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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wednesday Hodge Podge

I'm joining Joyce at From This Side of the Pond for Wednesday Hodge Podge this week!
http://www.fromthissideofthepond.com/2014/11/you-say-potato-i-say-hodgepodge.html

1. What's something you take for granted, that when you stop and think about it you feel truly grateful for?

Walking

I never thought about how great walking was or how much I enjoyed the walks I took, my ability to do walking things, until I started losing that ability. I don’t dance anymore or play mini golf, there are no more walks at the park choosing the uphill dirt paths because it felt good to stretch my muscles. When I could do those things I did them because they felt good and never gave a thought to how fortunate I was to be able to do them. Why would I? There were always lots of other people who did the same things.

But at that time there were also lots of other people using canes, crutches, walkers or wheelchairs. Now that I’m one of those people in a wheelchair walking seems like a pretty special thing. Looking back I’m glad I got to do it for well over 40 years. I miss it, sometimes to the point of tears, but there are those that had far less than 40 years of walking, some who never had it at all. And I have to grab things and gimp into the bathrooms at home or grab things to stand up to reach things. Every time I’m successful at those things I celebrate it. I’m thankful I succeeded. Oh, it’s not always with a sincere celebratory smile, but when I think back, I feel victory. There are those that can’t do even that much; I still have some determined independence. For that I’m grateful.

I used to not even think about being grateful when I danced but now I dance in my mind every time I take a couple steps.


2. The color brown-love it or no? What's your favorite shade of brown? Most loved something in your home or closet in a shade of brown?

I don’t wear brown or choose brown when I have a choice except as an accent. You’ll never see a scrapbook page in brown created by me either. So, not really a huge fan of brown.

However my favorite brown shades are milk chocolate and coffee…my favorite things in those colors are their namesakes.


3. What's something you're looking forward to today?

Spring


4. The word 'feminism' is not new, but it has been generating all kinds of headlines in recent days and months. What do you think/feel when you hear the word? If you're a woman, do you want to be described as a feminist? Why or why not?

When I hear the word “feminism” it think it should be an archaic term that isn’t used anymore and it makes me sad that it’s a term that’s still relevant. I don’t even think “equality” should be a term used much because with an ounce of intelligence or humanity they should be “duh” words. But unfortunately there are too many people in more secure positions of power who are afraid they’d have to work harder to earn those positions if all things were actually equal. My altruistic 9-year old self expected youth hockey teams to all be coed and that there would be girls on NHL teams by now. Isn’t that what our team beat (and beat up) the boys travel team for?

Feminism means equality. Yes, I’m a feminist and many other “ists.” I believe that people are equal. We all have strengths and weaknesses; that why we’re ALL here. We need each other.


5. What's something you personally can't eat without making a mess?

Ooo…I HATE messy food! I’m a nibbler so there’s a lot of finger food in my world and I can’t eat without a napkin!

I guess I’d have to say popcorn. I’m popcorn crazy but I can’t eat popcorn without dropping a few pieces. I think that’s why David hides my popcorn popper.


6. When did you last surprise someone with a little gift or when were you last surprised by someone with a little gift? What was it?

David and I get little gifts for each other all the time. He brought me home pumpkin spice goodies from the post-Halloween sales and “Nani visits the eye doc” always means I bring him a treat from Panera, so I don’t think I count the everyday husband and wife little gifts. Those are just the underlying romance that keeps our marriage strong, part of “getting each other.”

My last surprise gift, and I don’t call it little, no gift is little, was a bracelet from my friend Stephanie during the baseball playoffs. We enjoy the friendly rivalry of I’m a Reds fan and she’s a Cardinals fan. She sent me the Reds colors bracelet. Bracelets are my favorite piece of jewelry and this one will definitely see a few ballparks.


7. Share a favorite quote, saying, song lyric or scripture relating to gratitude.

I don’t so much have a quote of thanks that’s a favorite. I’ve always stepped back and was grateful for the people and things I have in my life. I realize that those parts of my life are important for me to be able to overcome the challenges in my life. So I guess that’s my quote:

“Be grateful for the people and things you have in your life because they are essential to meet the challenges in your life.” -Nani


8. Insert your own random thought here.
It’s Ambrosia Apple season! Ambrosias, originated in British Columbia, Canada, in the early 1990s, are my absolute favorite apples, SO SWEET! David picked up a half dozen for me last night. There are five now. Maybe the bananas he also brought me will help the ambrosias last longer…and maybe I’ll just be eating lots of fruit the next few days!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Happy These and Thats

I need to write a nice blog post, really I do. I’ve actually written a few…papers, we’ll call them papers, they might end up being blog posts at a date in the not far future, but right now they are just papers. I’m dealing with some things right now. I’m not dipping back into depression, I keep a close eye on that, but I’m troubled by a few things and that shows up in my writing. I write to relieve stress until what's at the root of my problem comes out and it seems to have not come out yet, so when I "just write" it hasn't been as "up" as I usually am. I have to be really careful about my journaling for scrapbook pages too!

Today will be one of my snippets and potpourri posts. There have been good and bad things that have inspired a paragraph or a thought that’s worth sharing. Today I’m going to refrain from things that bug me. Let’s see what I have…


In the scrapbooking Nani-world, last night I finished the last folder in November of 2008 and all that’s left is the December folder. That will be my focus for next month because finishing that only folder left with complete 2008! My main area of concentration for the rest of this month will be in 2011, which also starts with November right now. It has only 4 folders, so I may start December with 2 years of the 6 I’m working on with just a few layouts to complete. I might actually be only working on layouts for 2015 by this time next year! David and I were talking about getting some proofreading time set up soon. The greatest challenge for me there is he has to do the proofreading on my computer because I have a ton of fonts he doesn’t have so he can’t open the files on his computer to make changes…and I know there will be corrections to make!


I read an article yesterday called When copy-and-paste ruled America at Smithsonian.com. It’s a 2-page article about the history of scrapbooking. Very cool read. It talks about how print media and the start of scrapbooking was a natural combination, how men and women scrapbooked and why. Mark Twain made the verb scrapbooking popular and marketed his self-adhesive scrapbooks. It was fascinating and it really does show that the very roots of scrapbooks were so much the Smash book idea of today and that digital scrapbooking in the digital age is as natural as those smash-style books were at the dawn of print media for the same reasons. It’s a fun read and it really makes my daily diary-scrapbooks pretty timeless too.

Speaking of those diary scrapbook pages, here is week 44:

I didn’t record the credits as I go on this one, but if there is a paper or element you see that you’d like to know more about, leave a comment or drop me an email and I’ll look it up! I have them all done through last week, week 45, but last week had some not-bloggy stuff.


I've discovered that I'm becoming enamored of the deco owls I've seen so much lately. An Instagram friend keeps showing dishes she's prepared with deco owl salt and pepper shakers in the photos. I've also found so many owl coffee mugs! It started as simple owls like that in scrapbook kits and it just grew on me LOL

I grumble about Christmas marketing completely overshadowing Thanksgiving, but I found this photo that I love!


It was called a vegan turkey when it was shared on Facebook, but if I was having a big enough party I’d definitely make this fruit tray regardless of the meat-eating status of my guests. It is, however, a great way to have the tradition of a Thanksgiving turkey for non-meat eating guests!


David found a bottle of Pumpkin Spice Coffeemate for me yesterday. I know, it’s late in the pumpkin spice season to be getting my first bottle, but every time I’ve been in the grocery store they’ve been out of it! I actually would’ve preferred the smaller bottle but all David saw was the bigger one. I don’t use it in coffee, I use it in oatmeal! That’s what breakfast was this morning. A quarter cup of flavored creamer is just rich enough and just sweet enough to make incredible oatmeal! It’s 8 weight watcher points for the whole bowl of oatmeal but matched with a single point powdered coffee creamer and a free fruit, it’s within my preferred 10 points for breakfast and on a day I awoke to a couple inches of snow outside it was WELL worth it!

I said I was going to try to be positive today so as far as the weather goes let me just say “Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal!!!!”

Thursday, November 6, 2014

War On What Now?

In the very first chapter of George Orwell’s 1984 it speaks of the ongoing war. In fact it’s one of the ways the people are controlled. They are always at war. Who with changes and allies become enemies, enemies become allies and more troops are sent to the front lines. It distresses me how familiar that sounds and I checked references to make sure I wasn’t confusing today’s news with the book. Alas, that scenario matches both.

But I’m not writing today to lament how Orwell’s fiction from the mid-20th Century, which should have been a warning to governments, seems to be used as a manual. I’m writing to talk about war, my personal issue with a war that I’ve been troubled by for a good 20 years or more; The War on Thanksgiving.

I’m not talking about the stores that are open on the holiday or the insanity of the start of holiday shopping season which was dubbed “Black Friday” by Philadelphia police in the early 60’s because the mad shopping day made it an awful work day. It’s relatively recent that advertisers have turned the name around to make it more positive and a sales tool. It's still means an awful work day to hourly workers. Like the Winston, the main character in Orwell’s book, I think there’s always been a war on Thanksgiving. I remember a time when that must not have been true because there was a year when it was shocking that someplace had put out Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving, but that was so long ago.

You see, Thanksgiving was always the big family holiday to me, even more so as I got older. First off Thanksgiving was the meal my parents hosted. My aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents from both sides of the family came to our house for the feast. I remember the traditional turkey with our family stuffing, the pickle and olive plates and pumpkin pie dessert to celebrate the American holiday plus the breaded chicken and pork chops from Mom’s side of the family, a first course of cappelletti soup and espresso with dessert from Pop’s side. As adults with the cousin tier starting to marry off the dinner tradition changed, the numbers of people and the times they were at dinner changed,

Thanksgiving dinner became Grandma’s dinner after she and Papa retired and moved “up north.” Then Thanksgiving Dinner became a trip “over the freeway and through the woods by the lake.” That’s when the war really started for me. Grandma asked me to bring paper plates and napkins for the dessert table. I realized it was getting harder and harder to find paper Thanksgiving supplies. In the late 1990s I became obsessed with a quest for a paper turkey centerpiece. You know, the full unfurling turkey tail in tissue paper on a cardboard turkey frame? I remembered seeing them in tons of places with the Thanksgiving party supplies when I was a kid. I tried CVS, K-Mart, even a couple of Hallmark shops. It was two weeks before Thanksgiving and there was no turkeys anywhere, just Christmas decorations. I finally found my paper turkey at a party supplies store in a little display nestled into aisles and aisles of Christmas stuff.

Tissue turkey tail opened

 I guess I get it; Christmas is a bigger money holiday than Thanksgiving. But Thanksgiving has always been the most special holiday to me because there are no church obligations, no presents, no imaginary symbols to protect the children from hearing truths about for another year, Thanksgiving is just a holiday for time with the family, it’s food and togetherness, being thankful for having enough of the things that really matter and nothing else. It’s a true American holiday too. Seriously, Christmas is a federal holiday because the majority Christians way back all took Christmas off or just didn’t work. Christmas is a federal holiday to keep it from being a federal disaster day. Thanksgiving is a real American holiday, perhaps the most important one because it doesn’t celebrate our nation’s independence, it recognizes the abundance that independence affords us; it recognizes peace over destruction of people.


Maybe that’s what happened to Thanksgiving. We’re at war with everything. War on drugs, war on women, war on poverty, war on Wall Street and of course the war on Christmas which claimed a commercial war on Thanksgiving long ago. The war on Thanksgiving is not a new retail thing. Stores are just opening on Thanksgiving now because were letting Commercial Christmas win the war on Thanksgiving it has always been fighting. We’ve abused the word war so much that it means nothing anyway. The things we're "at war" as meaningful as what you do when you "keep calm." Thanksgiving, thanks for our people, for abundance, recognizes that we gain more from peace within our shores than we do from war. We do need to figure out how to make “war” a mean word again but all I’m asking for right now is a paper turkey and peppermint mocha to wait a few weeks so there’s a little more pumpkin spice coffee to have with pie.

For three more weeks, Happy Thanksgiving!




Book Review: Spectrum by Alan Jacobson

Finished November 1, 2014

Synopsis at Good Reads

New York City: home to world-renowned museums, theater, restaurants, iconic sports franchises. Central Park. Wall Street. And an infamous serial killer who’s terrorized the Big Apple for decades.

The year is 1995 and the NYPD has just graduated a promising new patrol officer named Karen Vail. The rookie’s first day on the job is anything but easy when she finds herself at the crime scene of a young woman murdered in an unusual manner. Vail is unsure of what she’s looking at or what it means—but it’s a case that will weigh on her mind for nearly twenty years.

As the years pass, Vail’s career takes unexpected twists and turns—as does the case that’s come to be known as Hades. Now a skilled FBI profiler, will Vail be in a better position to catch the killer? Or will Hades prove to be Karen Vail’s hell on earth?

The character who has captivated readers worldwide—and who won the praise of literary giants Michael Connelly, James Patterson, and Nelson DeMille—returns in a story that captures the experiences that shaped the revered profiler and made her the top cop she is today.


My review at Good Reads

4.95 of 5 stars

Behold the writer whose pen leaks? There was one chapter I felt a little awkward with. Alan Jacobson is not perfect. That feels odd to hear me admit. I still loved the book and Jacobson remains my favorite current author.

I'm not a fan of prequels. But this isn't a prequel. But it is. It starts and finishes in the current day but this is a case that been with Karen Vale her whole career.

I enjoyed the developing killer's story and the understandable foundation of what life events turned his mind. Vale's beginning as a rookie NYC cop who fast tracked into homicide met with discrimination in the good old boys network and she stepped on toes of those above her in rank who bucked change even when she was right. The eventual turning point for her professionally was given direction through networking with FBI agents at a class that gave her a path in when the work politics were applying a stranglehold on her career.

There was a segment about 9-11-01 that was very tastefully and not sensationally done. Vale, born in New York and working in the FBI office in New York City at that time was definitely involved in the events of that day, and blessed by the luck of circumstances like many were. It was an important part of Vale's life and well done; the world may have been falling apart and crime may have dropped significantly in the days after, but no common criminal or murderer foresaw a terrorist attack on American soil before the exact moment it happened and the work of common crime scenes still went on.

The only chapter I wasn't impressed with was the "cutting room floor" segment from inmate 1577. The scene from Alcatraz was there to show that the case from early in Vale’s career had always been part of her world, but if a reader had picked up Spectrum before reading the other books they'd be thrown into a segment of a case they knew nothing about and characters whose personalities are foreign to them. I had to stop and reread a page to get reoriented. I’m not sure why this particular reference to a case from another book felt awkward to me and others didn't.

I loved the end where the twists in the killer that's haunted the NYC police for over 20 years really start. I had an idea who I thought the killer was and I picked the right one but oh was I surprised to see how he did it and how he was shifting the blame that kept police frustrated for so long! I also give Alan Jacobson big props for blasting a current and real media stereotype witch-hunt concerning an illness they are too often eager to assign blame to for violence, showing how assumptions can make the ones who assume it cooperative pawns in a killer’s plan.

Monday, November 3, 2014

My First Friends

This will kinda be a replacement/reprise of the Monday Mug Shots that I haven’t done in a while. Where appropriate I might show a mug or photo. Retired Not Tired hosts the new Memory Monday meme. It’s recording our memoirs a week at a time with a new prompt each Monday. This week’s prompt is:

My First Friend

I don’t remember my first friends but I remember my Mom telling me about them. In the late spring before I was even a year old we’d spend afternoons in our fenced-in yard in front of our Detroit home. Fenced was good because I was crawling and Mom was pregnant with my brother so she could let me play in the grass and sit in a lawn chair to watch me. There were a couple of girls that stopped by the fence every day on their way home from school and gushed over the baby. Mom told me they always made me smile and laugh and they enjoyed their visits with me too.

Sadly, that was the spring of 1967. During the summer there was a 5-day riot in Detroit that ended with 43 dead and over 1000 injured in the city. When fall came I was sad because my friends walked right by and didn’t stop anymore. After that summer young black girls didn’t stop to play with little white girls in Detroit. The girls knew the tension and that they had to walk by without stopping and my mom knew she couldn’t try to ask them to, but I was just over a year old and didn’t understand.

I’d like to think that I did get a little of a life-lesson from it at that young age. Maybe it was the first time I knew how silly the color of someone’s skin meaning anything about them as a person was. It was definitely the first time I was involved in grownups doing something stupid that ultimately hurt kids. Maybe that’s why I’ve always understood that every choice I make can affect other people in a good or bad way. People being stupid hurt the whole city and I’m not so sure Detroit has recovered from that riot yet.

Retired Not Tired Memory Monday
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