I’m watching Friday night’s episode of “Hell on Wheels” shown on AMC. This is the third season so the year is 1867, it’s after the Civil War and documenting the development of the railroad heading out West. As a lady and living in the 21st century I am thankful that I wasn’t born during those times or in that setting. Pioneer life is not the life for me. The determination of these folks amidst the dangers, the difficulties and uncertainty of daily life is admirable and humbling. I am very interested in the character development of the women, the roles are very well written, there isn’t anyone who is one-dimensional or a caricature, we see the presence of prostitutes, pastors wives living side by side and when the struggles of daily existence get to be overwhelming, how the two come together discreetly to work it out. The gradual recognition that not everything is black and white and that judgement should not be handed down so easily as candy, comes through in most episodes. I am thankful for my 21st century life with plumbing and fresh water. That has been an ongoing thread of my blogging, the importance that I place on good plumbing, I might be able to handle anything else during those pioneer days except for outhouses and foul water.
The internet is full of rants. Help tip the balance: today, simply be thankful for something (or someone).
There are so many things that I am thankful for, I am thankful to have my two babies, just thinking of those two puts an instant smile on my face. Having those two has filled my heart and my soul in ways that before having a baby I could have never understood. My hubby understands how that feels, his heart and soul were filled beyond words the day our two babies were born.
Our marriage is something else to be thankful for, we are destined for old age together and what a gift that is to each other and for each other.
And we can't forget Jack, our little canine baby, we are so thankful for him every single day. The day he entered our lives, was the day he entered our hearts and we are very lucky.
Finally how can we forget the rest of our family and our friends? Life can be difficult at times but when you have a strong foundation of loving family and friends, it makes the bumps on the road so much more bearable.
I think that taking the time writing down the positive things in our lives helps us to deal with the stresses and the conflicts that tend to take up all the space in our minds.
Hooray for the beautiful things in our lives.
My hubby rented the Great Gatsby to watch since we didn’t want to spend our movie money on it when it was in the theaters. I personally do not like 3 D movies because the headache I get afterwards just isn’t worth the price of admission. While we were watching it today in the comfort of our living room with Jack taking turns using each one of us as his personal lounge chair, I still got what the director was communicating with his 3D technology, the over the top luxury, the decadence, the booziness, the debauchery and the perils of unearned wealth and unmitigated greed, and I got to watch it without a headache.
I know that I read the book in high school, I had never seen the movies until today. I see why the producers and the director felt inspired to make the movie present day because even now it is so apropos, our times mirror the decadent 1920’s with the serious income inequality that is becoming more pronounced in the States each year.
One scene really struck me. It is towards the end, the tiny group made up of Gatsby, Nick, Daisy, her husband Tom and their friend Jordan, are at the Plaza Hotel in a suite drinking and perspiring in the sheltering heat of the New York City summer. Tensions are running high between Tom and Gatsby, both want to either put their stamp on Daisy or keep their hold on her. By this point we know that Jay Gatsby is a self-invented man, what the monied people in the story fail to realize is that though he might not have come about his fortune legitimately in their sensibilities, his ways aren’t that different in the end, the financial speculation is just as iffy and just as larcenous as what Gatsby was doing in his businesses. What made me feel so very strongly for Gatsby is Tom’s insistence to everyone in the room especially Gatsby himself, that they were born better than Gatsby, Tom earlier was spouting all philosophically to Daisy, Nick and Jordan how the African/American was naturally inferior and it was scientifically proven because their skulls were different. Tom’s whole argument was that he by birth into the wealthy class was morally superior to Gatsby, because of Gatsby’s inferior birth stock. Tom is saying this with a straight face despite the fact that everyone in that room knows that he had cheated on Daisy since day one. He is only angry at Daisy because how dare she think to leave him for another man, and especially forget it if that man comes from nowhere as does Gatsby.
While Tom was measuring his moral superiority against Gatsby’s, I couldn’t help by being appalled at his arrogance, his inability to see his hypocrisy and his delusional ideas that he was biologically imbued with the right to his wealth and the poor people were naturally less deserving of the comforts that he could afford due to his status. I reminds me of how the monarchy of old, used religion to grant them their rule as a God given right and the legitimacy it needed to rule the peasantry.
I’m glad that we watched it, I remember why it is considered an important piece of literature, it still has relevance, unfortunately for the poorer people and perhaps for the over the top wealthy as well, because you get a first hand picture of how easily you become unhappy when you have too much, many things lose their meaning in the end and all you have left is yourself and your dollars. It also struck me at one point that perhaps F. Scott Fitzgerald was really saying that it takes a much stronger character to go through life poor and that it is the weak who need to be wealthy, they don’t have the stamina to truly live a life with honest work, simple truths and simple needs.
What was your favorite plaything as a child? Do you see any connection between your life now, and your favorite childhood toy?
My sister and I were so lucky to have the kindest, most caring landlords ever, Mister and Mrs Brunner. We lived in a two family house made of brick in Astoria, Queens on 24th Street. Mister and Mrs Brunner lived on the ground floor and we lived on the second floor; each apartment the same, two bedrooms, living room, dining room, kitchen and a small room off to the side. Mister Brunner, in particular, was our adopted grandfather. For as long as I can remember until I became a teenager, Mister Brunner spent a lot of time with my sister and I. We played board games, card games, he taught us how to do hook rugs and how to plant vegetables. He would sit with us on the front stoop and tell us stories, he had nicknames for the both of us; I was Louie and my sister was Charlie.
Our favorite game that we played together for hours was Uno, Mister Brunner had the patience of a saint. He also liked to make us treats, our favorite treats were his Rice Krispie treats, Rice Krispie cereal mixed with melted marshmallows and butter, our mother never made stuff like that for us. Our mother's idea of treats were fruit and yogurt, good for us healthy treats, so they didn't elicit the oohs and ahhs that Mister Brunner's treats did when he brought them into the living room for us to nibble on while were playing Uno together.
My sister and I were indeed blessed having had Mister Brunner in our lives, I think that children need as many good loving adult figures in their lives as possible, you can never have too much loving guidance in your life.
I was cruising the channels and I stumbled on the Top Chef show and it was game over for me. I don’t know why, but this for me could be considered a guilty pleasure. I generally don’t like competitive shows because I get stress for the participants, but this show is moderated by Tom Colichio who is a chef that I admire and it isn’t a competition that intentionally tries to make people feel bad about themselves, it’s a show that seeks to push these hopeful chefs into pushing their culinary boundaries. Personally I know that I would be unable to compete on any level, I may be a good cook but I would be so out of my league with their rounds of challenges. It takes a lot more than just cooking well at home to be a chef, you need a great palette, a lot of imagination and to be able to think outside of the box. As an example, they had a quick fire challenge revolving making a “amuse bouche” or a canapé from the choices from two vending machines. I would be lost, it had to be savory and elegant. The competitors were creative and really thinking outside of the box which I think is what keeps me watching, I enjoy watching their process while they attempt to execute the challenges and the judges aren’t mean spirited when they critique, there is always a reason why the competitors get called out to the panel.
While I was watching the shows, Jack and I were resting and I was slowly getting tonight’s dinner together. Nothing difficult or work intensive; just a simple roast beef, cauliflower au gratin and mashed potatoes. I also pan fried the remaining fillet of salmon so someone would eat it. The only extra work that I did was prepare the cauliflower two different ways because I am the only one who likes cauliflower sautéed with onions, garlic and turmeric. No one else does, but they love cauliflower au gratin with béchamel sauce and grated Swiss cheese, I don’t like cauliflower that way, hence cauliflower both ways. To turmeric or not, that is the question.
Our blogs morph over time, as interests shift and life happens. Write a post for your blog — but three years in the future.
The year is 2016, my hubby and I are still unpacking boxes in our apartment in Boston. Jack is having the best time making the boxes an obstacle course, running around them, between them and even from time to time on top of them. Our apartment is on the fifth floor of the Boylston Tower, a corner apartment. I am happy because I feel that in terms of space, it’s a step in the right direction. We got rid of a lot of the knick knacks and made a commitment to get back to basics and embrace a simpler, minimalist decor. We have two bedrooms and an open area which is a dining/living room with the kitchen open off to the corner. Jack felt right at home the minute we walked into the apartment and so did I. The babies always have a place to stay if they need to stay with us for whatever reason. The baby boy is off touring Scandinavia and the baby girl will graduate in May from the University of Miami so whatever her plans are, be they in Miami or elsewhere she knows that she will have a place to rest her head for however long. I am so excited to be in Boston permanently and to be able to call it home for good. My dreams of retiring in France aren’t gone, but since retirement isn’t for a long time, this is a wonderful place to call home for our empty nest years.
Today being Friday, it was weight class day and the ladies were in rare form. I don’t know what put those bees in their bonnets but they were a swarming, the ladies were lashing out about corrupt politicians, cheating politicians, ineffectual politicians and so on. I kept my mouth zipped tight, I just led the class with our exercises and hoped for a change in the subject. I believe in letting them blow off their steam because perhaps they can’t do it at home. I was happy when it was over because I had food shopping to do once I dropped my friend off at her home. But first I headed home to get my list and take Jack for his walk, also eat something before I hit the supermarket, the worst thing that you can do to yourself and to your wallet is to go food shopping when you are really hungry.
The baby boy asked for rillettes de saumon, in English it would be a salmon spread. Rillettes is usually associated with meat and the meat is cooked in its own fat, diced until it is a homogeneous mixture, like a pate and spread on a good French bread. The basic idea to rillette lends itself this recipe where the salmon is blended with a fat after it is cooked by poaching and smoking, in this case it’s butter and both salmons are cooked in different ways but it all works well together and it is one of the baby boy’s favorite things to eat. Throw in a little salt and pepper with a nice amount of chives and lemon juice to give it a little zing and you have a wonderful hors d’oeuvres or canape. I think that when the baby boy comes home from work, he will be happy.
Tell us about a time when you should have helped someone… but didn’t.
I can't think of a time where someone I know asked for help and I refused the plea, aside from the rare times that I was asked to contribute baked treats and I was unable due to previous commitments. Those instances don't really count because I know that there were more than enough other people to pick up the slack.
I remember trying to help a group of homeless people down in the subway station on West 4th Street with a friend of mine in 1988 by offering them the left over buffet food that we had from the office Christmas party, we didn't want the wonderful food to go to waste so we made up several platters, the party had been catered, we worked for a successful, funky law firm in Soho, they threw parties every week. Anyway, we made the platters look appetizing because we didn't want the homeless people to get their feelings hurt by showing them any disrespect. However when we showed up and tried to offer it to them, we were yelled at and cursed at and one of the men started to chase us, screaming that he didn't want food, he wanted money. It was very scary, I was glad that my friend and I were both in really good shape and we could run very fast. We didn't regret trying to deliver food to those unfortunate people, life in New York City was brutal during those years and the NYPD was charged with cleaning up the city and these poor souls had nowhere to go which would make for a hopeless and scary situation. I can't imagine what it is like to not know what kind of danger you may encounter at any minute, you aren't safe in the shelters, aren't safe on the streets, it an existence that no one should have to endure and too many of them have untreated mental illnesses or drug problems that often arise from self-medicating to alleviate the pain of undiagnosed ailments.
Having written all that perhaps I should devote some energy to helping the less fortunate, but for the time being with my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, the best that I can do is to write to my legislators and needle them about not cutting food stamps, not defunding Obamacare, pushing through bills that brings back manufacturing to the States and other initiatives focused on the forgotten and voiceless populations.
One of my household projects that I have been neglecting over the past few years because other things get in the way like baking, cooking, gardening and blogging, is getting all of our pictures into the empty photo albums that I got for Christmas quite a few years ago, hint, hint. I don’t know why I kept putting it off or even just forgetting about it because once I started, it was a lot of fun, going through time with the pictures. I was reminded that my hubby can’t take a bad picture, he is as handsome now as he was back then and always extremely photogenic. Don’t get me started on the babies; the smiles and the laughter at birthday parties, Christmas mornings and all of the family vacations, the pictures made me smile and linger, I spent a long time putting them into the photo albums.
What I had forgotten is how young I looked when I had my son, I couldn’t resist taking a picture to show my friends. The picture also reminded me how overwhelmed I felt when my baby boy and I came home from the hospital. Don’t get me wrong, my hubby was absolutely wonderful, he was amazing with the diaper changing, the bath time and getting up in the middle of the night to get our baby boy so that I can feed him, I was still having a hard time walking after the birth. However, when my parents brought us home, the three of us, I was looking for any reason to keep them with us, the thought of having our baby and me being responsible for him was scary. Which is why I said that my hubby was amazing, he more than helped me with the physical part, he helped me with the emotional part as well. I did get over it and as any mother will attest, I feel head over heels in love with our baby boy, we were together all the time, he was attached to me for the first year of his life and I loved it. I went back to work for the second year and he went to day school, an excellent day school, but I missed him so much.
This picture was taken at my mother-in-law’s house around Christmas time of 1991, so that makes him 8 weeks old in the picture and I was all of 24. I think that I look like a baby having a baby, and I don’t think that I am too far off from the characterization. If memory serves me correctly, it almost felt like playing house for the first few months, my hubby and I had just celebrated our first year anniversary so all this marriage and baby business was brand spanking new to me.
This year in November, my hubby and I will be celebrating 23 years of marriage and at the end of October the baby boy will be celebrating his 22nd birthday, time has gone by so quickly, it astounds the mind sometimes.
The language of the future: what will it be like? Write an experimental post using some imagined vocabulary — abbreviations, slang, new terms.
I am so bad with these prompts. Interestingly enough though, I have a book called Parlez Globish written by Robert McCrum in 2004 and it is based on the work done by Jean-Paul Nerriere and his development of a subset of the English language. Jean-Paul Nerriere’s work was designed to make English a globally more efficient language in the work place. It was very interesting, I read it almost ten years ago but I do remember finding the idea intriguing though in reality, the idea didn’t go farther than a book because as far as I know, no one is speaking Globish at the United Nations or anywhere else for that matter.
I would imagine that is what the prompt is really all about, the globalization of language and effacing the barriers between different peoples and cultures. Personally, I love the differences because that means there is more to learn and differences are to be celebrated. I remember that I was sad when the European Economic Community threw out the foreign currencies for the singular currency, the Euro. Part of the fun of traveling from Holland, to France and Belgium was handling the different monies and converting each from one to the other and always referencing the dollar so that it made economic sense.
Moreover, as I stated in the opening paragraph, the book Parlez Globish didn’t go very far so perhaps that is an indication that a future language really isn’t in the cards for us citizens of the world. People no matter where they are still hold onto their unique customs, heritage and language and I think that this is a good thing.