Attention!!! It’s one of those days where everyone is going to be sitting up straighter and maybe even acting a bit more kind and more aware of how they treat each other because today could be the last day of the world. Exciting, isn’t it?
I’m baking an easy and simple cookie recipe today called “Chocolate Crinkles” that I’ve made for years. It’s online everywhere, with slight variations. The one I use is from Betty Crocker, and the only thing I do differently is to add some ground almonds and maybe a bit more vanilla. If you click here, you will have it.
What else? I’ve made 24 jars of “Marroni Creme”, which is really “Chestnut Jam” (chestnuts, sugar, and vanilla – yum!). I love to make it because no one makes it anymore.
I used to buy it when I lived in Switzerland, because it was available in the grocery stores there.
I think you can get it online, but if you’re married to a chestnut roaster, you probably just want to make it yourself, because it really is simple to make.
My husband has a few regular folks that ask for it at his chestnut roasting stand, and they are usually older people from Europe who remember, or the children of those older people who know that it makes them happy.
And lastly, here’s a video that I took from the Dicken’s Festival at the Biltmore Village a few weeks ago. It’s one where my favorite girl singer’s are performing “Walking in the Winter Wonderland”. Enjoy!
I guess this is my last post IF the world ends. If so, tt’s been a wonderful life, and I’ve had a good time.
If it is still spinning after today, well, until next time.
Growing up, my family attended the First Presbyterian Church in New Bern, N.C. On Sunday I would be dressed in a hand-me-down from one of my sisters who may have received it from one of our cousins, which meant by the time it made to me it would be faded and worn. But I couldn’t have cared less about the dress because what excited me was that this was the one day of the week that I could wear my patent leather, flip-strap Mary Jane shoes. I was born with feet issues and every day of the week I had to wear heavy oxfords with arch supports. My brother said that I looked like I was wearing Frankenstein shoes. I begged my mother to let me wear the Mary Jane’s with the straps flipped to the back so that my shoes would look like fancy, grown-up slip-on’s, but she always said no because they would “eat up my socks”.
After everyone was dressed and hair was combed, we piled into the Rambler and headed downtown to church. On the first day of my Kindergarten Sunday School class, my mother escorted me to a classroom in the basement. The room had tiny chairs placed into a half-circle and the teacher, Mrs. Huggins, welcomed me to her class. As I watched the last bit of my mother’s hem round the corner, my mild anxiety dissolved at the site of animal cracker boxes and juice. Other children’s little hands were passed from their mothers to Mrs. Huggins and we settled into our seats for our Bible story and lesson.
I don’t remember the details of the lesson but I do remember the picture that Mrs. Huggins showed us. She held up a print of a child in a field looking up. Peeking down out of the clouds was a man with long white hair and a white beard and a kindly smile. I got excited thinking that our lesson was going to be about Santa Claus! Mrs. Huggins said this was God who was our father in heaven. She said that he loved all his children very much and if we were good then when we died we would live with him forever in heaven.
I remember being confused about God being my father as my father worked at Eddie Webb’s Shoe Store on Middle Street and he didn’t look anything like the man in the clouds. And besides that, I didn’t plan on dying any time soon. After the lesson we pulled our chairs up to little tables, took crayons out of a cigar box and colored pictures of angels who also lived in heaven with God our Father.
After we got home we ate Sunday brunch prepared by my father, the one that worked at the shoe store. He didn’t go to church. My mother said that his Sunday morning church was reading the newspaper without all of us bothering him. My mother and I then went out to work in our garden. We had a big vegetable garden and my mother knew all about growing food. She showed me which plants were the weeds and how to pull them out so that the roots didn’t break off.
Still thinking about heaven, I looked up into the sky and asked my mother where exactly heaven was. She stopped for a moment in the middle of the squash vines, looked around the garden and said, “Right here.”
I liked the idea of heaven being in our garden where we weren’t dead and everything smelled so good. And since I believed that my mother knew everything about everything, gardens became my idea of heaven and they still are.
After all the preaching and teachings I have heard in my life in regards to the 3 story Universe of heaven, Earth and hell, I wonder how things might have been different if we all had been taught that heaven was right in our backyards? How would we have cared for Earth if we knew that God lived in the squash patch and the only white-haired man in the sky was Santa Claus?
I have been thinking about Facebook a lot lately, thanks to two, separate incidents.
The first thing that got me thinking about it was hearing a friend of mine talk about how funny it was that there was sometimes very little connection between what was actually going on in a person’s life and what they put on their Facebook wall. I started thinking about how I selectively choose stuff to go on Facebook–the pictures that make me look good, the good news–sort of like posting in the ultimate alumni magazine for your whole life! And that got me thinking about how I love going to Facebook and seeing wonderful pictures, funny stories, which led me to think that Facebook might be the best kind of fantasy land for people, a place where they can not only spend time with friends and family they love, no matter how scattered they are, but also where they can highlight the things about their own lives that make them feel good and ignore the rest of the stuff–and nobody has to be the wiser!
But then, there was the second incident. I attended a parents’ meeting at my daughter’s high school, where the principal talked about how much bullying has increased in schools since Facebook–and how it no longer is contained within the school day but continues, ad infinitum, over Facebook pages, 24 hours a day–and how Facebook has made it possible for bullying to reach and hurt an individual more effectively than ever before because it can be targeted toward one person but heard by hundreds of people instantly, unlike the good old days when nasty rumors at least took a while to spread–or could be stopped by teacher intervention.
Which got me to thinking that the fantasy land that Facebook provides might be like the world of fairy tales–full of both exaggerated good and overblown evil–except that the people living there are real people, not made-up goblins or witches or fairy princesses, real people who are telling stories about themselves or about other real people, without ever having to stand, face-to-face, and make a real, live, human connection.
All of which got me worried about how much time my children spend in Facebook-land.
So, I’ll just get my worries on the table: 1) Facebook supposedly keeps people in better touch with friends than they used to be in the old days of hours on the telephone, but is it really a good thing to be in constant touch, 24 hours a day, with people? Don’t you need a little dead time in your life? And doesn’t the whole posting deal make it somehow easier to cut people off in a way that you couldn’t when you had to politely hang up the phone? 2) The obvious one: kids put pictures on Facebook in order to impress their friends, and then those pictures come back to haunt them when they apply for jobs–and more and more employers are using Facebook as a screen. 3) People don’t tend to carry on long conversations over Facebook–they write little snippets, little sound bites, so what happens to what used to be called “the art of conversation?” (This one is probably not a big worry for me, since I know that my kids are still having long conversations with friends, outside of Facebook, but the potential is there.)
4) Having a place like Facebook where you can record every little detail of your life, your status (the stuff people used to write about in diaries) and know that there is a captive audience out there, waiting to hear it, might make you feel like you are a celebrity yourself (something that Woody Allen pointed out in his latest movie, the one set in Rome–the movie was awful, but it did make this point–over and over again, ad nauseum); in other words, you might get a false view of yourself which could be hard to maintain if Facebook ever went away or was temporarily unavailable due to a power outage! I’m happy to say I haven’t witnessed this last one in my own children, since they take the whole Facebook thing with a grain of salt, but I have noticed it in some of their Facebook acquaintances–both kids and adults. I guess there is always room in the world for one more narcissistic person, but Facebook does seem to bring out a huge number of them. And doesn’t this maybe tie in to the whole bullying part? After all, if you can build up a self-image through endless postings about worthless details of your life, what happens when people are not really interested? Is that when, if you are insecure teenager, you go after those people and make their lives miserable?
Enough ranting. But I’d love to hear readers’ thoughts on all this, and please remember that I am a Facebook junkie–I spend time there almost every day, and I don’t want to give that up!
For a while, there didn’t really seem to be much happening on the political scene. Of course, that’s all changed since the Republican and Democratic Conventions. I hope everyone that is able to vote come November will do so. I know who I am going to vote for, and I don’t need to talk about it, or convince anyone that they need to change how they feel, or convert anyone to my way, or hate anyone for not voting the way I do. Or bring up the racist issue of the color of anyone’s skin.
What else? Oh, fracking will happen in NC because the loudest opponent MADE A MISTAKE and “accidentally” voted FOR FRACKING. Not that it probably ever could be stopped. I’m just noticing things, that’s all. But it is kind of bizarre how it passed. Fracking the earth is just the next step in fueling the electrical power plants that supply the energy needed to be on this computer typing this post, doing my job, communicating with folks, and yes, sharing *.
Which brings up the topic for today’s post, the many ways in which we can be using our dear, dear, friend, our smart phones.
TIME magazine recently featured 10 WAYS MOBILE TECHNOLOGY IS CHANGING OUR WORLD. Did you read it? I found it so very interesting.
“Just as remarkable as the power of mobility, over everything from love to learning to global development, is how fast it all happened. It is hard to think of any tool, any instrument, any object in history with which so many developed so close a relationship so quickly as we have with our phones. Not the knife, or match, the pen or page. Only money comes close – always at hand, don’t leave home without it. But most of us don’t take a wallet to bed with us, don’t reach for it and check it every few minutes, and however useful money is in pursuit of fame, romance, revolution, it is inert compared with a smart phone – which can replace your wallet now anyway.”
People from all age groups and income levels in 8 countries, the U.S., the U.K., China, India, South Korea, South Africa, Brazil and Indonesia were asked questions to find out and better understand attitudes concerning technology, being connected, and the average age thought appropriate for a child to own a mobile phone, which is 13 years!
I am in the minority in how I feel about it, that it is not good. For instance, I do feel like being constantly connected by technology is mostly a burden: 13%, vs. 76% that find it helpful.
That I place my cell phone in a different room from where I sleep (13%) vs. the 68% that sleep with it next to their bed. Three quarters of the group between 25 – 29 years of age sleep with their phones. Rather intimate I think, and stupid, since not one study has ever been funded to prove that the amount of radiation given off of our phones is harmful, or harmless!
32% of all respondents said they they would prefer to communicate via texting. Which broken down by age groups shows another surprising find:
In response to the question, “Have you ever used a text message to…”, 73% of the 18-24 age group said yes, that they use texting for flirting with someone. 55% of the 25-29 age group said they used a text message to send suggestive pictures. And 36% of the 25-29 age group said they used texting to coordinate or commit adultery. Hmmm…what is going on? I think I need to get with the program, give the smart phone a 3rd chance to dominate my life, and start to rekindle the sexual excitement that I am lacking in my menopausal life with my partner, or, someone else.
Well, it doesn’t seem to be something that is going to stop or slow down any time soon.
The only question I have is with all these ways to be in touch, are we really connecting?
I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures of some flowers that my partner brought home from the tailgate market for me. It wasn’t a tweet of how much he loves me. Call me old-fashioned, but I love flowers, and you can’t do that via a text tweet (thanks Lisa for educating me on what can be done with a text!).
The one below is the Moon flower that opened the other night…I smelled something divine when I went out to dump the scraps on the compost pile, and realized that after waiting all summer for it to open, it had!
Peace, Joy, and Love, and I ain’t J/K-ing!
* Please go to our FB page and “like us”, tweet this post, or share it with all your friends. Also, leave a comment and post us on REDDIT! We want to have a TV show that is on Oprah’s network called “The Other View”, and we want everything we do to go viral.
Annette Dunlap, who has been a contributor to Oops50 in the past, has written a fascinating new book called The Gambler’s Daughter: A Personal and Social History, which weaves together a history of gambling among Jewish people through the ages with her own childhood experiences as the daughter of a compulsive gambler father. The book offers the religious and cultural origins of Jewish gambling as the backdrop for Annette’s father’s own personal history.
Here’s an excerpt that shows both Annette’s command of the English language and her unique and very insightful perspective on life:
“America is a nation of vast contradictions between what we promote as our values and how we actually put those values into action. We like to point to someone who emulates the rags-to-riches newsboy, Horatio Alger, but our preferred national heroes are those who have rapidly accumulated wealth through speculation and a streak of good luck. The American story gives lip service to hard work leading to financial success, but our tax code rewards those who have figured out how to make their money earn them more money” (p. 153).
This quote seems particularly compelling in this election year!
I could go on about the book, but what I really want to talk about is my friend’s courage in writing it.
I’ve known Annette, or “Netty,” since we were in high school together in suburban Maryland in the late sixties.
Back then, she was sometimes not an easy friend to have. She was loud and outspoken, when I was struggling to figure how much of my Southern upbringing I could hold onto and how much I wanted to discard. She used cuss words. She protested things, loudly and without apology, if she saw injustice lurking—from the Viet Nam War to school policies. I remember vividly how she marched up and down the hall outside of the yearbook office yelling her grievances—as I recall, she was upset about the extreme predominance in the yearbook of pictures of “cool” kids—to a completely unsympathetic audience of students passing nervously by her, their newly-formed personalities visibly shuddering from the encounter. But it didn’t faze Netty. She just kept marching.
I wasn’t sure what to make of her—except that I knew I was impressed at how she could do stuff that I would never have the nerve to do.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that she was dealing with things at home that I couldn’t even begin to imagine—her father’s compulsive gambling that had led to overwhelming debt, her mother’s extreme unhappiness and frustration at being forced to carry the lion’s share of the family’s financial burden, and Netty’s own burden of being compelled by her father to be a partner in deceit, when he would make her take his phone calls from creditors and lie to them about his whereabouts.
Granted, it took Netty a while to write this book, but it’s understandable that she had to wait until after her father and her mother were both dead. The important thing is that, once she decided to open herself up to the topic, she dove in. And I just want to salute her incredible courage in deciding to take this very personal journey. So, here’s to you, Netty, a brave and adventurous woman over fifty—and an excellent researcher and writer! Gambler’s Daughter is available on Amazon! Check it out!