Category Archives: Germany

Unique December Facts

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“The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”

The good news is December has been declared Bingo Celebration

Month! I used to love it when my family would play this, with

guests. Sometimes my cousins, sometimes neighbors, we would

be out on the picnic table with our chips and our Dad would be

the one to spin the wire caged wheel and pull out the wooden

balls with the letters, “B,I,N,G” or “O.”

Did you know this is an ‘ancient’ game? It has been around since

the 1500’s.

I used to love being the “Caller” for Bingo at the Arbors Nursing Home,

while my residents were always happy to call out, “Bingo!” The young

volunteers would run over and give them their quarter. When the whole

card got filled, we would start all over again. The reward for a filled card

was one dollar bill. This was a big exciting reward to the folks who lived

there.

 

On a much more solemn note, December 16, 1944 was the day the big

“Battle of the Bulge” was carried out.

 

The Official End of WWII was on December 31, 1946.

Peace on Earth, Good will to Men.

 

Did you know every day of the month has a food item?

 

DECEMBER DAYS OF FOOD (Beverage or Other):

Dec. 1- National Pie Day.

Eat A Red Apple Day.

 

Dec. 2- National Apple Pie Day.

 

Dec. 4- National Cookie Day.

(Every day is this one for me! smiles)

 

Dec. 5- Repeal Day ~ Prohibition Day (U.S.).

National Sacher Torte Day.

(In Vienna, Austria a man named Franz Sacher created this

delicious chocolate, light cake or torte, in 1832.)

 

Dec. 6- National Gazpacho Day.

(Associated with Andalusia, part of Spain, but its roots go back

into Arab and other ancient times. Cold, savory soup, made of

raw vegetables.)

Also, National Microwave Oven Day.

(I do appreciate this electronic invention.)

 

Dec. 7- National Cotton Candy Day.

(Why is this in our winter? Is this for places who have fairs and

festivals in December?)

 

Dec. 8- National Chocolate Brownie Day.

Dec. 9- National Pastry Day.

Dec. 10- National Lager Day.

 

Dec. 11- National Noodle Ring Day.

(This is hard to find its roots, but mainly described as

a circle of noodles with a cheese incorporated into it,

attributed to Germany.)

 

Dec. 12- National Cocoa Day.

 

Dec. 13- National Ice Cream Day.

(Why, again, are we eating ice cream in the cold weather?

This must be made up by people in warmer climates.

Also, National Violins Day.

 

Dec. 14- National Bouillabaisse Day.

(I enjoy this savory, warm soup. It originated from fishing

villages in France. Marseilles may have been its first place

of origin, with three kinds of fish and Provencal seasonings.)

 

Dec. 15- National Cupcake Day.

 

**Dec. 16- National Chocolate-Covered Anything Day!!**

Woo hoo!

 

Dec. 17- National Maple Syrup Day.

(This would be the perfect day or excuse to make pancakes

or waffles!)

 

Dec. 18- National Suckling Pig Day.

(This comes from mainly Chinese cuisine, but there are some

references going back to Roman times. This is a very young

pig, which has a lot of collagen in its skin, hard to ‘crisp up,’

while it is considered a delicacy.)

 

Dec. 19- National Hard Candy.

(What is your favorite hard candy?

My Dad’s was either horehound or cinnamon drops.

Mom’s was butterscotch drops. My favorite flavor is found in

either the caramel flavored Nips or Werther’s candies.)

 

Dec. 20- National Fried Shrimp Day.

(This makes me think of Louisiana cooking with crawdads or

prawns. This would be prepared as Shrimp Creole. I enjoy

the butter sauce with garlic infusion:  Shrimp Scampi.)

 

Also on the 20th- National Sangria Day.

“Ole!”

(You probably already know this is my Mom’s favorite wine

to sip on at bedtime, using a small juice glass. I have a

Spanish toast on another post…)

 

Dec. 21- National Hamburger Day.

Going from the red meat to fruit…

National Kiwi Fruit Day.

 

Dec. 22- National Date Nut Bread.

 

Dec. 23- National Pfeffernuesse Day.

(This traditional German spice cookie covered with powdered

confectioner’s sugar is one that takes me back to my Grandma’s

kitchen. It reminds me of the flavors of gingerbread cookies.)

 

Dec. 24- National Feast of the Seven Fishes.

(This comes from Italy, which celebrates the Wait or Vigil for

the Baby Jesus, by serving fish from the Mediterranean Sea.)

 

Also, National Egg Nog Day.

(I like this use of nutmeg, heavy cream and Irish whiskey or

other alcohol. Mom likes the non-alcoholic milky drink from

United Dairy Farmers.)

 

Dec. 25- National Pumpkin Pie Day.

(Just in case you didn’t get enough of this holiday pie at

Thanksgiving.)

 

Dec. 26- National Candy Cane Day.

Dec. 27- National Fruit Cake Day.

 

Dec. 28- National Chocolate Candy Day.

(Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Easter also celebrate

this national holiday- just being ‘facetious.’)

 

Dec. 29- National Pepper Pot Soup Day.

(There are recipes for this Jamaican cuisine along

with one from Philadelphia.)

 

Dec. 30- National Bicarbonate of Soda Day,

(Thank you for this Baking Soda Day. I like to use this

special rising ingredient in many baked goods, but can

taste it the most in homemade biscuits.)

 

Dec. 31- National Champagne Day.

(Say a toast to “Auld Lang Syne”  and Happy New Year, 2015!)

 

The research on some of these food items is not complete, but I did

look up the ones I did not know where the foods originated in. If

you would like to share a favorite family traditional food item in the

comments section, we would enjoy hearing about them. Thank you!

 

 

 

Rolling with Laughter

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Coworkers are my source of humor and constancy in my daily routine.

We tend to miss each other over weekends, sometimes I feel it is due

to our being ‘displaced’ from our lines of preferred professions. All of

my fellow table mates at lunch and break were in other jobs before they

came to work at the warehouse.

When Melvin went off to Massachusetts, the week seemed to drag

forever.

 

This week, just the first three days already, have been hysterical. He

regales us with tall tales of lobster 3 or 4 times eaten daily. He is also

teaching us more and more about the Army life he led.

 

You may remember a long ago post about Melvin being raised by

parents from an island. By the time they came to America, they had

chosen Massachusetts as their home. I think the link, “cous cous” may

connect you to that story. . . We feel this is an interesting ‘thread’ that

connects the two of us. Since my Mom’s parents were both immigrants,

meeting on a street corner in New York City, but choosing to live in

Connecticut. My Grandpa’s father had chosen Massachusetts, where

my Grandpa went to school and his sister lived there, once adults.

Grandpa had moved away from there to go to the engineering or

‘technical college’ in New York City. He knows we both like many of

the New England specialties, too.

 

Melvin had been a good student in school. He decided to go into the

Army to get a ‘free education.’ Instead, he found his true interest or

“calling” in cooking. He did not go to culinary arts institute. He went

to Germany while in the Army, where he had an amazing time learning

about German food preparation. Then, he followed this with his next

tour of duty being spent on the Army base in Hawaii. Where native

fresh fruits are part of the daily Army diet. He excitedly described to us

at break today, they are also cut specially into shapes like lotus flowers

and birds, presented on the platters as ‘garnishes.’

We pursued this culinary specialty subject awhile, “Not in Officer’s

Club, but Mess Hall grub has garnishes?”

“Yes,” Melvin intoned then elaborating, “The different things you

can create varies from vegetables to fruits. A large melon, zucchini,

radishes or apples you make sliced criss-crosses, blanch them in

boiling water and quickly place them in icy water. The hot water gets

them to open up like a lotus blossom.”

He added, “Did you know that the Army never adds new amounts

of a food to an older dish?” (You know how while at a buffet or a

salad bar, they add more potato salad to the old? Nope, this NEVER

happens in the Army dining room!)

 

So, Melvin brought me the delicious German wine last year, which

he mentioned that in Germany at Christmas, the shops downtown

have little tables of treats and ‘shot glasses’ of drinks. They also warm

their wines and give out tastes of these. He contributed to my sense

of ‘culture’ while I shared this with my Mom and family last year.

Mom said a toast in German, which was one about health and love.

(My Mom’s mother was born in Germany. She told me to thank

Melvin. He had bought this on the Rickenbacker Air Force base,

as a gift to me. So thoughtful, you can see why he is a ‘keeper,’

when it comes to friends!)

 

Another morsel he shared with us was of an Army skill he acquired

while in Germany. He informed us they would bring in huge blocks

of ice and there would be one skilled ice sculptor who would create

lovely centerpieces for Army banquets at holidays. He apprenticed

and learned this amazing skill.

Again, we asked Melvin, “Do you mean ordinary Army enlisted men

would have banquets with carved ice decorations on their tables?”

We were incredulous. I am hoping there may be some enlisted men

from the past, who will confirm this outlandish ‘story.’

Really, please let me know. . .

“Yes,” Melvin looked and sounded like he had the Bible and would

“solemnly swear that this was the truth, the whole truth, so help

him God.”

Melvin then proceeded to tell us about mountains, ski cabins and

other etchings in his German ice sculptures. Then, he decided to

mention how he created elaborate Hawaiian ice sculptures with

volcanoes, trees and ocean waves along beaches. He had learned

how to, sculpt detailed floral arrangements out of ice. We wished

he had photographs but we believe his stories.

 

So, when Melvin got back from Massachusetts, we listened to how

he and his ‘my lady’ had lobster omelets, lobster rolls and lobster

linguini. He emphatically repeated this annoying part (we were

jealous, that is why we were annoyed), “I ate lobster 3 or 4 times

a day!” Upon repetition,  we still did not roll our eyes, since he was

entertaining us quite brilliantly. Never a dull moment at the good,

old warehouse with Melvin around.

 

Melvin’s accent had changed over his one week “Back home, out East.”

He vocalizes the sound of his “r’s” to “h’s” so his car was a “cah.” You

could close your eyes and imagine a Kennedy speaking. He sounds so

“cultured.” We tell him he should take his “lady friend” to England

and get their full ‘edification.’ Come back with a British accent. Then,

being the dramatic ‘ham’ that he is, he put his little pinky out and

pretended to hold a tea cup and saucer. He attempted an imitation

British tea party, exclaiming “Cheerio, my deah ones, we need to

order some crumpets and scones.”

 

Melvin told us how offended he was McDonald’s thinks “frappes”

sound like “frapays” while most New Englanders know “frappes”

rhyme with “wraps.” The real ‘frappes’ are delicious old fashioned

milk shakes made of real ice cream and whole milk, with flavors with

real chocolate syrup or real whipped cream. It makes me think of the

rants that began with this funny question, “Don’t you understand the

words that are coming out of my mouth?” from the two movies, with

Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker in “Rush Hour’ (one and two.)

 

Whenever Melvin opens his mouth, we laugh. He is full of spirit, likes

to tease and pull your leg. There is always a chance,  at any moment,

for his voice to  become high-pitched and indignant about something.

This is what he calls his “Ohio homey’s” slang and attitude.

 

The story Melvin finished with was about his days of being the Head

Cook at the Marysville Penitentiary. He claims that at any point in

time, you could run into a sister of a male inmate, while she is in

the female cellblocks. Or a mother! There was a special occasion,

where the Warden had arranged for a comedienne named, Monique,

to entertain the inmates. She is a known African American stand-up

comic, who uses ‘blue’ (vulgar) humor in her sketches and anecdotes.

Melvin smiled wide, snorting while remembering some of the skits

or jokes she told.

Melvin finally stopped laughing and  said, “The Warden got up from

his seat in the front of the room, apparently unaware of her type of

humor, with a bright red face, looking down as he walked to the back

of the room, quietly exiting. Everyone clapped and hooted, encouraging

this Monique to ‘carry on,’ with her crass jokes.”

 

I had a chance to change the subject at second break and told my

good friends that yesterday was the 51st anniversary of Push Button

Telephones. (I had already decided to post about the serious subject

of Malala and her Nobel Peace Prize.) So, you are finding this fact

out a day later than my coworkers!

 

ATT first presented these new phones to Pennsylvania residents on

November 18, 1963. The original Push Button phones had only ten

buttons, while in 1968 they added two more buttons (#) and (*). This

squared off phone replaced my favorite old fashioned  rotary phone.

Going along with the raucous humor and our improved mood, since

it was our Melvin’s long-lost return, we used our fingers to squeeze

our noses, to make our vocalizations to sound nasal and together

we imitated one of the greatest comedians ever, Lily Tomlin, by

chanting:

“One ringy dingy, two ringy dingy” and so forth, making the funny

character of the old time operator from variety shows of the 60’s

of “Ernestine,” come back alive. Tammy and I were rolling while

Melvin, who is a great imitator of voices, was pretending to be

the character.

 

In honor of Melvin, though, I will tell you his favorite singer is not

who you would expect. If you remember my post, “Someone Saved

My Life Today,” you may remember Melvin loves Elton John, so

does his girlfriend. The songs he says are ones that get him up and

dancing are:

“Honky Cat” and “Crocodile Rock.”

Melvin is one ‘hep cat’ who knows how to ‘jive!’

 

Roses, roots, and thorns

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The letters in the word, “rose” can be rearranged to spell “Eros.” How appropriate

that one of the most beautiful flowers has the letters who form the Greek “God of

Love.” The Peace rose was named 50 or more years ago. It is a pale yellow-tinged

rose with pink tipped petals.  Thorns can also help you to reach another letter

combination: “sore.” You may be sore from the needle-like thorns or you may be

sore, filled with heartache. While the rose still gives us light and lovely radiance

in its flowering.

 

In the 15th century, Henry VI declared a War of Roses. How sad and upsetting to

label anything that is filled with death and killing, with the word, rose, in its title.

 

In Medieval times, a white rose suspended from the ceiling of a room meant there

would be ‘secrets’ shared or imparted. It designated conversations which must be

totally private. The term, “subrosa,”  means “confidential.”

 

Roses have been found much longer ago than Medieval times. There were drawings

of flowers on cave walls. Particularly, historically discovered on cave walls, was

a five-petaled “rose” drawing found in Crete during the period of 1450 B.C.

 

Traveling even farther back in time, roses have been discovered by archaeologists,

in fossilized form. The rocks have been preserved and photographed have come

from the beginning of Earth’s plant life, possibly the oldest ‘flower’ ever. This is

dating back 30 million years ago. One could almost, truthfully, exclaim that roses

have been around forever.

 

In 76 A.D., the Roman writer named, Pliny, included 30 different remedies and

medicines derived from roses. Roses were used in ancient times for healing wounds,

treating insomnia (rose tea), stomach disorders and “toothaches.” Rose petals also

helped to cover the awful smell of death or illness. By scattering rose petals around

enclosed spaces, you could tolerate the odor of diseases, including the Plague.

 

 

 

In the Talmud, it is written only pink roses were allowed to bloom in Jerusalem.

The city’s name means, “Paradise,” which makes sense the pink roses be there

to fill the air with their aromatic, floral scent. Visually and using senses of all kinds,

to be immersed in Paradise. This is how some gardeners feel in their gardens.

 

The 13th century rose was brought back to Europe, from the Holy Land crusaders.

This is considered “the Old European” traditional rose. Another ‘root’ history of

the rose is it may have come form Italian travelers, from the Gulf of Salerno. The

trail of the rose, also has possibilities with the Roman Emperors cultivating them

after bringing them back from their Middle East travels.

 

The Chinese have incorporated roses in their artistry and have been given credit

for those beautiful “tea roses,” since they have for 1000’s of years compared the

scent to the aroma of the hearty tea leaves.

 

Explorers of the 1800’s, also have been considered ones who brought the first

seedlings of roses from Asia. These explorers brought these to Europe, which

then American settlers brought seeds of all kinds of plants, including seedlings

of roses to our continent. While traveling across the ocean, in 1692, explorers

discovered roses prevented sea-sickness.

 

The belief of the rose as an aphrodisiac is more than just a romantic novel’s

idea. The appearance of this belief goes back centuries using rose hips as

part of a mood enhancer. The rose hips are also known to have Vitamin

C which is considered a natural way to help prevent depression. It is also

considered to be a way to prevent ‘apathy’ and ‘resignation,’ in books of

old folklore and medicinal texts.

 

Marie Antoinette’s good friend, Pierre Joseph-Redoute, was a wonderful painter

and artist, along with being one who enjoyed gardening. One of his famous rose

paintings is hung in one of the French Art museums. The artist is known for his

botanical paintings, which have become made into prints for decorating homes,

along with the Palace. In France, roses are included in 12th century cathedral

stained glass windows.

 

In the story, “Sleeping Beauty,” the rose vines with their thorny protection make

it very difficult for the Prince to wake Beauty from her sleep. The vines grow and

surround the castle while she is deep in slumber.

 

Withering roses mean that love is transitory and love can fade. There are many

ways the flower is used as a metaphor  in books, poetry and stories. Blue roses

come from a gene from a blue petunia injected into a white rose. I think you may

remember in the play, “The Glass Menagerie,” the brother calls the invalid sister,

“Blue Roses,” which indicate the possibility that she has pleurisy.  Australia was

the country given credit for having the clever horticulturalists and scientists who

managed to ‘create’ this blue rose. Symbolism of the rose would take many pages

of writing, along with intensive research.

 

When Carl Jung analyzed a rose depicted in a church stained-glass window with a

magical circle surrounding the rose, he described it in quite mythological terms.

Jung said the rose symbolized,

“Our mortal yearnings for Union with the Cosmos.”

 

Dreamers sometimes are accused of looking through “rose colored glasses,” which at

times, sometimes I prefer them.

 

The expression, “second hand rose,” may have its roots from the days when Henry II’s

mistress (who would have been considered ‘second class’ or less worthy of his time,

since the wife was given preferential treatment) died an early death. Poor Rosamunda.

 

Tough times or parts of our life that are challenging make our lives, “No bed of roses.”

 

“Rosy” cheeks may depict a ‘picture of good health,’ as the children in the Campbell

Soup advertisements display round, rosy cheeks  while they entice us to warm up with

their product.

 

The oldest living rose bush is the size of a tree. This may be found by a cathedral in

Hildesheim, Germany. There is a historic document which provides proof of it dating

back to possibly 815 A.D. It is considered, “The Thousand Year Old Rose Tree.”

The story or legend of the Lower Saxony, Germany tree, is that during WWII, the

bush caught on fire from Allied bombs. The root system was removed, undamaged.

It is still flourishing and flowering in Hildesheim, Germany.

 

From the history of roses through the ages, it seems that they are meant to continue

to grow against all odds. While we are meant to benefit not only from their beauty and

romance, but admire their longevity and endurance. The Peace rose radiates its power

of Hope to us all. The rose holds a special place in our lives and it is amazing to learn

from its very existence.

Roses have flourished from the beginning of time and will continue to do so,

until the Earth stops spinning.

~reocochran 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amazing Wonders and Creature Marvels

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“Across the sea of space,

the stars are other suns.”

(Carl Sagan)

In August, a 440 pound Galapagos Island, wild-born tortoise joined the Toledo Zoo.

This tortoise, Emerson, is estimated to be 0ver 100 years old. His acquisition caught

my Mom’s eyes, in the friendly photograph she found buried in the mound of papers

she calls, “blog-worthy.” While reading about the history of tortoises, you find out

the horrible reason why sailors kept them in their ships while on long sea journeys.

These amazing creatures can live for almost a year without food or water, delicious

in soups, when there is no ‘meat’ available.

This made me sad, since the carefully cut out article that my Mom included in her

letter this week, had written in the side column by Mom, “Why didn’t the sailors

just eat fish?” Really good point! I learned that Emerson had a first negative

impression of his new environment, so his head was in the corner, not at all

interested in ‘making friends.’ But within hours, he had turned around and was

slowly, methodically moving towards people. He wanted to know about this new

location and nibbled on fresh vegetables. The photograph has him eating a carrot.

Somehow, the fact that he had his head in the corner, showing his reaction to a

new place to live, made me visualize human reactions to our own having to make

moves or transitions in our lives. This human feeling can be turned around with a

new food offered, a person warmly greeting him and calling him by name. I like

the way the journalist, Alexandra Mester, mentions that when he gets up in the

morning, he seems “to pause and soak up the sun”. They further made me ‘like’

Emerson by explaining how he likes his neck rubbed, shown by the way he stretches

his neck out for this daily affection given him.

Sadly, statistics given from the 1800’s when an estimated 100,000 to 200,ooo

tortoises lived in the Galapagos Islands have shrunk in species to 10,000 to

20,000 left. There are 4 of 14 sub-species now considered extinct.

 

Speaking of extinct subjects, Rachel Feltman, for the Washington Post, wrote

about the Spinosaurus. This is possibly the only know ‘swimming dinosaur.’

This is also the dangerous dinosaur that may have ‘chomped down on sharks!’

My grandsons were fascinated by this story, passed on by my mother in the

mail. They still like the variations of the animated children’s movies called,

“The Land Before Time.” New fossil evidence may be found in the September’s

copy of, “Science” magazine.

The speculation of the dinosaur out-ranking the T-Rex in size is also amazing.

It may be a record-breaker, largest predatory dinosaur to have existed on Earth.

Scientists believe that it was mainly a water creature, due to these facts or clues:

1. Tiny nostrils placed far back on the middle of the Spinosaurus’ skull. This

makes it appear like the water-crawling and swimming alligators and crocodiles.

2. The skull’s head has teeth that have interlocking connections that can be good

for catching fish, while trolling in the deep oceans.

3. The hook-like claws would be ideal for catching slippery prey, in the water.

4. Big flat feet- bones that could have connecting skin, making them ‘webbed feet.’

5. Legs and pelvis were unlikely ‘built’ or connected to land animals, more likely

resembling water creatures.

6. It would be easier to carry their own weight in water, paddling around, than

on land.

Over one hundred years ago, a German paleontologist, Ernst Freiherr Stromer

von Reichenbach, found giant “Spinosaurus” fossils. He found them in the Sahara

Desert, where from current satellite’s far out in Space, can determine rivers existed.

Unfortunately, records on paper exist but the “Spino” bones were destroyed during

WWII. I would like to look at the river channels from Space. Wouldn’t you?

I think the greatest part of this story is, you may go to the National Geographic

Museum in Washington, D.C. There you can view the fossil bones structured into

what the researchers and scientists believe to be the ‘spino-saurus aegyptiacus’

in all of its marvelous glory. This is available for the public to see until 4/14/15.

 

Speaking of satellites and Space. . .

NASA’s Mars land rover discovered in 2012, rock-eating microbes. This Mars

rover named, “Curiosity,” had  new details released to the public recently.

It has reached the layered rock area known by scientists as Mt. Sharp on Mars.

The exploring vehicle is getting a little rickety but had been able to begin

drilling into the rocky location. Samples may be soon analyzed by the unique

ability to transfer information back to Earth.  I am very interested in this

further details, since we still have hopes of finding a compatible environment

for human life to exist in the future.

On December 4, 2014- a new gumdrop shaped capsule known as, “Orion,”

will be launched 3600 miles  from Earth. This is four times farther than our

International Space Station and will ‘careen back’ into our atmosphere at the

incredible speed of 20,000 m.p.h. Why? Because this is testing the thermal

dynamics. This would be considered a possible future human (astronauts-

bearing) space ship. It looks like a huge coffee thermos to me, in its drawings.

If it ‘bears up’ in entering our atmosphere without burning up, this would be

a future manned flight that managed to have a strong protective shield. I am

always pleased when NASA is making progress in going farther into the unknown

in Space.

 

“A blade of grass is a commonplace on Earth,

it would be a miracle on Mars.

Our descendants on Mars will know the value

of a patch of green.

And if a blade of grass is priceless,

What is the value of a human being?”

Taken from, “Pale Blue Dot:  A Vision of the Human Future in Space,”

written by Carl Sagan.

Green Choices for a Better World

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One summer morning of my 16th year, after eating a delicious large breakfast

with my Aunt Marie, she said we had a ‘chore to do.’ We were in my Aunt

Dot’s kitchen in Rockport, Massachusetts.

I put some beat up tennis shoes, raggedy jeans shorts and a dark t-shirt

on. Aunt Marie wore a red bandana over her golden hair, with a blue pair

of, what we called then, “pedal pushers” on and a red light weight blouse

on.

We stashed, in the ‘boot’ of  Aunt Marie’s little red, sports car, paper bags

of recyclables, a large box of technical equipment, that had a few television

parts and cords thrown in.

On the way to the area of the city dump, Aunt Marie explained about

composting and recycling. She also told me something I had never

thought about and here is the ‘gist’ of her lesson:

“Out on this Eastern seaboard, we have limited space, we’re very concerned

about the Atlantic Ocean, mercury’s effect on our fish, gas and oil discharges

from fishing and recreational boats. We want to make sure we all have a

clean place to live and swim in.” (This was 1971.)

We were heading up a great hill, to where there were various sizes of sheds,

dumpsters and piles of discarded items. This was my introduction, seeing

this process in ‘full swing,’ to thinking more about environment and ecology!

My Aunt Marie had me grab the box, while she took two armfuls of paper bags,

and we headed towards the designated areas. Technical equipment, including

cords, cables, computer screens and ‘motherboards’ were in a large shed.

If one wanted to ‘shop’ in amongst the discarded equipment, you were not

going to be prevented. They actually encouraged recycling and re-using.

We then took the glass bottles to an area, with a lot of shelves, and a woman

sitting in front of a small table with an old calculator figured out our pennies

earned and gave us money for the soda bottles ‘returned.’ The glass jars that

were from spaghetti sauce, mayonnaise, and other condiments did not receive

monetary payment, but I already became aware that recycling these would

preserve the local environment.

Over forty years ago, when Bay (Village) High School held fundraisers

for different clubs, associations and team sports, we would collect bottles,

cans and newspapers. I have a photograph of myself, with a felt pink hat,

resembling Annie Hall or some other cultural style leader, so I thought!

I am wearing a ‘maxi”length beige coat, and am in front of the truck Science

Club would rent. We were piling newspapers, magazines and other paper

products. I am with some of my good ‘geek’ friends. Although, not included

in the yearbook photograph, we girls are laughing at the ‘boys’ who were

pawing through the “Playboy” and “Esquire” magazine donations.

We were equally aware of the environment and the financial value of this

monthly fundraiser. Unlike I am as an adult, who is reluctant to volunteer,

I was always in the midst of such functions. As a member of Science Club,

Thespians, Publication staff and Marching Band, along with the certain times

of year, (as a Girl Scout), we sold donuts in the Autumn and cookies in the

Spring, I volunteered. Although only in the photos of Science Club in my high

school yearbook, was I featured.

When I think back on those times, I felt involved and essential in many

ways. I also found out, over time and conversations, this was more rare

than not, from my friends who I met in later years.

I wonder, do you remember being involved in ecological, environmental

volunteering or fundraising during your school years?

It is a pleasure to feature some local and global “Green Choices” available

recently, here in Central Ohio.

It is not as “helpful” as volunteering, but it feels good to share that we

are still in this together, trying to make ecologically ‘correct’ choices!

The founder of a local skin care company, “Juicy for Sure,”  Valerie

Dupree, talked recently. She was suggesting trying products that are

free of chemicals, such as paraben and phthalates. (Not sure what this

is, but I rechecked spelling twice!) Her company features body care

products made from natural sources. They are unscented and stored in

glass containers. A reminder given, those stored in plastic packages are

more likely or are believed to create chemical ‘contamination.’ The

natural skin care company, recently added a new men’s lotions line.

They claim many of their products “leave no greasy ‘after-feel.'” There

was a Worthington, “Green on the Green” function that my youngest

daughter attended, believing that what she puts into her body and onto

her body, directly affects her outbreaks of eczema and inflammation of

rheumatoid arthritis.

You may also purchase “Gardener’s Lotion” and a sweetly scented

body lotion, “Dew Drop.” My youngest daughter is not involved in this

business and would not purchase any scented products. Look for these

products and more online, at Juicy for Sure. Their skin care line promises

“artisan crafted,” “eco- conscious” products while feeling “luxurious.”

Solar panels have been considered great conduits to natural forces for

quite some time now. There is a local Central Ohio, Columbus-based

company who won a recent award for being one of the top 3 National

winners in the “Green Homes” category. The quarterly “People and Planet

Awards” find eco-conscious companies and hand out different categories

of awards. The name of this national nonprofit, sustainability organization

is “Green America.”

Kevin Eigel, who is the President of “Ecohouse” will use the $5000 award

to help fund a solar installation for a co-op building called, “Third Hand.”

Ecohouse. com is one that I am proud to list as nearby. I wish I could build

a home having Kevin’s company install solar panels on my roof.

My Dad was very interested in having solar panels on their retirement

cottage in Vermilion, Ohio, believing in both the wind and sun as being

important natural contributors of energy. I have to admit, they did not

complete this project.

Soybeans in Iowa were recently researched in a study found in “Food

Chemistry” journal. The foods we ingest are very important to know

more about, as our society and world has changed the processes. The

study tested soybeans grown from seeds that were genetically modified

(GM) to be resistant to the herbicide, Round Up.

Thirty-one different Iowa farms were participants in this study. The

results found that GM soybeans contained significantly higher levels

of  the toxin, glyphosate. This is one of the main chemicals found in

Round Up.

Of course, this is the reason to ‘buy local,’ as often as possible, from

farmers who use natural ways to grow their soybeans.

I am learning more about being aware of non-GMO soybeans and other

vegetables.

Organic foods are the best ones to put into our bodies. Also, they have

found there are higher levels of good ingredients in naturally grown

soybeans, higher levels of protein and zinc, along with lowered levels

of saturated fats.

Global recognition is my final thrust in this going green article. There is

an international rise in sun-generated power in the United States, Italy,

Germany, China and Japan.

They were named as countries producing more than “10 gigawatts of solar

products” to promote a greener economy.

In India, villages are switching to solar power, also. Their environmental

‘watch group’ is called, “Earth Hour.”

IKEA, Scandanavian produced furniture) has sold over $10,000 worth of

solar panels to 17 British outlets. England is aware of the reason for using

solar energy to generate warmth and heat.

Peru is also starting to install solar panels in a National Photovoltaic

Household Electrification program. This began last July, 2013. (Boy, I

had to check the spelling three times on that mouthful of words!)

The conclusion of this varied report that included personal experiences,

research on soybeans, solar panels and local companies that have been

shown to incorporate natural products is to encourage more awareness

in your area of the world.

There are so many parts of our lives that we ignore or procrastinate

in. I recycle paper, glass, cardboard and plastics. At work, our

boxes get put on a cardboard line, which compacts them into

flat smashed ‘boxes’ that get picked up by a recycling company.

Our discarded plastic goes in another location, where it is collected

and corded together with its compaction process, too.

What kind of changes are you already making to help make your area

of the world a better place?

I am interested in any new ‘green’ products, natural foods that have

more nutrition that you would recommend, and any other suggestions.

What are some changes that you have made to become more involved?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tony Came and Left Me Breathless

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The 68th Tony Award Ceremony held plenty of outstanding, shining exhibits

that were thoroughly satisfying entertainment. Some name-dropping and

my overall impressions will ensue, if this is not your ‘cup of tea,’ don’t worry,

skipping this is totally understandable!

Hugh Jackman utilized comedy and hopped, literally, from one famous person

to another, on his path into the auditorium. He passed, “Sting” along the way.

He was one of a few that got singled out, in performances, since he ended up

sitting in the front row.

The scene shown from the musical, “The Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,”

was exhilarating and you would have enjoyed this trio. The man caught between

a blonde haired woman, who he would like to marry, and a brunette he enjoys her

company, standing in a hallway, leaning into one room to sing and then the other,

was quite amusing. Juggling two women, reminded me of the way Shakespeare’s

“Comedy of Errors, ” can bring the audience to roaring laughter.

From the audience, Tyne Daly, never looked more radiant. She has chin length

blonde toned white hair with her smile lighting up the room along with her golden

dress.

Set designs and costumes were all presented beautifully.

The man who played, “Genie” character in the musical, “Aladdin,” won and his

show-stopping performance on stage showed he truly earned “Best Supporting

Actor” in a musical production. He had the audience clapping to the song, giving

the rhythm and capturing the man’s enthusiastic energy.

The scene from “Cabaret,” was bawdy and well-choreographed. The image of Joel

Grey’s portrayal of the “Host” that ‘welcomes you’ to “Cabaret,” floats into my mind.

The actual line is done in German, so it is “Wilcommen…” In the reprisal of this

musical, Allan Cummings performed in the position of “Host,” on Broadway.

“Best Supporting Actress” was earned by an actress portraying a character in “The

Raisin in the Sun.” Sophie Okonedo made a joke about her cultural heritage and ‘the

chance’ the director took on her being able to play an American woman in that

period. I have seen the movie and also, the play on stage. It was remade recently,

for a television version. Always a thought-provoking period piece that depicts a part

of American history.

The “Best Actress” Tony was given for the sixth time to the same woman, making

Audra McDonald a ‘record breaker.’ She was playing Billie Holliday, in “Lady Day

at Emerson’s Bar and Grille.” Her singing is effervescent and gives me chills. After

I listened to her singing, I feel she certainly deserved to take home “Tony.” I loved

the credits she gave to her family and the memorable female singers, actresses, and

poetess who came before her. This is the essence of Audra McDonald’s speech:

“Thank you to my parents who did not medicate me for being hyperactive, but

instead persuaded me to explore acting in the theatre. I give honor to the women

who I am standing on their shoulders: Lena Horne, Maya Angelou, Dionne

Carrole, Ruby Dee and of course, the legend I was fortunate to portray, Billie

Holliday.”

The competition was thick for both the best actor and actress roles. The “Best

Actor in a Dramatic Play” went to Bryan Cranston. I predicted this one! So far,

this is the only one that I felt I knew ahead of time, I just ‘knew’ he would win,

if you have not seen a clip of his portrayal of LBJ in the play, “All the Way,” please

check him out! Awesome job and it is a fascinating piece of history, where he

had to take the Presidency, immediately after JFK was shot. He was the one

who should get a lot of credit, for getting the Civil Rights Bill passed, among

other great accomplishments. That Texan drawl that Bryan Cranston does

is very similar to the original.

Ru Paul, as a man, introduced “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” scene. He looks

great these days, he is one of the most famous trans-gender, cross-dressing

men in theater. Ru Paul says the play encompasses ‘love and acceptance’

for all choices in lifestyles. He has probably won a few awards in his lifetime.

This scene incorporated a pulsing, fast-paced rock ‘n roll beat, “Sugar Daddy,”

sung by Neil Patrick Harris, looking unrecognizable in his long blonde wig, his

short skirt, hose and tall pump shoes. N.P. Harris engaged actively with the

front row audience, taking Samuel L. Jackson’s glasses off and leaning into

Sting and then, bouncing on his lap!

Kenneth Brannaugh, the fine British Shakespearean actor, announced the

nominees for “Best Playwrights.” I liked Kenneth Brannaugh in the movie

leading role in “A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream.”

The dramatic play, “All the Way,” won for “Best Playwright.” The actual

play writer was not there to accept the award, so the two producers, including

Robert Shanken accepted it. He reminded the audience of the tense political

atmosphere in 1964. He called passing Civil Rights bill,” seemingly impossible”

and  gave his own personal summary of the way he felt about class structure:

“Those people who have more money take, at the expense of those who have

nothing and feel good about it.”

There was humor shown in the two plays that showed scenes from, “Casa

Valentina,” and “Mothers and Sons.”

Wayne Brady, comedian and also, improvisational artist, introduced, “Violet,”

with a riveting and rhythmic song, “As I Travel On.” It had the pulse and

emotions of the “Gone, gone, gone” song and the “Cups” song sung by Anna

Kendricks. This had a really ‘current’ sound to it, which would carry over

well on the radio. This led into a revival and rousing gospel song. The story

line is intriguing about a young woman, Violet, who has a disfigured face,

due to an accident, seeking a ‘miracle’ to help her with her face and life.

The scene from “Wicked,” which has the two sisters, Glinda the Good Witch

and the Wicked Witch singing a duet was quite touching. I had seen some

clips of the musical but truly had never heard the entire song before. It

is the ending song, “Because I Knew You,” which includes the line,

“I have been changed for the better”…. then after it has been sung several

verses later…”I have been changed for good.”

I read that huge volume called, “Wicked,” which I passed on to my oldest

daughter and she still takes it out and reads a chapter or two. It is longer

than almost any book that I have read, including, Tolstoy’s, “War and Peace.”

Well, I may be exaggerating a bit. But there is a LOT of story about the two

sisters, years in the making, until the happily ever after conclusion that has

this lovely song, with two excellent women singing it. The musical, “Wicked,”

celebrated its tenth anniversary.

Carole King came out and joined the singer, Jessie Mueller, who portrays her

younger self. I am very pleased to tell you that Carole King impressed me with

her “natural woman” look; her curly, blondish-white hair, her medium build

in a white silk blouse with black trim and black slacks. No plastic surgery, not

even sure her hair has dye in it. She looked amazing for her age! The musical

play, “Beautiful” incorporates Carole King’s life and her music.

She mentioned before her performance, that she did not go to the opening

nor was she ‘too crazy’ about seeing someone portray her.  She says the story

has heartbreak in it, which she was uncertain she wanted to ‘relive this.’She

finally did go to the theater and expressed gratitude for the way the play was

written, her character was portrayed and the presentation of the songs, too.

She highly recommends the musical, of course!

The best performance of the night, for me, was Carole King with Jessica

Mueller singing, “I Feel the Earth Move…(under my feet)” The audience all

stood up, clapped to the rhythm and several famous people were singing

along, their lips moving and showing smiling faces, too. Loved this so much!

(I still have my “Tapestry” music engraved in my head, too!)

A clever and playful rap from the revival of “The Music Man,” was first

introduced by Hugh Jackman. He could do it all from memory, he said and

it is to a fast beat, too. Then, out came LL Cool J and “T. I.” to join him,

turning it easily into a very groovy rap song. This was another timeless

musical, many high schools, across the country, Hugh Jackman reminded

us, put this play on their stages. It is the song about “River City.”

The song that Sting sang, “The Last Ship,” was eerie and haunting, with an

Irish melody. It is telling a mournful tale that includes these snippets of

words, “dark, unholy sight,’ ‘halo of light,’ ‘Calgary Hill,’ and ‘May angels

protect me when the last ship sails.’ Also, describing the ship, ‘mountains

of steel makes its way to the sea.’

This was one of my top three favorite performances. Sting’s ship song was my

second favorite and my third would have to be the rap between LL Cool J,

Hugh Jackman and “T. I.” playing “The Music Man.”

The Carnegie Mellon School of Drama awarded it first Tony for an Arts educator.

This seemed appropriate since many of the acceptance speeches recalled the

teachers in drama, arts and music that had led them to seek their calling in

musical or dramatic theatre. One who had done this, Neil Patrick Harris said,

“When most people in my high school thought that sports were the way to

become popular, I had a special theater teacher, in New Mexico. For her, I

will always owe an extreme debt for her love of teaching and her love of drama.”

(He listed her name, if you look up speeches, I am sure you will find it out.)

Rosie O’ Donnell was recognized for her philanthropic donations to the Arts.

Best choreography went to “After Midnight.”

Best Orchestration went to “Bridges of Madison County.”

I enjoyed the scene with fighting from “Rocky” and the way, the actor yelled

out for “Adriane!” It was a very pleasant evening with the best times being when

I knew the songs and recognized the famous people in the audience.

Did anyone see the Tony’s Award Show?

What were some of your favorite moments?

 

 

 

One Who Served and Many Who Serve

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Today, May 21, 2014 is a day set aside for “Wait Staff Apreciation.”

By celebrating servers in the food industry we may improve their

self images and produce great service. It is always a wise choice

to be friendly to the ones, going in the kitchen to pick up your food

orders! Smile!

So, please appreciate all those men and women who try valiantly to fill

your food orders. They do, most of the time, try to act pleasantly and

give you time to look over the menu!

Tomorrow, is a day to remember Mr. Rogers. Fred started his long run of

being a kind neighbor to the younger ones in our world, back on May 22,

1967. Now, Wikipedia doesn’t have the correct date, as I found this in a

reliable source!

His show, “Mister Roger’s Neighborhood,” continued until 2001. Fred

passed away in 2003. In his lifetime, he received the Presidential

Medal of Honor, over 40 other special awards and the Peabody Award.

I felt Fred’s gentle soul, soft spoken ways, his daily routines were

quite soothing and comforting to my toddler children. I realize that

these days, with high technology and such fast-paced lives, most of

the small ones would find his show, “Boring!” I liked his changing

his jacket into a sweater, his puppets in the Land of Make Believe

and his male role model in a society, that even when my children

were little, did not have many male adults on television that tried

to ‘reach them.’

Another man who served his country well, is my good friend and coworker,

Melvin. He was walking out of the building today, telling me a funny

story about the Jack Russell terrier that lives next door to him, out

in Delaware County. It was a great one, where I wished (and he does, too)

that he could have captured this on film!

The story of his neighbor’s dog, “Ignat” is interesting and such an

amazing story that you may not quite believe it. I would not, if I

didn’t know this fine man, Melvin, who served his country from 1975

until 1997. His Army days have been fun to listen to, including his

serving in Germany, (maybe you remember he bought me a special wine

that they serve on the streets of Germany, warmed up in little cups

for the shoppers at Christmas?) You may remember his annual trips to

meet his Army buddies and the time he paid for a bunch of them to

have lobsters and crabs in Massachusetts. Also, he is the man who I

‘chase’ and he ‘chases’ me, around the area on the second floor of

our warehouse, called the Mezzanine.

Before you ask, ‘Why aren’t you thinking about Melvin as a future partner,

Robin?’ I will tell you that he is a very devoted boyfriend and lives

with a woman who has had serious surgery, sometimes he has cleaned out

colostomy bags or helped bathe her.

The best parts of Melvin, are his incredible patience and heart!

Oh, and having served as a cook, he is an outstanding guest at our work

potlucks! Melvin is getting geared up to be the caterer of a good pal’s

daughter’s high school graduation. He was out, recently, pricing pork.

I may or may not have told you, a weird thing is, most places don’t

keep the skin on the pig! So, he had a ‘heck’ of a time locating one

that he could put on a pit!

Another part of my ‘verification’ of his abilities to not only work hard;

but be truthful is that he has always ‘called them like he sees them,’ no

matter what. In any conversation, whether it is about “Duck Dynasty,”

musical tastes or whether or not he likes a certain movie or song, he

will impart his ‘wisdom.’ I sometimes will include him in my ‘lunch time’

survey of opinions to include in my stories about work.

Anyway, Melvin was out in the yard, looking around the barn where he had

seen a large, lumbering raccoon go into. He also was looking out at the

field, where he had just seen a young doe. He was smiling, while recounting

about seeing the white tail bobbing up and down, as it leaped over some of

the remains of weeds that had grown up in the neighboring farmer’s fields.

He says, that he shouted to “Ignat” (possibly the shortened name for

Ignatious?) We cannot figure out why this dog has this name and Melvin

is sure of it, since he has bent down to feed him a dog biscuit and

read the little brass circle that holds his name. Melvin calls him

“Little Big Man,” in remembrance of Dustin Hoffman’s portrayal of a

wizened, stooped version of a Native American and why that makes him

think of that, I am not sure…

Anyway, I digress again!

Back to the rest of Melvin’s story, he whistled to the neighbor’s

roaming dog, and he would not come to him. He was gazing off into the

distance at the doe, sure enough, there was a blurring motion of the

dog, as it took chase after the doe. Melvin says that they would go

‘aways,’ the dog’s energy would start to wane, and “Ignat” would slow

down. The doe, he insists, would slow down to ‘wait’ for the dog to

catch his breath. Melvin insists that the doe even stopped from entering

the nearby woods, turning her direction to head a different direction!

“Ignat” would then zigzag and head off, speeding up to catch the doe!

Melvin says he would ‘swear on a Bible’ that this was a true incident!

When he got tired of seeing if “Ignat” would catch the doe, he looked

up at the window of his barn and lo and behold!

Another ‘minor miracle’ occurred!

Melvin saw four little baby raccoons with their tiny little paws up

on the window pane! He did not see that for too long, since the Mama

Raccoon must have ‘shooed them away from the window.’

“Melvin, are you sure, double sure, that you aren’t pulling my leg

now?”

He repeated the part about ‘swearing on the Bible.’

Wasn’t this more than enough to entertain me,

and you, today?