Birthday Month – Dismayed

img_3442Continuing my official “old broad” month…now doubtless proving I am a bossy old broad at that.

I began my grocery shopping today.  Just a few quick pick-ups to make sure the menus on the calendar can be made from now till I get to Costco and the military commissary.  Fresh produce and some canned goods for Mexican cuisine, mostly.  I was watching the very young couple with a tiny baby in the check out line ahead of us.  Their cart was a study in advertising success.

The entire cart was filled with plastic bags at the end; but from what I observed on the counter, there was scarcely a meal in the entire mess!  It was composed mostly of snack foods — crackers, sweet cereals, microwave popcorn and other such things.  I was dismayed at the lack of real nutrition in that cart – mostly relatively empty carbohydrates expensively processed and advertised.

I have talked to many young women and young men, and they don’t know how to cook.  I taught all three of my children to cook and to use some basic nutritional rules.  The modern “food pyramid” is practically unworkable and way too loaded with cereals.  I taught my kids the old four food groups.  This is what I’ve learned — just because something is changed, doesn’t mean it is progress or even better!

greenrussianHome economics used to be a school course with teeth!  You had to know what the vitamin content of common foods was, what was a protein food and what was a fat.  We DID divide plates into 1/4 for meat or protein, 1/4 for carbs like rice, pasta, or bread, and half for vegetables.  A high school grad in 1970, who spent 2 to 4 years in “Home-Ec” knew how to balance a grocery budget and the nutrition over three meals in a day!  And dessert was not an everyday thing.

Seeing the younger shoppers makes me realize the health issues and weight problems are because nobody knows how to COOK any more.  I have an old cookbook from 1939.  It actually should be called a “recipe book” because it is full of recipes; it assumes the person opening the book KNOWS how to cook.   Almost no instructions — brief things like “Mix properly and cook, correct seasonings and serve.”  I also have one more modern cookbook that calls for jars of sauce or cans of soup.  It produces a main course dish in 30 minutes or less, with little cooking knowledge required.

FullSizeRender 2I bake my own bread about 65% of the time.  I make all my own jams and preserves.  I bake all desserts from scratch. Most meals are from scratch, too.  We make our own yogurt.  I buy organic products about 50% of the time.  It saddens me that while Home Ec is now open to boys and girls — nothing of value is taught there.  My own daughter came home laughing after one semester, declaring it a waste of time in the 1990s.  I thought she was exaggrating!  But looking at the shopping carts, I now sadly wonder if we have forgotten how to feed ourselves!

And I’m not just talking about birthday cake!


coffee goldSometimes, even a nice liberal, humanistic pagan lady like myself just hits the mental brakes.  Mind you, I am plenty capable of thinking some folks label “fuzzy”. (Though, in my defense?  I would say it is seldom warm, ok?)

My husband and I don’t have much in the way of disposable income.  We help our two disabled veteran sons survive by covering them with our roof, our utilities, groceries, and some help with insurance.  We might have a major remodeling upgrade in the future and our well is sooner or later going to cost a small fortune.  So, we try to enjoy life without going crazy in terms of consumer gullibility.

That said, I do buy organic produce more often than not and organic meat.  I have a host of food allergies and sensitivities that lead me to believe that I am better off not further pissing off my tetchy irritable immune system.  I don’t use pesticides and herbicides in my yard.  I limit my junk food choices to rare binges.  I try to live responsibly, reasonably, progressively.

But there are limits.  Today, driving* to meet a friend for walking, I saw a reader board outside a small hardware store:


Seriously?  Mind you, they aren’t talking medicinal capsules.  No, this is briquettes for the grill.  Organic hardwood charcoal.  Right.  Because one has to assume that if one is trying to be organic in life more often than not, grilling might be a bit more rare because of the carcinogenic compounds formed BY cooking meat over flaming hunks of once-wood?

So, really, what good would it do to use organic charcoal?  Do you then only get organic cancer?  And hey, my snarky inquiring mind wants to know — do they shoot nasty smelly product like charcoal lighting fluid onto these oh-so-organic black chunks of charred wood?  Organic hardwood charcoal.  Yeah, my mind is just going to KEEP batting that one around and around like a tetherball.

*Yes, that wraps me round my own axle, too.  To drive somewhere for the purpose of walking — but here, no sidewalks, no trails, no safety from drivers who act like they are having a race for car ownership.

Gratitude Catch-Up, July 20 Thru 23rd

Feeling scattered and shattered today. Suddenly life is both full and empty.  The last three days were very hectic.  I’ve not had/made time for yoga since Monday and am full of bodily aches and groans as a result.  So, counter-intuitive as it is, I am grateful today that my body has become accustomed to a new yoga norm and bitches about my UNhealthy habits!

Yesterday was hectic, rising early to hit the road to Seattle to one of Swedish Medical’s SIX locations.  The Minotaur had an appointment to consult with a neurosurgeon there.  Traffic was hellish, it took over two hours to drive there in a light rain.  Then finding parking took another twenty minutes.  Then the VA (Veterans Administration/Very Annoying) had NOT sent the promised necessary authorization codes and a further half hour had to be spent getting all those things.  They were not nasty, the dear people at Swedish, they did not chide us or cancel the appointment we were thus very, very late for — they simply re-alloted time.  I am grateful for that – a reasonable medical staff and a humane doctor.   But it was a two/three gratitude day!

Image-1I was also grateful that we took a traffic stress break after the doctor and drove to Volunteer Park to visit the Seattle Asian Museum and the beautiful conservatory there.  I took a picture of the trunk of an unfortunately dying cedar there and “Prizma’d” it — even in death was beauty.  The Seattle Asian Museum did not have my favorite gold and black 12th century screen on display, but I did get a poster, cards, and a scarf embellished with it’s image!

FullSizeRenderI love crows and corvids in general – so this image never tires me.  Our metal front doors on the porch were roughly modeled on this design.

Thursday’s gratitude was that the food at Appleby’s, where my German lady lunch partners chose to go this week, has improved.  I was able to find something that didn’t ping my allergies!  Also, it gave me a nice mental memory instead of a nasty one for that restaurant — laughing friends, instead of my son’s former in-laws in drunken condition!  (Also, on Thursday, we dropped by a favorite European Cafe — with French food and a French chef – to drop off a dried bouquet of lavender in memoriam of the dead in Nice, France.  The Citron is an excellent choice with delicious soups for lunch for only $6 or so!)

Wednesday’s gratitude was again for food.  My husband the Minotaur took us to lunch in Puyallup at the Roadrunner Bourbon and Burger House.  This was very satisfying and sustaining.  They have far more than mere bourbon and burgers.  The music is early ’60’s and the decor is maybe what I’d call early Las Vegas.  The food and booze is excellent and happy hour(s) is noon to six and ten to close!  

We don’t actually eat out very often, aside from my carefully budgeted luncheons with the former employees of Hess Deli.  So finding the Roadrunner and great happy hour and delicious food is a marvelous break.  Not from cooking, but from the world.  The ambiance is totally in the past — in the allegedly “great America” certain asshat-not-to-be-named claims he will bring back.  So why, knowing the Rat Pack years were certainly NOT ideal, do I revel in this place evoking all that?  Because it was the years of potential — the moments when I still believed everything was going to change for the better!  So, when I sit in beneath the crystal chandeliers in the Roadrunner’s bar, listening to Dean Martin, I take a break from the heartbreaking, mind-bending news of the day and go back to a time when I believed it was going to be different.  It actually does brace me up a bit and allow my batteries to re-charge.  It surely beats thinking about how everything did start to change and then suddenly went rapidly retrograde when every crazy white sort in America freaked out over a black man in the White House!

Now, back to the “salt mines” of a yard getting ahead of me, an election year that is insane, planning schedules around surgery and recovery time next month and much more solo yoga!