Friday, June 4, 2021

You can call me kitty kitty

 I've always been impressed by people who walk to a different drummer and dare to go out of the norm. I am ambivalent about the fact that I am the person who seeks to blend into the crowd. My older brother would take them on. I grew up in a family that could easily stand out and then there was me, my mother, my sisters and one of my brothers who only wanted to blend in. We were all utter failures to conform in our own way. My dad was born to not give a damn and was a social butterfly.

The funniest thing my dad did was he and my uncle went to a wedding together. Both men liked to talk and go to a party. 

My older brother had great social skills that I did not recognize until I was older. We had a good family but we had our struggles. One thing that happened to my brother and I is we had to enter the world at an earlier age and become independent. Both of us relied on our wits. 

For me it was going to college which at that time you could work and pay for most. Several of us would live in an apartment to save money. I lived in a run down trailer one year and it was incredibly cheap. The fashion at the time was "hippie", so a pair of jeans or three and a selection of tops was all I needed. I'm glad I did not come of age in the sixties. It would have been a choice of fashion or college.

My brother got the poor man's college. He joined the Army and made a tour of Vietnam and came back very troubled. He drank heavily most of his life. Besides being a helicopter mechanic, he was a doorgunner for the helicopter. Vietnam was the frat party from hell. I wanted him to write a book. He didn't want to write a book. In many ways, my brother was my best friend in life. I had thought as we got older, I would get the stories out of him and write them down. As I go through his paperwork, I can't help but notice he had the same family traits as all of us. 

But my brother had the guts to be himself. Me I have conformed. I think of hilarious things to say and strange things invoke a humor in me that I don't share. My brother would let it rip. When leaving the hospital after losing part of a foot about a year before he passed, the nurses gave the biggest smiles when he was leaving. He had entertained in a cantankerous funny way during his stay. One night he had a pizza delivered.

I remember at the first hospital, two young nurses were constantly checking on him because they loved the banter. I told him to watch his salty language. The young gals turned and looked at me and said they could handle it. They were enjoying the entertainment. I can imagine them sitting at the dinner table with their parents. They were that young. 

What has made me considered to walk to a different drummer is that I am not a follower nor a leader. I got my independence very early in life like 4 years old. We had a neighbor that had a past. My father had lived in the same boarding house as her. To protect her virtuous reputation, she spread stories about my family. One was that we were part black and I was the proof. I suspect it was a power trip as well for her. As a consequence, I have always been suspect when someone cautions me about an individual. In my mind, I feel the tick tock what is it for you to control how I feel. 

I thought this had something to do with the fact that I do not have racist tendencies. In living with my mother, I now recognize my parents were not racist. My mother is very open minded and recognizes how badly black people were treated. Looking back at my family, I remember how sad my parents were when Martin Luther King was assassinated. I remember my dad saying he was a good guy. It would be much harder for race relations without him. I also remember what my dad said when I told him what the neighbor was saying. He would not even look up from his reading and said he liked black people. It was OK with him. 

My contention with organized religion I think is genetic from my father's side. My dad is mostly Scottish with a bit of Welsh and English thrown in along with an errant Viking. I have recognized that my doubt of God was more from an anger at people using religion for their advantage. Even today, I feel disgust with television preachers who collect enormous sums from people who have very little. A lot of our social connections in the South are connected to our churches.  

I would go to church. But, I struggle with not having enough time as it is. I'm a moving target anyway. Most of the time I am busy working and not thinking of anything really. I get my best ideas mowing grass for some reason. I have wondered if it is not like meditation and perhaps the angels can get my attention more easily.

Anyway, I was a lucky person to know my brother. I would say Rest in Peace; but, I think he is in heaven. 

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Life is Good

     Well we dodged a proverbial bullet on my birthday. The day before my mother wanted to eat some Japanese food and it made her ill. I'm agreeing with her that it was a bit of food poisoning. (My developmentally delayed brother is the only person in the family that will argue with mom. When you look at family photos, my mother has him next to her with her arm around him.) Truth is, the food was too oily for her stomach. I fear what makes Japanese and Chinese food tasty are meat renderings. 

   We like a dish called company cabbage. You add a bit of vinegar and bacon to the cooked cabbage. When carrying the leftovers from the dining room to the kitchen I got a whiff of Chinese food. Hence I discovered one of the magic ingredients in Chinese food is probably bacon grease. My former night school students who worked at restaurants told me they coated potato skins with bacon grease before they were cooked to create a popular appetizer at that time.

   It truly is very scary with a 90 year old parent. I spent the night in her room. Before going to bed, she told me she was scared of dying. I told her that was quite reasonable. She was having difficulty breathing and had only taken one of her meds that day. So I had her take her water pill with her portable toilet by her bed. We proceeded to sleep. I slept through her getting up and down to deal with the water pill. At 3:30 am, I woke up and thought it was morning. Took a few dogs out and looked at the time. I decided to lay down on my bed for a quick snooze and woke at 7 am. When I returned to my mother's room, she was back to normal. I cheered her up. Did she want to go grocery shopping tomorrow.

  So once again I went to my personal purgatory. I purchased sodas but somehow I filled my buggy with other items. Mostly I sat in the car with the dogs until my sister returned. She loves the grocery store too. We shop at a Kroger that sells housewares, clothes, shoes. It is a great one stop shop similar to Walmart without the electronics department. I had two books with me. I am reading one that is "meh". I plan to finish to broaden myself. Isn't it bad luck to not finish a book. 

   "Little Scarlet" by Walter Moseley is calling my name. I look at that sleek red cover, oh my. Oh my, I'm definitely 65. Walter Moseley's sleuth is Easy Rawlins. I'm hoping he proves to be interesting. I saw Walter Moseley speak in the online Bouchercon this past year. He has a cool voice which I expect to hear as I read. I am hoping to go to Bouchercon this next August in New Orleans. It is a 6 hour drive which is reasonable. 

  It is a funny feeling when your mother who announced every year I was her best mother's day present has forgotten my birthday. This is the second time, so the sting is not there. And then, she asks me about my birthday a few days later. My mom's younger sister who is 79 has told her she has Sundowners. What is it with siblings? Fortunately, my mom thinks it is a family thing and is easily cured by a cup of herbal tea. My mother had a bit of disorientation when she was hospitalized about two years ago. This is when my aunt made the diagnosis. 

But where does time go. I think I'll have my mother awhile. She really is of sound mind for the most part. She does remind me to attend to some financial affairs of hers. But that decline is something I recognize even in myself. And for the record, I am not a big birthday person. Now if my brother Tim was alive, the day would have been celebrated Covid or No Covid. 

We have been to the regular doctor and heart doctor. Things are looking good. Both men are very good men. Mom spent her time at the heart doctor explaining how she made soap back in the day. He basically told me to keep good records of her blood pressure so he could tell how her meds were working. 

Today in the grocery store, there was a very cute and grumpy little girl who was say a year old. I smiled and waved at her. She liked that. We took turns waving at each other. Sometimes, I get to be a teacher again where I learned some mystical body language that appeals to children. When I see young girls with their moms at the store, I remember shopping with my mom and the counter being something I could never see over. I wonder how many of those girls will be shopping with their mom for the fun of it when they are 65 and mom is 90.


Saturday, May 1, 2021

 I don't boycott stores or products. Like many people, I lost my taste for tuna when I heard that dolphins were being caught in tuna nets and drowned. Apparently, I was not alone in that years? later; tuna cans would say they were caught by dolphin safe nets. 

I lost my interest in Woody Allen films when it was revealed he was dating his step daughter. 

But not buying products because of politics has no effect on me. Yes, I would like to see the person who paid for the hotel rooms for those who stormed the capital be prosecuted. But contributions to politicians do not concern me. It does concern me when someone who lives on limited funds make large donations to anyone. 

I know of an older couple whose home was being sold to settle debts. They had borrowed money to give to missionaries. A piece of me thought those missionaries should be sending them some money to help them. That moves to my thoughts about maybe there should be legislation to prevent this.

The political angle does not bother me in that I have a minority opinion where I live. I vote for either political party but I have an inclination to vote Democrat. My opinion is both parties are corrupt. I don't believe in the Democrap and Repugblican philosophies. They are human beings and they have to ride the bandwagon to be elected to be a part of government. 

I have had people to not be my friend over politics and that bothers me. I liked them regardless of their politics. But they have done me a favor. They were not my friend. Sometimes I recognize a kindred spirit who I don't agree with in politics. I have wondered if I would be a conservative where liberalism prevailed. Anytime you have a preponderance of people following a political idea; they are ripe for corruption to set it's lazy, greedy ways in.

And what got me on this topic you might ask. Well if you read this far, I should really share. It was for an over priced serving of  soft serve ice cream by Chick Fil A. I took one back into the store. I thought there had to be a mistake. It turns out, they only sell small sizes and they weight their product. Alas, here is a picture. I originally wanted to put my picture on Facebook. Then I thought, I don't boycott or do crap like that. 

Plus there are many who would be content to pay $1.25 for that tiny bit of soft serve. Not everyone is a hog like my family is. We like to buy large and enjoy ourselves. My little dog, Bo, loves the bottom of my ice cream. When we go grocery shopping, we go to Chick Fil A. Mom's dog, Jobelle, loves chicken nuggets. My 90 year old mom likes to get her dog some nuggets. 

So, I am packing dishes, spoons and a serving spoon. Next grocery trip, I am buying some good Mayfield Ice Cream. Once everyone and the load of grits is packed into the car. I am getting our ice cream out and serving everyone. 

We might have to sit in the parking lot for a bit. The dogs have to eat their cream in a controlled environment. Jobelle and Bo can get quite testy about their treats. Each thinks the other got a better dish and they don't want the other one looking at their ice cream. Ice Cream is much better on a sunny day in the car. We've got two ancient containers at home that I need to throw out.

You guessed it. None of that is going to happen. I will ask. Does anyone want me to buy them an ice cream. My brother and sister will say yes. My mom will want a frosted lemonade. I may get a frosted lemonade. But I am done with their ice cream!

We will still get Bo and Jobelle a box of nuggets. My brother and sister enjoy their Chick Fil A lunch before we go in the store. My mom and I have long been burned out on their food. 

I have an ice cream maker. I am making ice cream for mother's day. It's going to be a party. I'm buying strawberries too.

I've started reading Mark Twain's autobiography.  

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Big Plans, Really Big Big Plans

 I've spent my life a planner, maintaining a safe, secure location to better manage those slings and arrows of outrageous fortune like Hamlet. I have three tomes I feel a need to study. One is a spiritual tour of Flannery O'Conner's The Habit of Being. The second is Mark Twain's autobiography that was published 100 years after his death and the third being the complete works of Shakespeare. Plus there is that TBR shelves of books, a library of children stories I picked up at an estate sale and my mother's recommendation of reading the Bible.

It's more of less picking a path. My disorganized system truly stinks. This week, I read Elizabeth Greenwood's book about how people purposely disappear and why it truly does not work well for them. But like all things, there is a good reason for some to disappear like victims of spousal abuse. Most people who try to disappear do it for the money. And interesting enough they are rarely prosecuted for making false insurance claims. They are just denied the claim.

We have a time bomb in our country and that is unpaid college debt. Having financed my own education, I am not too sympathetic. Having been young, I do think assuming so much debt should be limited by the lenders. Manana is the rallying cry of the young. You know "Someday Never Comes" is more than a song by Creedence Clearwater Revival. 

I don't think student debts should be wiped clean. But I do think there should be responsibility of the lender to monitor how much is borrowed versus the how much that person will be able to pay back. I remember a young lady who was bemoaning she would owe 10,000 in student loans back in 1980. For the student who owes 100.000, I wonder in 40 years will inflation reduce it's sting. Elizabeth Greenwood supposedly had flirted with the idea of a fake death to get rid of her college debt. I think it was just a thread she ran with in the book. She is very smart, and I suspect has quite a profitable career in writing waiting for her.

I never had trouble getting a job. One reason was the fact I always had a job and would work any job available. I was a professional in that I taught school. But I have been a house cleaner, lawn mower, baby sitter, peach grader, cashier, food worker, waitress, bank worker, cook, dishwasher. My mother is from Appalachia and there is no shame in honest work. For the most part me and my siblings have been good workers. One of my siblings wasn't so much a poor worker, she just never chose careers that used her natural talents.

Therein lies the rub comes from Shakespeare's Hamlet comes to mind. Young people going to college or university don't have to have a car nor do they need to live in an apartment like a young working person of independent means. Why aren't kids living in dorms and eating in a dining hall? They probably still are. Not every young person can handle a part time job and full time college which is what I essentially did. We all dressed like hippies in the seventies which helped me out financially big time in college. My roommate and I joked how our favorite jeans were standing by our beds every morning waiting on us.

When you are young or at least for me, that is when my pride got the best of me. I feel that pain for young people now. I would like to share with them that one day; you will not care. You will want to apologize to that kid you picked on. You will see where that kid that had everything really was not as lucky as you were. 

And the gist of this post was really how everything lately reminds me how much time I have left in this world. How well will I spend the rest of it. Next week, you'll find out which I have chosen to read during the summer of 2021. Of course, I got to get a better schedule for my day. Oh my. And even though there is a big part of me that wants people to pay back their student loans for living so high on the hog; as a country we need to give a low interest rate and possibly some way to erase a portion of their loans. They need to pay something. But not an 11 percent interest rate when you can currently purchase a house with a 3 to 4 percent loan. 

I'm leaning toward reading the children's stories. The 26 books have the date 1941. I doubt they were ever read. They really need to be read.


Friday, April 16, 2021

Smart things people did to make food more nutritious or edible.

I did a bit of research about the flavors in Asian foods. My family loves Chinese and Japanese food, well the American version. I understand they have a restaurant in China that serves what is found in the American Chinese restaurants that the locals like to explore and the American expats love as a bit of home. Plus I have been watching Midnight Diner on Netflix.

The show, Midnight Diner, led to learning about koji which is a fungus that is used to ferment rice, barley, soybeans. The fungus in China is healthy and improves the food. Similar varieties of the fungus in North America are quite poisonous. We don't think of all those natural spores floating in the air. We add yeast to aid fermentation to make wine or whiskey. 

At one time, mother nature deposited that yeast in time from the atmosphere. I've heard when they were making a vat of whiskey in the mountains when my mother was a child if an animal fell in the fermenting corn and died, they just left it. My grandfather was not a drinker but he brewed moonshine a few times. It could be hard to make a living in the 30's and 40's.

Anyhow, koji is behind the manufacture of soy sauce, miso and koji rice. There is also a fermented rice called Tapai. I have always enjoyed the stories of the buried cabbage that was described as disgusting when I was a child. As an adult, I know sauerkraut when I see it. Those school yard stories are probably told about we Americans in Korea about our disgusting cabbage, cucumbers, green tomatoes and okra. My dad always loved to make a sandwich of pickled green tomatoes to snack on.

Koji rice is healthier than white rice in that it contains isoflavones which help prevent cancer. Add to that, koji also has probiotic qualities. There is currently a trend for Shio Koji which is Koji rice I think. This trend has not made it to central Georgia. And as I have written in the past, I live on one of the many edges of the universe. Sort of a precipice of regional culturalism which is hard for different parts of the world to penetrate. But we do have lots of cats.

One thing we eat a lot of is hominy grits. Hominy is produced by soaking corn in a mild lye solution. The resulting corn is more nutritious, releases B vitamins and easier to digest. This process called nixtamalization was found in Guatemala 3500 years ago. 

We eat much more corn in the Americas than the rest of the world which usually favors wheat. On reddit I noticed eating fresh corn in Europe was more of a beach holiday type of food or something thrown on a salad. In the Americas corn is used to fatten cattle, produce sweeteners and all sorts of products. We have sweet corn for eating, flint corn for popcorn, and field corn to feed animals and production of various corn products. 

Now the potato truly made it around the world from the Americas to the point I don't imagine people can't imagine not having the potato. The potato increased the population of Europe by about 25% after it's introduction. I love a potato. But I don't think frying a potato makes it more nutritious. It does increase the calories and tastes very good. 


Friday, April 9, 2021

Tempis Fugit

Time, there is never enough. I remember in college someone told me there was a trick to staying up all night and being rested in the morning. I was so disappointed they couldn't remember that valuable tip. It is nearing 50 years later and I think I know how and it is no tip.


Late at night, sometimes my mind races in frustration over my sister who had a stroke. She has been conned and been difficult to manage while making modest strides towards being independent. I would do guardianship of her but she would fight me every step of the way. Today, the home health care people quit her.  I'm not terribly disappointed they quit. I've never considered their efforts that good. Her insurance pays like for 26 visits whether they are checking her blood sugar or doing physical therapy.

My sister needs proper physical therapy and I need to stay with her when it is occurring. The fact that their arrival is so unpredictable makes it impossible. Add to that, my sister has said they stay about four minutes. One thing that happens when someone is mentally disabled is they are vulnerable to the my word versus your word. It's assumed they are always disoriented. There was a blow out with one yesterday and I can honestly say. My sister probably got angry too fast and was unreasonable. 

The physical therapist was unable to communicate for my sister and pursued an argument. As the professional and person without a stroke, she could have done better. Add to that, I came by my sister's house shortly after the fiasco and one thing that was said about my sister was probably not true. What I was told was said was from the fourth person in the chain of hearing and telling. 

In the United States, one thing everyone of some middle class wealth should do is get long term nursing care insurance if offered. If you have no money, Medicaid will cover the cost. If you have the money, you can foot the bill yourself. But for those in the middle, it is between $4000 to $8000 a month. Add a bit of dementia to the stew, you have a right mess to deal with. Most importantly make the decision to accept living in an old folks home. If you live long enough, you may be lucky to be there. I know in my family, our bodies get too frail as we age. Luckily we keep our minds which I hope happens for me.

My sister needs to be in a personal care home. The problem is you can't make someone live where they don't want to even with guardianship. She spent 20 days in a nursing home rehab and she cannot tell you enough how horrible it was. 

When my sister lived with me, I allowed her to save her money so she would be able to live in a good facility. Then the parasites started circling her. The first one was a man who had a meth problem. At one time, he was a respectable business man. It started with my sister giving him a gift of $500. Next it was a check for $1500. The next was her friend Debbie who always needed money. Heck, even I gave Debbie money. Then it was a old high school chum who encouraged her to move out. The first night my sister was in her home, that girls mother came to my sister's house around midnight wanting to talk to her. Their idea was for my sister to stay with the mother and the old chum to live in my sister's house. Luckily, my sister recognized that it was a terrible offer. 

In a series of bad decisions, my sister has racked up debt. People who have come to her house to help her have stolen from her. The first thing they always did was get her rip roaring mad at me. Getting me out of the picture was always needed. 

A neighbor who was mowing her grass and doing odd jobs for a payment of either $500 or $1000 a month no longer speaks to her or me because she has told him she can't afford to pay him that anymore. I did see her give him $1000 in cash and knew there was a problem. I just did not have the power to control the situation. This has been one of the good things that has happened. My sister has been easier for me help with him out of the picture. 

I think he meant well at first. Like many amateurs he overcharged for his services, and I think he did not want to become her de facto caregiver. He may have learned what the bottom feeders know. You can get in a lot of trouble taking money from someone like my sister. The neighborhood is made up of relatively new homes and many of the neighbors are black which is a good thing. As an ethnicity, black people are more tolerate of the failings of others. As an older woman, if I look at a black man no matter their age, they will ask me if I need help. White men do it too but not as often as black people. So her neighborhood is safe and if something is awry, they would call the police. 

The big thing the neighbor did that was wrong was he butted his nose into me being able to take care of my sister. I hate that people never respected that it was me that was always going to pick up the pieces. I particularly despise anyone telling me that she should be able to live on her own. They don't get the crying phone calls about how she is miserable because of different things. They don't spend $3000 paying her property taxes so her home isn't sold in a tax sale. They don't love her. They just say she made her bed let her lie in it. She is mentally unable to care for herself. It don't work that way. 

There are no simple answers. Yet that is the root of people who assume they know more. This is why so many are tired of thoughts and prayers. It is easy to mouth these words. What she needs is a friend who will talk about real things and visit her, wash her dishes, be wise enough to get her on another topic and have a conversation.

So no, I don't sleep well anymore. I'm lucky if I get six hours. 

My sister's yard is very small. I have a developmentally delayed brother who would enjoy mowing it while I helped her inside the house. But her sense of wanting to be independent makes her want to hire someone which is fine by me. As long as she has a roof over her head, food, medicine, medical care and other necessities, I'll have to be satisfied. 

The bright spot is that if she had been in a personal care home; she would have had problems due to Covid restrictions. I do have a friend who lives in a nursing home. There were days when they had to keep the door to their rooms closed. Just a little television or whatever to while away the hours. For my sister, she still has that desire to live a vibrant life. It is just that her body is not cooperating. 

I do what I can for my sister and plan to continue. Honestly, there are no magic agencies or any thing to help. I remember reading about if you don't plan for your retirement, you will live in poverty in your old age. I know some think the government will take care of you if you are poor. They will. But it will not be as comfortable and easy as you think. 

My mother could be in a nursing home. My dad left her well provided for. But she has her own room with what she needs that she enjoys. My mom sleeps in a lift chair and the equally comfortable spare lift chair beside her is where her 14 pound chihuahua, Jojobelle sits. My mother is relatively independent in her personal care. 

 I bring a book to my mother's room in the evening to read as she watches Matlock or the old Perry Mason. I was surprised to learn how good silent movies are. My mom wears hearing aids and she uses closed captioning to watch television. Mom busies herself with taking care of herself, taking care of Jojobelle, reading, sorting photographs. In short, she has a good attitude.

I've learned that you can't master or control anything about life. My situation is like many parents whose children I taught. Their child resisted doing any school work without intense pressure. They always wanted ideas to motivate them. There was very little they could do except dog them to do their work. I felt keenly for these parents in that they understood what a cruel teacher life can be.

I'm a very blessed person. I have good health, financial security, a purpose in life. This was a vent blog which I normally don't publish. It is Friday morning. I fell asleep at 12:30 am and slept until 9 am. So I feel great.

Tempis Fugit 

Friday, April 2, 2021

My corner of the world

 I live in the deep South of the United States. I was born in Georgia and my ancestors were some of the original white settlers in Georgia. Whether I have wanted it or not; I am what a native Georgian is. I say this in that I have never bought into the Southern mystique. I don't believe in the moonlight and magnolia legacy. Most of what I know about the South I learned from the Atlanta Journal and Constitution.

But language has always been my love. There is a word that I have always wanted to know the root of and that word is Asscelling. It is used like, Quit asscelling around and get a move on it. Or as my dad would say "step lively". And in sheer frustration, Quit asscelling around and get in the dang car. It's funny how you can hear your parent's voice long after they are gone. The voice is not there, but the words linger. 

Asscelling has always been a mystery to me. Other words I heard and could not place eventually came home to me.

One time I said ornery to my students and they thought I said I was horny. The Southern pronunciation was ornry. I was lucky enough that one of my students of the midwestern persuasion correctly pronounced the word. I suspect she had heard my pronunciation in Ohio or somewhere in the midwest. It saved me some embarassment.

Another word is Cairn. Something smells like cairn or rotten meat. It is pronounced with a hard K sound.  I read another writer on Facebook explaining what Karne was. I wanted to correct her. But you know, I had always heard the word like she was explaining. It wasn't the Spanish word transposed into English.

Spanish makes me think of another word that I heard as a young woman which was Vamoose which is Spanish to get the heck out of here. 

So if you know what the word Asscelling really is; enlighten me.

Cheerio to all you A to Zers. This year I just plan to kick back and read. This is the google webpage with a listing of all the A to Z fun. 

Update: I found the word on this webpage,

You can call me kitty kitty

 I've always been impressed by people who walk to a different drummer and dare to go out of the norm. I am ambivalent about the fact tha...