in; Trump lashes out again at  . . . . .

The elderly man in the middle seat removed his Yankee baseball cap, scratched his head, and turned to the woman along side of him, “What is wrong with that man?” he asked.

She crossed her arms around her thick waist and gave her breasts a supportive boost, “I don’t even know what a tweet is, but I’m embarrassed for him.”

“He’s a bully!” The Laura Dern lookalike stated emphatically.

The man taking up two seats wiped beads of sweat from his brow with a dirty handkerchief without comment.

The kid in the way back removed his ear buds and called out, “Dudes, Trump’s cool, that’s what people do, no worries.”

I rummaged through my tote bag looking for nothing.

Remember the days of white wonder bread, spread with margarine and sprinkled with real sugar? That was an after school snack to enjoy once changed into play clothes; my play clothes were: woolen Jamaica shorts, argyle socks and white Ked sneakers.

It was a time of hot dogs, English muffin pizza, Bologna sandwiches, Kool-Aid, powdered milk, and the introduction of frozen vegetables and no real worries.

. . . . Just Saying

Not Really Italian Bolognese

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My husband’s cousin and her husband are in Florida visiting and will be coming for dinner. We have not seen them in ten years. I am making Bolognese Sauce, which might be bold since according to my husband, aka, Mr. Wonderful, I am not really Italian. He is right. My father’s side was Irish, English, German; my mother’s side all Irish on her mother’s side and all Italian on her father’s, at best, I am one-quarter Italian.

However, when my friend Marshal returned from Italy, where evidently all he ate was Rigatoni with Bolognese sauce; and now in withdrawal, I sent over a pot of sauce. He phoned to say, “Claudia, you make the best Bolognese sauce I have ever had, can you teach me?”

The next Sunday, I went to his house with my “Not Really Italian Bolognese Sauce” recipe written down in my head. Like many cooks I rarely follow a recipe exactly and make changes according to what is in the pantry.

Start with what is referenced as the trio; equal amounts of finely chopped onion, celery and carrot sauteed in pan lightly covered with olive oil. The pan needs to be hot enough that you hear or see a piece of onion sizzle. This takes about five minutes. Remove the trio from pan and brown two pounds of chop meat. Remove chop meat from pan, discard any liquid and brown or scorch at least 2 TBSP of tomato paste. You’ll smell the scorching.

Then add the trio back into the pan, de glaze the pan with ¼ cup white or red wine, add the sauce, meat, dried spices and whole garlic and simmer, for several hours. If you like thick sauce leave the pot cover off, for a thinner sauce leave the cover on.

Not Really Italian Tips

  • Use jar sauce, low in sugar or two cans of crushed tomatoes and or add chopped fresh tomatoes.
  • Add a whole carrot while sauce simmers then remove before serving if not sweet to your taste
  • Add whole garlic to sauce when simmering. I don’t chop or brown the garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried Basil and 1 or 2 dried bay leafs, even dried basil will make the sauce bitter if you add too much
  • Red or White Wine whatever is open

. . . . Just Saying