Share Your World Aug. 13 and 20

I’ve been neglecting this blog for a long time now and, without ever intending to, drifted away from posting for Cee’s Share Your World.  So I’m doing the last two weeks, starting with the August 13 prompt.

A class you wish you would have taken?

Occasionally, in a moment of madness, I wish I’d taken physics so I could understand quantum physics better.  But then I remember how much I disliked science in school.  My high school let us choose between math and science after 9th grade biology and, while I really didn’t like math either, I chose it.

Are you scared of heights?

Yes.  It’s hard to say how much. I’ve done trust falls and walked across suspension bridges and taken ski lift rides, all of which are supposed to end the fear and nothing ever changed it.  I can barely even get on a stepladder to change a light bulb if I’m not also close to something to hang onto…

Are you a good cook? If so, do you consider yourself a chef?

I’m a pretty good cook and have, to my surprise, developed a reputation that has spread beyond the people for whom I’ve actually cooked…  Quite a few people have mentioned it or dropped hints they’d like to sample something I make.  But no, I don’t think I’ve ever developed a talent level that qualifies me as “chef”.

And Share Your World for August 20:

Which tastes better: black or green olives?

black

What’s your favorite room in your home?

Our sun porch, without question.

 

What fictional family would you be a member of?

If we’re talking T.V., I’d say the Camdens of 7th Heaven — always trying to walk the talk of love and kindness.

In movies, I’d say it would be fun to be related to Nick and Nora Charles of the Thin Man movies.

As far as novels, so many I read involve dysfunctional or broken families…  hmm.  Well, the Marches of Little Women — the cleaned up, idealized version of the Alcotts… — might be good.  Aside from the 19th century, no appliances, no plumbing, no cars, no internet thing 🙂

What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week?  Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination.

The prediction has been for seemingly ceaseless rain for a week but we’ve actually had a few breaks.  We managed to get out yesterday to pick up some hold books from the library (always makes me happy to have a new pile of books to read) and go to our favorite Indian place for dinner in sunshine.  Books, sunshine and chicken tikka masala — hard to beat that.

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Saying farewell to TV faves

I acknowledge it, I watch too much TV.  Lots of years of not feeling well plus lots of living alone added up long ago to finding companionship in t.v. characters (who, when you’re not up to par, are SO undemanding 🙂 ).  For some years I’ve really listened more than watched, as I’m often reading and writing blogs while the “tube” keeps me company in the background.

My faves are usually what they call “character-driven” which, for me, in some cases means I love the characters so much I watch it even though the plots are often stupid –long-time fave N.C.I.S. would be one of those.  But I also like shows like This Is Us or Friday Night Lights that not only have great characters played by good actors, but also strong and compelling storylines.

This last year has seen the demise of so many shows I love, I’m feeling sad sometimes at the losses.  Major Crimes, with the cast of characters I started loving when it was The Closer, was maybe the first; an incomprehensible exit for a highly rated show the network decided didn’t fit its new direction (which mostly leaves me not liking to see even the trailers of their newer shows…).  I was particularly disappointed in the decision to kill off Captain Raydor, effectively forestalling any possibility of a pick-up by another network or streaming service.

I adored The Fosters from the first episode and would have happily continued watching for at least another season or three, but they decided to end it.  So in June I sadly watched the 3-part finale and now wait uneasily for the spin-off, which will feature one of my favorite characters and one of my least favorite with occasional appearances by some of the others.

Loving Nashville came as a bit of a surprise to me since I’m not a fan of country music, but I love Connie Britton so I’ll try any shows she’s in at least once.  I wound up loving all of it and now there are a bunch of other actors I’d watch at least once in anything…  well, maybe not horror or one of those cable dramas so dark the trailers make me want to give up on humanity 🙂  Now I’m sadly watching the final countdown to the end.  At least I’ll have my playlist of the music I’ve liked best from the show.

Code Black has been one of the better medical dramas in my humble opinion.  While I thought they made a mistake in getting rid of some of the first season cast and replacing them with — to me — interchangeably uninteresting new interns, I did like the addition of Rob Lowe.  I’ve always liked Marcia Gay Harden, so she guaranteed my first watch and everything else kept me coming back.  Next week is the series finale and I’m sorry to see it go.

Even though much of it was pretty silly, I loved Amazon’s quirky Mozart in the Jungle from my first view.  I’ve taken my time with the latest season since I sped through the others too fast and was disappointed to hear these will be the last episodes ever.

Those are just a few of the losses so I’ll be posting again with some more.

Anyone else tired of enviro-nazis?

 

Actually, in this day and age I’m pretty tired of people being snarky and incredibly judgmental about many topics, but I’m narrowing in on environmental nazis today and that one predates all this social media finger-pointing.

Back when I first got interested in environmental issues in 1968 or so, it was a pretty fringe thing.  I took environmental biology my first year at Northwestern (70-71) and was hauling piles of stuff to the recycling center by the next year [for the young folks, this was before cities sent trucks to your doorstep to pick things up; you had to take every single thing you recycled to the recycling center yourself and cans had to be washed with tops, bottoms and labels removed and smashed flat and everything had to be divided by category).  Later in the decade I participated in marches and protests for solar power.

In those early days, we were just glad to see others participating.  We weren’t busy pawing through other people’s environmental habits and pointing fingers.  Somewhere in the 80’s though, as the movement grew bigger and more popular, I noticed lots of self-righteous environmentalists who began judging others based on their personal edicts as to what constituted being a good environmental citizen…

The late 80’s saw me representing my office in a rulemaking for the Illinois Commerce Commission and standing firm with one other fellow on refusing to sign on unless some environmental provisions we wrote together were included (they all got in!).  And the large team of attorneys from a coalition of agencies in which I was a tiny cog, wound up stopping nine nuclear power plants from being built.

And at the same time I would periodically read an article in which somebody who’d barely been born when I started recycling and studying environmental issues basically told me something I did in life meant I’m not really an environmentalist.  These folks had opinions about anything from what you did or didn’t recycle, to what you ate, what you drove, what you wore, what you bought…  Most of them had a strong opinion about one or two things and policed everybody else for those things while caring nothing for one or more precepts other environmentalists found important.

Mostly I’ve always just rolled my eyes and left it alone.  And wondered why they felt the need.  In all the years I’ve tried to help the environment I’ve never felt an impulse to check out what others did so I could shame or blame them nor to chastise people for what they do or don’t do.

I know enough about many studies to know if the majority of people on earth started participating in one or two environmentally friendly behaviors  we would start turning it around.  Note it’s not that everybody has to do every single environmentally positive thing anyone has ever conceived of, we just need to get as many people as we can to take on what they can.

So I applaud any effort any one is making and I see no point in chastising those who don’t do anything.  I’ve never known an “environmentalist” who didn’t do some stellar things in one or more arenas and then waste something like crazy in another.  Why does the latter cancel out the former?  Who am I to judge?

So mostly I let these enviro-nazis go, roll my eyes and move on.  Every now and then, though, when some whipper-snapper launches one of those “you’re not an environmentalist” tirades that includes something I do in their snotty condemnation, it pisses me off.

Today was one of those days, when I read an article posted on Facebook that informed me I can’t eat meat and be an environmentalist.  It’s not that I don’t know the arguments about how badly our meat growing and eating habits affect the earth.  I do.

But I have problems with anemia and the one and only “prescription” anyone ever gave me that worked came from an acupuncturist who advised me to eat red meat 1-2 times a week.*  My health has also gone on an unbelievable downhill slide every time I’ve tried to eat a vegetarian diet of any sort.   I feel I’m a better participant in helping the environment when I’m healthy.

I do the best I can about local and being careful whose meat I purchase, etc. and I still recycle copiously, use “green” detergents, etc., so  the idea that eating meat once or twice a week erases four decades of working for the environment both personally and sometimes professionally, left me fuming today.

It’s so offensive to “talk” to people that way, I don’t understand why these folks fail to see what a total turn-off it is to approach these issues with such self-righteousness and judgment.  There may be some people they shame or bash into submission but I bet they lose more than they gain.  They even make me want to throw my recycling in the trash 🙂  And I think it’s pissing me off worse than usual because I’m so tired of so many people in general being so snotty.

I guess in a society where far too many people would rather point their fingers at others and blame them for all their problems than to ever take that scary walk down the path of looking into their own hearts it makes some perverted kind of sense.  But really, how about some self-examination and aiming for some compassion? I’m tired of all these cowards who’d rather condemn other people than face their own inner demons.  So I guess it’s my turn for finger pointing 🙂

And I’m wondering if you’re tired of it too?

* red meat contains heme iron, which you can’t get from any vegetable source and also an enzyme that helps you absorb iron.  Many of us with routine anemia problems either need the heme iron or the assist on absorption or both.

 

a signed book up for grabs

The Matticus Kingdom

7Sceptresv2

Hear ye, hear ye…

(Or, is it here ye, here ye?  I can never remember.  Really, as Jester of the Kingdom I should know these things… but, it’s not like they hand out a owner’s manual when you find yourself running a kingdom.  I’m having to make all this up as I go along.)

Anyway…

The time has come, once again, for a contest… an official Matticus Kingdom contest… the kind where you all compete in some sort of game and the winner gets a book… a signed book…  a signed book delivered to their mailbox or front door, and all I ask in return is you leave a fair and accurate review of the book on Amazon once you’ve read it.  That seems straightforward, right?  And well worth it when you get the fun of playing the game, the book delivered for free, and the emotional rollercoaster of reading…

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Share Your World April 23, 2018

Cee’s Share Your World this week:

If you could have an endless supply of any food, what would you get?

In the interest of health, I’d pick Trader Joe’s spinach, cranberry, pecan, etc. salad, pots of the soup I always keep around, ribollita, and either the supplies to make my smoothies or better yet, a steady supply of the smoothies just as I make them but made by somebody else 🙂

Granola Nut Bar

And then, for what I really love, dark chocolate, La Coppa coffee, and an endless supply of my homemade granola bars (again, preferably made for me by someone else).

List at least five movies or books that cheer you up.

The Secret Garden has been a lifelong favorite book (never thought any of the movie attempts did it justice) and I lost count long ago of how many times I’ve read it.

The Harry Potter movies and books; mostly just the early ones.  I can’t say the darker tone of the later ones is exactly cheering.

Return to Me, with David Duchovny and Minnie Driver is one of the rare ones I’ve seen a number of times and always love.

The Thin Man movies, especially the first couple — William Powell and Myrna Loy could deliver funny lines like nobody else…

So many Fred Astaire movies — many with Ginger Rogers, but plenty of them to love with many other partners too!

If you were a mouse in your house in the evening, what would you see your family doing? 

My mother and I sitting in separate rooms, both with the TV on, her with a book in her lap to read during commercials and me with my laptop, half paying attention to what I’m watching while reading and writing, etc.  For me, yoga usually somewhere in the evening.  And periodically in one or the other of the two rooms, Salty the cat on somebody’s lap.  I’m thinking the mouse is in a well-hidden vantage point 🙂

What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week?  Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination.

Daffodils in light snow; April in KY 2018

It keeps coming around to the day or two here and there when it warms up enough for the furnace to be off and the windows open.  It keeps shooting back down to temps that are unnaturally cold for Kentucky in late April and it really makes the few warm days seem special!

Cee’s Share Your World April 9, 2018

Cee’s Share Your World this week:

Been anywhere recently for the first time?

No, I’m living in kind of a groove recently, in which I pretty much go to the same places routinely.  I have in the last couple of weeks made several re-visits to places I’ve not been in a while.

Most notable, maybe, was meeting a friend at Barnes and Noble for coffee.  There’s only one here and in an area I don’t much like so I’ve stuck with the closer-to-me independent bookstore and its cafe.  But B&N was a better halfway point for this friend.  I realized I couldn’t even calculate how long it had been, but I think at least 10 and probably more like 12 or 14 years!

When my mother and I drove around and took pictures in the cemetery last week, that was the first time we’d been in probably 4 or 5 years (see photos on last SYW post).  So long that neither of us could remember how to get to my grandparents’ graves which we used to visit regularly.

List three favorite book characters.

Dickon in the Secret Garden.  The book is one of my all time faves — possibly read more times than any other.  I love Dickons’ good humor, kindness and love for animals.

Sophy in the Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer.  I’m a great fan of Ms. Heyer (whom I consider to be greatly underrated).  Sophy is fun, strong, confident and incredibly independent in a novel set during the Regency period in England… when women were seldom seen in that light.  Those are frequent traits of Heyer’s heroines and one of the many reasons I like her.

Morgaine in Marion Zmmer Bradley’s Mists of Avalon.  Strong and magical and full of heart.

What is your favorite non alcololic drink: hot or cold?

I make espresso every morning — the only cup I allow myself a day in general — and put cream in it but I don’t foam or heat it, so it isn’t really officially a cappuccino or latte, etc.  LOVE my coffee.  I don’t much care for alcohol so actually even if you allowed alcohol on the list, I don’t think it would be on mine…

Morning Coffee

What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week?  Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination.

I’m pretty happy that in spite of unseasonable frosts and snow, our daffodils, hyacinths, etc. are still alive and blooming.

Share Your World April 2, 2018

Cee’s Share Your World this week:

What was or is your favorite cartoon?

There were cartoons called “Merry Melodies” when I was a kid.  There were some more famous ones from them like Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, but my station had a slot in which they showed what I now think are older ones and I always found them charming — far more charming than most anything else in the way of cartoons (and I watched many as a child 🙂 )

Which cooking utensil (other than the usual pots and pans etc) would you miss the most?

I rely pretty heavily on both my food processor and my blender.  Since I have trouble standing for long periods, the processor has particularly been a lifesaver as it SO drastically reduces the amount of time it takes to grate and slice.

Would you dare to sleep in haunted house overnight?

As long as nobody was telling me the ghosts were malevolent, I think I’d enjoy it.  And I’m pretty sure there were ghosts in the house my grandmother and aunt lived in (built in 1875).  I never saw one but all the animals stopped in their tracks and stared in the direction of…  apparently nothing… often enough I was quite sure they saw one or more regularly.  i.e. I think I already have slept in a haunted house.

What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week?  Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination.

 

Tuesday it was supposed to storm all day and I’d planned to hang out at home.  Instead the storms ended in the morning and it turned sunny, warm and beautiful.  My mother and I took a ride through the big local cemetery where they have magnificent displays of flowering shrubs and trees plus big beds of tulips.  Heavenly

Share Your World March 26, 2018

Cee’s Share Your World this week:

What is your favorite color of hair? You can name your hair color or a color that you just like.

My mother’s hair originally was a gorgeous red they always called mahogany.  She’d gone more brown by the time I came along but there were pictures of the color and she has a curl of it.  It’s a shade I’ve rarely seen on anyone else, but truly a beautiful color.

List at least 5 things that you are good at.

  1. writing
  2. napping
  3. yoga
  4. cooking
  5. quick thinking

What is your favorite animal or type of animal? (pets, dolphins, stuffed, wild cats, etc)

Stretched-out Salty

My very favorite animal of the moment is, of course, Salty.  Also love horses.  And, just to look at, from a distance :-), ocelots, elephants, sea otters, koalas…

What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week?  Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination. 

It warmed up and got sunny for a couple of days and, even though it was still cool, we opened up the house and aired it out for a bit and it always feels so good!

Cee’s Share Your World 3/5/18

Cee’s Share Your World this week:

What did you or did not like about the first place you lived without your parents?

It was a dorm, Bobb Hall, at Northwestern.  It was the first year they quit separating women’s residential spaces from men’s by a mile, so our dorm was in the middle of the men’s quad and virtually next door to the frats. The only women’s dorm at that end of the campus, which was sometimes quite uncomfortable.  But really the thing I liked the least was having to go down the hall to the big shared bathroom carrying all your shower-related stuff and that it was shared and that you couldn’t take a bath.  Kind of whiny first world problems…

What is your most favorite smell/scent?

Oh, I love so many.  I’m very into scent and have worn perfume since I was a kid.  Early on I was into Shalimar and still love it but I’ve expanded to so many more.  Butterfly by Hanae Mori is a current fave.  There are blooming flower scents I love, like lilac, rose, lavender.  Cooking scents I love, like rosemary, cinnamon and pot roast cooked in wine.  The scent of fresh coffee in the air is a big fave.  And I adore burning Nag Champa incense.  The aromatherapy concoction an aromatherapist friend created for me.  Just to name a few 🙂

Would you prefer snowy winters, or not, and why?

I liked living in California and coming to Kentucky at Christmas, seeing one round of snow and then no more.  I grew up in Michigan and lived many years in Chicago and I just got tired of the cold and getting stuck and having to shovel, and clearing off my car…

What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week?  Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination.

Morning Coffee

In a freak storm incident a couple of weeks ago, water blew into and leaked down our cook top exhaust hood and into the workings of the stove top, burning it out.  We have a long wait for a new one, which had to be ordered, so I’ve not been able to make my stovetop espresso in the morning.  (another of those first world, “poor me I had to fix coffee with Melitta filter” problems)… This last week I dug out my old Gaggia espresso machine and started enjoying yummy espresso again.  I REALLY appreciate that!

Granola/Nut Bars

A while back I decided to start making healthier snacks and hunted for a good granola bar recipe.  While I’ve collected some more traditional recipes to try (s00n), the one I landed on was heavier on nuts and seeds than oatmeal and I liked the switch.

The original recipe turned out to be a bit of a mystery as the amounts in the recipe were far too small for the size pan specified; first off I wound up having to transfer the thinly spread ingredients (which would have turned out to be granola instead of bars) to a pan half the size.  Then I wound up deciding to tweak ingredients, which kept happening over several tries.  Now the recipe I’m using basically has nothing in common with the first.  But I love these.

Leigh’s Granola/Nut Bars

Heat oven to 300 degrees.  (I find if I start it first it’s ready long before I am so I usually wait till I’m farther into the process)

Dry ingredients:

  • 1-1/3 cups dried cranberries
  • 3 cups chopped raw cashews
  • 1 cup raw slivered almonds
  • 1 cup oats (not quick)
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin or sunflower seeds
  • 4 Tablespoons chia or hemp seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Wet ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup raw honey
  • 2 Tablespoons almond butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

As is usual with granola-type recipes, substitute other fruits, nuts and seeds according to your preferences (just make sure the seeds are similar sizes; either tiny to substitute for hemp or chia or larger to substitute for sunflower or pumpkin).  You can also choose a different type of nut butter.

Mix together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl; make sure the salt and cinnamon are well-distributed.

Separately mix together all the wet ingredients (I put them in a Pyrex measuring cup so they’re easier to pour).  Stir well.  I find it takes quite a while to get the wet stuff well distributed through the dry so my advice is, take the bowl somewhere where you can sit for a few minutes and be comfortable while you stir and stir and stir.

Lay parchment paper on a cookie sheet approximately 16″x 12″; although pundits claim they come in standard sizes, I have a bunch and I’ve measured them and there are lots of variations.  I have several within an inch of this size in one or both dimensions and any will work.

Spread the mixture evenly on top of the parchment paper.  Bake 33-37 minutes.  I usually check at the 33 minute point and they often come out then but occasionally it seems to take a little longer.  They should be slightly brown and firm but not too brown (often bits at the edges wind up more brown).  You really don’t want these overdone or they’ll break up when you try to cut them.

They need to sit for about an hour on the pan after they come out of the oven and then you need to cut them fairly soon.  If you cut earlier, they’re still warm and tend to fall apart when you cut.  If you wait very long past an hour, they get drier and tend to break up.  I get about 20 fairly standard size bars from this; recently I’ve started cutting them smaller as I’m pretty satisfied with just a small chunk.

These freeze very well so I usually divide half into one box and put half, separated in layers by wax paper, in another box for the freezer.  They last well for about two weeks when left out and are edible after that but not as good.  I’ve never left the freezer box in there for much more than the couple of weeks it takes to finish the first box so I can’t tell you how long they can stay in there 🙂